UPDATE 1/17/15: BIG NEWS! After nearly two years of renovation, Kidcity has opened their brand new room! It’s called “Middleshire” and it’s a pint-sized medieval village complete with a farm, a bakery, a tavern and many other opportunities for creative play! (This room replaces the “Corn Maze” room that you see in the original 2012 post.) Here’s a sneak peek:
And don’t forget to check out Mandy’s post about Kidcity as well. It gives you a perspective on a visit there with two-year-olds 🙂
PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2012 and while it should still give you a great idea of the overall experience of visiting Kidcity (we go there a lot, and most things have remained the same!), it may also contain some outdated information. Please be sure to check their website for the most up-to-date information, especially about things like hours and pricing. And if you see something in this post that needs to be updated, please feel free to leave a comment below with the new information or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to make the updates. Hey, it takes a village, right 🙂
UPDATE 2017: Kidcity is no longer offering the free admission on third Thursday evenings program. However, certain visitors will still qualify for free or reduced cost admission. Visit their admission page for details. You can also borrow a museum pass from the Middletown Public Library to gain free admission. Kidcity also continues to participate in the Association of Children’s Museums’ reciprocal membership program, allowing members of other participating museums to gain admission to Kidcity for 50% off.
A small update. Kidcity’s parking lot has undergone a few changes and now, instead of having a pay station, there are parking meters at each parking space (though there are still a few free, 2 hour spaces in existence). The new parking meters accept change or credit cards.
A few weekends ago, Boo was invited to a birthday party at Kidcity in Middletown, CT. Just about everyone I know in CT with kids has recommended that we write about this place for our blog (neither of us had been before), so I was very excited to check it out.
When you visit the Kidcity website, you immediately notice the big, red block letters spelling out Kidcity at the top of the home page. Well, that’s not just an attention getting font choice. It’s actually a representation of the real big, red block letters spelling out Kidcity that sit just in front of the museum. Let’s just say, when you get there, there’s no doubt about it. (Sorry, I only caught part of the letter sculpture in the lower left corner. It was too big for my camera from that angle!)
Kidcity doesn’t look like your typical museum building. It’s actually a couple of buildings (one of which looks a lot like a regular ol’ house) joined together. When you arrive, head around back to the spacious parking lot. It’s community parking, so most of the spaces are metered. Some are free, but they have a two hour limit. Look for the signs at the front of the parking spaces. They will tell you what to do.
If you park in a metered space, you need to pay at one of the pay stations conveniently located in the parking lot. This one is right in front of the building, to the left of the main entrance (left if you are facing the entrance; I should mention that the main entrance is actually on this back side of the building). There is another pay station straight back at the rear of the lot. The fee is 75 cents per hour, and the machines do not give change. They do, however, accept credit cards.
As it turns out, two hours was just enough time for us. Although, I could easily have seen spending more time there if Boo hadn’t been ready for his nap.
As I mentioned, the main entrance is right there off the parking lot. I had to patch together a few different shots to get a view of the whole building. This pic is a little wonky, but it gives you a pretty good idea of how big this place is.
Through the main entrance is the light-filled atrium that houses the information desk. Since we were there for a birthday party, we didn’t have to pay our own admission that day. But for adults and kids over 1 year old the cost is $8 per person. Babies under 1 are free. Of course, as you will see, there isn’t a lot for a child that small to do. But it is nice to know in case your baby has an older sibling.
Although there are elevators in this museum, you are not allowed to bring a stroller through the exhibits. As you’ll notice, space is tight, and it would be a complete disaster if the museum tried to accommodate strollers everywhere. All the exhibits are handicapped-accessible, however. If, for whatever reason, you find yourself entering the museum with a stroller, fear not. There is this great “parking area” for strollers in the coatroom that is just off to the right after you enter the museum.
If you are accompanying a non-walking child, I highly recommend that you bring a wearable baby carrier. If you don’t have one with you though, the museum does have some available to borrow. Ask at the front desk.
Since we were there first and foremost to celebrate a birthday, we went straight to the private party room. There are two party rooms in the museum, the red party room and the green party room, and they make an excellent place to meet, greet, and eat. And after the cake–it was time to explore the museum!
We started at the bottom-most level of the museum, which happens to be the toddler sea cave reserved for children ages 2 and under (although there are certain “Big Swim” days when older kids can join in; see their website for details.)
WOW. As we explored the colorful tunnels and caverns, I had this overwhelming urge to start singing that calypso tune from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Sebastian was right: Under the sea is the place to be! (Don’t worry, I refrained.)
Shoes are not allowed in the toddler sea cave (for anyone–that means you too), but there are these nice cubbies/shelves to stash your belongings in/on, and even a bin of spare socks if you came ill-prepared. There’s also a bench where you can sit to take your shoes off/put them back on again. You’re asked to leave your diaper bag out here too. Although, if it’s not too bulky and you plan to carry it, I don’t think it’d be a problem to take it in with you (I carried my purse in). I just think they don’t want them lying around posing a tripping hazard (or, as in Boo’s case, providing the constant temptation to ransack someone else’s things).
The cave is too amazing for me to capture it all here (you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!), but I will show you Boo’s favorite parts. First, he looooooved the mirror alcove.
Look at him try to hold hands with himself. Adorable.
There are lots of interesting things to look at and climb on, over, in, around, and through (and plenty of padding so you can relax watching the wee ones climb on, over, in, around, and through). Some of the smaller nooks and crannies we parents can’t even get to. Kids only!
Next stop: the main (first) floor. This area has all kinds of great props for playing pretend. Below on the right is the “diner” where kids can practice washing dishes with simulated running faucets.
What kid wouldn’t want to wash his hands in this fun sink? And another alcove with an intriguing game to play inside.
Explore the farm.
Crawl inside an igloo, sort the plastic fish, and climb aboard the clipper ship deck.
Here’s another one of Boo’s favorite rooms. And just when you thought we were all done with corn mazes until next fall… (Please note: the corn maze room has since been replaced with the new Middleshire exhibit! See pictures at the top of this post.)
From a parent’s perspective, a very nice feature of this “maze” is that in each play area there is some sort of seating for grown-ups. Trust me. You’re gonna need it.
Before I forget, let’s talk about the restroom situation. Kidcity goes over and above in this department. There are plenty of large, family restrooms on all floors, complete with changing space, step stools beneath the sink, and an “emergency kit” for parents.
Since our parking time had almost expired, and Boo was starting to get cranky, we decided to call it a day. On the ride home, I couldn’t help thinking about a poem that I loved as a kid, and that still makes me smile as an adult (and a parent). It’s called “If I Were in Charge of the World,“ and it was penned many, many years ago by a wonderful author for all generations by the name of Judith Viorst. I hope you will click through and read it (I’m sorta fuzzy on copyright laws but something tells me I shouldn’t publish her poem here without any kind of permission) because it reminds us that sometimes we need to step back and let our kids be in charge for a little while. And that’s exactly why we’ll be coming back to Kidcity, and often.
p.s. For more of Judith Viorst’s wonderful poems for kids and their adults, check out her anthology entitled If I Were in Charge of the World and Other Worries.
119 Washington Street, Middletown, CT
Get directions here:
Hours & Admission
This post was written in 2012. Please visit Kidcity’s website for the most up-to-date information on Hours & Admission.
Hints & Tips:
- Kidcity is specially designed for children ages 1 to 8 years old.
- While the toddler sea cave is certainly appropriate for seasoned crawlers, the majority of the museum is better accessed by a walking child, so we recommend waiting until your child is a fairly accomplished walker before your first visit.
- As of April 1, 2013, the Toddler Sea Cave is for children ages 2 and under. Your kids will need to get a stamp from the front desk to enter this area. For people with kids of multiple ages, the museum will be offering a “Big Swim” time where older siblings can visit the Sea Cave for gentle play.
- If also bringing an infant sibling, pack a wearable baby carrier or borrow one from the front desk as strollers are not allowed in the exhibits (there is a place to park your stroller inside).
- Dress casually and wear comfortable shoes as you will mostly be following (okay, chasing after) your child through the large, open exhibit rooms.
- Be aware that the toddler cave is a socks only area; socks are provided if you need them.
- Food, drink, and gum are not permitted beyond the coatroom. Enjoy your packed snacks in the adjacent eating area.
- Be sure to have one adult for every four children in your group (museum policy).
- If you’re considering museum membership, be sure to check out the reciprocal children’s museum pass that will also allow access to hundreds of other children’s museums in CT and elsewhere. If you already have one of these passes, it should be valid for admission to Kidcity (at 50% off after April 1, 2013)
- Visit the Kidcity website for more information about hosting a birthday party at Kidcity (for children turning 5 and younger).
Next week we’re exploring another great CT kids’ museum, plus we’re visiting a toy store that can get your wee ones “on the right track.”