You don’t have to put up with big city crowds and prices to enjoy wonderful holiday gift shopping. Connecticut’s nature centers offer a host of fabulous gift ideas perfect for any budget.
A good place to start is at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center, on 39 Scofieldtown Rd. in Stamford. Here you will find a limited-edition micro-train LEGO® holiday ornament in conjunction with their All Aboard with Bill Probert & Friends exhibition. Probert designed the 2012 “Steam Locomotive” and each of the 200 limited-edition trains is numbered. Each train set comes with a link to a website with instructions on how to re-build or hang the train. The train is $15 and available at the front desk of the Bendel Mansion. For more information contact www.stamfordmuseum.org.
The Beardsley Zoo on 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport is hosting the second annual Animal Art Show & Sale on Sun. Dec. 16 where you can choose from a wide selection of original artwork created by animals at Connecticut's only zoo. Each piece is one of a kind and suitable for framing. Meet and chat with zookeepers and enter to win a holiday masterpiece created by nine zoo animals! For a more permanent gift consider purchasing and engraving a 90 anniversary brick for your loved ones. Bricks will be displayed at the Zoo’s Front Gate for all to see! Contact Emily Bobowick at 203-394-6569 for more information or visit www.beardsleyzoo.org.
The Discovery Museum and Planetarium located on 4450 Park Ave. in Bridgeport is offering a great selection of fun and inexpensive gifts. Their science toys make great holiday trinkets for any child. You can choose from the classic Drinking Bird, Globe Slinkies or Freeze Dried Space Ice Cream! Membership is also a great gift because of the year round benefits it provides. Visit www.discoverymuseum.org for more information.
Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens, on 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford is offering a book by The University of Connecticut Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens Master Gardeners titled, “Recipes from Our Gardens” that sells for $20. This beautifully illustrated book offers 253 pages of recipes including Appetizers & Beverages, Soups & Salads, Vegetables & Side Dishes, Main Dishes, Breads & Rolls, Desserts and Cookies & Candy. For information call 203-322-6971 or visit http://bartlettarboretum.org.
Flanders Nature Center located on the corner of Church Hill Rd. and Flanders Rd. in Woodbury. They are hosting a large Artisan Marketplace on Saturday and Sunday’s only through December 23. If you are looking for quality creations by local crafters this is the place to visit. Here you will find a wide variety of arts and crafts from beeswax candles, hand crafted quilts, hand knitted gloves and scarves using Flanders very own wool to handmade wreathes, honey, jewelry, and pottery. For additional information call 203-263-3711 or visit www.flandersnaturecenter.org.
The Plymouth Land Trust is selling T-shirts ($10) to support the restoration of the Plymouth Burying Ground, a site on the National Register of Historic Places, along with the rest of the village of Plymouth Center. Call 860-921-6118 for more information.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the guidebook, "Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands" at $10 each, make great stocking stuffers. The book includes information on kayaking in the Norwalk area of Long Island Sound as well as on three local rivers along with other useful tidbits including safety and local island wildlife. The books are available at the Small Boat Shop at Rex Marina, 144 Water St, South Norwalk; the Westport Historical Society Remarkable Gift Shop, 25 Avery Place, Westport; The Dock Shop Nautical Boutique, 49 Tokeneke Rd, Darien; the Outdoor Sports Center, 80 Danbury Rd, Wilton and on-line at www.norwalkriver.org.