It’s summertime, which means the kids are out of school, everyone is complaining they’re bored, and you want to throw the Xbox out the window. You’ve got about eight weeks until everyone is back in school so here are some (often free) ideas for keeping everyone entertained the rest of the summer.
You don’t have to be a LARPer or a comic book nerd to enjoy ConnectiCon, but it doesn’t hurt. This family-friendly event has massive amounts of special events, panels, and vendors geared towards gaming, comics, board games, cosplay, and anime, as well as various movies and TV shows. It’s a veritable pop culture explosion. Can’t or don’t want to spend the money to get in? Spend the day hanging out at the Riverfront Food Truck Festival taking place the same weekend and mingle with a few hundred cosplayers decked out in some truly impressive costumes.
Monday Night Jazz
July 16, 23, 30, August 6, 13
The nation’s “longest-running free jazz concert series”, Monday Night Jazz in Bushnell Park is a must-happen at least once every summer. It’s a chance to enjoy one of the best parks in the state in a relaxed, family-friendly environment, with free music provided by some of the best local, regional, and national jazz acts going. Grab a blanket, your favorite picnic items, your favorite bottle of wine, your dog, the kids, your mom, your neighbor, and anyone else you can pick up along the way. Mondays will never be the same again.
Free Movies in the Parks
July 20, 25, 27, August 15, 23, 24, 26, September 18
Did you miss Coco, Black Panther or the new Jumanji film when they hit theaters? No worries, Hartford has you covered. Free movies run all summer long in Bushnell Park, Dunkin Donuts Park, Colt Park, Keney Park, and Charter Oak Landing. They even throw some classics in the mix like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club so you can prove to your teenagers that not every movie from your childhood was lame.
Free Movies at Spotlight Theaters
July 24-26, August 7-9, 14-16, 21-23
Speaking of free movies, Spotlight Theaters offers free matinee movies for kids on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, throughout July and August. They also offer reduced prices on popcorn, candy, and soda so you can get your kids nice and sugared-up on the cheap.
Hartford Yard Goats
Various dates through August 30
Hartford’s minor league baseball team does an amazing job creating fun, memorable nights for kids of all ages. There are zero bad seats in this gorgeous ballpark, the food is delicious and reasonably priced, and there are dozens of opportunities for your kids to join in on the fun. The Yard Goats have special group rates so get your friends and neighbors together for a group outing. The stadium also hosts a crazy number of special events too, including fireworks after certain games, so make sure you check their events calendar.
Second Saturdays at the Wadsworth
July 14, August 11, September 8
Museum admission is free during Second Saturdays hours (10 am – 1 pm), plus every second Saturday at The Wadsworth Atheneum is filled with free family tours, various events, and hands-on activities for kids. There is a ridiculous amount of famous artwork housed here, including pieces that your kids may actually recognize.
Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival
There are a ton of amazing cultural events throughout Hartford all year long. But there may not be one as vibrant and as perfect for a day of summer fun as the Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival. It’s a full day of delicious food, amazing music, and spectacular costumes and dance. There are also plenty of children’s activities that include face painting, arts and crafts, a bounce house, and Caribbean games.
Sea Tea Improv All Ages Shows
Got a kid in your family that likes to ham it up? Or maybe one that just loves to laugh. If so, there isn’t a better way to spend a few hours then at the Sea Tea Improv Family Show. Every single Sunday at 4:00 pm the Sea Tea Improv troupe gears their show towards kids of all ages. There will be several opportunities for your little comedian to get up on stage and perform a skit or two with the cast as well. Kids 12 and under are just $5, so all of those belly laughs won’t break the bank.
The Old State House
Tuesday – Saturday until October 6
If your kid isn’t grossed out by two-headed animals or scared off by stories about witch trials then the Old State House has a unique history worth exploring. The Museum of Curiosities is worth the price of admission alone, but all of the rich history of the Old State House will keep even the most cynical kids engaged. Go on Tuesday or Friday afternoon and you’ll also be treated to a farmer’s market on the State House grounds. The Friday market includes live music.
Bushnell Park Carousel
Wednesday – Sunday in July & August
There is nothing like whizzing around in circles on a hand-carved wooden horse while the Wurlitzer organ belts out carnival music. For the littler ones in your family the Carousel also hosts an event every Sunday called The Royal Tea, which features special guest princesses, snacks, balloon animals, and various arts and crafts to go along with carousel rides.