Headwaters Science Center
413 Beltrami Ave., Bemidji, MN. 218-444-4472. www.hscbemidji.org
$4 age 12 and up; $3 under 12; maximum $20 per family. ASTC Reciprocity. Free street parking. Stroller accessible. Restroom with changing tables available.
Instead of having big birthday parties for our kids, we like to go on family outings. It might be a day trip or a weekend trip, or just something special that we don’t usually do. Our soon-to-be-5-year-old history buff’s outing ended up being a trip to the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, MN, but since it was four hours away we had to find some things to round out the trip. The Headwaters Science Center was on our ASTC (www.astc.org) reciprocity list, so we worked it into our trip.
We arrived at HSC at about 3:00 on a cold Friday afternoon. After fighting crowds too often at Twin Cities museums, I had hoped this would be a quiet time to visit, and I wasn’t disappointed. For much of our stay, we were the only visitors there. At the busiest, two other families joined us.
The Headwaters Science Center is in an old storefront and all of the exhibits are in one open room. Although it’s not as big or as fancy as some other science museums, there’s a lot for kids to see and do. The staff allowed us to explore everything for a while, and then stopped over from time to time to be sure we’d seen certain things and that we were enjoying our visit.
The kids loved the shadow room, where they could pose and have it frozen as a shadow, and the pitching cage, where they could practice pitching a whiffle ball and have a speed number show them how they were doing. Many of the activities include balls, which our toddler loved. There are music and sound projects, and a drawing machine that is reminscent of a huge spirograph. A tractor cab is available for exploring, and various building sets for the creative types.
Animal exhibits round out the museum. Those who were brave enough touched a snake while their mother hid in the gift shop. There were various turtles and other reptiles to see, and we reserved feeding the fish for our last stop.
We spent more than two hours at the Headwaters Science Center, and the kids wanted to stay longer. (One asked several times on Sunday to go back before we went home.) Because everything is hands-on, the kids could keep doing and learning to their heart’s content.
We’ve been to a lot of interactive museums in the past few years, and my husband rates this in his “top three.” This is definitely a hidden gem in Minnesota. Don’t discount it from your must-see list just because it’s in a small town. We had a better time here than we’ve had at many big-city museums.
I liked it when I got to blow up the big balloon and when the windmill was going, and there was a little train set, kind of like a puzzle. I liked that place. I LOVED it!