Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Austin Children's Museum ~ Austin, TX

 What do you look for in a children's museum?  Do you want to see your children engaged and learning through play?  Do you want to see them get excited to build a parachute and launch it?  Do you want to hear them laugh at the fun they are having?  Check, Check, and Check.  The Austin Children's Museum will provide all of that and more for your children.

Our family has been visiting the Austin Children's Museum for the past 4 years and we love that each time we go, we have new experiences, thanks to all the wonderful rotating exhibits they bring in.  A few weeks ago, I took my youngest (3 1/2 year old) to check out the newest one, Spin & Span.
Spin & Span is an engaging exhibit that teaches the principles of gravity, momentum, and inertia in 13 fun experiences.  Kids learn the importance of building a bridge correctly.  They can see and feel the force of rotating motion through building a touchable tornado or spinning in a circle themselves.  

As an adult, I was fascinated with the concepts, however it was a bit over the head of my youngest.  That said, when we discussed the exhibit with my 2 older kids (11 and 10), they both now want to see it.  Older kids will enjoy building an arch or learning the story about the collapsing suspension bridge. This exhibit is here until January 2013.
 My 3 1/2 year old's favorite place in the museum that day?  The trains!  He loved watching the train go around, getting to control it's progression by being the conductor.  I enjoyed learning about Austin's Railroad History - I had no idea that Austin supported a 'commuter rail' to the then-suburbs in the 1920's - did you?
 The Austin Children's Museum has a great place for those 2 and under, called the Rising Star Ranch.  In this enclosed area, parents can feel comfortable letting their young ones roam freely to play with all the toys and hands on attractions built just for them.  I always appreciated the area when coming with all my kids, as it was a fun place for my youngest to play while the older two were busy.  Every Monday morning, from 9 am - 12 pm, the museum hosts "Baby Bloomers", where the museum in opened ONLY to those 3 and under.  It's a much quieter, relaxed museum experience.
 Older kids really enjoy the upstairs Tinker's Workshop, where they can build and test cars, design a building, or create something completely new out of everyday recycled objects.  Every station has great lessons that are easy to follow and don't overwhelm (or stifle) the children's imagination.

 The museum offers daily events, such as Community Night and weekend events. We took advantage of "No Tour Tuesday" when we went - the museum is closed to school tours, which really lessens the amount of kids who were there - I definitely recommend this day to visit.  We were also there for a fantastic story time, filled with finger play, songs, and stories.  It was interactive and kept my son's attention for just the right amount of time.
We almost missed what turned out to be one of our favorite exhibits.  Ready, Set, Roll is tucked away in the back room, so make sure to go in there.  We had more fun rolling golf balls around at all the various stations in the room.  I know there were lessons to be learned about inertia and gravity, but for a 3 year old, it was all giggles propelling the golf balls and launching them into buckets.  My older kids would have seen more of the lesson in the fun.

The Austin Children's Museum has a variety of fun and interactive exhibits that really cater to all age groups.  Though most stop taking their kids to a children's museum once they pass a certain age, there are a lot of great exhibits here that older kids can enjoy still.  You hear lots of "wows" and "that's cool" mixed with giggles and squeals.  That is the sign of a great museum.

The Austin Children's Museum recently broke ground on a new location in the Mueller area that will be twice the size and feature all new exhibits. The expected opening date is late 2013.

Other Fun Things to Do in Austin:

Texas Travel Facts for Austin Children's Museum:
Location: 201 Colorado St, Austin, Texas
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
             Community Night Wednesdays: 5:00 - 8:00 pm             
             Sunday: noon - 5:00 pm (4-5 pm free admission)
Admission: Adults & Children (2 & up): $6.50
                    Children (12-23 months): $4.50
                    Children (under 12 m): free
Recommended Time: 2 -3 hours 
Good to know: Admission is good for all day; Children must be accompanied with an adult and supervised at all times; stroller friendly; school groups visit during the Spring & Fall; no food or drinks; all exhibits are routinely cleaned; parking is available in several local garages - get validation to receive a discount.

My family and I were invited to visit the museum and were provided admission. I was not financially compensated for this post.  All opinions of Austin Children's Museum are strictly my own based on my experience. 

1 comment:

Leigh Ann said...

My girls would spend ALL DAY in Ready Set Roll if I let them. Loved it.