The towns surrounding Dartmouth are filled with family-friendly activities. From picturesque recreation areas, to community-sponsored outreach programs, the Connecticut River Valley is a playground for growing minds. If you’re one of the many graduate students with children, or have a mini van full of younger cousins visiting, try out some of these activities!
1.) Hood Museum of Art and the Hopkins Center for the Arts (HOP)
The Hood offers many programs for families. Selected Sundays are “Family Days,” and the museum’s collection is staffed to accommodate young patrons, and help them create their own works of art! Also, on selected Saturdays, the Hood offers “Children’s and Family Workshops” where families are invited into the studios to create projects.
Housed in the same building as the Hood, the HOP offers a series of matinee performances, family-oriented workshops, and their “HopStop Family Series” each term. All of these programs are designed to introduce young audiences to the world of the performing arts.
2.) Montshire Museum of Science
Located across the river in Norwich, the Montshire Museum of Science has been accommodating families since 1974. Currently, the Montshire offers a workshop series for children that features events like “Lab-Coat Investigations” and hands-on science activities.
In the summer, the Montshire hosts a series of summer camps. Most sessions are a week long, and are designed for different age groups. Also, throughout the year, the Montshire also offers a “Camp-In” series, where groups of aspiring scientists spend a supervised night in the museum and embark upon guided “Night Walks,” investigate science in “Kitchen Chemistry,” and take a closer look at the night sky in the “StarLab.”
Open 363 days a year from 10 am – 5 pm (the museum is closed Thanksgiving and Christmas), the Montshire offers special admission rates for children, as well as family memberships.
Be sure to check the Montshire’s website for special events like Igloo Building, Earth Day, Space Day, and the Egg Drop Challenge!
3.) Howe Library
The Howe Library is a great resource for families. In addition to housing shelves upon shelves of books written for young readers, the Howe also schedules Story Times & Programs for children. Though many of these programs do not require attendees to pre-register, the more popular programs—After School Adventures with Books, and Kindergarten Story Time—do require parents to register in advance.
Each year, the Howe also purchases community passes for major museums within driving distance of Hanover, including Mass MoCA in North Adams, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabel Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Boston’s Children’s Museum, and the ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center in Burlington. To reserve one of these passes to get either free or discounted rates to these museums, all you need is a library card!
Finally, the Howe maintains a list of suggested child care programs and preschools in the Upper Valley on their website. If you need more information on any of these resources, just contact the Children’s desk!
4.) Graduate Student Council (GSC) and On-Campus Events
Many of the events planned by the GSC are family friendly, especially the ones hosted in the summer. Often held at the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) House, summer events like Garden Party and Summer Luau are complete with healthy snacks and beverages for children. Last summer, the Garden Party was “blueberry” themed, and featured farm-fresh produce. If the weather cooperates, attends are free to roam around the lawns surrounding the DOC House.
Also, many of the smaller events hosted by the student groups recognized by the GSC, like the International Graduate Mentoring Program (IGMP) and Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE), provide the setting for families of the graduate community to enjoy themselves. Check out GWISE’s ever-popular Monday Night Tea, and GWISE’s Moon Hikes.
In addition to the events hosted by the GSC, Dartmouth also hosts many on-campus events for parents and families including family weekends and community-building activities. Looking for a fun way to enjoy the winter? The school is hosting a Story Time and Marshmallow Roast from 11 am – 12 noon on Sunday, January 29th at the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) House. At the Marshmallow Roast, stories will be read to children ages 3-8 and their parents by the fireplace in the main room of the DOC House.
5.) Storrs Pond Recreation Area, the Dartmouth Skiway, and Ledyard Canoe Club
Located off of Route 10 on the way to Lyme, Storrs Pond Recreation Area has two beaches on its ten-acre pond, a heated swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, and also picnic areas. Maintained by the Hanover Improvement Society, Storrs is equipped with camping and RV facilities, and offers swimming and tennis lessons during the summer. The improvement society also maintains a network of trails which criss- cross the recreation area.
The Dartmouth Skiway in only a ten-minute shuttle ride from campus! Featuring over 100 acres of groomed trails, the Skiway offers both expert terrain, and gentle slopes well suited for beginners. Not only are all-mountain lift tickets affordable for students ($15 for a half day with a Dartmouth ID) and for children ($23 for a half day for kids between six and twelve), but tickets for the “beginners-area” are only tickets are only $11. Additionally, kids 5 and under ski free all winter long!
Founded in 1920, the Ledyard Canoe Club is five-minute walk from the Green. Offering special membership rates for families, the Club is the perfect facility for family explorations of the Connecticut River. The modern canoes, kayaks, paddles, and life preservers that the club provides to its patrons makes it easy for parents and their children to enjoy part of the day on the water. Finally, the club’s spacious boathouse is the perfect place to relax after a long day of paddling.