This post was written in 2014, so it may contain some outdated information. Please check their website for the latest information about this event.
Making gingerbread houses is serious business in my family. Every year, we get more ambitious with our design. Although, last year we got a little too ambitious (read as: our gingerbread creation collapsed), and we ended up having to make an “emergency” graham cracker house instead. Oops. But we still had a great time decorating it. And it’s always good to know your limits, right? 🙂
Even though we may not have the skills to pull off a gingerbread work of art (yet!), we can still enjoy them at one of the many gingerbread house festivals in our area. Last year, we visited the Wood Memorial Library in South Windsor for their annual Gingerbread House Festival Extravaganza. But as you know by now, my kids never get to do anything twice. Poor things. Well, not really. Actually, they are pretty lucky kiddos because writing this blog makes me work extra hard to find them new adventures. Like the one that I am going to tell you all about today: Adventures in Gingerbread at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA.
Meanwhile, do you know how close Springfield is to central CT? Super close. In fact, it will take you longer to get from Hartford to New Haven. We’ve been there before actually. Quite a few times. Mandy has been up to the Zoo at Forest Park and also to their special holiday lights event called “Bright Nights” (which, by the way, would make a SUPER companion outing to this one). And I’ve visited the Springfield Science Museum once before (you can read all about that adventure here).
Lucky for me (and you too, really), that is where the Adventures in Gingerbread exhibit is on display, so I don’t have to go on and on for 6 pages about parking and restrooms and stroller access before getting to the good stuff (and if you would like to know all about the parking and restrooms and stroller access, you are more than welcome to read about that here.)
Okay, I lied a little. I do want to spend just a minute reminding you all why I love the Springfield Museums. It’ll be quick. I promise 🙂
- Really convenient FREE parking
- Super stroller-friendly
- One ticket buys you entrance into FIVE museums (plus the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden)
- Lots of hands-on activities for the kids (more on that later)
- There’s always a new exhibit to check out
- Life-sized Dr. Seuss characters
- Reciprocity! If you have a membership to a museum that participates in the Association of Science-Technology Centers reciprocal program, you may get FREE admission (Lutz Children’s Museum members, for example)
- On-site cafe with a nice variety of really reasonably priced menu items including wraps, panini and plenty of kids’ favorites
- Spacious snack area in the Science Museum with a variety of vending machines
- Great museum store (holiday shopping, anyone?)
So anyway, on this visit, like on our previous visit, we decided to hit the Blake House Cafe first and make sure our crew was fully fueled. I just love that they have a real cafe here. When I don’t have to worry about packing or finding a meal for the kiddos, it just makes my whole day. The little things, right? 🙂
After a quick lunch, we were on our way to the Science Museum (all of 50 yards away).
Like I said, we’ve been here before, so we went straight up to the second floor where you can find the Adventures in Gingerbread exhibit. But if you’ve never visited this museum before, there is lots to see on the lower levels, including the live animal exhibit on the lowest level and the giant T-Rex dominating the main floor.
On a total side note, my little guy is COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT by elevators. Frankly, I don’t even know how he knows that we are in an elevator. But every time, as soon as we start to move (even if it’s almost imperceptible), he starts screaming. Weird, right?
The exhibit runs until December 31st and is open whenever the museum is open. However, on the weekends there is also a special “Holiday Weekends” event going on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:00 to 2:00 with holiday-themed crafts, letters to Santa and other fun activities.
So anyway, off the elevator we headed toward the center hall that houses the main staircase, which is where all the fun craft activities are taking place, and also where you’ll find the entrance to the gingerbread exhibit.
As you can probably tell already, this year’s theme will be a hit with the little ones 🙂 Now, just to clarify, this theme does not actually pertain to all the gingerbread houses, but there are some pretty amazing wall murals that (loosely) tell the world’s currently most popular story.
As you enter, you can pick up a scavenger hunt, which always makes things like this more fun for the kiddos (plus buys you extra time to ogle all these amazing gingerbread works of art–and oh my gosh does it ever smell delicious in there, so you will want to linger for as long as possible, I promise!), and also a voting ballot for picking your favorite houses. If you return the completed scavenger hunt to the Museum Store on the first floor, you’ll even get a free candy cane.
Now, from the voting ballot I knew that there would be 3 categories of entries: Youth, Adult & Professional. What I didn’t know was that I would not be able to tell the difference! Seriously, can you? What do you think? Which category does this one fall into. It’s called Gingerbread Hobbiton.
Looks pretty professional, right? WRONG! That is a YOUTH entry! Yeah. Totally blew my mind too. And how about this one?
STILL not a professional. What?! Although, this one is an adult entry. Seriously, I pretty much walked around with my chin on the ground the whole time. These houses are fantastic. Wanna see a couple more? Okay, but just a few because I want you to be surprised and amazed when you visit for yourself!
That last one is by a professional, by the way. So neat.
Before we headed back out to see what was going on at the craft area, Boo couldn’t resist posing for a few shots with his favorite Frozen characters: Olaf and Sven.
We also had to cast our vote for our favorites. I let Boo pick. Here are the ones he chose:
Outside the exhibit hall, there were a few festive activities available (all free).
We also encountered a fun activity from the “Roving Scientist.”
Although this was a holiday-themed activity today, the Roving Scientist can be found every weekend at the Springfield Science Museum. It’s just one of several new-to-me family-friendly activities I discovered on this visit (more on those soon in another post!). Today’s experiment was all about the center of gravity, and the activity involved decorating a cute little paper elf and then attaching pennies to his feet to change his center of gravity and allow him to balance on the tip of a finger. Boo really loved this (like you can’t tell from that smile!).
After that, we couldn’t resist a tour through the animal gallery–and of course Boo had to balance his new elf pal the whole way so it was a very slooooooow tour 🙂
And look who’s all ready for winter!
Our adventure that day actually continued as we explored two new-to-us museums on the quadrangle and their super family-friendly features, but I’m going to save that for a separate post (hopefully tomorrow!).
So if you like holidays, crafts, gingerbread, candy, art, baking, science, dinosaurs, hobbits, Frozen, frosting, voting, scavenger hunts or just generally being delighted, well then, this is the outing for you!
(Psst! And don’t forget to check out the fantastic light display at Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield while you’re up there–what a great combo outing!)
Phone: (800) 625-7738
Tues – Sat: 10am – 5pm
Sun: 11am – 5pm
Blake House Cafe
Tue – Sat: 9am – 3pm
Sun: 11am – 3pm
Holiday Weekends (craft activities) Saturdays & Sundays through 12/21 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; located outside the Adventures in Gingerbread exhibit.
Adult – $18
Seniors – $12
College Students with ID – $12
Children 3-17 – $9.50
Children 2 and Under – Free
- Stroller Friendly: YES. There is a spacious elevator in the museum and plenty of room to maneuver.
- Coffee Mug Friendly: NO. Food and beverages are not allowed in the museum. But they do sell some really yummy flavored coffees at the Blake House Cafe.
- Restroom: YES.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. There is a changing station in the restroom just up the stairs from the gift shop. I don’t know of any others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist 🙂
- Parking: YES. Parking is free and located in front of the Science Museum (with overflow parking located across the street outside the Museum Springfield History.
- Food for Sale: YES. Check out the on-site Blake House Cafe for a quick meal or pick up a snack at the Snack-a-Sauras Cafe located in the Science Museum (vending machines).
- Outside Food Allowed: No food or beverages allowed in the museum, but you can bring your own meal/snacks to enjoy at outdoor picnic tables (when the weather is nice) or in the Snack-A-Sauras Cafe (when the weather is not).
- Cash Required: NO. Credit cards accepted for museum admission and at the Blake House Cafe (although you may need cash for those vending machines if you’re interested).
- Dress Code: Nothing specific, but if you plan to explore the other museums or the Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Garden (and why not? you already paid for a ticket that’s good at all of them!) bring some warm coats, etc. because the only way to get from one museum to another is to go outside.
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES.
- Discounts: YES. If you hold a membership to another museum that participates in the Association of Science-Technology Centers reciprocal program (The Lutz Children’s Museum, for example) you may qualify for FREE admission. Call ahead to make sure though. And be sure to bring your membership card and a government-issued ID (like a drivers license). Also, if you have a AAA membership (and you bring your card), you can get $2 off each adult admission.
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