Admission: FREE general admission
Location: 5608 Tenth Avenue, Kenosha, WI 53140. It is located by a streetcar stop.
Parking: There is a free parking lot
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday 12 – 5 p.m. They are closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Amenities: They have family restrooms on the main floor. No nursing facilities.
Stroller Friendly?: You can bring a stroller though I can see it can get pretty tight if it were crowded.
Crowded?: We were here on a holiday weekend on a Sunday and it was not crowded.
Gift Shop: Yes, they have one but it is tiny. There are plenty of dinosaur toys to purchase, but they are all behind glass cases.
- The main gallery featuring more than 7 different types of dinosaur bones to look at
- Viewing actual dinosaur bones of “Little Clint” a juvenile T-Rex
- Dinosaur craft activities on the lower level
- Best way to maneuver the museum? Enter the gallery and start from your left.
- The museum is small (one main room and lower level activities), so you’ll only need about 45 minutes to an hour to enjoy everything.
Bottom Line: Though the Museum may be on the small side, it still manages to awe any dinosaur fan. If we are in the area again, we will be sure to stop by here.
Want more activities to do in Kenosha? Hop on the streetcar and check out the Kenosha Public Museum.
Kenosha Public Museum
- It’s best to start on the first floor and work your way starting from the left.
- Go to the second floor for awesome views of the harbor.
- Check out the field station area for hands-on fun!
- There’s no photography allowed for the Reggie Jackson exhibit.
How sad to say goodbye to summer! We’ve had quite an eventful summer with trips to Cleveland and Wisconsin Dells and we wanted to end our summer on a lowkey note.
We decided to venture somewhere closer that was only a couple hours away. Can you guess where?
Yep, we were in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin and we were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and lowkey it was. It was the perfect way to end our summer and we are looking forward to visiting in the near future.
Reviews of our adventure to come.
The hubs loves food. In fact, one of his favorite shows is Man vs. Food. So when we travel, we always make it a point to see if Adam Richman has visited any of the areas we go to. If he has, you better believe that we will be visiting that restaurant. On our latest jaunt to Cleveland, we saw Adam went to Melt Bar and Grilled where grilled cheese is the name of the game.
The challenge directly from Melt Bar and Grilled:
Our monster grilled cheese featuring 13 different cheeses, 3 slices of grilled bread and a pile of hand-cut fries & slaw. Over 5 lbs. of food! Finish it all without any help or trips to the bathroom and you will be awarded a Melt t-shirt or Melt Pint Glass, a $10 gift card and we’ll immortalize you in our online Melt Challenge Hall of Fame.
Our Family’s Experience:
We went to the Independence, Ohio location right after our outing at the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. It was about 5 minutes away. This particularly location is at a strip mall with a parking lot.
Atmosphere: Instead of putting your name down for a table, you get a name tag. We waited about 10 minutes before they called our “name” Gene Simmons. There’s kitschy and fun decor everywhere. To add to the kitschiness of the place, they were playing the Flintstones on the television. Even the menus are on old vinyl record covers.
Food: The hubs decided not to partake in the challenge. Instead, he opted to make his own DIY grilled cheese sandwich with 4 different cheeses instead of the required 13. According to the him, it “was the best grilled cheese sandwich” he’s ever had. I ordered the Monte Cristo and it was huuuge. I think I ate a quarter of it before I became full. It was definitely yummy.
|hubs DIY grilled cheese – see that cheese oozing out?|
Family Friendliness: There is no kid’s menu, but you won’t need one. Grilled cheese IS the main item offered, so it’s easy enough to share something with the lil ones. They didn’t offer any crayons or coloring pages either, so it may be worth it to bring something to keep the kids entertained.
Bottom Line: Yes, I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone. We were afraid that the line would be crazy and we’d have to resort to take out, but I am so glad we came here. What a fun place! It is one of our favorite restaurants during our whole trip.
Interested in seeing what we did on our Cleveland trip?
Since my husband has never been to the Bristol Renaissance Faire and it had been ages since I’ve last gone, we thought it would be great to visit this year with the kiddos.
Nitty Gritty: Admission is $19.95 per adult and kids 4 and under are free.Discount tickets are available at participating Walgreens. The Bristol Renaisance Faire is located close to the border between Illinois and Wisconsin. Preferred parking is $5 (I wouldn’t park anywhere else unless you want the exercise). There is a lot of ground to cover, so you can bring your stroller though it may be a little tricky maneuvering through the crowds. Also, the grounds are gravel so it may be even more difficult for those non-jogging strollers. There are privvies (bathrooms) located throughout.
The Fun: Oh, where to start? The year is 1599 and you’ll feel as if you have been transported to a completely different era complete with knights, queens, jesters and other costumed people roaming about. The best part is that not only do the actors pretend, but other people come donning their renaissance best (or just arriving in costumes).
You’ll find your typical fare food such as brats, bbq, fish and chips and of course the huge turkey legs. Remember to bring cash!
Unfortunately for us, the weather man (or should I say the weather app) didn’t forecast the torrential downpour. We only got through a quarter of the grounds before having to call it a day. Who needs to watch the Mud Show when everywhere became THE mud show! The Ren Faire is open rain or shine and it was pretty entertaining seeing some of the actors out and about still having a good time in the rain.
We did catch one show – the Royal Falconer – and I think the falcons must have sensed the rain brewing because they didn’t perform their tricks. There are tons of unique shops (hello, made to order kilts!) that I would have loved to check out.
In the little time we were there, we had a blast!! There’s still so much we wanted to see and do – more shows, kids area, elephant rides, more food! We’ll be waiting ’til next year and we’ll be sure to double and triple check our weather app and hope for a sunny day!
- Bring cash! Cash is definitely king at the Faire. You’ll need it for parking, food vendors, games, and some of the stores.
- The walking path is mostly gravel and rocks so wear the appropriate shoes. We learned the hard way with sandals. Gravel + pouring rain = lots of mud + really muddy feet
- A little planning goes a long way. Check out their website for the schedule of shows. If we’d plan a little better, we would have loved to see more such as the Mud Show, The Joust, and Acrobatics.
Disclosure: Our family was provided complimentary admission. I was not required to express a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.
We did the Dells classics which included the Tommy Bartlett Show and the Ducks. Our trip to Wisconsin Dells would not be complete if we didn’t get to ride a train (as requested by my 2-year-old).
Riverside and Great Northern Railway
Admission is $12 an adult, $8 for children 3 and up. Anyone under three is free. Try to look out for discounts in the Wisconsin Dells book. There is a cute little cafe at the depot where everything is miniature in size. There are also picnic tables on the grounds. The bathrooms were a little run down. Don’t forget to check out the store for a souvenir for your train fan. There’s also a train table there to keep the little ones entertained while waiting for your train to depart.
We took our 2 sons on a train ride at the Riverside and Great Northern Railway in July. The trains are miniature in size (15” gauge for those parents of train fans) and the cars are windowless. It was the perfect size for our family of 4, but I could see it getting tight if you had more people. The ride itself was nice and relaxing as we cruised 10 – 15 mph through the woods and even over a bridge. Since it was only 35 minutes long, it was short enough that my toddler didn’t get bored, but at the same time long enough to really enjoy the ride. We’ve been on a lot of train rides, and one unique part was actually getting off so the train could be moved at the turntable.
The conductor then took that time to give us a little history about the train. Since the grounds aren’t that large, you could probably spend about an hour here including the train ride.
- Train rides leave every hour on the hour
- There are picnic tables for those who want to enjoy lunch outdoors
Bottom Line: For any train fan, this is a must stop! The admission fee may be a little on the high side (well what isn’t in the Dells!), but just know that your money is going to a good cause and supporting this volunteer-run operation. It is money well spent!
Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille
We visited Buffalo Phil’s Pizza & Grille on a Saturday afternoon in July and there was no wait. It is located adjacent to Knuckleheads Amusement and Bowling and right across the parking lot of the Great Wolf Lodge and Waterpark. The Tanger Outlet Malls was across the parking lot as well.
When you first walk in, you’ll be notice at how huge this place it is. One thing’s for sure – you can tell that this place was meant to hold families with their very spacious booths. In fact, we were able to fit our party of 7 in one booth.
We’ve been to a few other train restaurants with our train-obsessed son, and this definitely stands out as one of the best. The trains were bigger than what we’ve seen, plus it delivers your food to your table. One surprise we saw with this particular train was that it had the blew bubbles as well. The person controlling the train must have noticed that my son got excited every time the train chugged by that she made sure the train stopped by our table more than once.Though not all seating is by track (would be impossible with the size of this restaurant!), we did see that there were many booths located on the track.
The food itself was pretty good with nice sized portions. You gotta try their homemade rootbeer that comes in a frosted mug. Yum! There’s other homemade sodas as well.
Needless to say, my son had a great time. In fact, he had such a great time that he has been requesting to eat “train food”. It’s a must for all those choo choo fans.
Interested in more train fun in the Dells? Check out Midcontinent Railway Museum. Or if you are in the Chicagoland area, check out these train places that my 2-year-old would consider worthy of your time.
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Riverside and Great Northern Railway . I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view. The opinions I express are entirely my own.
Two road trips in a month?!? What were we thinking? Well, after our successful Cleveland trip, we knew our boys could handle anything – especially if we were only driving a few hours away. We figured this would be a piece of cake.
We decided to go to Wisconsin Dells since it was only 3 hours away from our lil ‘burb. Every Midwesterner has heard of Wisconsin Dells and has probably even vacationed there. Even though the Dells may be known as the Waterpark Capital of the World, we were curious to see if it offered other activities geared towards young tots such as mine.
I thought we would start our Dells vacation by exploring the quintessential Wisconsin Dells – the infamous Duck tours and the Tommy Bartlett Show.
Original Wisconsin Ducks
On my past Dells visits, I would always see those famous Ducks roaming around. Instead of carrying soldiers as it has in the past, this 7 ton half land, half water vehicles, now carry enthusiastic passengers curious about these vehicles’ capabilities – including our family.
We enjoyed our tour on the Wisconsin Ducks on a Friday evening in July. During the summer, the last departure is at 6:00 p.m. There are plenty of Ducks eager to take passengers, so we never waited more than 10 minutes for our turn. There’s a concession stand where you can buy food and bring it with you on your ride. Admission is $24.41 for adults, $12.25 for children 4 – 11, and those children under 3 are free. Don’t forget to look for discounts.
After taking a picture for our Duck photographer, we were on our way and eager to experience what the Ducks were all about. It did not disappoint! Our Duck maneuvered through the woods, down steep drops and turns, then dipped into the Wisconsin River where you could see beautiful views of the cliffs and sandstone.
Then finally, we splashed in Lake Delton. The entire ride was a perfect mixture of excitement and relaxation. Even my two-year-old toddler, whose attention span is usually nonexistent, enjoyed the ride immensely exclaiming “Whoa!!” with every sudden turn and drop. On the other hand, I felt that the ride was safe enough for my 7-month-old. In fact, he had fallen asleep when we were on the Wisconsin River.
Our guide told cheesy jokes with his narration, but honestly I didn’t mind at all. I think that’s what made it so entertaining. Though I have to admit, his request for tips towards the end was a bit awkward. I’m all for giving tips but believe it could have been done in a different manner.
- Tours leave every few minutes, so you won’t ever have to wait too long for the next tour.
- Don’t sit in the back if you don’t want to get wet from splashing into the Lake.
- For better views, stay on the left side of the boat.
- You can bring food on the Duck.
- Bring $4 cash if you’d be interested in purchasing a booklet or to tip your driver
Yes, I would definitely recommend this to any fun-loving family. In fact, going on the Ducks may now have to become our family tradition. Hopefully, by that time the way tips are requested will be changed so it isn’t awkward.
Tommy Bartlett Show
If you’ve ever been to the Dells, I’m sure you’ve seen the numerous billboards for the Tommy Bartlett Show. The show has just celebrated their 60 year anniversary, making it one of the longest running outdoor shows. I personally had never been there and was curious to see the Dells’ most popular show.
Admission costs $21 for those 12 and up. Kids 6 to 11 costs $11. Children 5 and under were free. No outside food or drinks allowed but there is a concession stand and people going up and down the aisles selling food. The walk from the entrance to the stands is far and a little hilly. If you bring your stroller, there is stroller parking. If you are staying at the Kalahari resort, admission is free. Parking is free and plentiful.
We were here on a Saturday for the 4:30 p.m. show. The family-friendly show has a little bit of everything from water skiing to comedic juggling to thrilling acts. The first half we enjoyed seeing stunts on skis that included barefoot skiing and of course their famous skiing pyramid that the Tommy Bartlett show is known for.
My son was particularly intrigued by the waterskiing clown.
The adults in our group enjoyed the second half better with stage acts with the comedic jugglers, death defying acts (literally – the man on what I call the giant hamster wheel almost fell!) and the acrobats. They did a great job of involving people from the crowd which made it for an even funnier experience.
Having had a jam packed day, I was afraid of how my 2-year-old would react to being seated for an hour and half show. Worries aside, he was captivated from the minute the show started and even though he may have been tired, he had resisted sleeping for fear of missing something exciting.
- There are really no bad seats
- There are two shows daily at 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Reserved seating is available only for the 8:30 show.
- The night show has a light and water display that I would have liked to see if it this show wasn’t past the lil ones’ bedtime.
Now I know what I have been missing all these years! Everyone that visits the Dells should make it a point to at least check out the show for themselves. Even though the ticket prices may be a little on the high side, there are numerous discounts everywhere.
Check out our train-tastic day at Wisconsin Dells!
Disclosure: Though we received complimentary tickets to the Original Wisconsin Duck Tours and the Tommy Bartlett Show, the opinions expressed are, of course, my own!
Tickets had been ordered (3 months ago!) and outfits were complete with train conductor hats. The day tmy two-year-old had been waiting for had finally arrived – our Day Out With Thomas was here! We were more than ready to ride Thomas at the Illinois Railway Museum!
The tickets were $19 each person anyone over 2 years old. I bought the tickets by phone and saved money (by not paying extra fees) than if I’d purchase them online. (More info here) The Illinois Railway Museum is in Union, Illinois.
“Riding Thomas” Tips
Since it was our first Thomas ride, I didn’t know what to expect. I couldn’t find too much information anywhere
These are tips that would have been helpful to know beforehand.
- The rides are about 20 minutes. Perfect for the always-moving toddler.
- The earlier time slotted rides are definitely more packed than the later ones.
- For a great picture or view of Thomas, sit in the rear 2 or 3 cars and sit on the left hand side of the train.
- Strollers aren’t allowed on the Thomas train or any other train. You’ll have to park your stroller somewhere on the grass.
- There are plenty of picnic tables so if you want to save money and bring your own food. We actually brought out foldable picnic blanket and sat in the grassy area by the Thomas boarding. We bought lunch and sat there and saw Thomas going back and forth.
- Definitely plan to stay there the entire day to check out the Thomas activities AND also the IRM’s offerings. We definitely did not expect it to be this huge
Other Thomas activities to enjoy:
- Imagination Station – Here you’ll find coloring stations, Thomas and Friends tattoos, train tables, mega blocks
- Storytelling – Watch Thomas videos or have someone read you a Thomas story
- Thomas Gift Shop – Find your cool new Thomas souvenir. Our favorite purchases was a “Day Out With Thomas 2012” Quarry car. Each year, they make a different type of “Day Out with Thomas” car.
- Magic Show
- Meet Sir Topham Hatt – You could actually take a picture with him and then purchase the photo is you wanted. With specific times only available, we couldn’t nail down the perfect time to meet him. But we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him as he was leaving the grounds.
- Model Railroad with favorites like James and Thomas chugging around
- Take a picture in front of the Thomas train
- See a firetruck
Illinois Railway Museum’s highlights
- 9 barns that houses trains, trains, and more trains! (We only had time to check out one barn)
- Kids can tire themselves out at the awesome railroad-themed playground by the gift shop
- Finding the perfect souvenir is fun when the gift shop is set up in actual train cars.
- Cafeteria-style restaurant attached to an old rail car
- Ride more trains!! You can ride an electric streetcar or the main train. We jumped on the streetcar right by the Thomas boarding.
Bottom Line: Are you kidding? I would recommend this to everyone, especially if you have a train fan. My son cannot stop talking about it. Every day he asks to “Ride Thomas again!”. I only wish Thomas came around more than once a year!
|See you next year!|
See other train-related activities that we’ve been to here.
Oh, we were particularly excited our day today – trains, science and the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were on our agenda.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad
Today was our train day! And better yet, it went through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the tenth most visited national park in the nation.
Nitty Gritty: The train ride costs $15 an adult, $10 for children 3 – 12, and free for kids under 3. There are different seating options as well besides coach and also a variety of excursions to choose. We departed from the Rockside Station in Independence, Ohio where there was a huge free parking lot. The train leaves at specific times, so be sure to check out the train schedule. Coach seats are first come, first serve, but there were plenty of seats available. There are bathrooms on the trains and also at the station. Be sure to check out the dining car where they sell concessions such as popcorn, donuts, coffee, and even train memorabilia. You can also bring food on the train.
For three hours, our air-conditioned vintage train chugged through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park while taking in views of the park at its best. While meandering through the forest, the scenic round trip ride also made multiple stops along the way to pick up more people or drop them off. Even though we were in coach, we had plenty of room for our family of four even when toting snacks, a small kid’s bag pack, and a diaper bag. If history is more your thing, don’t forget to grab a free audio tour from one of the friendly conductors. The audio came sporadically at different points throughout the trip and I would have rather preferred a real narrative from a person.
I wasn’t sure how a 2-year-old and a 7 month old were going to handle being in a confined space for so long. We thought that our 2 year old train-obsessed son would be in heaven on the train ride, but to my surprise after about an hour he was ready to “go out”. Since we were mostly riding through forest, he quickly became tired of looking at trees. I’m sure if there was a change of scenery, he would have enjoyed it more. Walking over to the next car to buy souvenirs and popcorn proved to be a nice distraction for my restless toddler.
- Check out the train car that sells souvenirs and food. This helped pass the time for my antsy 2 yr old.
- Food and drink are allowed on the train, so bring snacks and food. Hungry tots = no fun for you and other passengers!
- Get a free audio tour from the friendly conductors. Hey, you’ve got nothing to lose, plus you may learn a thing or two.
- Plan it so you get off at a stop to explore. We had a round trip ticket and it seemed to have dragged. It would have been great to stretch our legs and explore a neighboring town.
- If our sons were old enough, we would have loved to take advantage of their Bike Aboard! program – for only $2 a bike you can bring your bike on the train, then get off at one of the stops and bike your way back through the Cuyahoga Valley. How fun is that!
Bottom Line: For those who are looking for a relaxing ride, this will be perfect for you. In our situation, having a two year old sit down and stay seated for 3 hours may have been asking for too much. We would give the train ride another try, though we would probably get off at one of the stops to explore on our own.
Out 3 hour tour left us famished! Time to eat – we’d already planned to check out Melt Bar and Grilled which, fortunately for us, just opened a new location a few minutes away. Featured on Man Vs. Food, we could not miss this place.
After our cheese-attack, we drove to Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor to see the Great Lakes Science Center and where we were immediately saw the towering Browns stadium.
Great Lakes Science Center
With a curious two-year-old, we are always on the lookout for places and museums where my toddler can learn through interactive play. When we heard that the Great Lakes Science Center offered more than 400 hands-on activities, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on them.
Nitty gritty: We visited the Great Lakes Science Center on a Saturday afternoon. The center is ideally located on the North Coast Harbor in downtown between the Browns stadium and the Rock Hall. You can’t miss it with their single wind turbine in front of the building. Normally, you could park at the attached parking garage, but since there was a concert happening close by, we found that the Science Center’s attached garage was full and so were other nearby parking lots. We resorted to parking at a further lot, and paying a $10 fee instead of $5. General admission is $14 for adults and $12 for kids 2 to12. If you want to save money, come here on a Tuesday when kids 18 and under get in for free. Admission to the Steamship Mather is extra.There are family restrooms on the second floor. It is stroller friendly, but you will need to park your stroller at the Polymer Funhouse.
The Fun: There is fun all around at this museum! The Science Phenoma on the second floor is where you can unleash your inner scientist with interactive activities that range from touching a tornado to freezing your shadow. One thing’s for sure – this area will keep both kids and adults preoccupied for hours, and the best part – your kids won’t even know they are learning at the same time. It was a busy Saturday at the Center, so we didn’t get to “play” with all the activities, but the buzz of children and adults alike was evident that they were having a great time.
Don’t worry if you have toddlers- the Great Lakes Science Center also caters to the younger set. Weave your way through all the hands-on activities on the second floor to the corner and you’ll find the gated play area, Polymer Funhouse, dedicated to those kiddos 7 and under.
Sure, my 2-year-old had lots of fun with all the other interactive activities, but this is where he was able to unleash all his extra energy by going down the slides and playing in the structure. Other kids were having a blast playing in the ball pit as well.
Right outside on the deck was the splash station, Port Polymer. While the kids were busy splashing away, parents could take a minute to look out and enjoy the beautiful view of the Steamship Mather and the harbor.
Since the first man to orbit Earth, John Glenn, was born and raised in Ohio, it makes perfect sense that Ohio have a center dedicated to space exploration. Kids who dream of one day going into space will love the NASA Glenn Center on the first floor where we were able to see the actual command module used in the Apollo 3 mission and also a moon rock!
On the lower level, we really enjoyed their traveling exhibit on frogs. We loved going through each station and trying to find the frogs. Not necessarily an easy task, since the frogs blended well in their habitat. We were also surprised to find frogs in every color of the rainbow. The coolest ones by far were the purple, blue, and yellow frogs, but beware, these beauties are poisonous!
Bottom line: Without a doubt, I would highly recommend this museum since there is truly something for everyone at this museum. Future astronauts will have a blast at the NASA Glenn center, parents and older children will love all the hands-on activities offered, and tots will enjoy running around Port Polymer.
- For kids 7 and under, do NOT miss the Polymer Funhouse. If it’s nice out, step outside and splash away at Port Polymer. Don’t forget your change of clothes!
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is next door to the Science Center. Don’t miss it!
- You can also tour the Steamship Mather for an additional cost. Would have loved to see it if time allowed.
- Step outside to enjoy views of the Harbor. There is also a path that leads directly to the Rock Hall.
Fun fact: If you look out front of the building, you’ll see a single wind turbine that currently supplies 7% of the Center’s energy needs.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
My husband was looking forward to this museum ever since I proposed the idea of visiting Cleveland. There was no way we were going to miss visiting one of Cleveland’s most iconic landmarks.
Nitty gritty: The museum is located in downtown next to the Great Lakes Science Center. Admission for adults is $22 and Children ages 9-12 is $13, free for children under 8. There are numerous parking lots close by. There is a café on the third floor which has indoor and outdoor seating.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame does its best to give you an overview of the history of rock and roll by showcasing memorabilia from ock stars we know and love. From Janis Joplin’s car to Elvis’ jumpsuit to Michael Jackson’s gloves; it was fun to actually see them in person. Unfortunately, there weren’t many interactive displays and our toddler got restless as we moved through the museum. They had numerous videos shown throughout the museum but we couldn’t sit our son down for more than a couple minutes at a time to actually enjoy them.
The highlight of our visit was seeing the actual Hall of Fame Gallery on the third floor. Before viewing the gallery, people are sat down and then presented with a video of all the inductees. With a toddler and 7 month in tow, we opted to watch part of the video from the back where my son preferred to dance to the music instead of being seated. After tiring himself out, we then proceeded through the narrow red carpeted hallway to view all of the illuminated signatures of the Inductees on the wall. It was a nice touch having the signatures pop out at you in the darkness, though I was expecting more than just signatures from the Hall of Famers. Maybe more memorabilia?
If you are anything like me and love a good gift shop, or are looking for the perfect souvenir or gift, then take heed of my advice – do not forget to stop by the gift shop! I was in souvenir heaven. These are unlike your typical cheesy gifts. But just like the admission fee, they are a tad bit expensive.
We visited Cleveland’s most famous landmark on a Saturday evening in July and because we took advantage of their late summer hours, we did not experience any crowds. We explored the museum for a couple hours until my son could not tolerate any more.
Bottom line: Die-hard rock and roll fans will be in heaven, though I think this would be better suited to families with older children or kids with an appreciation for music. We would definitely visit again, but will wait until the kids are older.
- Plan to spend more time on the basement level as that’s where most of the exhibits are located.
- Don’t miss out on seeing the Hall of Fame gallery on the third floor.
- No photos allowed! There would be tons of photo ops. Just settle for taking photos outside of this awesome IM Pei designed building.
- With 7 levels, it’s best to start at the bottom and work your way up.
- Leave the strollers at home! With a pyramid shaped building, we found that the higher we got, the less room there was to explore.Taking the elevators for 7 levels was not fun! We would have rather taken the escalators which offered nicer views of the museum as a whole.
- Find that perfect souvenir at the gift shop. Pretty cool items that I would be proud to showcase. Shirts that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear. Check it out for yourself!
Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, The Great Lakes Science Center, and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view. The opinions I express are entirely my own.
Today was our first full day in Cleveland. We were ready to tackle Cleveland – but only after we ate a hearty breakfast. Luckily for us, our first stop was for food in downtown Cleveland.
Carnegie Kitchen and Dining
I wasn’t sure what to expect since it was located on the outskirts of downtown inside an unassuming building. When we first stepped through Carnegie Kitchen’s doors, we noticed that it was spacious and nicely decorated. My husband and I also thought “Uh oh” this restaurant is nice – a little too nice for 2 young children, if you know what I mean. In our past experience, this usually meant small portions and a side trip to the nearest fast food joint.
We couldn’t have been more wrong! We ordered chocolate chip pancakes and honestly that could have fed our family of four! In fact, everything else that we ordered were nice sized portions. To top it all off, everything was delicious! This is definitely unlike your typical greasy spoon diner.
It would have been nice to have a kid’s menu, but then again, it really wasn’t necessary since there were plenty of other choices that any 2-year-old would like. One of the best perks of going here is that they have their own free parking lot which is uncommon in downtown Cleveland.
Bottom Line: Yes, make your way out here! Eating at Carnegie Kitchen definitely did not disappoint and was the perfect beginning to our busy day. Your taste buds (and stomach) will thank you! If only Carnegie Kitchen was in the Chicagoland area, this would have definitely been one of our go-to breakfast places.
With bellies full of pancakes and orange juice, we were all ready for a nap. But of course, we didn’t dare! We were ready for our next destination – University Circle – one of the most concentrated cultural areas in the nation.
Cleveland Children’s Museum
Nitty Gritty: The Cleveland Children’s Museum costs $7 per adult or children over 11 months. Children under 11 months are free. There is a small free parking lot next to the museum. Ironically enough, even though it is a children’s museum, it is not very stroller friendly especially on the second level (there is stroller parking on the main level). There’s a little corner in the Barnyard (main level) to nurse your baby. There are bathrooms and a small area on the first floor to eat your purchased snacks.
The Fun: We visited on a mid-morning on a Friday and it was just starting to get really crowded. Even with three levels in the museum, this was one of the smaller museums that we’ve visited, so a family could probably go through it in about an hour. There was a water play station on the first floor that we skipped since my son is notorious for getting soaked even with the provided smocks. There is a 2-story climbing structure for those adventurous (older) kids. Instead, my son had a blast on the second level that resembled a community complete with a grocery store, a doctor’s office, a two story house, RTA bus, car and gas pump, train table and bridge. Other kids seemed to gravitate to this area as well, so it quickly
The main floor houses their current exhibit: Young Architects: Designing the Future. There are stations
throughout the room that highlight a specific building. Using their imagination, kids can recreate the building or structure using different kinds of blocks. My son, being the car and train lover, was perfectly content playing on the huge street/track themed play rug with tunnels and cars.We did stop by the Barnyard area, but wished there was a padded area for my 7 month old to crawl on.
Sons’ favorite moment(s): He loved pretending to be the bus driver and passenger on the replica RTA bus complete with real bus seats and steering wheel.
- Leave the strollers at home. The museum is small enough so it isn’t needed. Plus, there are steps that make it hard to go up and down.
- Get there early or later in the day so you have the Museum to yourself.
Bottom line: Even though the children’s museum could use a little more TLC, I think that the museum has the best intentions. Their current exhibit is great and I loved how they highlight some of Cleveland’s architecture. I do think that the price to pay is pretty steep especially for what it is – a play area. It would probably make more sense if they charged only for the children. Even though the museum is recommended for those ages 1 to 7, I think that preschoolers and kindergarteners will enjoy the museum the most. Though we’ve been to better children’s museums, my 2 year old had a blast and at the end of the day that’s all that really matters.
We’d just whetted our appetite. We were ready to actually tackle the “Circle”. Our next stop – dinosaurs!
Cleveland Museum of Natural History
My son is currently going through a dinosaur phase, so we were extra excited to learn that the Cleveland Museum of Natural History had a dinosaur exhibit. My husband and I love mythology and could not wait to see their newest Mythological Creatures exhibit. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History met our expectations and more!
Nitty Gritty: Admission is $10 for Adults (19 and up), $8 for Youth (7 to 18), $7 Children (3 to 6) and free for Toddlers (2 and under). Parking is adjacent to the museum and only $5, unless you’re lucky enough to snag street parking. (Don’t forget to feed the meters!). There’s a cafeteria and planetarium located on the main level. Save some time to check out their large gift shop. The museum is very stroller friendly.
The Fun: We were here on a Friday afternoon in July, and it was not crowded at all. The two-level museum is not as large as other natural history museums and you could probably see everything in about an 1.5 to 2 hours. We were here for about 2 hours, but could have stayed longer if we hadn’t pulled my son away from “digging” for bones. The friendly staff person at the desk suggested we circle the museum from the left to right. The museum is known for their gem exhibit and dinosaur exhibit. Some of the exhibits may seem dated (um, hello dioramas!), but I think it added to the charm of the museum, plus my son seemed fascinated by them.
|absolutely mesmerized by dioramas|
Before entering the museum, my 2-year-old glanced at the huge sculpture of a dinosaur in front of the museum – that was all he needed to see before going crazy. Then upon entering, he spotted Jane, a cast of a juvenile t-rex, and it took all of our might to stop him from running to the dinosaur. His excitement from seeing the first few dinosaurs was just a sign of things to come. He was in awe as he walked through the room looking up at the huge display of the dinosaur skeletons. The room is filled with not only dinosaurs, but also other skeletons such as mastodon, mammoths, and more.
The adjacent Wildlife Discovery Park is a definite must see. They do a great job of displaying animals native to Ohio in their natural habitat such as deer, fox, raccoon, and even a bald eagle named “Baldy”. Who knew raccoons could be so cute when sleeping inside a tree trunk?
We were in for a real treat with their current exhibit, Mythic Creatures. We have been to a many museums and we have never seen an exhibit on the subject of mythology. Though the little ones were too young to recognize most of the creatures shown, my two-year-old noticed the dragon and that kept him entertained the entire time. My husband and I, on the other hand, loved learning more about the infamous creatures of the land, air, and water such as the Kraken, dragons, unicorns, Big Foot, and more. Needless to say, we loved the exhibit.
If you have young ones with you, don’t forget to check out the basement. Kids will love the hands-on activities in the Discovery Center. When we were there, they had a station where the kids could make their own dragon rubbings; there were toys such as dragons and unicorns to play with (which could also be found in the gift shop); there was a cozy corner for book worms. They did not forget the little ones either with a padded area to crawl and play with blocks, puzzles, and other fun toys. Hands down, my son’s favorite part was uncovering dinosaur fossils using the brush.
|my budding paleontologist at work|
- Go through the museum from left to right.
- The lower level has hands-on activities for the kids
- Venture outdoors to the adjacent Wildlife Park
Bottom Line: I would definitely recommend this museum to the entire family. Parents and older kids into mythology will love their Mythic Creatures exhibit. If you have children who love dinosaurs, this is a no-brainer – they’ll love it! Plus, their hands-on activities center will surely please the youngest of visitors.
Cleveland Museum of Art
After pooping out our sons, the hubs and I thought it would be an opportune time to quickly check out Cleveland’s world renowned art museum with our two napping kiddies.
|Even with construction, the Cleveland Museum of Art is impressive!|
Nitty Gritty: Admission is FREE for their permanent collection. Located in culturally centric University Circle, there is an attached parking garage or metered parking. The museum is stroller friendly with elevators though you may have to go out of your way to actually get to the elevators. They have a clean, family restroom on the lower level and also a small café with seating available if you are hungry.
We had spent about an hour and half at the Cleveland Museum of Art, but still could have easily spent a few more hours here. The museum is huge with two levels of art to peruse at your leisure, and I was glad to have brought our stroller for my son’s tired feet. Since it is so spacious, we basically felt like we had the galleries to ourselves.
Even in the midst of undergoing a renovation to add an atrium courtyard and two new wings, the Museum of Art is still quite impressive with a lineup of artwork from famous artists such as Monet, Renoir, Rodin, and more. Even with the wonderful works of art displayed throughout, what really impressed me was the architecture of the museum. It is gorgeous with skylights throughout the building and nice high vaulted ceilings to optimize your viewing experience. My favorite room of all was the Glass Box – a corner room with 2 of its walls made of glass that allowed the sun to light up the statues housed in the room.
Parents and adults will love the museum, but toddlers (such as my own) may lose interest quickly. I found that going through the galleries and pointing out familiar items to him (“Wait, is that a doggie?”) seemed to do the trick. My son did not understand the concept of looking, but not touching. Needless to say, my husband and I were always kept on our toes in case our lil one became too curious. Even though he may have been too young to appreciate most of the artwork, my two-year-old (and husband) did find the display of medieval arms and armor quite interesting – or maybe he was preoccupied with the “horsey” on display?
Bottom Line: Clevelanders are very lucky to have such a gem to call their own. The art is beautifully presented, the museum is impeccably clean, and even if you aren’t an art aficionado, the building itself is a work of art and is worth the visit. The best part is the price cannot be beat! I can’t wait to see what the Cleveland Museum of Art has in store once construction is finished!
Tip: Check out their website for their kid-friendly programs.
Disclosure: Though we were given complimentary tickets to the Cleveland Children’s Museum and Cleveland Museum of Natural History, my opinions are, of course, my own.