Our kids love the Children’s Museum ( http://www.portlandcm.org/ ). They could spend the whole day there doing things, but 2 hours is more than enough for us.
My first time there, it was free. We had been invited to a birthday party, and it was a great way to see all the museum offers without having to dish out $10/person. There are other ways to try the museum for free besides waiting for someone to invite you to a birthday party. Every first Friday from 4-8pm is free. My second time there was on a free Friday with my husband and daughter (before our baby boy was born). Another free way to go is to get a cultural pass through your county library. According to the children’s museum website, up to 3 people can use this cultural pass at a time (I haven’t used a cultural pass, but I have intentions to try them for the Japanese Gardens when the weather gets nicer.)
Now we have a membership to the museum, and it’s definitely worth it for us. My husband and I in addition to our two children are included on this membership, ($40/person each trip without it). Also, we can have two more children and a caregiver, so my niece, my nephew, and my sister-in-law are included. Membership benefits still not over, we also can bring two guests each time we visit. Yesterday we used our membership’s full potential by visiting with all the kids and adults in addition to our friend couple and their two kids (two of them had to pay). Would have been $120 without our membership, but instead was $20. We have gone one other time, just my husband and our kids, since we got the membership in December for $120 (there are different membership options that cost less and more). So basically, we paid it off in two visits. This is great play date place to go, a fun rainy day venture, and a perfect place to have our kids get in activity.
So the way we “do it” is bring in what you need only, and plan for 1-2 hours. Well what do you need? For us, we need diapers and wipes. I would also suggest hand sanitizer. There is hand sanitizer here and there around the museum, but it’s not at every exhibit. That’s it. Really. We could bring in snacks and drinks, and there’s a little café area where we can buy snacks and drinks, but we don’t bother with it. We eat before we get there and when we get home. For you, if have kids that cannot walk yet, or are new walkers, you will want to bring a baby carrier and/or umbrella stroller. There is an area for crawlers and those under 2 years old that allow for you to be interactive with your child, or just sit and relax knowing it’s all baby proof.
Afterwards, we expect to be exhausted. We also expect that our children will be hungry. If it’s before naptime, we can usually do a snack and a nap. If it’s after nap time, it’s dinner, a bath and bedtime. There’s no perfect planning, but a basic general, adaptable schedule for the day.
As far as order to seeing the museum, it’s whatever. I think my kids could sit at one exhibit the whole time, and the kids would have fun. It’s really the adults that want that variety and move the kids along. The one thing we will do when we go is spend some time at whatever exhibit is the “feature” exhibit. Currently, it’s Dora the Explorer, and it’s so much fun for our daughter. They change throughout the year, and if our kids are not interested, we can wait until the next time.
So that’s how we do it. What recommendations would you make on how you do it?