Planning a Family Road Trip to Sheboygan, WI!

leaderboard_blueharbor-wide

I am so excited about all the traveling my family plans to do this year. Family travel is so important to me (and I’m slowly starting to convince my husband of this too) and there’s no better education you can give your kids than out on the road. We have been blessed this year with a long trip planned, and a few Midwest road trips up our sleeve too. One destination that I can’t wait to see is the Blue Harbor Resort & Spa in Sheboygan, WI. Living in the Chicago area, I’ve traveled to Wisconsin many, many times with my family, both as a kid and as an adult with my own family. But I can honestly say that I’ve never spent any time in Sheboygan – and it’s only about 2 and a half hours from Chicago!

blueharborexteriorviews18

Blue Harbor Resort & Spa is the #1 resort on Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan coast. With stunning beachfront and water views, Blue Harbor Resort features 182 suites, 64 villas, more than 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space, a 54,000 square-foot indoor waterpark entertainment area including a mini glow golf course, a full service spa, three restaurants, and recreation amenities including watersports and access to the Bull golf course. This award winning resort is located just two hours north in nearby and scenic Sheboygan, WI, known as the “Malibu of the Midwest.”

blueharborwaterpark1

To book a stay, visit BlueHarborResort.com or call 866.701.BLUE. Thoughts from Her readers can receive FREE Water Park Passes and savings up to 30% OFF with this exclusive Blue Harbor Resort coupon: http://usfamilycoupons.com/coupon.php?regionid=75&bid=11746&dealid=1749.

Disclosure: My family will receive a complimentary one-night stay in exchange for this post.

Kid-Friendly Shows at the Staerkel Planetarium in Champaign, IL #visitchampaign

My son is obsessed with our solar system.  He’s four now, but has been able to recite the planets (in order) since he was about 26 months old.  (Totally not a brag, but it is what it is. He is SO smart!) So, what better activity for my astronomer-in-training than a trip to the William M. Staerkel Planetarium?

Staerkel Planetarium-Kids

Photo By: Staerkel Planetarium Facebook

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit nervous to take him to a planetarium show because I wasn’t sure he’d be able to sit still through the whole thing.  I’ve never even taken him to the movies before so this would be our first “movie” experience together.  We had tickets to the “Santa’s Secret Star” show on a Saturday so I was banking on it being kid-friendly.  Thankfully, it was! (Please check show descriptions before visiting with young kids. Not all shows are recommended for children.)

Staerkel Planetarium-Seating

The Good:  The planetarium theater itself was beautiful.  Located on the Parkland College campus, the planetarium’s state-of-the-art digital projection system, operated by the (nicest) planetarium director, Dave Leake, proved to be breathtaking.  His storytelling held my son’s attention the entire time – and I’m sure seeing Santa up in the sky didn’t hurt either!

Staerkel Planetarium-Dave Leake

The Bad:  At the time of our visit, campus construction blocked the front entrance of the planetarium, making it a bit difficult to navigate our way inside. Construction should be 100% now so you shouldn’t have any issues driving and finding parking.

Overall:  We loved the kid-friendly show at the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, and would certainly return for another show!

Staerkel Planetarium-Planets

The Staerkel Planetarium is open August through May on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 and 8:00 PM (barring college closure for holidays). A variety of show types are presented. Check the calendar to find out the current schedule of offerings. Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for kids 2-12. Special discounts are available for double-header shows.(Pricing verified February 2015 – check the website for updated information.)

Connect with Staerkel Planetarium

Facebook

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission in order to facilitate this review and I was not required to state a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

Have Fun Learning about Science at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in Champaign, IL

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you’d know that my family loves to visit children’s museums. We’ve been to quite a few and always seek one out when we’re on vacation. In Illinois alone, we’ve been to the one in Oak Lawn, Rockford, Naperville, and Glenview. We hope to hit them all in the coming years too!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Exterior Signage

On our last trip to the Champaign-Urbana area, my entire family visited the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum and we had a good time.  We dropped by on a Sunday afternoon about 10 minutes before the museum officially opened at noon.  A birthday party was just wrapping up while we waited for opening time.   It’s obvious that the museum used to be a theater and we loved the architecture and some of the original details inside.  The museum isn’t very large, but it is situated on 2 levels with various exhibits that incorporate a fun way to learn about science.

The Good

My son had a great time at some of the exhibits at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum.  Some of his favorites were the train table (of course…it was so hard to pry him away from the train table), the water table (again, a favorite among many kids – but this table was different in that it had different sized plastic pieces that you could configure to control water flow), and a sand table with purple sand!

Orpheun Children's Science Museum-Train Table

Kids love the train table!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Water Table

Cool water table!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Purple Sand

Purple sand play was awesome!

My teenage daughter and I really enjoyed the Momentum Machine on the lower level.  A small spinning circle teaches angular momentum –  just like you see the figure skaters do on the ice.  You kick off with one leg, hold your leg out to the side, then slowly bring your leg back to your other leg.  You’ll start spinning faster and faster!  We were so dizzy but kept trying it out over and over again!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Momentum

During the summer months, the outdoor courtyard features a dinosaur dig area where kids can excavate dinosaur bones from the large sand pit. There were many opportunities at the museum to teach your kids a science lesson.  My son, while only a toddler, had lots of “Why?” questions for us about different exhibits – thank goodness my husband was there to answer many of his science-related questions.

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Vet Area

Vet area

The Bad

The museum was a tad bit on the small side, and we couldn’t get some of the exhibits on the second level to work – due to missing pieces and such. That didn’t deter us from trying everything though!

Overall

The Orpheum Children’s Science Museum is a great way to spend a few hours.  Children will benefit from the many science lessons found throughout the museum – and they’ll have tons of fun doing it!  Admission is only $5 per person (as of January 2015, please check website for details), so it’s an inexpensive educational outing for the kids!

Orpheum Children's Science Museum-Mirrors

Connect with the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission in order to facilitate this review and I was not required to state a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

Classic Comfort at the Comfort Suites Urbana Champaign #visitchampaign #chambana

Sometimes you just need a vacation. For me, a vacation doesn’t have to be thousands of miles away, only reachable by plane. A vacation is anywhere I can get away with my family, be it a few towns over, or a short road trip away. My family visited the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois for a weekend in the fall and stayed at the Comfort Suites hotel. The Champaign-Urbana area is located roughly 140 miles from the Chicago area, a little over a two-hour drive. My entire family was along for the trip – my husband and myself, my teenage daughter, my preschooler son, and my mom. Thankfully, the Comfort Suites offers adjoining rooms, making our stay as comfortable as possible.

Comfort-Suites-Exterior

Photo By: Comfort Suites Urbana Champaign

Hotel

The Comfort Suites hotel may not look like much from the outside, but I can assure you that we loved this hotel.  The staff at the front desk was very friendly and accommodating.  They were happy to answer all of my questions.  Aside from the front desk, there is a sitting area located near the entrance.

Confort-Suites-Free-Coffee

My favorite part of our stay, honestly, was the complimentary breakfast offered by the hotel.  While coffee is available all day (we LOVED that), breakfast included fruits, yogurt, bagels, donuts, cereal, oatmeal, a waffle-making station, and some hot options like eggs, sausage, etc. (those items varied by day).  This is definitely a great option for families, as dining out for every meal can get expensive.

Comfort-Suites-Pool

Photo By: Comfort Suites Urbana Champaign

My kids loved the pool area at the Comfort Suites.  The pool wasn’t very large, but there weren’t a lot of people in the pool when we visited, so we didn’t feel cramped at all.  There was also a hot tub and complimentary pool towels to use for guests.

Comfort-Suites-Sitting-Area

Room

I was most surprised at the size of our rooms at the Comfort Suites.  We were fortunate to secure two adjoining rooms – one with a king bed and the other with 2 queens. Each room had a large sitting area with a couch and a small table, and had a writing desk and television.  A great feature for families is that all rooms come with a small refrigerator and microwave.  The room was also very clean and I did not notice any stains or rips in the upholstery.  I also liked the fact that the hotel offers free WiFi to guests, as we needed it for my son to view content on our tablet.

Overall

We enjoyed our stay at the Comfort Suites Champaign-Urbana. The amenities offered by the hotel is just what my family needed for a comfortable stay.  I would definitely recommend this hotel to any family wishing to visit the Champaign-Urbana area.

Disclosure: My family received complimentary accommodations in order to facilitate this review and I was not required to state a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

Let Out Your Inner Rock Star at the Rhythm! Discovery Center in Indianapolis #VisitIndy

Rhythm Discovery Center

 

If you’re visiting Indy and are looking for something totally awesome to do indoors, I hope Rhythm! Discovery Center is on your list.  Rhythm! Discovery Center is THE place to be to let your inner rock star out – and have loads of fun doing it too!  We visited Rhythm! Discovery Center on our last trip to Indy, and my son still  has not stopped talking about it.

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Beatles

I hadn’t heard much about Rhythm! Discovery Center before my visit, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I had no idea that this place is totally interactive.  What kid wouldn’t have a good time here?!?!  My 3-year-old had a blast and, I’m not gonna lie – I totally did too!  Percussion, percussion, percussion.  Instruments made of wood, skin, and metal.  We tried them all!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Steel-Drum

We must’ve banged on every drum, shaken every tambourine, and played every xylophone in the place!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Headphones

We really loved the interactive tribal-like circle featuring the many percussion instruments created right at home by The Leedy Drum Company, a company that began in Indiana.

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Leedy

Their Interactive Area was also a lot of fun – I can see many field trips having a good ol’ loud time here.  So many instruments to choose from.  Believe me, my son tried them all!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Interactive-Room

Probably our favorite parts of the museum were the sound-proof rooms that allowed you to play a real drum set and be as loud as you wanted to be – we felt like rock stars!

Rhythm-Discovery-Center-Sound-Proof

Handy Tip: Visit this museum late in the day.  We arrived about an hour and a half before closing and had the entire museum to ourselves.  I’m sure it’s very noisy (and migraine-inducing) at peak times.

Rhythm! Discovery Center is located at 110 W. Washington Street, Suite A (in the basement), in Indianapolis, IN.  Admission prices (as of January 2015) are $10 for adults, $6 for kids 6 and up, kids 5 and under are FREE!

Connect with Rhythm! Discovery Center

Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

Disclosure: My family was invited to visit Indianapolis by the Indianapolis CVB, Visit Indy, and were provided with complimentary admission to many attractions and a hotel stay.  I was not compensated for this post.  I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Winter Getaway: Wisconsin Dells’ Wilderness Resort

image

If you’re anything like me, you’re already missing the warm weather and dreaming about your next escape.  While we haven’t had any heavy snowfall…yet…in the Chicago area, the chilly temperatures already have me getting a little stir-crazy and thinking about where I want to go next.  At the moment, that dream contains water, bathing suits, and family fun.  It’s a recurring dream, really, and I can’t wait to get away.  But with the holidays literally around the corner, I know I don’t want to stray too far from my home base.  I need a destination within driving distance – and a vacation that won’t break the bank!

Wilderness Lodge_Exterior

Located in Wisconsin Dells, approximately 200 miles from Chicago (about a 3-hour drive), the Wilderness Resort, offers everything I am looking for – and then some!  From multiple waterparks and restaurants, to an arcade and laser tag, this hotel has it all – it’s like an entire city located on one property.  I promise, you will never find yourself with nothing to do.  In fact, you never even have to leave the resort!

Wilderness Lodge_Territory

A few months ago, my family had the pleasure of staying at the Wilderness Resort and I can already tell you that we are eager to return.  My four-year-old (who is not one for rides or fast movements, by the way) had an absolute blast at the resort’s many water parks.  The Wild WaterDome, for instance, was one of our faves.  A 70,000-square-foot indoor waterpark that features a see-though-roof (very cool to catch some of the sun’s rays even when it was too cold to swim outside) that bathes the entire park in natural light and actually allows guests to tan all year long! The Great Wave, also known as America’s largest indoor wave pool, was probably where we spent most of our time.  Just seeing my son’s huge smile whenever the wave hit him was probably worth the trip for me.

20140906_160357

Wilderness Lodge_Wave Pool

There are also plenty of life vests at the First Aid Station that kept the “Helicopter Mom” in me happy.

Wilderness Lodge_Life Vests

The other water parks at the resort offer plenty to do for the whole family – from lazy rivers to fast-paced slides – but we loved the Bonanza Bluff at Klondike Kavern best.  Wilderness also offers 4 outdoor waterparks during the summer months, but we visited off-season so we didn’t get to experience those.  Just another reason for us to return!

Wilderness Lodge_Klondike Kavern

Wilderness Lodge_Klondike Kavern2

Family-friendly amenities don’t stop at the waterparks either.  The Wilderness Resort offers so many things to do – there’s never a dull moment here!  Their indoor amenities are fantastic!  You can ride go-karts indoors, play laser tag, complete a sky ropes course, ride bumper boats, try your hand at mini golf, or spend hours playing games at the arcade.

Wilderness Lodge_Go Karts

Our room, while located a bit far from all the water park amenities, was another hit with my family.  For one, it was HUGE.  There was a separate seating area (with a sink and counter) from the bedroom that really came in handy when my son was ready for bed.  My husband was still able to catch up with all the sports channels, causing minimal noise, allowing my little one to fall asleep quickly.

Wilderness Lodge_Room

Wilderness Lodge_Seating Area

I also have to give a HUGE shout-out to one of Wilderness Resort’s employees at Tommyknockers Lounge – Madison.  We had the most positive interaction with her, and my four-year-old was immediately smitten.  She was so sweet to my son, and I would definitely like to publicly thank her (and tell her that we still use her name when we want to get him to do something.) Thanks, Madison!

Wilderness Lodge_Madison

Overall, our stay at the Wilderness Resort was really great.  My family loves the year-round fun that the resort allows – and kids adore the many water parks this hotel offers.  I urge you to check out this resort if you’re in town – you won’t be disappointed!  Better yet, if you’re looking for a spot to ring in the New Year, Wilderness could be just what you’re looking for.  Wilderness Resort is offering a guest-exclusive New Year’s Eve Party that will provide some serious fun with music, dancing, party favors, laser lights two ballrooms with DJs playing popular hits! There will even be a midnight balloon drop in one of the ballrooms. The cost for this fun event is $12 in advance ($15 at the door) for adults 21 and over (includes two drink tickets. IDs are required). It is $7 in advance ($8 at the door) for kids ages 3-20 (and this fee includes punch).  A great price for what looks to be a super-fun event!

Connect with Wilderness Resort

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Making Memories at Brookfield Zoo #BZBloggers

I have been going to Brookfield Zoo ever since I was a kid.  I remember watching (& loving) the dolphin show, taking pictures in front of the fountain, watching the ducks splash around in the pond, and taking a ride on a motor safari.  Some of the best memories I have as a kid took place within the walls of the Brookfield Zoo.

Brookfield Zoo_Fountain

So believe me when I say that I am so thankful to be able to share these memories with my 3-year-old, and make some new ones as well.  My heart swells watching him take in the same dolphin shows and ride the same motor safari that I did as a kid.

Brookfield-Zoo-Lion-Statue

We usually visit Brookfield Zoo every year, but here’s a little taste of what we did on our last visit with cousins!  Spoiler:  The kids had a blast!

We were guests of Brookfield Zoo on our last visit, and they were nice enough to set-up a little Meet & Greet with some of the animals.  We got to pet an adorable wallaby.

Brookfield-Zoo-Wallaby

And watch a little tamandua (a member of the anteater species).  I’ll admit that I wanted to take this guy home in my purse.

Brookfield-Zoo-Tamandua

And watch an expert handle a hawk – and she was super-friendly too!

Brookfield-Zoo-Hawk

The rest of the day was spent doing all the kiddie activities the zoo has to offer.  We touched some stingrays at Stingray Bay.  They also sell feed (small fish) for an additional $2 to help you attract some stingrays.  They were more active than I’ve ever seen them!

Brookfield-Zoo-Stingray-Bay-Fountain

Brookfield-Zoo-Stingray-Bay-Touch

We watched an energetic dolphin show in Brookfield Zoo’s gorgeous arena.

Brookfield-Zoo-Dolphin-Arena

Brookfield-Zoo-Dolphin-Show

We even released some energy at the zoo’s playground.

Brookfield-Zoo-Playground

We spent most of our time this trip at the Hamill Family Play Zoo.

Brookfield-Zoo-Hamill-Family-Play-Zoo

The kids had fun setting up a pretend animal cage,…

Brookfield-Zoo-Play-Zoo-Cages

petting some more animals,…

Brookfield-Zoo-Kids-Petting

and even “earning their admission” by going behind the scenes in the kids exhibit.  I loved watching them pretend to be zoo keepers and how the Hamill Family Play Zoo allows kids to be “hands-on”.  It’s this kind of creativity that make the play zoo a fun, educational activity for young kids.

Brookfield-Zoo-Kids-Cleaning

My son’s favorite part of the Hamill Family Play Zoo was the Zoo Greenhouse.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse

He loved watering the plants.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse-Plant1

And this one.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse-Plant2

Oh, this one too.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse-Plant3

Can’t forget this guy.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse-Plant4

Wait…still more.  I swear, I think he just might have gotten every single one while we were there!  It was adorable.

Brookfield-Zoo-Greenhouse-Plant5

Finally, the kids started to get tired so we spent the end of our day expending some more energy outside. The Hamill Family Play Zoo also has an amazing outdoor play area where you can climb a camel,…

Brookfield-Zoo-Camel-Climb

climb through a tunnel,…

Brookfield-Zoo-Tunnel

play in the sand, and so much more!

Brookfield-Zoo-Sand-Play

Brookfield Zoo is the ideal spot to spend the day with the kids in the Chicago area.  There are so many animals to see, you’re almost guaranteed to make a return trip!

General Information

Brookfield Zoo is located west of Chicago, approximately a 30 minute drive from the city at 8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street) in Brookfield, IL.  General admission is $16.95 for adults, $11.65 for seniors 65 and over, and $11.95 for children ages 3 to 11.  Parking is $10.00.  The zoo is open 365 days a year.

Connect with Brookfield Zoo

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Disclosure:  My family received complimentary admission to Brookfield Zoo to facilitate this post. I was not asked to provide a particular point of view, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Cool Down at Millennium Park in Grand Rapids, MI #ExperienceGR

Millennium Park_Entrance

Millennium Park, just a short drive from downtown Grand Rapids, features a 6-acre beach on a lake; a large splash pad; a trail network for walking, running, or biking; a boat rental area (kayaks, canoes, row boats or paddle boats); playground areas; and picnic shelters.

Millennium Park_Playground Entrance

Cool tunnel entrance to one of the playgrounds.

Millennium Park_Playground

Climbing Playground for Older Kids

Entrance to the park and trails is free, but there is a separate admission charge ($4 for ages 16 and up, $2 for kids 3-15) to enter the beach area and splash pad. The beach area has locker rooms, changing areas, a concession stand and picnic tables. You can also pack a lunch to bring along to Millennium Park – perfect for families!

Millennium Park_Beach

I visited the park with my family – my husband and myself, my teenage daughter, my toddler son, and my mom – and, truth be told, my toddler had never been to a beach prior to our visit to Millennium Park. I regret not thinking ahead and bringing along his sand pail from home, but he still enjoyed digging in the sand and walking in the water. He got a kick out of watching the tiny fish scatter when he walked through the water and I wish I had taken him to a beach sooner. My teen, of course, just wanted to lay out and catch some rays.

20130810_153831

We also visited the splash park where my son spent most of his time at the water table. There were numerous sprinklers, buckets, and sprayers at the splash pad, but he preferred to splash around at the table. I liked that there were plenty of beach chairs around the perimeter of the splash pad for the adults to sit and watch their kids play, and an employee guarded the entrance to prohibit kids from wandering away.

20130810_152312

Bottom line, we enjoyed our time at Millennium Park, a relaxing oasis located just minutes from the heart of Grand Rapids. We’ll definitely be back the next time we’re in town – and next time we’ll be sure to remember the sand pail!

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to Millennium Park in order to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100 % my own.

trekaroo-logo-180

This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

There’s Lots to Do at the John Ball Zoo in Grand Rapids, MI #ExperienceGR

One of the biggest surprises for my family during our trip to Grand Rapids was the John Ball Zoo. We had no idea we’d have such a great time, and even see some animals we’d never seen before! My family – my husband and I, my teenage daughter, my toddler son, and my mom – spent about 3 hours at the zoo, and only wish we had more time to explore more.

John Ball Zoo_ExperienceGR

The John Ball Zoo, just a short drive away from the downtown area of Grand Rapids, is a smaller zoo with a surprising number of animal exhibits. Admission to the zoo in the summer is $8.50 for ages 14 and up, and $6.50 for ages 3-13 (admission prices vary during the off-peak season). There are a number of concession stands throughout the zoo, as well as picnic table areas.

One of the neat features of the zoo is the Idema Funicular, a train-like vehicle that can take you to the highest point of the zoo (or back down near the zoo entrance). It’s a great way to quickly move from one side of the zoo to another, although you won’t see any animals on the ride. There is an extra charge of $3 per person for a one-way ride.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Another unique feature of the John Ball Zoo is the number of “adventure” opportunities offered. You can take off on a zip line ride ($6 per person), navigate a ropes course ($6 per person), ride a camel ($5 per person), and touch some stingrays and sharks in a small pool ($1 per person). I really wanted to try the zip line (an item on my bucket list), but both my husband and teen had no intention of trying it with me.

Photo courtesy of John Ball Zoo on Facebook

Some of the exhibits here seemed too close together to me, but that didn’t take away from our experience at all. One of our favorite exhibits included the Pelican Pier, located near the entrance of the zoo. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pelican in real-life, and I was mesmerized by these beautiful birds.

John Ball Zoo_Pelican

My toddler loved the Aquarium, where he got to play with a penguin. It was so cute – the penguin would follow him from one side of the tank and back. He got a kick out of his interaction with the penguin, and we all did too!

John Ball Zoo_Penguin

Red’s Hobby Farm, the children’s zoo at John Ball, was another family favorite. Both of my kids got to pet some sheep and goats!

John Ball Zoo_Children's Zoo

We also enjoyed watching a zoo keeper interact with a grizzly bear, watching a mountain lion pace back and forth in his habitat, and watching the monkeys playfully interact with each other.

John Ball Zoo_Grizzly Bear

John Ball Zoo_Mountain Lion

John Ball Zoo_Monkeys

Overall, I’d say that my family would definitely revisit the John Ball Zoo the next time we’re in Grand Rapids. A new tiger exhibit, set to resemble their natural habitat, should be completed in 2014 and it’s a great reason to bring my family back next year!

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the John Ball Zoo in order to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100 % my own.

trekaroo-logo-180

This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

Unexpected Surprises Around Every Corner at the Grand Rapids Public Museum #ExperienceGR

 

GR Public Museum_Logo

On our last trip to Grand Rapids, my family visited the Grand Rapids Public Museum.  Honestly, we had no idea what to expect from a “public” museum. Public documents?  Records?  We were clueless.  But after doing a little research, I knew that everyone in my family would find something to love at the museum.

GR Public Museum

We stayed at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, and the Public Museum was located just across the street. Admission at the museum is $8 for adults and $3 for kids 3-18. The museum also features other, temporary exhibits for an additional charge. You will also pay an additional admission for a carousel ride ($1), and the planetarium ($3).  There is a café on property that is generally open during lunch hours (from 10am – 3pm). The museum features 3 levels, all accessible via elevator.

GR Public Museum_Interior

Bonus: The museum also has an interactive QR Code feature where guests with smart phones can scan QR Codes found throughout the museum to learn some additional information about the object or image on display. Very cool!

GR Public Museum_QR Codes

My toddler found something he loved almost immediately after stepping foot in the museum…letters! The Collecting A to Z exhibit features an “I Spy” discovery hunt where you can look for things in the museum’s collection that start with letters of the alphabet. “A”, for example, is for Automobiles and “Z” is for Zoology. Near the entrance to the museum is a beautiful display with all the letters of the alphabet, and my toddler was immediately drawn to it. He enjoyed finding letters all over the museum and it was a great way for him to get involved – at every letter, he would ask us what it stood for. He learned so much during our visit!

GR Public Museum_Alphabet

The museum also has GIANT games to play on the first level. My daughter and I had a pretty competitive game of Connect 4 going on, and there was a huge chess set, bowling, ring toss, and other fun games for the family to play together.

GR Public Museum_Games

Some of the other exhibits my family enjoyed included the Streets of Old Grand Rapids (I liked the old bicycle with the HUGE wheel)…

GR Public Museum_Bicycle

the Planetarium (my son LOVES the solar system and can probably tell you more about it than I can)…

GR Public Museum_Planetarium

the Habitats exhibit (a favorite for my husband and my mom)…

GR Public Museum_Habitat

and the Carousel.

GR Public Museum_Carousel

My daughter and I rode the carousel like a bunch of kids and had a fun time. My daughter also liked the big ship simulator where you turn a huge ship’s wheel to navigate the ship and collect supplies to reach your final destination. It was a fun & interactive game and we got a bit of help from one of the museum’s employees.

GR Public Museum_Big Ship Simulator

Overall, we enjoyed our experience at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. The vast variety of exhibits are sure to keep everyone entertained. If you’re planning a visit, block out at least 2-3 hours. There is so much to see here and everyone in the family will learn something new, I’m sure!

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the Grand Rapids Public Museum to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

The inside scoop on everyday travel with kids.

This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

Kids will Love the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum! #ExperienceGR

The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, and just a short walk from other attractions in the area. I knew my toddler would love the activities there, but had no idea that my teen would have a good time there too! (I was just as shocked as you probably are by reading that.)

GR Childrens Museum_Exterior

My family visited the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and the museum opened at noon. Admission is $8.00 for ages 1-64 and $7.00 for ages 65 and up. Children under 1 are free. There was a bit of construction going on at the intersection where the museum was located when we visited, but I noticed a few open parking spots right out front. Upon entering, there is a fairly large closet area where we were able to park our stroller. They do not sell food items here and I didn’t see an eating/snack area either. You could, however, rent a room for a birthday party.

Our first impression of the museum was that it was MUCH larger inside than we thought it would be. The two-story museum features some permanent exhibits, along with some rotating ones to change it up a bit. Some of my toddler’s favorites were the Construction Zone area where he built a foam “brick wall”, the bubbles exhibit (because, what kid doesn’t love playing with bubbles?!?!), the train table (always a favorite), the alphabet carpet squares, and hanging apples on the apple tree.

GR Childrens Museum_Adventures in Balance

GR Childrens Museum Trees

GR Childrens Museum_Apple Tree

GR Childrens Museum_Alphabet Tiles

GR Childrens Museum_Bubbles

Surprisingly, some favorites for my teenage daughter were the Mom & Pop Store (she relived the times when I used to take her to children’s museums), the Wee Bank (where I determined that she should NEVER work for a bank because I asked to withdraw $1,000 and she proceeded to give me the money WITHOUT asking for identification… LOL), and the Play Day Café where she was the waitress and I was her customer. I thought she would be bored to tears here while her brother played, but she surprised me by making the most of it.

GR Childrens Museum_Car

GR Childrens Museum_Store

One aspect of the museum that I couldn’t take my eyes off of was the bee exhibit with REAL, LIVE BEES! I was fascinated because I have never seen so many live bees before. My whole family tried to locate the queen, with no luck. The elusive queen was nowhere to be found. We all thought that it was really cool to see a bee colony in action – though we were thankful that they were all behind the glass!

GR Childrens Museum_Bees

Overall, we enjoyed our time at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum immensely. If you’re visiting the Grand Rapids area with kids, I’d put this attraction at the top of your list. Kids of all ages will find something to do and, chances are, will learn something new too.

Disclosure: My family received complimentary admission to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum to facilitate this review, and I was not asked to provide a particular point of view. All opinions are 100% my own.

The inside scoop on everyday travel with kids.

This review originally appeared on Trekaroo!

signature

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...