Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: where the wild things are
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Unless you go in the late afternoon, it can get very busy.
FYI for those w/ kids with sensory issues---the lower level feels a bit more contained, but be prepared for it to be an overwhelming experience. When we visit, I pick just a few areas and stay at them for longer.
Because it is so wide open, it is easy to lose a kid there even if they wander off just a bit. So also plan accordingly if you are coming solo with more than one kid and either of them are prone to running, darting off or exploring.
The only true 'baby/toddler' area that seems to be enforced is the nursery rhyme area. It has a swinging gate.
Also downstairs is a small area with a house/yard that had a gate, but it was missing on our last visit. There are walker wagons, fake flowers, butterflies to stick on a tree, a house with steps, brooms, etc. but it can be harder for younger toddlers to play when older/busier kids are there.
The baby area upstairs is right next to the water area and not closed in. I've always found it to busy w/ older kids to be safe for my youngest to play in without getting stepped on.
It's also disappointing that the water play area is a taller height than the old museum so that some areas are even a bit high for my almost 3yo to play at.
If you are close enough to come a few times a year, I would look into a membership. There is also plenty of curbside parking that is quite close to the front entrance of the museum.
My best advice for visiting would be to try to find areas to spend a while in. We love the 'program' room in the front corner (opposite corner of where the carousel is) where they put out art supplies, dress up, musical instruments, etc.
The best thing about the museum is truly the staff. They are amazing and know just how to engage kids and maintain a fun environment.
Best times to visit---Mondays, late afternoons or first thing on a Saturday morning (as in be waiting outside when they open the doors at 9am)
In nicer weather, the Smith Playground is a 5 minute drive away if you want to picnic and make a day of it.