Monday, October 10, 2011

Review: Children's Museum of Virginia

I have to say, right off the bat, I love this place.

Shortly after we moved to Virginia, the Children's Museum in Portsmouth closed down for a remodel that was supposed to make it better than ever.

I have no idea what it used to be like because I don't hang out at places like Children's Museums or Chuckie Cheeses without kids.  However, I am impressed with what it is today.

There are two levels.  The entrance level contains the majority of the stuff that will be interesting to younger kids and toddlers.  Much of it will also be interesting to older kids because it's just neat.

There is a section and a half devoted to trains, complete with a running rail system with areas kids can crawl into & get a great view of the action.  Off to the side of the main train room is a Thomas the Tank Engine play area.  There are two train tables, one with attached tracks and the other left free for kids to build their own track system.  There are TONS of trains.  Klaw absolutely loves this area.

Klaw's other favorite area on the first floor is the toddler play area. It's a good place to hang out if your toddler is getting overwhelmed or if there are school groups/big kids running amuck.  It's kind of removed from the main area, so it's quieter.  It's also enclosed, so you can let your toddler play at will.  There is a conveniently located family restroom and a nursing room in the area.

You can also find a grocery store, veterinary hospital, loading dock, bank, doctor's office, HRT bus, fire truck, police motorcycle, plus a few other fun attractions down stairs.  If there are a lot of older kids, it can be loud and overwhelming for Klaw, which is why we spend a lot of time in the toddler area and the train area.

Upstairs, the activities become more geared towards older kids with science & art taking the stage. Younger kids can definitely enjoy the exhibits but older kids (and adults) can learn (or remember) physics & math while having fun.

 I really enjoy the house that demonstrates energy usage and ways to save & recycle. It meanders out to a "yard" showing different habitats and animals (not real!).  There are things to crawl through for the younger kids and interesting facts for those of us who don't crawl so much anymore.

The Children's Museum of Virginia really does have something for everyone.  We ended up buying an annual membership because it is something I can take Klaw to every couple of weeks and it doesn't get old for him.  The price per visit is a little steep if you plan to go more than a couple of times of year, so it's worth looking at a membership if you are local and your kids like it.

Are there any "go-to" museums or parks your kids enjoy?  What is your favorite place to take your kids that you enjoy, also?
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