Strong National Museum of Play
Strong National Museum of Play
1 Manhattan Square Dr
Rochester, NY 14607
Strong National Museum of Play Description
Just try to get the kids to leave here once they've set foot inside. From Sesame Street (where you can sit on the stoop or in Big Bird's nest) to Field of Play (an exhibition that looks at kinetics and includes a slanted room and a giant kaleidoscope) to the indoor carousel to the Super Kids Market (you get a receipt for your purchases upon check-out -- before returning all the items to their shelves), this place was made for kids.
Babies: The museum is full of bright colors, big spaces, and lots of pint-sized things for them to touch. Pick a contained spot and let them explore until they're tired. They'll be fascinated by the butterflies -- hold them in your arms to give them a better view. If you need a quiet spot away from the hubbub try the discovery garden out front.
Toddlers & Pre-K: There are plenty of well spaced and jam-packed "Make it and Take it" stations around the museum where kids can try their hands at arts and crafts. Be prepared to sit awhile. Sesame Street, the kid-sized replicas of planes, boats, and more, and the super market could easily take you a day to fully enjoy. To avoid a time-to-leave meltdown, consider saving the carousel (located next to the entrance/exit) until last. Give them a ride and then usher them out the door. Do it quick or they'll spy the gift shop!
School-Age Kids: Older kids like the Reading Adventureland area, where favorite fairy tales are larger than life. The collection of Barbies and G.I. Joe figures on the second floor are also popular. And just try to get them out of the dance lab, where they can watch themselves in neon shadow form doing everything from the jitterbug to the funky chicken.
Pre-Teens & Teens: Outside of a nostalgic look back (Sesame Street) or way back (there's Pac Man to be played on an Atari upstairs), teens will not be engaged.
- There's more upstairs and around the corner. While most of the active fun is in the center of the first floor, make sure to explore the nooks of this large building. Older kids (and parents) will like the National Toy Hall of Fame collection upstairs (including a tribute to G.I. Joe and Barbie). And while the recent addition of the Dancing Wings Butterfly exhibit -- with hundreds of live butterflies at every stage of development (separate admission ticket $3) -- could be easily missed, make time to seek it out.
- Pack a lunch or go for a stroll. Some food is available on site, but most of it is fast food and a bit pricey. Pack snacks and step outside for a nibble and some fresh air on the grounds.
- Not a pit stop. Once they are inside your kids aren't leaving, so wear comfortable shoes and bring your patience. Consider mapping out your approach ahead of time and then steering young ones around areas that aren't on your list. Or you could just give in and spend the whole day.
- Go early. Getting there right as the doors open means that kids won't have wait to play with anything. By mid-afternoon there is a lot more competition. Another reason for going early: Parking on-site is free but fills fast on high-volume days. Your next option is a paid municipal lot and a walk.
- Buy ahead. The Dancing Wings Butterfly exhibit is popular and works on a timed ticket rotation. Book ahead to be sure you get the day and time you want.
- Watch for special exhibits and offerings. Check the website before you go to time your visit with a rotating exhibit, special camp offering, or holiday party. Bob the Builder is currently featured and Grossology (an exhibit about all the icky stuff our bodies do) is coming next.
Just the Facts
Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri. 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. noon-5 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas day.
Fees: Under $10
Recommended Time: Half day
Reviews of Strong National Museum of Play
By GUAYSDN August 26, 2008
What we loved:
My children were allowed to touch and play with everything.
What we didn't love:
I wish it stayed open later in the evenings.
I have 3 children 3 year old twins, and a 2 year old. I have one boy and two girls, and this museum was really the best! It has things for both sexes and all ages as far as I could tell. We spent our time in the young section, of course. br/br/We spent an afternoon there and then the following morning we returned until just after lunch. My children werent bored, and I dont think we saw all there was to do...we certainly didnt get to play with it all. My children really loved the Sesame Street section and the Clifford section.br/br/We bought the 1 year membership, and are planning to return again in the winter. I highly recommend the Strong Musuem of Play to anyone in or around the Rochester area. It is worth the money. Read More