Monday, August 13, 2007

New England Mamas recommend - The Discovery Museums in Acton, MA

I don't know why it took me so long to get there, but my daughter and I finally made it to the Discovery Museums in Acton, MA. And yes, I am kicking myself for not going sooner because my daughter had the best time EVAH.

In case you've never been, the Discovery Museums (from their website) "are two separate but complementary museums filled with exciting, interactive exhibits for children of all ages using focused spaces and hands-on activities inviting exploration and discovery. "

The Children's Discovery Museum, housed in a converted Victorian, is in fact room after ro
om of these interactive learning exhibits, each with its own theme. For example: The Safari Room (complete with "wild" animals of the stuffed variety and climbing nets), The Water Room (waterproof smocks are provided so kids can splash in the large tub with abandon), The Ball Room (think of the game mousetrap when it's completed and that's a bit like the Ball Room), and my daughter's favorite, Bessie's Play Diner (booths with jukeboxes, a play kitchen with a diner's counter, play food and cookware).

My daughter in the water room. I forgot my camera so I had to resort to using my camera phone.

The entire third floor is the S.S. Discover (a "nautical adventure", Ahoy!). Oh, and there's a Rainbow Room as well, which my daughter enjoyed because it had a slide, but is not at all like this place. Bummer for me, bonus for my kid.

I was there with my in-laws, my husband's nephews (ages 4 and 8) and my daughter (not quite 2 and 1/2). The Children's Discovery Museum was perfect for the 2 and 4 year old but it was far too young for an 8 year old boy. He would have been better off at the Science Discovery Museum, but since this was our first visit we didn't know much about it and didn't leave enough time to visit it.

A word of caution if you have kids that different in age: You have to pay for the Children's Museum and the Science Museum separately. And you need to leave a lot of time to do both (we spent about 2 and 1/2 hours in the Children's Museum). A better bet would be if one parent could go with one kid to one museum and the other parent go with the other kid. That would save time and greatly cut down on any over-stimulated tantrums.

If you're thinking of going at a time that will run you into lunch, there is no indoor eating facility so you'll have to go out to get a meal or bring your own (there are a few tables outside for eating al fresco on nice days) but your hand stamp grants you access to whichever museum you paid for for the entire day.

(There's a McDonald's right down the street. Just a heads up.)

I have a feeling we'll be going back very soon.
The Discovery Museums are incredibly easy to get to from both the Boston area and 495. If this directionally challenged woman can get there, anyone can. If we lived a bit closer I'd purchase a family Membership, but even though it was easy to get to from my home outside of Worcester it still took about 40 minutes to get there. Including one stop at Dunkin Donuts. Because, really, if a place is that fascinating for infants, toddlers and preschoolers then you can imagine a parent needs a little caffeine before going in.


Amy Linder said...

Very cool! My grandmother lives in Acton and I've checked this place out on the web, but never gone. Maybe I'll see if my cousin and I can arrange a day for us and our girls to get together. Sounds fun! Thanks for the recommendation.

T with Honey said...

Don't forget that many of the libraries in MA and NH have museum passes that will get you free admission to some of these places. We checked out the pass from our local library to go to the Aquarium once.

margalit said...

The Discovery Museum was one of my kids FAVORITE places when they were little. We went so often we finally joined. They loved the ship room at the tip top of the building, the left room, and the water play. It's not a huge museum, but so much calmer than the old Boston Children's Museum (anyone been to it since it's been remodeled?) that I much preferred it.

Alex Elliot said...

I've been meaning to go there. I've heard good things about it. The only complaints I've heard is that it's not stroller friendly (is that true?) and also that as you mentioned you can't have food there. Personally I think the latter is a good rule because otherwise everything could get gross really easily and with food allergies etc. it would be a bad scene.

Cate said...

We just went for the first time recently, and it was a huge hit, especially with my three-year-old. His favorite was the ball room.

It's not a stroller-friendly place at all. It's an old renovated Victorian house, so the rooms are small and it can get pretty crowded inside. And I don't think there's an elevator. They did have a sign saying they'll lend you a baby carrier.

The membership is pricey, but if I lived closer I'd definitely get one.

Cate said...

Oh, and we've been to the remodeled Boston one, too. They had enough of the old stuff that I loved (bubble room!) plus some cool new things.

Next on my list is the Providence Children's Museum.

Ladybug's Picnic said...

My daughter is a pretty on-target 17 month old - I've been wanting to go but wondered if she was still too young?

Whirlwind said...

We love science centers so we'll have to check this one out. We recently went to the Providence Children's Center for the first time and it was fun. They have a water room as well. For some reason, the kids really like the Science Center in West Hartford CT and the New England Science Center in Worcester, MA. By far, my favorite was the one we went to in VT - Monta - something or other. It may have even been in NH (near a big college). I can't quite remember unfortunately.

Manic Mommy said...

I second your high rating. I went over the winter with my neighbor. Between us, we had a four-year-old, three-year-old, and two almost two-year-olds. Everyone loved it.

We probably spent a hour+ in the ball room alone. The water room was a big hit but if your kid is REALLY into water, bring a change of clothes; the smocks can only do so much.

In short, GREAT for pre-schoolers and even better on a weekday when the older kids go back.

Nicole said...

There's a great place in Peterborough NH called the Mariposa Museum ( that is really wonderful for the under-8 set.

Fairly Odd Mother said...

I've never made it to this one, but it sounds like fun. It'd give me a good excuse to visit with a friend who lives up that way.

Trish K said...

I second that recommendation. We love it there. Now that my kids are older we just do the science museum. They loved the arts and crafts room and woodworking area!!!

Go Go Go, its so worth the trip

The Tour Marm said...

I love learning about new museums!

I design student tours for a living and am trying to get my groups from the West Coast to consider the Boston area, it's so underrated and eclipsed by Washington D., The breadth of history in New England is far more than DC/Williamsburg.

I'll be visiting you again!