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EXTREME FUN WIPES OUT THE FAMILY 'FEAR FACTOR' IN CONNECTICUT
Summer Family Activities Range from Hard-core Adventure to Gentle Pastimes

HARTFORD, CT --- June 13, 2005 -- The "Family Fear Factor." No, not the NBC reality show, but rather the time when parents suddenly realize that summer is upon them and they are faced with the age old question: "How are we going to keep these kids entertained when they're out of school?" Well, Connecticut has the perfect antidote to those dreaded words "I'm bored": A fabulous menu of "extreme" summer activities that will keep even teenagers busy, intrigued, delighted and maybe exhausted. The things to do and places to go for families in Connecticut range from hard-core adventures to fascinating explorations of history or nature to just plain fun and gentle pastimes.

Extreme Adventures
At the extreme end of the spectrum, how about an underground canoe trip on the Lost Park River beneath the city of Hartford? For information on a three-hour guided tour, call Huck Finn Adventures in Collinsville (860-693-0385). They also offer a tranquil float down the Farmington River, with stops to picnic by the oldest tree in Connecticut and explore an Indian cave by day or twilight.

White water rafting on the Housatonic and Farmington rivers is another extreme option for a family adventure. Mountains Unlimited Whitewater Adventures in Waterbury (888-756-8218) also offers mountain biking and climbing. And several companies offer canoe and kayak trips, often with instruction, on rivers or the ocean for children as well as adults. Try Main Stream Canoe Kayaks in New Hartford (860-693-6791), Stony Creek Kayak in Stony Creek (203-481-6401) or visit the CONNECTICUT website (www.CTvisit.com ) for other kayaking companies and, in fact, for further information on all family activities in the state. Families seeking a quieter or gentler option might try floating down the river in an inner tube. Farmington River Tubing offers excursions from Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area in New Hartford, providing the tube, personal flotation devices and a ride back (www.farmingtonrivertubing.com).

Numerous companies in Connecticut offer hot air ballooning adventures. The champagne is reserved for adults but most balloon baskets can accommodate a small family quite easily. Some of the companies to consider are: Aer Blarney Balloons in Litchfield, which bills itself as New England's premier non-direction airline (www.aerblarney.com), Watershed Balloons in Watertown (860-274-2010), Adventure Balloon Rides in Plymouth (860-584-1300), A Windriders Balloon in Farmington (860-677-0647), A Yankee Balloon in Fairfield (203-255-1929), Beaver Brook Hot Air Balloon Services in Cheshire (203-271-2004) and others at the CONNECTICUT website. Another aerial adventure to consider is a thrilling ride in an antique, open cockpit biplane of the "Snoopy" variety. Try contacting the Chester Airport at (800-752-6371) or calling Morgan Kaolian at (203-375-3686) for a ride in his 1929 Winkle Kinner BIRD out of Fairfield.

Two other extreme options: indoor rock climbing, one of the latest sensations at gyms and recreation areas (as well as for birthday parties) and appeals to all ages (Prime Climb's Mountain Fun in Wallingford, 203-265-4006, is one of several companies offering this adventure); and, for the teenage members of the family (a driver's license is necessary), go-cart racing. Kart Trak Indoor Racing in Windsor Locks (860-623-3377) is the state's only indoor facility of its kind but the Connecticut tourism website (www.CTvisit.com) can provide information on other facilities, including The Only Game in Town, a 20-acre sports complex that offers golf, batting cages, mini-golf, basketball and go-karts (203-239-4653).

What can top automobile racing for an extreme adventure? Several tracks in Connecticut provide families with ear plugs great opportunities to watch everything from Grand Prix to NASCAR to vintage car racing. Lime Rock (www.limerock.com) will host the American Le Mans and New England Grand Prix July 1-4 as well as Ferrari and Maserati Racing Days (July 8-9) and the Rolex Vintage Festival (September 2-5). NASCAR tracks include the Stafford Motor Speedway (www.staffordspeedway.com) and the Thompson International Speedway (860-923-2280).

Finally, for a different spin on "extreme": how about ice skating in mid-summer? The International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury (860-651-5400) offers public skating year-round but the real attraction may be the numerous international skating stars, many from the former Soviet Union countries, who train there regularly.

History and Nature Explorations
As one of the original 13 colonies and situated in a region of the country noted for its changing seasonal beauty, it is not surprising that Connecticut offers families a wealth of opportunities to explore history and nature. A good place to start is Mystic where two renowned attractions welcome thousands of visitors from around the world every summer. Consistently ranked at the top of the list of Connecticut attractions by such media as Family Fun magazine (www.familyfun.com), The New Parents Guide (www.thenewparentsguide.com) and all the major guide books covering the state, Mystic Aquarium and the Institute for Exploration (www.mysticaquarium.org) is one of the country's great institutions for discovering the wonders of the oceans and ocean life. 

Also top-ranked is Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea (www.mysticseaport.org), an entire 18th and 19th century coastal village, with numerous sailing ships (explained by costumed historical figures) and museums (including a delightful children's museum), workshops and educational programs.

Other historical adventures in Connecticut include a combination steam train and paddlewheeler trip along, and on, the Connecticut River. Essex Steam Train & Riverboat Ride in Essex (www.essexsteamtrain.com) offers a variety of train rides and cruises, special holiday and seasonal programs and a unique way to explore the beauty of the Connecticut River in old-fashioned style. Out on the Long Island Sound, there are many other options for nautically historical adventures, including sailings on the Argia, a 19th century gaff-rigged schooner (Voyager Cruises at 860-536-0416), and trips on the 61-foot schooner Brilliant, Mystic Seaport's own fully operational sailing ship, or the Sabino, the last wooden, coal-fired steamboat still in operation, which makes journeys along the Mystic River (888-9-SEAPORT).

The combination of Connecticut's coastal environment and the abundance of educational institutions in the region result in an unbeatable variety of nature adventures with tremendous appeal for families. The Maritime Museum at Norwalk, for example, offers a "Marine Life Study Cruise" on the Long Island Sound (www.maritimeaquarium.org). Sound Waters features ecology cruises from Stamford (203-323-1978), and Project Oceanology departs from Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut in Groton with a floating classroom to explore the ocean deep (800-364-8472).

Other family activities with a natural theme include a visit to Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport (www.beardsleyzoo.org) where three, rare Amur tiger cubs were born in April. Part of the zoo's Species Survival Plan program, the rapidly growing babies are among 120 species of animals on display, the majority from North and South America. Amy's Udder Joy Exotic Animal Farm Park and Nature Center in Cromwell (860-635-3924), with its hands-on interactive exhibits such as the seasonal salt water tidal pool, will delight younger children, as will the Stamford Museum & Nature Center (203-322-1646), with its 18th century working farm and Nature's Playground, live pond life exhibit and boardwalk.

While discoveries out west may grab the headlines, New England, historically, was at the center of dinosaur exploration for over 100 years and Connecticut has some of the best to show for it. Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill (860-529-8423) has the largest display of Jurassic dinosaur tracks in the world, made 200 million years ago, as well as nature trails and an arboretum containing plant species that were alive during the age of dinosaurs. While there, visitors can make their very own plaster castings.

More of Connecticut's interactive dinosaur attractions can be found in Montville. Dinosaur Crossing features park and nature trails with more than 20 life-sized dinosaur sculptures, a rumbling volcano, and hands-on discovery stations. Nature's Art gives visitors the chance to unearth a dinosaur skeleton, search for and take home crystals from around the world, and explore its Fossil Gallery and shops.

Finally, what would summer family fun be without an amusement park, and Connecticut has a couple of the best in New England. Lake Compounce Theme and Water Park in Bristol (www.lakecompounce.com), with over 50 rides, including several roller coasters, a skyride, bumper cars and a Circus World kiddieland, a Splash Park and free shows is the biggest.

One of the top attractions at the 97-year old Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury (www.quassy.com) is the "Extreme Zone," featuring a 24-foot climbing wall. Other attractions include a Family Entertainment Center, with more than 100 games, and the Saturation Station at Quassy Beach, with water activities.

And, for a change of pace - and centuries - the Connecticut Renaissance Faire in Woodstock (www.ctfaire.com) will be held on weekends from September 24 through October 16, offering 40 hours of entertainment on 9 stages, 100 olde-world crafters, a medieval marketplace and 200 costumed performers recreating the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Travelers interested in learning more about this tourism region can visit www.mysticmore.com.

For further information about the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, restaurants, resorts, country inns, B&B's and other places to stay in Connecticut, please call 888-CTVisit (888-288-4748) or log on at www.CTVisit.com. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness sure to fulfill any getaway need.

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