We started the day with a large breakfast in our hotel room. Since the Museum was only a twenty minute drive from our hotel (and we managed to make the entire trip from Madison to the Twin Cities without incident), we let our guard down about LB’s motion sickness. We left the hotel right after we finished breakfast, and I was thinking how awesome it was to be on our way so early in the day. We should have made it to our destination by around 9:30 (a record for our Twin Cities vacation), but had a bit of a clean-up delay on the top floor of a Saint Paul parking structure. I’ll spare you the gory details, but because we made several rookie mistakes in not monitoring what LB ate, the quantity he ate, and not waiting for at least an hour before getting in the car, we didn’t make it to the museum until after 10:00.
When we arrived, we checked in at the desk and started exploring. On the first level was a visiting exhibit called RiverWorks Discovery, which was all about the Mississippi River. Jason and LB spent quite a while playing with the lock and dam display, where kids could learn how to harness the power of water. When LB wasn’t playing in the water, he could be found near the river command station. He was absolutely obsessed with the phone (which played a recording when he pushed the button). Since we had been saying “no” to his many attempts to play with the hotel phones, he was positively giddy that we allowed him to hold the receiver up to his ear and push buttons to his heart’s content.
Before exploring more of the fun exhibits, we chose to find some lunch so LB could replace the breakfast he lost, and so there would be plenty of time between our meal and the trip back to the hotel. The Museum has very easy access to the St. Paul Skyway via the elevator near the side entrance. We didn’t walk far before finding Subway, which suited our needs of quick, easy, and something everyone would eat. I spent most of our meal time assisting LB and nursing LG, so the boys were finished with their lunch long before I was.
To keep the fun moving along, Jason took LB back to the museum and I joined in after I finished my meal. When I caught up with them, LB (with his freshly mustachioed face) was participating in a guided story time. The enthusiastic story-teller engaged a room full of small children like a pro, and LB was definitely in his element. After the story was over, the kids all played with some of the fun toys that were distributed (including the cart you see in the picture to the right). It was a bit challenging to pull him away for our next stop at World Works.
The first thing LB found in World Works was a room full of wooden blocks, but instead of building something with them, he had a different idea. He carried one block out of the “block room” and over to the truck that was a part of the “toy factory” portion of the exhibit (which also had a conveyor system that kids could operate – very cool). He placed the single block in the back of the truck and then got in the drivers seat (if you look closely at the picture in the center of the above collage, you’ll see the wooden block). I wasn’t aware of LB’s plan, so once he was seated in the truck, I put the block back where it belonged in the next room. He sure didn’t like that choice, because he jumped up from his seat and came running after me saying “No mama! I was delivering a package!” Oops! I guess we get a few deliveries for online purchases at our house.
Behind the World Works exhibit was Water Works, which, as the name suggests, is all about water. There were water tubes, boat races down a water chute, bubbles, and other water-table-like displays. We had such a good time playing in the water that LB could have stayed in there for hours. But, alas, outings with a toddler and an infant have a time limit, and we could see LB’s nap breaking point on the horizon. It was time to move on so we could see more of the Museum before we had to leave.
We stopped to check out Habitot, which I was most excited about. It’s a fun exhibit designed specifically for babies and toddlers. Jason explored with LB while LG and I had a rest on the large, cushioned lily pad.
After Habitot, we continued on to Earth World. We had a blast pretending to be ants walking around in the huge anthill. This place really knows how to keep kids entertained.
We could tell LB was getting tired, so we made our last stop at the Rooftop ArtPark, and LB played in the sand. I was glad the sand play area had a place to rinse feet and hands after playing. When LB left the sand area to put his shoes back on, another toddler (probably 18 months old or so) approached LB and reached for his arm. I was thinking “Oh, cute! This other LB wants to interact with my son!” And before I realized what was happening, the younger lad brought his face down to my son’s arm and bit down as his accompanying adult was yelling “No, no, no, Tanner!” LB just stood there in shock. I’m not sure if it hurt, because LB didn’t utter a single word, nor did he release a single cry. But it left a mark, so it couldn’t have felt good. Since this was my very first public biting incident, I was taken a bit off guard. Half of me was instantly in mama bear mode, but the more reasonable half was empathetic for the parents of the boy. I know things like this sometimes happen, and if it ever does with my child, I hope for empathy from the affected party.
We’re big fans of family restrooms in our family. Mainly because LG is incredibly frightened of the loud noises in shared public restrooms, but also because family restrooms are much easier to navigate with small children. As we were leaving the Museum, we were happy to see one on the fourth floor.
We walked back to the car and were on our way. Within five minutes, LB was out like a light (so we had to drive around in complete silence he could get a little extra sleep).
Post-trip notes: From what we understand, some of the exhibits we saw while exploring the Museum are temporarily closed for the renovation and expansion project. There are still many cool ways to play at the Museum during their transformation, including a few exhibits at the Mall of America. We can’t wait to go back and check it out. The Minnesota Children’s Museum definitely knows how to keep kids engaged in learning, so I have no doubt that they will always be a great place for kids to play.
Disclosure: We received admission to the museum for this post. All thoughts are our own.