PLEASE NOTE: This post was written in 2013, and while it should still give you a good overview of the experience, it is also possible that it may not contain the latest information (like the museum’s expansion and new exhibits!). Please check Kidsplay’s website for the most recent details on ticket prices, hours, exhibits, and more.
Thank you to KidsPlay Museum for providing complimentary access for me and my family. All opinions in this post are 100% my own.
We are lucky to have some wonderful children’s museums located in and around the state of Connecticut. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to visit (and write about) many of them, but there are still a few I have not yet conquered.
So, when I received an initiation to visit the new children’s museum located in Torrington, Connecticut, I knew I had to go.
It took me a few months to find time in my schedule for a visit, but I finally made it happen last week.
KidsPlay Museum was located in Torrington, Connecticut and it was a pretty easy, 45-minute drive from my home in West Hartford.
I was a bit nervous about the outing because it was going to be another solo adventure with me and the three kids, but I wanted to do it. I know Shawna likes to sing my praises for venturing out alone with all these munchkins (Thanks Shawna!) but anyone that has seen me in action knows it can get a little hairy if any of the kids or I are off our game. But my mind was set and I was ready for the adventure!
I loaded the kids in the car and we enjoyed the relaxing drive from West Hartford to Torrington.
The museum was on Main Street right in downtown Torrington.
The first thing I needed to do was to park our car. For that, there were two options: street parking or the museum’s parking lot.
There was plenty of street parking available on Main Street right in front of KidsPlay’s main entrance. The parking spaces were metered so change would be needed to pay for the spot.
FREE parking was available in the museum’s lot located off Water Street. This was a little bit trickier to find. It was located right behind Sarabon Dance Wear (24 Water Street) and there were brightly colored barricades marking the lot. Visitors can park anywhere and access the museum from the rear entrance located right there. The only thing to be aware of with the back entrance was that there are a lot of stairs. If you bring a stroller, either take the short walk around to the front entrance or park on Main Street and enter from there.
Whatever you do, just don’t do what I did. I parked in the back lot, put Sweetheart in a stroller, had the twins walk and we went around to the front entrance. Getting there was absolutely fine, but when we tried to leave the museum and get back to the car, I felt like it was an hour long adventure. At one point the kids got away from me and ended up in the display window of one of the local shops. I’m serious. They were pure entertainment for anyone on the streets of downtown Torrington that morning!
In hindsight, I should have just carried Sweetheart and we all entered through the back entrance or parked close to the entrance on Main Street. Lesson learned 🙂
But enough about my crazy adventures from the parking lot to the car, my kids couldn’t wait to check this place out.
Once we were inside, they could hardly contain themselves while I checked in. All they wanted to do was go explore (which, of course, is a great sign!)
Admission to KidsPlay was $4 [UPDATE: As of 2016, admission is $6] per person and they would accept cash, check and all major credit cards.
After getting the scoop on the admissions process, I finally told the kids that they could go play. I certainly didn’t have to tell them that twice. They were off and checking out every activity before I got the words out of my mouth.
The style of this museum was similar to a few others in Connecticut. Specifically, it reminded me of the Lutz Museum and The Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut. Everything was on one floor and there were a variety of activities for the kiddos. For my current three-kid adventures, visiting a museum that has only one floor definitely makes it easier for me to let the kids explore while still being able to keep an eye on them.
To provide children with an environment that fosters imagination and creativity through interactive exhibits and play that will deepen their appreciation and understanding of the arts, culture and the world around them.
Wow. Perfect. Now you want a visual tour, right? Well, here you go . . .
The first thing that caught my children’s eye was the fire truck located right at the front. It came complete with fireman’s hats and vests.
Oh and here are a few more fun activities the kids found in the front section of the museum.
But probably the biggest hit of this section was the ball and scarf tube extravaganza. My kids could have spent all day feeding balls and watching then fly by. It was certainly a very creative person who designed this exhibit.
Located right in between the front section of the museum and the back section, was the family restroom. I was happy to see that there was a place for diaper changes!
A grocery store complete with stocked shelves and grocery carts.
They really thought of everything when designing this exhibit. Inside there were three little sinks with pot scrubbers and drying racks. The sinks actually work and my kids had so much fun picking out a pot (or two or three) to clean and dry.
The other fun thing about the mini-diner exhibit was the fact that it was built in honor of a historic diner in Torrington, Skee’s Diner. The theme of KidsPlay is “Our Town”, so they built in local connections to many of the exhibits.
Right past the diner was the stairwell that can be used to enter the museum from the parking lot. I just thought a visual might be helpful if you are trying to figure out if you can navigate this entrance with your little one.
A little remodeling was also going on in the back of the museum.
They were building a breastfeeding room and also creating a new exhibit. The new exhibit was being designed around a permanent structure located in the building, a vault left over from the days when it was a bank. I bet that will be a fun exhibit.
The museum also has a party room located right in the play area. When it isn’t in use for an event, this room can be used for lunch or snacks for your little one. My kids used the room to enjoy their lunch. I needed to make sure they had plenty in their tummies before the ride home (I don’t need anyone waking up early from a nap because they are hungry!)
After lunch, my kids played a little longer and really didn’t want to leave. I needed to get back on the road, though, so I used my best negotiating tactics to get them heading towards our car. If we had a little more time, I might have taken them across the street for a little ice cream at S&S Sweet Treats before heading home. [UPDATE: S&S Sweet Treats is now Cafe 38.] But unfortunately that wasn’t going to be on our agenda that day. (But, if you have time to go, make sure you ask for the coupon available at the KidsPlay admissions desk!)
I hope you get a chance to check out this new children’s museum. You can tell that the people who designed KidsPlay knew what they were doing. My kids were engaged in independent play for over 2 hours. Now that’s my kind of morning out!
Phone Number: (860) 601-0667
- Closed on Monday & Tuesday
- Wednesday – Sunday they are open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
- Open on some days when schools are closed. Check their events page for the latest information.
Admission (updated 2016):
- $6 per person
- Payment can be made in cash, check or with a major credit card
- Children under the age of one are FREE
- Museum memberships are available.
- Metered spaces are available on Main Street. Bring change to pay the meter fee.
- FREE parking is available in the museum’s lot located on Water street right behind Sarabon Dance Wear (24 Water Street). Look for the brightly painted barricades that mark the lot. There is a back entrance to KidsPlay right in the parking area. The rear entrance does have stairs, so if you are using a stroller, it would be easiest to walk around to the front.
Tips and Things to Bring:
- Strollers can be used in the museum, but are not necessary. The museum is small and all located on one floor, so it is fairly easy to navigate with an early walker. Non-walking little ones could hang out in their stroller or in a baby carrier.
- Snacks are allowed in the museum and can be enjoyed in the party room (when not in use for an event).
- Bring change. It will be needed if you park in the metered spots on Main Street and it is also a fun way to donate to KidsPlay. They have an exhibit where kids can deposit money and watch it swirl to the bottom. If you don’t have change, you can get some from the front desk. They also can provide 8 tokens for $1 that can be used in the donation exhibit. A fun way to contribute to the museum.
- A baby changing table is available in the restroom.
- Across the street from the museum is an ice cream shop (S&S Sweet Treats). If you want to go, ask the front desk for a coupon.