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Patch Picks: Staycations

Spring recess is almost here and you can already hear the kids saying, "We're bored." Well, no need to panic. Check out these staycation ideas, all within a 30-mile radius.

1.  A Good Time for The Maritime

Meerkats and “Go Fish” and IMAX, oh my! The Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk is a destination that’s bound to amaze the entire family, starting with the "Meerkats" exhibit. Get up-close-and-personal with these delightfully entertaining creatures that have garnered an enthusiastic audience of the millions who watched Animal Planet’s “Meerkat Manor” and, before that, “The Lion King.”

A permanent exhibit, “Go Fish: Long Island Sound & Beyond,” centers around an impressive 30,000-gallon tank stocked with local species, offering an exciting way to become more familiar with the life that teems in this precious body of water.

To get almost nose-to-nose with Alaska’s wild faces and wild spaces, catch IMAX's “Alaska: Spirit of the Wild." This mesmerizing film ends its run here on Thursday; “Born to Be Wild” swings onto the screen Friday. If the kids have any energy left, check out ““Happy Feet: The Ride” in 3-D. All this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to The Maritime.

2.  Hit the Rails-to-Trails

Pack a picnic, perhaps load up the bicycles, and head to the Monroe Housatonic Railbed Trail, which spans 4.5 miles along a portion of one of the earliest railroads in New England. This trail takes visitors through Wolfe Park, which features a sandy beach and a swimming and picnic area along Great Hollow Lake. (Restrooms are available!) Non-motorized boating is permitted. Families can also enjoy the paved, walking-only path that loops around the 16-acre lake. For more trail information including parking and trail access, click here.

3.  Keep Your Spring on Ice

It may be spring, but ice skating can figure prominently in your week’s line-up. Experience the 25th anniversary tour of “Smucker’s Stars on Ice” beginning at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Bridgeport’s Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard. The show, produced by skating legend Scott Hamilton, stars Olympic Gold Medalist Evan Lysacek and Silver Medalist Sasha Cohen, who will be “joined by a stellar cast of world-renowned athletes,” according to the arena website, including Jamie Salé and David Pelletier, Kurt Browning and other favorites. View a sample! For tickets, click here.

However, if ice hockey is more your speed, take in any of three Bridgeport Tigers home games: 11 a.m. Tuesday, v. Springfield; 7 p.m. Friday, v. Hartford; and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 10, v. Albany.

4.  Let’s Go Make a Kite

Earthplace in Westport will host “Kite-Making Day,” open to all ages, starting at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, rain or shine. Children can assemble the simple, “sure to fly” kites accompanied by an adult and let them catch a breeze and soar over the field on Earthplace grounds. Before or after, there’s plenty to explore at this prominent nature center.

Or, for a change of scene, make your way to nearby Sherwood Island State Park, Connecticut’s first state park, for more flying time or to to explore the marshlands. Another option is to picnic here first.

5. 

Ever wonder what it was like to be a soldier during the Civil War? Here’s a chance for you and the kids to find out. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 2, Mike Kaelin, a senior at Wilton High School, will lead “a re-enactment demonstrating a Civil War encampment with the 14th CT Regiment,” to include military drills, firing demonstrations and much more,  all on the grounds of the Wilton Historical Society. Keeping in mind that kids are sometimes more willing to learn from other kids, a lecture by senior Brian Caswell takes place at 1 p.m. A concession stand manned by members of the school's debate team will provide  convenient thirst-quenching and snack items.

This is a Living History Day event designed to complement the society’s new exhibit, “America’s Civil War Retrospective,” open Tuesdays through Fridays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information .

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