Strong National Museum of Play  contributed to our family’s decision to move to Rochester a little over three years ago.  While visiting friends, we took our twin six-year-old daughters to the museum.  We knew that any city with such a museum  had to be a great place to raise children.

Kids' imaginations soar!

Kids' imaginations soar!

What makes Strong National Museum of Play so magical is the interactivity.  Throughout the museum, children are encouraged to touch and feel, laugh and play. 

One of the favorite areas for the younger set is the Super Kids Market where children shop for food, wheeling carts around a grocery store, then placing their selections on a conveyor belt to scan for pricing.  At the end, they enjoy reshelving their selections.

In Reading Adventureland, kids will feel as if they’ve “popped into”  their favorite stories, complete with costumes!

Costumes make for enchanting play

Costumes make for enchanting play

The popular Berenstein Bears just set up Main Street in the museum and you won’t know whether to stop at Mama’s Quilt shop, Papa’s Woodworking Shop, The Restaurant, the Farm, the Dentist or the Club house first!

One of our favorite areas has always been the Kid to Kid section where children can pilot a helicopter, steer a ship, act on a stage or be the Post Master of his or her own Post Office.  If you can figure out how to get to Sesame Street (complete with Big Bird’s Nest), you’ll find Kid to Kid right nearby!

We also always love to visit the Dancing Wings Butterfly exhibit at Strong Museum.  Imagine walking through a lush tropical rain forest surrounded by 800 beautiful butterflies that just might land on your shoulder or hand!

Make a new friend or two

Make a new friend or two

 One of the wonderful things about this museum is that, scattered throughout the building, are craft centers set up to inspire creative projects, where adults and children can work together.

We’re really looking forward to a new exhibit coming at the end of May 2009 called Videotopia that will explore the world of arcade classic video games. 

Now before you leave, take a trip down memory lane in the National Toy Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to toy classics such as Barbie, G.I. Joe, and many toy favorites that achieved icon status over past decades.  I bet you can’t walk down a single aisle without exclaiming, “Hey, I had one of those!”

Strong National Museum of Play is located at One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY and they are open Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (butterfly garden open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Friday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (butterfly garden open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.), Sunday Noon to 5 p.m. (butterfly garden open 12:20 p.m. to 5 p.m.).

Admission: Adults – $10, Seniors (62+) – $9, Youth (2-15) – $8, Under age 2  and Strong Museum Members – FREE.  For the Dancing Wings Butterfly Exhibit, there is an additional $3/person charge for non-members and $1.50/person for members.  Free for children under 2.  Tickets to the Butterfly exhibit are timed due to limited capacity and advance purchase is recommended.

Top and middle photo courtesy of Strong National Museum of Play.