If you have a toddler, you've probably heard of the Mr. Rogers animated spin-off, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Well, Sally is nothing short of obsessed with the show! The bad news is I often find the intro song stuck in my head as I'm doing the dishes or on my daily commute to work. The good news is that as far as toddler tv goes, Daniel Tiger is a pretty solid roll model and with that, Sally has learned a ton -- from expressing her emotions (when she's frustrated she now says "I'm so mad!!!" along with adorably folding her arms) to developing a healthy love of trollies (ding, ding!). So when we saw a sign off the highway for the Connecticut Trolley Museum (while on our way to a weekend visit to the Thimble Islands) we obviously had to stop!
The Connecticut Trolley Museum is a total delight! The tour starts with a 3-mile ride on a gorgeous vintage trolley built in 1922 from New Orleans (the ride is short enough that the kiddos won't get bored but long enough to feel substantial). Then, on your way back to the museum, the trolley stops at the museum's "trolley yard". There, your guide takes you on a short walking tour of the various beautifully restored old trolleys and busses from around the country that are on display. The guides (many retired train lovers) are more than happy to tell you all about the various cars, where they came from, what they were used for, and when they were built before loading you back up for the quick ride back to the station. The museum is not only perfect for Daniel Tiger fans (or any kid who's into trains), but with plenty of interesting history about public transportation, has a lot to offer the grown ups. And of course there are plenty of photo ops too! (I have to say, while Sally was dressed for a boat ride, it turns out sailor dresses also look cute on trollies! Who knew!)
Back on track (pun intended) we were once again on our way to the Thimble Islands but not without a quick stop for lunch at a great spot in Branford, CT called The Stand. It's a fairly new BBQ spot that has outdoor seating, a nice bar, a small garden, and an outdoor stand where you can buy homemade tomato sauce, lavender, and a whole bunch of other great stuff that I wasn't able to look at since Sally was running around wild. But the fact that it had an area for Sally to run wild at all made it a perfect place for a toddler. The restaurant is delightfully casual and family friendly. You order at the counter and there is plenty of seating. There are huge garage doors that are opened up so you can enjoy the idea of outside while still in the comfort of A/C, a nice bar that is well-stocked with local brews and seasonal cocktails, and apparently there is live music on the weekend evenings too, which we missed, but sounds pleasant. Overall, it's an excellent place to stop to grab some food or a refreshing beer!
After lunch, we finally made it to our original destination -- The Thimble Islands. The Thimble Islands are made up of 25 tiny islands off the coast of the small town of Stony Creek. The islands have beautiful Victorian homes on them (many with only one) and can be seen via the Thimble Islands Boat Tour. This tour is one of my favorite day trips from NYC!!! It's a great opportunity to be on the water plus you get some real Wes Anderson vibes! The tour itself is a delightful 45-minute boat cruise through the islands as the boat captain tells you about the history of the islands and the inhabitants. Highly recommended!
The town of Stony Creek is cute too with a restaurant/ice cream parlor, and a small beach where kids can play in the sand or go in the water. Sally found some spare sand toys sitting around and got to spend a little time playing in the sand which turned out to be a great activity for her between the boat tour and the car ride home.