By Wendy Royal Winter 2019
Many things that spark a child’s curiosity fall under the don’t touch column. That’s why children’s museums are so fun and functional for kids. They are places full of possibility and wonder where children are encouraged to use their imaginations and learn and experience without rigid boundaries. Children’s museums in Pennsylvania vary in scope and size, but all are special places where exhibits are created to foster development in toddlers and preschool-age children, where pretend and play are the main focus. These museums also stimulate the young minds of elementary-age and older children to imagine and discover possibilities beyond their world.
I think anytime is the best time to enjoy these museums, but if the winter weather is giving you cabin fever, a trip to a children’s museum is the perfect way to get your kids out of the house and into a world of discovery.
1. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Target Age: Appropriate for children of all ages
Admission: Adults: $16, children 2-10 and seniors 60+: $14, children under 2: free
Hours: 10 am to 5 pm daily. Closed on major holidays.
Spotlight Exhibit: Rube Goldberg: The World of Hilarious Invention! Exhibit – runs through Sunday, May 5, 2019. Children will put their problem-solving skills to the test by creating a contraption using their imagination.
2. Hands-on House
721 Landis Valley Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
Target Age: geared for children ages 2 to 10
Admission: Adults and children: $9.50
Hours: (Labor Day through Memorial Day) Tuesdays – Fridays: 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: noon to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays. Summer hours begin Wednesday, May 29.
Spotlight Exhibit: The Face Painting Porch located in the Right in Your Backyard exhibit allows children to paint their own faces or someone else’s.
3. Explore & More
20 E. High St., Gettysburg, PA 17325
Target Age: primarily for children ages 2 to 8
Admission: Adults: $5, children 2-14: $7
Hours: (October – March) Mondays – Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: noon to 5 pm. Closed Wednesdays and major holidays. See website for summer hours.
Spotlight Exhibit: 1860s Room allows visitors to play in a Civil War-era house and general store.
4. Bloomsburg Children’s Museum
2 W. Seventh St., Bloomsburg, PA 17815
Target Age: children of all ages
Admission: Adults and children age 3 and up: $6.50, children 2 and under: free
Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays: 10 am to 4 pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Spotlight Program: Girls Who Code Club is a free after-school program for sixth- through 12th-grade girls to join a group of supportive peers and role models using computer science to change the world – first and third Thursdays of each month through May 2019.
5. Please Touch Museum
Memorial Hall, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131
Target Age: children ages 6 months through 8 years
Admission: Adults and children age 1 and older: $19, plus parking fee
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays: 9 am to 5 pm, Sundays 11 am to 5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Spotlight Exhibit: Wonderland – visitors take a trip down the rabbit hole into a world where nothing is as it seems. Children learn communication, critical thinking and gross and fine motor skills.
6. Johnstown Children’s Museum
Heritage Discovery Center, Third Floor, 201 Sixth Ave., Johnstown, PA 15906
Target Age: children under age 12
Admission: Adults: $9, children ages 3-18 and seniors: $7, children age 2 and under: free
Hours: (November – March) Wednesdays – Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: noon to 5 pm. See the website for summer hours.
Spotlight Exhibit: The Inclimber is a reproduction of the famous Johnstown Incline with mine tunnels that nearly reach the ceiling. Children will have the opportunity to dress up like a coal miner. Once the “miners” reach the top, they can take the Coal Shute slide to the bottom.
7. Lewisburg Children’s Museum
815 Market St., Suite 14, Lewisburg, PA 17837
Target Age: children age 12 and under
Admission: Adults and children age 1 and older: $8, children under age 1: free. Family day passes available
Hours: Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays: 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: noon to 5 pm. Closed on Tuesdays (except for field trips and groups) and major holidays.
Spotlight Exhibit: Bodyworks by Evangelical Hospital encourages a healthy lifestyle. Children can explore anatomy in the Teddy Bear clinic playing with the life-size game of Operation.
8. ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum
420 French St., Erie, PA 16507
Target Age: designed for children age 8 and under
Admission: Adults and children ages 2 and older: $7.50, children age 1 and under: free.
Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: 1 to 5 pm. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Spotlight Exhibit: There are three floors of exhibits. On the Explore Floor you’ll find Water Works, where children learn about where our water comes from. The exhibit also allows children to see the types of fish that live in Lake Erie.
9. Bucks County Children’s Museum
500 Union Square Drive, New Hope, PA 18938
Target Age: designed for children ages 1 to 7
Admission: Adults and children age 1 and older: $8, children under 1: free.
Hours: Tuesdays – Fridays: 10 am to 4 pm, Saturdays: 10 am to 5 pm, Sundays: noon to 5 pm. Admission ends 30 minutes before closing. Closed Mondays and major holidays.
Spotlight Exhibit: Hot Air Balloon Virtual Experience invites children to hop on board the replica hot air balloon with a life-size basket. The virtual screen will make it seem as though they’re really flying in a hot air balloon.
10. The Franklin Institute
222 N. 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
On-site parking garage located at 271 N. 21st St., Philadelphia, PA 19103
Target Age: The Franklin Institute is not for children only. I included it because it has so many wonderful hands-on learning experiences that children will love.
Admission: Adults age 12 and older: $23, children ages 3-11: $19.00, additional fee for special exhibits
Hours: Every day 9:30 am to 5 pm. Closed major holidays.
Spotlight Exhibit: The Franklin Institute’s Your Brain exhibit is about what’s happening inside your head to make your body do what your body