Please note: As a member of a museum that is part of the Association of Science-Technology Center’s (ASTC) Passport Program, I received free admission for me and my family to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.
One snowy morning in early January, we decided to make a trip down to New York City.
My husband has family living in Manhattan and Brooklyn and we had not been able to see them over the holidays, so a visit was in order. We decided to meet up in Brooklyn but needed to find a central, kid-friendly destination. Even though our family was from the area, they weren’t quite up-to-date on the Brooklyn toddler scene so we needed to find a suitable spot 🙂 In good weather we could have picked one of the beautiful parks in the area, but this was a bitterly cold, snowy Sunday and we needed a fun, indoor site.
Whenever we travel with the kids and are looking for somewhere to go, I always start my research by checking to see if there are any museums in the area that offer reciprocity with one of my Connecticut museum memberships.
So I took a look at both websites and found the perfect place, a children’s museum located in the heart of Brooklyn. (FYI, for more information on museum reciprocity, check out Shawna’s post here)
The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is located off Brooklyn Avenue and the large sunny yellow building is easy to spot. The museum currently does not have a parking lot (though one is in the works), but parking is available along the side streets. We actually had no problem finding a spot right in front of the building, but we were visiting on a Sunday.
The museum was founded in 1899 and is considered to be the oldest children’s museum in the country.
It underwent a significant renovation in 2008, doubling its size and significantly upgrading the facility, and the museum continues to make improvements today with renovations of the first floor restrooms, rooftop pavilion and Commons Theater.
At the entrance, there are a few steps from the street up to the building, but if you are visiting with a stroller, just make your way to the side of the building where a ramp is located.
Once inside, we were greeted by a large lobby, a check-in area and a coat check.
The museum is open every day of the week except for Mondays. They also offer FREE entry on Thursdays from 3-5:00 pm (and every third Thursday the museum stays open until 7:00 pm).
For the check-in process, the cost is $9 per person and children under 1 are free.
For my family, we were able to obtain FREE access to the museum through our membership at another museum that participates in the ASTC’s Passport Program. I provided my museum membership card along with my ID.
Please note: For ASTC reciprocity, the museums have to be greater than 90 miles apart. If you want to verify whether reciprocity is offered with your museum, contact their Membership Desk at 718.735.4400 Ext. 324. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is also part of the Association of Children’s Museum’s reciprocity program which provides entry for up to 6 people at 50% off the ticket price.
After check-in we headed over to the coat check area to get rid of some of our winter gear. I certainly wasn’t interested in lugging all that stuff around the museum, so was happy to see a place to store it while we explored.
After getting all checked in, my kids immediately stated that they needed to use the restroom. Great. Time to find the bathroom area!
I found out that they were doing some construction at the museum, so the restroom on the first level was currently closed for renovation (it should be re-opening in a few weeks). The only restrooms available were located on the second floor. So we headed upstairs.
Technically this is a picture of my hubby and Sweetheart coming down the stairs, but this is the staircase you take to get to the restrooms. If you need an elevator, follow the signs to the “Totally Tots” exhibit and the elevator is located nearby at the end of a long hallway. The elevator actually let’s you out in the cafe and you have to walk all the way around to the restrooms. Basically, the easiest route is up the stairs right behind the check-in desk, but if you need an elevator, one is available.
The restroom area included a men’s and women’s bathroom (the women’s bathroom did have a changing table, but I don’t know if the men’s bathroom did) and two family restrooms (both with changing tables). Just keep in mind that for the next few weeks, the only restroom option available at the museum is located on the second floor. Plan accordingly.
After we were done with our restroom tour, we headed back down to the first floor and my children were immediately drawn to this fully lighted, impressive tunnel to the lower level. We had to go.
Down the middle of this long tunnel, ran a water exhibit. The kids were fascinated. There were places along the way where you could stop off and check out an exhibit, but my kids kept making their way towards the end and we just followed.
When we reached the bottom, the first thing that caught the kid’s eye was the exhibit to the left, World Brooklyn. This miniature collection of shops and restaurants provided a glimpse into the diverse culture found in Brooklyn. From the Italian restaurant complete with a Vespa parked out front to the International grocery store, there was plenty to keep the kids very entertained.
Then, right around the corner from this exhibit, was a play garden. The material in the play area was interesting. From a distance, it looked like sand, but that definitely wasn’t it. Whatever it was, the kids liked it!
Right behind this area was a beautiful greenhouse and further down were more exhibits focusing on nature. There the kids could see animals, try out a water exhibit and play in the sand. There was lots to see and explore in this section.
While we were there, the kids joined in on a program that provided an opportunity for them to touch a few animals. Always fun!
Oh and if you come for a visit, make sure you check out the animal room located right next door. My husband casually mentioned to me that it contained the largest snake he had ever seen. For once, he wasn’t exaggerating. The thing was huuuuuge.
All this exploring had made the kids rather hungry, so we began to make our way back up to the second floor where the cafe was located. We first had to make our way back up the series of ramps to the first floor and then could reach the second floor cafe by either taking the stairs or the elevator. This time we opted for the elevator because 1) my kids just love riding on elevators and 2) it drops you off right in the cafe.
The cafe was a wide open eating area with plenty of places to sit, plenty of highchairs for the little ones, vending machines and food and drinks for purchase.
I forgot to snap a picture of the cafe’s menu, but here are a few shots of what they have to offer.
After lunch, we made our way back down to the first floor to try out Totally Tots, a place for the 5 and under crowd.
As we neared the entrance area for this exhibit, I noticed a spot nearby that was designed as a place for older kids to hang out while their younger siblings enjoyed the Totally Tots space.
The nice thing about the Totally Tots space (especially for moms with multiple little ones) is that it is fully enclosed. There was a sign-in area where the kids received a hand stamp indicating that they were 5 or younger and then they could roam free once inside (with our supervision of course).
The area had a water exhibit, sand exhibit, art room, play area, music area, climbing space with a slide and more.
This area does not have space for strollers, but stroller parking is available right outside the entrance.
We spent almost an hour in Totally Tots and I think my kids could have stayed all day. But finally it was time for us to meet up with more family for a early dinner.
We made our way back to the lobby, picked up our items from the coat check area and were on our way.
Ahhhh. Our visit to The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was a perfect way to spend a snowy morning in this busy town.
Have you been to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum? What is your favorite exhibit?
Phone: (718) 735.4400 (for reciprocity information, contact the Membership Desk at extension 324)
- Monday: CLOSED
- Tuesday through Sunday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- The third Thursday of every month, the museum remains open until 7:00 pm
- The Museum is closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Labor Day.
- The Museum is open on the following holiday Mondays:
- February 17, 2014 (Mid-Winter Recess)
- April 14, 2014 (Spring Break)
- April 20, 2014 (Spring Break)
- May 26, 2014 (Memorial Day)
- $9 per person
- Kids under 1 are FREE
- Museum members are FREE
- The museum is part of both the Association of Children’s Museums and the Association of Science-Technology Center’s reciprocity programs
- The museum is FREE on Thursday afternoons after 3:00 pm
- Memberships are available. All the details can be found here.
- Stroller Friendly: YES. Ramps provide access between the first floor and lower levels. An elevator provides access between the first and second floors.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: NO. All food and drink needs to remain in the cafe area.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. Currently available in the restrooms on the second floor.
- Parking: Street parking only. The museum is working on building a parking lot, but the project is in early stages. Most street parking in that area is free, but make sure to bring a few quarters in case you need to park further away.
- Food for Sale: YES. A cafe is located on the second floor.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
Tips and Things to Bring:
- A coat check is available for storing items you don’t want to carry around the museum.
- The museum is stroller accessible. A series of ramps will lead visitors from the first floor to the lower level and an elevator is available on the first level to take visitors to the second level.
- See here for a schedule of daily programs.
- Currently, the only restrooms available are located on the second floor. The first floor restrooms are currently undergoing renovations and will re-open in a few weeks. The lower level does not have a restroom facility.
- A cafe is located on the second floor. Here you can purchase food or eat food you brought from home. Plenty of seating is available and plenty of high chairs are available for the little ones.
- The lower level contains a majority of the exhibits
- The first floor contains Totally Tots, an exhibit dedicated to kids 5 and under
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