Summer Wind Down – Making the Most of the Days Before School Starts


Between summer art camp, summer work packets from our school, swim lessons, play dates, and picnics, we didn’t have a lot of time this summer for vacations let alone all the wonderful activities I was planning for us (we never did get to the Bronx Zoo… one day). With 2 weeks between the end of summer camp and the beginning of 2nd grade, I was bound and determined to have some fun without depleting our bank account.

We managed a short overnight trip to Rhode Island and Mystic, CT the week before last. My sister, Ellie, and I made our way to Providence Place to have lunch and play some games at Dave & Busters. If you’ve never been, you need to go! They have some great deals (we ordered off of the Eat Play Win menu, so we got our meal AND a $20 play card for only $24.99, AND we went on a Wednesday, so all games were 1/2 price). We ran around like maniacs for a couple of hours and had a blast. And at the end, Ellie got all of her tickets counted up and walked away with a stuffed Hello Kitty and some Spongebob Squarepants walkie-talkies. We roamed the mall for a bit window shopping, and then we made our way back to CT. We had dinner at Mystic Pizza, stopped at The Olde Mistick Village for fudge at Franklin’s General Store, then made our way to our hotel in Groton. For under $200, including gas and hotel, we had a wonderful mini-vacation for just-us-girls. We try to do this kind of trip a few times a year since it’s so close and the perfect way for us to relax.

Last week, El and I continued our summer of fun with a variety of activities. On Monday, we hit the AMF Bowling alley in Milford, and El bowled her 2 free games. She’s part of the Summer Unplugged program, a free signup where your child receives 2 free bowling games per day for the entire summer. It’s great! Next, we hit the Barnes & Noble down the street for some lego action (sadly, the train table is now gone at the Milford B&N. We spent many a rainy afternoon or snowy winter weekend playing on that train table when Ellie was younger.) B&N is a great place for free entertainment for your child year-round. It was our go-to place for Ellie from age 18 months and up. They allow you to read all the books you want, see a puppet show, play with the toys, etc, ALL FOR FREE. The cost for an entire afternoon of fun? $4.89 for the shoe rental at the bowling alley. WIN.

Let's bowl, let's bowl, let's rock and roll!
Let’s bowl, let’s bowl, let’s rock and roll!

Tuesday we went blueberry picking for the first time! We got in just under the gun as picking was ending at Jones’s Family Farms the very next day. We found some major jackpot bushes and walked away with nearly 9 pounds of blueberries! We headed over to Focaccia’s Cafe in Shelton to visit with my brother-in-law, Benny, co-owner of this new restaurant that just opened this week. The place is beautiful, and the menu sounds amazing. We walked up the hill and around the corner to Peachwave and had ourselves a little froyo. That place is awesome. Total for the day’s adventure was under $30.

She's a natural!
She’s a natural!

Wednesday, we had our 2nd grade class meetup at the school playground. We got to meet new friends and Ellie’s new teacher, and I got the chance to chat with parents. Free fun!

Thursday, our library held their annual music bash for the kids who participated in the summer reading program. They hired a musician, and the kids got to sing and dance, have a popsicle, grab a goodie bag, and pick a prize too. The reading program itself offered prizes for reading and free books all summer! After the party, we headed to our local beach for a birthday party. The kids ran around like lunatics on the playground and feasted on pizza and cupcakes. It was SO MUCH FUN. We all had a blast. And it was another free day for us!

Friday, we met up with friends who live in Middletown and went to Kid City. Admission is $8 each (bring a couple bucks in change for parking too) and for that, the kids get to run around through variously themed rooms and pretend play. Ellie’s favorite spot was the puppet theatre/video center/dress-up area. We hit a local park after that for a picnic lunch, and the kids spent another 2 hours running around on the playground. Last, we hit an ice cream shop around the corner from Kid City for cones. Total for the day, including gas, under $40.

"And action!" was said at least 10 times.
“And action!” was said at least 10 times.

Our state has so much to offer. A little research goes a long way. The best part is that many of these places, like your local library, bowling alley, B&N, Kid City and the like can be used year-round. As we make our way to the first day of school, I know we’ve made memories that will last a lifetime.


  1. We had a similar summer! We loved our free bowling but not the bowling alley we signed up with. Next time, we are going to Milford! Kid City was my favorite first time activity. I loved the lake house room.


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