Minnesota Children’s Museum
7th and Wabasha, Downtown St. Paul, MN. 651-225-6000. $7.95 Ages 1-101. Parking in adjacent ramp is discounted for MCM visitors. Reciprocity through ACM. Stroller accessible. Restrooms with changing tables available; diaper vendor available in Habitot area. Light menu available in gift shop; McDonald’s and Subway are just across the skyway.
The Minnesota Children’s Museum is a favorite location for our kids to visit. The first time we went there, five years ago, we had one toddler, two parents, an aunt, and an uncle, so keeping track of the child wasn’t too bad. With four children now, it’s a more daunting task. I had the choice of going on a Friday, just the kids and me, and face the school field-trip groups, or to go on Saturday with my husband and fight the Saturday crowds. We chose Saturday.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a great museum. It’s just that everyone else in the Twin Cities seems to have figured this out as well, so on weekends and school holidays, it is very, very crowded. And although most of the museum is well-designed, the elevators are about the slowest ones I’ve ever seen, and the hallway in front of them is the narrowest part of the building, so the area by the elevators is crowded all of the time.
If you will be visiting for the first time, keep in mind that all the exhibits are on the second and fourth floors. If you enter through the skyway, you’ll already be on the second level, but you’ll have to go down to the first floor to pay, and then use the staircase or the (really slow) elevator to go up to floors two or four for the fun. If you accidentally get off on 3, you’ll have to wait for the elevator to come back again. Just remember, “4 and 2, there’s lots to do. 3 and 1, you’ll miss the fun.”
There are two traveling exhibit areas, which were showcasing Curious George and Sesame Street when we were there. These exhibits change every few months and vary in their interest levels for the kids. A Habitot area on the fourth floor is designed for younger tots and is a fun place for the younger set if you have another adult along to keep an eye on their older siblings, as it’s for ages 3 and under. A workshop area allows kids to be messy, er, creative, at different times of the day, and the atrium area on the second floor offers character meet-and-greets, story times, and “big fun.”
The three permanent exhibit areas are the favorites of my kids, however. World Works offers a paper-making studio, lights and shadows, a kid-sized factory (where my kids would spend all day if they could), and a water-and-bubble area that’s always a hit. Our World has a pretend grocery store and restaurant as well as a school bus, music studio, clinic, and other neighborhood role-play opportunities. In Earth World, the kids can crawl in a giant anthill, make their own thunderstorm, or watch turtles swimming. These areas are what my kids enjoy the most at the museum.
If you really want to enjoy the museum, watch the calendar for Habitot Tuesdays, when there are no school groups and they have special activities for preschoolers. The museum’s website also lists some other suggestions for visiting at quieter times.
The Minnesota Children’s Museum really is a fun place for kids, and even though we’ve been there many times, the kids enjoy going back again and again.
I really like going to the exhibits, especially the forest one, because I like doing the thunder and lightning.