The National Museum of Play at The Strong is both a history museum and children’s museum devoted to play.
With 150,000 square feet of play space and hands-on interactive exhibits, this museum (we visited the George Eastman Museum and the Rochester Museum and Science Center before this one) was my family’s favourite during our weekend in Rochester, New York.
This museum did not disappoint! There were plenty of opportunities for dress up, interactive play and hands on learning.
We spent 6 hours (1 – 7 PM) at The Strong and probably could have gone back the next day.
The first floor is where we spent the majority of our time as the activities and areas were geared more to our children’s age group (4 and 1).
There’s a working carousel, a passenger train, and an indoor butterfly garden – the only year-round indoor butterfly garden in upstate New York.
There are several themed play areas on the first floor including Sesame Street, Berenstain Bears, Dora and Diego, American Comic Book Heroes, and a child size supermarket where kids can scan bar coded products at working check-out counters and produce their own commercials and cooking shows.
On the second floor, there’s the National Toy Hall of Fame featuring full collections of dolls, toys and games from decades past and eGameRevolution – interactive exhibits that explores the history of video games. Seeing some of the toys my husband and I played with as children in the Hall of Fame brought back some great memories.
Tips for Families Visiting The National Museum of Play
1. The carousel, passenger train, butterfly garden are not included in the admission. The costs are minimal (Butterfly Garden is $4 and the other two are $1) and worth it.
2. There is an arcade on the second floor and older children will want to spend a lot of time there. I would recommend going through everything on the first floor first before heading upstairs as you don’t know if you’ll be able to convince your children to leave the arcade!
3. Dress in layers if you are planning to visit the Butterfly Garden. It is very warm (think tropical rainforest temperatures) I had a sweater on the day we visited and I wanted to get out after 10 minutes even though my kids wanted to stay longer.
4. The National Museum of Play is part of the ACM Reciprocal Network and the museum provides members a 50% general admission discount for up to six people to guests who show a valid membership card with the ACM Reciprocal Network logo and a photo ID. Learn how reciprocal memberships work.