Grandparents come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Young or old, doting on and spoiling the grandchildren can be a way of life for many of them. Nothing says “thank you” for all that love like doing something in return. Connecticut offers plenty of budget-conscious options for a chance to recapture childhood memories (yours or theirs), create new ones and spend quality time together without spending a lot of cash.
The Barker Character, Comic & Cartoon Museum
1188 Highland Ave.
Cheshire, CT 06410
Cartoons and comics have a way of spanning generations. Whether it’s Steamboat Willie, Looney Tunes, Snoopy, Alvin and the Chipmunks or the Simpsons, animation has a certain magic for us all. With over 80,000 themed collectibles, the Barker Museum is a place where you can get happily lost in revisiting years worth of childhood memories and sharing stories about the incredible things you will find there. Toys, figurines, glasses, lunch boxes, comic books and more grace shelves and display cases in just about every inch of the building. Outside you will find detailed wooden cutouts depicting many of the most lovable characters of all time. Before or after your museum visit, the Animation Art Gallery at the same location offers another chance to experience some of the most wonderful collectibles of the genre. For anyone of any age who ever loved cartoons, this is the place to be. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time when you go because you won’t want to rush through any of it.
A.C. Petersen Farms
240 Park Road
West Hartford, CT 06119
Remember the excitement of heading out for ice cream as a child? Always something to look forward to as a reward or simply as a treat, everyone enjoys ice cream and it can brighten anyone’s day at any age all year long. With a history of serving quality food and ice cream since the early 1900s, A.C. Peterson Farms is a place your grandparents may have visited in its original location as children and would welcome getting reacquainted with. Offering a full, affordable menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you decide to dine first be sure to leave room for the real reason you went: the ice cream. A 10-percent senior citizen discount is available.
The New England Carousel Museum
95 Riverside Ave.
Bristol, CT 06010
One of the fondest memories many people share is riding a carousel as a child. At a fair or amusement park, it was a happy experience and you were sure to wave at your parents or grandparents at every pass. A love of the carousel is a passion which bridges generations and reminds all of simpler times. Whether you share an appreciation of the beautiful masterpiece that each painted animal is or a fondness for collecting memorabilia, artwork and trinkets, The New England Carousel Museum is a one-of-a-kind journey to take together. Each paid admission includes a ride on the museum’s working carousel which is sure to be a delight for all.
Stamford Restaurant & Pizzeria
1122 E. Main St
Stamford, CT 06902
Italian food and pizza are popular choices for anyone heading out to eat and it is, of course, even better when you already know the food is going to be good. If savoring a plate of pasta or a well made pizza is a tradition in your family and you would like to treat your grandparents to a meal they can appreciate at affordable prices, Stamford Restaurant & Pizzeria is worth a trip. From the moment the bread and butter is placed on the table, you will be hooked. Offering a wide variety of Italian favorites, salads, soups, sandwiches, calzones as well as both regular crust and Sicilian pizza, there is no way to be disappointed by a meal here.
The Mattatuck Museum
144 W. Main St.
Waterbury, CT 06702
If your family hails from the Waterbury area, the Mattatuck Museum is a place where the art and history of the region is preserved through exhibitions and displays that are sure to be interesting to young and old. The museum offers collections related to and information about such things as manufacturing history, products and services, Native American artifacts and public figures dating back to the late 1800s. It’s never too late to learn something you didn’t know about where you or your grandparents grew up and together is a great way to do it. Be sure to check the calendar of events to make sure you don’t miss one of the many special presentations.
Theodora DeBarbieri is an animal advocate, columnist and local TV show host residing in Connecticut. She is owned by a number of dogs, cats and birds. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.