One of New England’s best natural-history centers, the 4,000-acre White Memorial Conservation Center Museum (80 Whitehall Rd., off Rte. 202, Litchfield, 860/567-0857, www.whitememorialcc.org , 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat.; noon–5 p.m. Sun., $5 adults, $2.50 children 6–12) educates visitors through exhibits in an impressive museum before sending them out on 35 miles of trails to look for wildlife.
The museum is full of high-quality dioramas and interactive exhibits that introduce visitors to all of the characters in the New England forest—bobcats, foxes, deer, birds, and more. A special exhibit explains the secrets of taxidermy, or how animals are stuffed and mounted.
If you prefer to see animals alive and running around, take to the trails, a mix of paths for cycling, waking, and horseback riding. Along the way, some 30 observation platforms have been set up to afford visitors a hidden vantage from which to view birds and other wildlife.