Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Children’s Discovery Museum

Children’s Discovery Museum

Highway 169 South, Grand Rapids, MN.  218-326-1900.
$7 ages 2 and up; 1 and under free.  AAA discount.  Stroller accessible.  Restrooms with changing tables.

On the south end of Grand Rapids is a museum that we were really looking forward to from the information found on its website.  Dubbed the Children’s Discovery Museum, we had planned to spend the entire afternoon there, as we can easily do at a children’s museum.

The Children’s Discovery Museum is a hybrid museum.  On one side, visitors can see the Judy Garland gallery and visit her birthplace, which is attached to the museum.  On the other side of the building is the children’s museum.  In the middle is the gift shop, which is mostly comprised of Judy Garland memorabilia.

The children’s museum consists of three galleries.  The first is an exhibit that traveled between many of the United States’ larger children’s museums several years ago.  In the middle area is a pretender’s dream, a “main street” of locations where imaginative play is possible.  From the cafe to the bank to the dolly daycare, children can dress up and play to their hearts’ contents.  The third large room has a toddler maze, a talking tree, a pretend campground, and a water table complete with lock and dam.

All around the museum are thank yous from schoolchildren who have visited the museum and, it appears, hav elearned a lot about dinosaurs, apparently in the adjacent lab/classroom area.

On the children’s museum side is also a Faith Wick doll collection.

Although the Children’s Discovery Museum had looked promising, the kids (and their parents) were ready to leave within an hour.  (We hadn’t ventured to the Judy Garland side.)  The exhibits were fun but didn’t hold their interest for long.  Several of the dress-up items were broken and the zipper on the tent didn’t work, detracting from the experience.

Overall, we just couldn’t quite decide if we liked the Children’s Discovery Museum or not.  The one staff person on duty was in the gift shop, so we were on our own behind the double doors in the actual museum area.

The Children’s Discovery Museum seems to be trying to do too much with its mix of Judy Garland, Faith Wick, and children’s exhibits.  We don’t think it was worth the price of admission.  Perhaps others have discovered this as well, since on a Saturday afternoon we were the only visitors for all but the last 15 minutes of our stay.

cdm1.jpg picture by 4littleblessings

cdm2.jpg picture by 4littleblessings



  Meagan Francis wrote @

I actually liked the Children’s Discovery Museum simply because, compared to many big-city museums, it seemed so nice and laid-back. It was really more like a big, open play place than a museum, but we found that refreshing. The Judy Garland combo was a bit odd, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on that side anyway 🙂

  minnemom wrote @

Meagan, thanks for another viewpoint. You’re right that it’s like a giant play area. It’s like having 10 different toy rooms, divided by theme! And I’m certainly not complaining about the lack of crowds that are so often found in the big-city museums.

I think if we lived in the area and had a membership (which, by the way is very reasonably priced–if the AAA discount were not available, I think it would have been cheaper for our family to buy a membership than to pay the individual admissions), it would be a nice place to drop in and play whenever we wanted. But I’m still not sure it was worth the $30 admission we paid.

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