We’ve just started traveling with our children.
It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s so very worth it.
To be honest, the kids would be completely thrilled to just stay in a hotel over night. Throw in a pool and they are in paradise. Any other adventures are just icing on the cake.
But I like icing…a lot.
In my last post I mentioned some of the amazing adventures we embarked on this summer, but want to focus on a hidden gem we discovered on our big end of summer trip.
While I left teaching in the public system to stay home and home school my children, my partner was unable to do so (we still have bills to pay) and so our travel times are limited to traditional school holidays. This is fine, we are lucky that he is able to have the time to go away and just be with us. So we decided to book a trip to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania the week before school started. Speaking to some people I know in the US, I learned that for the most part schools were back in session that week, so I thought it would be the perfect time to visit. I knew it would be hot, kids would be in school, so the park would be relatively low key, right?
As it turned out, the day we chose to go was the day before school started up again in that part of the state. That meant the park was absurdly busy as parents tried to give their kids a good memory to share at the inevitable “what did you do this summer” discussions to follow.
We figured it would be okay, and we would just buy front of the line passes. As we waited in a huge line to get into the premium parking lot, I hooped online only to find out that those passes were sold out. In that moment, we could only guess at the horrific crowds that were beyond the gate, and decided to turn around and extend our trip another day.
Obviously, this caused quite about of confusion and not so happy tears from our little guys. They were so excited to go on rides and see Elmo and the various other characters, and were devastated when we told them we were going to have to wait another day. I was heartbroken for not being better prepared for this and making assumptions based on school calendars.
So we left the park and pulled into a parking lot, but the front of the line passes and VIP parade viewing tickets for the next day and then frantically began searching for a fun activity to make up for my blunder.
Fortunately, the stars were in my favour and the Bucks’ County Children’s Museum popped up in my google search.
After dropping a near fortune on the Sesame Place upgrades, we were quite pleased to discover that the admission to the children’s museum was only $8, and figured that even if it was lame, the kids would be occupied and then would be quite pleased with a swim in the hotel pool afterwards.
So we made the half hour-ish journey to the Buck’s County Children’s Museum and were so pleasantly surprised.When we entered the Buck’s County Children’s Museum we were greeted by a very sweet and friendly lady who was so very ecstatic about us being Canadian. As it turns out, the museum gets extra funding for visitors from far away, so our visit helped out in some way. She informed us that the museum was designed and run by teachers with a focus on early childhood education.
The actual facility was much bigger than we expected it to be. There were various sections filled with thematic activities. The front entrance had a STEM station with movable car tracks and ramps. The kids didn’t look around, they went right for the tracks and started playing!
After a good ten minutes, we figured we’d like to see more of the museum and directed the kids to look up and quite literally right behind the car station where there was an amazing Archaeology section. After visiting and playing in the Archaeology dig station at the ROM, the kids knew exactly what to do and went to work uncovering artifacts. One of the really cool things about this section was that it was divided into different time periods, so the artifacts that were uncovered were reflective of the actual relics of the time.
In case that wasn’t cool enough, off to the side was a pathway with a little bride that the kids could fish off of! They absolutely loved playing a little “catch and release”!
Over the bridge there was another room with a big climber that had a slide for the kids to go down. Under the climber was a really cool light up peg board that the kids had a great time making designs on. This room was focused on environmentalism and recycling, so there was a lot of neat activities reinforcing putting garbage in its place and reducing and reusing as much as possible.
The next room over was by far my kids’ favourite! It was an absolutely amazing pretend play room, with an ambulance/hospital section; an eat-in train; a grocery store; a post office; a garden and the icing on top: an ice cream stand! The kids seriously spent hours in this area, going back and forth between activities, but always finding their way back to the dress-up room! I honestly think if they had the place to themselves, they would’ve stayed the whole day there!
But wait – there is more…so much more!
Another room offers a really cool weather experience, with a wind pressure machine, a hot air balloon simulator, an air pressure machine, and lighting booth. While they were all fun, the kids loved the lighting room, where you stand i front of a white screen in a blacked out room and wait for a light to flash. The lighting combinations end up leaving an imprint of your shadow on the screen. This of course let to all sorts of funny poses and good laughs!
As we continued beyond that room, we were led to the most amazing water table EVER! There were so many fun toys to play with and accessories to make dams and redirect the water flow. It was an absolute hit! There was also a rain simulator attached to the table, which gave kids a chance to see how rain clouds form and what it’s like to stand directly under a downpour (don’t worry, you don’t get wet under there)!
Beyond the water station is a lovely fish tank, to enjoy a few minutes of mediation and then beyond that is a video game system of sorts (we didn’t really pay much attention to it) and then a great big block table! With so many different types of blocks, wheels and accessories, kids can build just about anything!
I have to say that I was so impressed and amazed with the Buck’s County Children’s Museum! The staff was so friendly and the facility was just amazing. I really wish we had more time to go back for a second (or third day)! If I lived there, we would be visiting at least once a week!
So if you’re ever in Pennsylvania looking for something awesome to do with children, definitely head over to the Buck’s County Museum for a day (or two)!