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Ramp Up Your Pre-Holiday Weekend

Your July 4 plans are probably sewn up but before Monday's big birthday bash, check in to Saturday and Sunday's array of Americana themed events, to stitch together a festive holiday weekend.

Living history -- and a way to tie in with what your kids learned this year -- come together at Captain's Cove in Bridgeport where replicas of Columbus's ships the Nina and Pinta sail in on July 1. The completely built by hand Nina and the Brazil crafted Pinta were singled out by Archaeology magazine for their authenticity. Go on board from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $6-$8. The ships will lay over in Bridgeport until the 5th. For more information, visit Captain's Cove's website.

Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam launches the musical "Showboat ," Edna Ferber's sweeping story of life and love on the Mississippi River. Not just an American valentine, its unblinking look at prejudice, as well as enduring passion, made it a ground breaking work. And its stunning Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II score features "Old Man River," and "Can't Help Lovin' that Man of Mine," among other exquisite songs. For tickets and information, visit Goodspeed's website.

America's earliest denizens, dinosaurs , make a guest appearance at Norwalk's Maritime Aquarium . Life sized and life-like, these robotic versions of extinct behemoths give kids a chance to test their knowledge and learn much more about dinosaurs' habits and habitat -- and even see the insides of one of the robots.  For hours and more, visit the Aquarium's website .

The Discovery Museum's exhibit, "From Here to There, " satisfies our uniquely American fascination with transportation. Chock-a-block with hands on displays exploring land, sea and air travel, the piece-de-resistance is surely the hovercraft ride. For more information, visit the Museum's website .

A summer day at the beach is an American tradition but one that includes Remarkable Reptiles ? Not the standard version. On July 2, from 3:30-5 p.m., Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo educators pay a visit to the Sherwood Island State Park Nature Center with a collection of beautiful and endangered reptiles for show and tell. For more information, visit the Park's webpage .

Forty masterful American landscape paintings from the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, New York, set off fireworks in an exhibit opening July 1 at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme. Works by William Merritt Chase, William Stanley Haseltine, Theodore Robinson, John Henry Twachtman, John Marin, John Sloan, Ernest Lawson, Fairfield Porter, Alex Katz and Childe Hassam tell their own evocative, American stories.  For more information, visit the Museum's website .

Summer fairs and carnivals are a seasonal American treat and Danbury City Fair at City Center, boasts special razz-matazz with three categories of rides, Kiddie, Major and Spectacular, as well as flavorful food, entertainment and games of skill. For hours and directions, visit the Fair's website .

For more happenings, visit our Events Section .

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