Children’s Museums in the Midwest to Visit with your Grandchildren

By Debra Karplus

It may be bone-chilling cold outside or ridiculously hot, or perhaps you’re looking for something new and different to do with your grandchildren; there’s likely to be a museum that’s not too far of a drive to get there.   Many children, especially the younger ones might be bored at an art museum.  Science museums, natural history and specialty museums are interesting, though you, the adult, will probably find them more engaging than will your little ones.

But scattered all over the United States are children’s museums, some large and others smaller. Though museums, in general, have become more interactive since you were a kid, children’s museums tend to be much more so.; there’s many more things to do than push buttons and pull levers.  And despite the fact that they’re designed for children, amazingly, you, the grownup, will find most children’s museums to be quite charming and plenty of fun. 

The Indianapolis Children’s Museum will enchant Hoosiers and non-locals, too.

Listed on numerous “Top Ten” lists, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum claims to be the worlds’ largest children’s museum.  Just a few minutes north of downtown Indianapolis, It’s easy to get there by car or by public transportation.  Five stories tall, the museum is open from ten until five daily but is closed on Mondays and major holidays.  Senior admission is $16.50 and children ages two to seventeen get in for $12.50.  If you think you’ll visit often, consider purchasing a membership. There are both permanent exhibits and temporary exhibits.  Learn more about this mecca of things to do and events at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum at www.childrensmuseum.org.

You won’t want to miss the Chicagoland’s Kohl’s Children’s Museum.

Nestled in suburban Glenview, Illinois, the Kohl’s Children’s museum is an easy drive north of the city on Interstate 294, or ride the Metra commuter train (Milwaukee North line) north of the city and get off at the Glen or North Glenivew.  The museum is right there amidst interesting shops, coffee spots, eateries, and a little lake and walking path.  Grandparents get in for $8.50; admission for everyone else is $9.50.  It’s open daily but with varying hours, so check their website at www.kohlchildrensmuseum.org.  Designed for kids up to age eight, but fun for all, the sixteen permanent exhibits as well as the temporary ones will create endearing memories for both grandparents and grandchildren.

The Orpheum Children’s Museum is a hidden treasure in a college town.

If you and your grandchildren find yourselves in downstate Illinois’ largest college town, Champaign, you might want to head away from the campus to downtown Champaign where located near some fine local and ethnic restaurants and unusual shops is the Orpheum Children’s Museum.  If you’re wondering why the name sounds more like a theater than a museum, when you arrive there, the sight of the marquee will make it obvious.  From 1914 through the 1980s, the Orpheum was one of Champaign’s premier theaters.   

Nearly demolished when the multi-plexes became popular, the theater was creatively transformed into a children’s museum.  Open most days except Mondays, the hours vary, so check the website when you are planning a visit, www.orpheumkids.com.  The online events calendar list some intriguing classes such as “Girls Do Science” and other innovative programs, many of which are free.  Adult admission is a mere four dollars, kids ages two to eighteen get in for three dollars.  You’ll be amazed how much is packed into this place!

Next time you and your grandchildren want to try something new, search online to see where you might locate a children’s museum.  Wherever you live, you or vacation, you’ll probably find one.  Check it out.

 

Author biography:  Debra Karplus is a licensed occupational therapist, teacher, and freelance writer for national magazines, baby boomer, and grandmother of two. She lives in a Midwestern college town.  She has been published in Grand Magazine in the past and is a featured columnist. Learn more about her at http://debrakarplus.blogspot.com.

 

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