We've visited a lot of museums as a family over the years. But this one–The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York–is one of the best we've ever been to!
This past August, we took a week-long trip to upstate New York, mostly to see Niagara Falls, but also to visit The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester. I'd read about it in Family Fun magazine years ago, and ever since then, I'd wanted to visit. It was an amazing place! I'm dubbing it the “Happiest Place on Earth” for geek families like ours. It had everything we love, all in one place: toys, books, computers, games, tons of hands-on fun, and great food. It was a huge highlight of our vacation.
I didn't get any good pictures of the One History Place area, but it's a full-scale home showing what life was like a century ago. My daughters dressed up and role-played in the kitchen and other rooms. Reading Adventureland had sections for all ages of readers, but my kids most loved the Wizard's Workshop (of course!), with a wink to their favorite series.
The Wegmans Super Kids Market was the best iteration of this children's museum staple that I have ever seen. Not only was it HUGE and had all the extra sections–deli, butcher, seafood, bakery, etc.–but the registers actually let you scan your items (every single item has a UPC code) and rings up a real paper receipt. My girls spent quite a bit of time in here role-playing, shopping and playing cashier. Another typical children's museum section was Kid to Kid, with a focus on communication. The kids climbed on a whaling ship to learn semaphore and played post office.
Mid-day, we needed a break and were totally prepared for the typical yucky (and expensive) museum food, so we were pleasantly surprised to find a full-service Bill Gray's in the Skyliner Diner in the front lobby. We had a great meal (and then came back for half-price milkshakes later in the afternoon) and sat and ate while watching the vintage Carousel. There's also a food court if that's more your speed.
Admission is $13.50 for ages 2 and older; under 2 is free. The Strong is part of the ACM reciprocal program, so you may be able to get a 50% discount on your tickets if you're a member of a Children's Museum in your local area.
The Strong was truly the BEST museum we have ever visited–and we've been to a lot of them!