Our Trip to Strong National Museum of Play, Part One

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I just realized how many pictures I have of our trip to the museum. Holy moly. This story will have to be two parts long or your eyeballs will fall out of your head after reading all of it, gentle reader. It’s all for you, you know?

Here’s the first part:

My first trip to Strong National Museum of Play took place almost a decade ago when I was visiting my sister, Cheryl, and her family in Rochester. I remember being completely in awe of the place and even though I was in my twenties–and the place was geared mainly towards kids–I enjoyed in immensely. There was so much to do and see and I wasn’t the only one to have a blast; everyone in our party had fun running around to the different exhibits and checking everything out.

Now fast forward to present day. Zoey is going through a growing stage where she’s realized she enjoys independence. She wants to do everything on her own without having to hold Mommy or Daddy’s hand or sit buckled in a stroller. Of course, depending on the location, that might be an obvious problem (like when we went to the farmer’s market). So we were kind of looking for somewhere family-oriented that we could take her and she could roam around (with us following close behind) and explore on her own. A hands-on place that caters to the little one’s growing minds and sense of curiosity. And then I thought of the Strong Museum.

A quick look at their website tells me that the museum came about because  Margaret Woodbury Strong simply liked to collect things–in particular dolls and toys. Her collection and reputation got so big that she created the museum to display her collection. Since then it has grown into a center of toy preservation, learning and fun. Totally designed for kids of all ages to explore and families to spend time together. Should we go? Well, yes, yes we should.

Cheryl and I organized the trip because not only were we going to visit the museum, but we were going to visit with my sister and her family at their home in Rochester afterwards. It was kind of a lot to pack into one day, since we live about two hours away from Rochester, but it was DEFINITELY worth it.

We decided to meet up with Cheryl and her kids at the museum around noon, which gave Zoey, Greg and I time to travel to Rochester and get some lunch before exploring. The drive was pretty uneventful; I spent half of it in the front seat with Greg and the other half in the back seat playing Barbie mermaids with Zoey. Also, she might have thought the thruway toll booth was a drive-thru. VERY cute.

Anyway, we got to the museum without incident, meaning we didn’t get lost, and as soon as we got inside the front doors, Zoey was ready to explore. But first, we had to do two VERY IMPORTANT THINGS: ride the carousel just inside the door and eat lunch in the 1950’s diner right next to the ferris wheel. Zoey loved the carousel and told Greg and I that her horse was named ‘Heeee’.

At the diner, Zoey and I had chicken nuggets and fries while Greg had a hamburger and fries for lunch. Zoey was practically bouncing in her seat with excitement at what was to come–and she’d never even been there before!

In the diner

Cheryl and her family were running a little late, so she told us to go ahead into the museum and start exploring. Right after we paid for admission, we HAD to check out the big fish tank:

And then it was off to Sesame Street:

Well, hello, Big Bird

Zoey let me know the doors were locked

Oscar’s can

Greg and Zoey found a little alcove where they could listen to music from the 70’s. They rocked out:

Zoey loves to dance

Then Zoey found a TV screen where she could actually be ON TV WITH HER FAVORITE SESAME STREET CHARACTERS OMG!

She pushed her stroller into the alcove to show it to The Count

When we finally pulled Miss Zoey away from the Sesame street area, she found these huge tubes that blow out air to keep the balls in the air. Naturally, my kid wanted to knock the balls off balance so she could play with them:

Balls!

But then she found the car track. Zoey has been getting into matchbox cars lately and to find a track like this where multiple cars could race and it’s really a wonder her head didn’t explode at how excited she was to play with it:

OMGTHEYCANRACEOMG

But then she found her own race car that allows you to race on a computer screen:

The coolest race car EVER

Around this point, we met up with my sister and her kids and headed to the most awesome part of the Strong museum, in my opinion: their hands-on miniature version of a Wegmans grocery store. Because Wegmans was started in Rochester (and has expanded all over New York), they’re kind of proud and the Wegmans store exhibit was added to allow kids to shop like Mommy and Daddy while teaching them about nutrition, how a grocery store works, etc. That place is AWESOME:

The line to get in

Each little shopper was only supposed to put five items in their cart before going to the check-out, where they got to play the cashier and actually run each item over the scanner, use the cash register and print out a receipt for their purchase. Then they were supposed to put their items back on the shelf and put their cart away. Easy, right? Yeah, my kid had a bit of trouble understanding the five items only thing. One she got her hands on a cart her size, she WENT TO TOWN with the shopping thing:

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But is that the end of what we saw at the museum? NO WAY! There was lots more, but it won’t all fit in this post. Part two will be out soon. I promise.

For more information about Strong National Museum of Play, including the history, click here.

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