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More Vacation Options: Museums, Skating Rinks, Laser Tag and Bowling

If cabin fever is setting in, here are some ideas for keeping the family active and occupied.

Want to spend some quality time with your family during your time off this week, or just trying to peel your kids away from their new holiday electronics? Local entertainment centers and museums have altered their schedules to take advantage of the holiday season and vacationing parents, with many offering unique celebrations for New Year’s.

The Connectiut Science Center of Hartford will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Friday, Dec. 30, and 10 a.m. to 5p.m. on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. The center's interactive exhibits range from examinations of the ecosystem through the River of Life and Planet Earth, the intergalactic odyssey of Exploring Space, and the child-friendly KidSpace. The center’s newest exhibit, Animation, allows visitors to explore the science behind every aspect of producing cartoons, from character design to sound.

The Children’s Museum of West Hartford is offering a plethora of programs throughout the week, including hourly live animal demonstrations at the Wildlife Sanctuary and a Wildest Weather in the Solar System digital planetarium show at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. A free “Mars Madness” program will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 28, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. that lets visitors plant seeds in “Mars soil” and participate in air pressure experiments.

According to marketing director Joan Gurski, it will also be possible to sign up for the vacation science camp program held on Thursday and Friday on Wednesday.

The International Skating Center of Connecticut will be open for public skating from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. until Dec. 30, and from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day. It will also hold the “Winter Fantasy on Ice” at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 31 to benefit Gifts of Love. The figure skating performance will feature Olympic champions Ekaterina Gordeeva and Ilia Kulik.

Tickets cost $10 for general seating and $20 for reserved on-ice seating, and may be purchased from several locations throughout Canton, Avon, and Simsbury.

Skating rinks open to the public include the Veteran’s Memorial Skating Rink of West Hartford and the Plainville Indoor Sports Arena. The rink at Simsbury Farms will be unavailable to the public until Dec. 30 in order to host the Simsbury Invitational Hockey Tournament, while a New Year’s Eve party will make the rink freely available to visitors starting at 6:15 on Dec. 31.

“It’s a big event every year,” said John Thibeault, Simsbury’s recreation supervisor. “Families come to skate before going back home to their own parties.”

Blue Fox Rock’n Bowl of Simsbury will be open during its normal hours all week. Family New Year’s Eve parties will be held at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., though lanes have been sold out for the latter event. Mock midnight countdowns will be held about two hours into each party, which will include unlimited bowling, pizza, music, and contests.

Families with older children may want to consider attending the 8:30 p.m. party, which will run until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day and includes champagne and LaZer Tag for an additional fee.

“Everybody’s got time off and are looking for something to do, so we’ve been having a great week,” Rock’n Bowl general manager Mark Glanovsky said. He noted that the alley’s new LaZer Tag arena has proven to be extremely popular since it was installed and was available for the same hours as the lanes this week.

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