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A Day of Family Fun at the Strong Museum of Play

You will enjoy a full day of family fun at the Strong Museum of Play.

{Thank you to the Strong and Visit Rochester for hosting us.}

The Strong Museum located in Rochester, NY is a must-see family attraction.

Bringing out your inner kid is easy to do when you visit the Strong Museum in Rochester.  Encompassing two floors and over 100,000 square feet of exhibits, you will easily spend an entire day visiting this museum.  I visited the Strong this summer with my 9 and 11-year-old children. During our visit we saw kids of all ages, from babies to college freshman visiting with the University of Rochester as part of orientation!

The kids playing Dance Dance Revolution at the Strong Museum of Play.

This is a very popular place! When we arrived at the 10 AM opening, there was already a line at the admission desk. Every exhibit in the Strong has interactive elements.  We first headed towards the Field of Play, where the focus is on the six different elements of play.  Here the kids climbed a rock wall, walked through a giant kaleidoscope, stood in an optical illusion house and more. They loved playing Dance Dance Revolution and I may have even danced a round or two for old time’s sake!

Younger children will love the Sesame Street Exhibit where they can sit on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street, visit Elmo’s World, watch old episodes of the show and more.

The Wegmans Super Kids Market at the Strong Museum.

My kids loved the Wegmans Super Kids Market and WKID TV.  When you enter the exhibit, you can pick either a shopping basket or a miniature shopping cart to shop with.  You are allowed to shop for six items at a time and then are requested to check out.  While shopping you can choose from a variety of foods including fruits & veggies, breads, fish, meats and cheese.  My son even picked up some sushi at the prepared foods section!  Checking out was their favorite part.  You place your items on the movable conveyor belt, scan them and then get an itemized, printed receipt! When you are finished, you are asked to re-shelve your items for the next group of shoppers.  The back of the store has the WKID TV station where kids can be on television or work the camera and lights.

During our visit, “Have a Ball” was in the short-term exhibit gallery.  This exhibit showcased the importance of ball play through different zones. We especially enjoyed playing with Spheros, remote-controlled balls, in the Robot Park. Upcoming exhibits include Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Sept. 16, 2017 – January 1, 2018) and Thomas & Friends (January 20 – May 6, 2018).

Superhero fans will love the American Comic Book Heroes exhibit. Young and old will see a collection of familiar superheroes.  There are several hands-on displays and a fun photo op too!

A whole room of pinball machines at the Strong Museum. For a couple of bucks you can get a ton of tokens and play almost all the pinball machines.

The kids were sad that my husband couldn’t make the trip with us. He’s a huge pinball machine fan and they knew he would have loved the Pinball Playfields exhibit. It’s a huge room filled only with pinball machines! Included in the exhibit are the early, basic pinball machines to the fancy, themed ones of today. For only a couple of dollars you can get a bunch of tokens and play to your heart’s content.

You can spend the entire day at Reading Adventureland at the Strong Museum. There is so much to see and do!

One of my favorite areas of the museum was Reading Adventureland.  You can literally spend the entire day in just this one exhibit.  There are five different areas inspired by children’s literature including Adventure Island,  Fairy Tale Forest, Mystery Mansion, Upside-Down Nonsense House and Wizard’s Workshop.  Each landscape has books, interactive elements and some even have craft areas.

We didn’t spend much time in The Berenstein Bears exhibit, but younger children will have a blast with all of the hands-on fun here.  We also didn’t visit One History Place, an interactive exhibit of toys from the past.  For $1 per person you can ride on the Strong Express Train or the Elaine Wilson Carousel.

While we were visiting the Strong Museum we stopped for a lunch break at Billy Gray's.

Before heading upstairs we took a lunch break.  We opted to eat at Bill Gray’s where the kids got a cheeseburger and hot dog kids meal and I got a mushroom swiss burger.  I shared their fries and had brought a water bottle with me.  The kids were super excited that they could get a slushie with their kids meal.

The World Video Game Hall of Fame at the Strong Museum.

After lunch we visited the second floor.  We first stopped at the World Video Game Hall of Fame, where there is a pay-per-play video game room.  There is also a Toy Hall of Fame with the most popular toys of the different decades.  Definitely a walk down memory lane for me!

The kids loved playing electronic Bingo at the Strong Museum.

Upstairs  we also visited the “Game Time!” exhibit.  The kids really enjoyed playing oversized versions of classic games like Connect Four and Battleship. There are games including Jenga, an electronic word search, an electronic big screen Bingo game and more.  We didn’t spend too much time in the other upstairs exhibits, Play Pals, Build, Drive Go and America at Play, due to lack of time.

I was most impressed with the literature connections the museum makes.  Every exhibit in the library houses a collection of books related to the featured theme.  Even better, local area residents can borrow the books!  The Grada Hopeman Gelser Library is a circulating library open during normal museum hours.  Children can borrow books and then return them either back at the museum or any other public library branch in the system.  I think this is such an amazing resource.

As crowded as the museum was on a Friday during the summer, it’s spacious enough that it never felt like it.  The kids never had to wait more than a minute or two to interact with different exhibits. As you can see, there is a lot to do at the Strong.  We visited on a Friday, to take advantage of the longer hours.  When visiting the Rochester area, a visit to the Strong is a must!

The Details:

Strong National Museum of Play
One Manhattan Square
Rochester, NY 14607
(585) 263-2700

Parking:  Free large parking lot

Hours: Monday – Thursday, 10 AM – 5 PM Friday & Saturday, 10 AM – 8 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 5 PM

Admission: $14.50/ages 2+ (does not include admission to the butterfly garden)

Food: There is a food court with a Pizza Hut Express, Taco Bell Express, Subway and Louie’s Sweet Shoppe.  Billy Gray’s Restaurant is located in the museum atrium.  Outside food is permitted but must be eaten in lunchroom C, as the dining room tables and chairs in the food court and atrium are reserved for restaurant guests.

Tips:

*Bill Gray’s has a Happy Hour everyday from 2:30-4:30 PM with 1/2 price milkshakes.  Take a break and enjoy a sweet treat!

*Bill Gray’s restaurant accepts online coupons from its website.

*To make the most of your visit, get there at opening.  Plus, it’s less crowded!

*I recommend that moms wear a crossbody pocketbook or a backpack.  Having a bag keep falling off your shoulder can be very annoying (I know from personal experience!). You will want your hands free, because you will be playing and interacting with the exhibits too!

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6

Stepping Back In Time at the Genesee Country Village & Museum

(Thank you to the Genesee Country Village & Museum and Visit Rochester for hosting us.)

Imagine living in a time when you had to grow all of your own food and go to school in a one room schoolhouse.  It’s very difficult for children today to believe such times existed! When I learned that the Genesee Country Village & Museum is the largest living history museum in New York State, I knew that it had to be a stop on our #NYSummer2017.  History is so important in understanding the present and I know my kids learn best from hands-on experiences.

The Genesee Country Village is located approximately 25 minutes away from where we were staying in Rochester.  We arrived at the 10 AM opening ready for a day of fun.  Even though we were there from opening to close, we still weren’t able to see and do everything! When we arrived we received a map and a daily visitor’s guide of all the activities.

We started our visit at the John L Wehle Gallery.  A large collection of hunting and wildlife art is housed here, including paintings and sculptures.  There is also a historic costume collection display featuring 3,500 articles of historic clothing.  They have a room especially for children that has Lincoln Logs, a play kitchen, books and more. I let the kids play while I walked around the gallery.

After leaving the gallery, we headed towards the Historic Village.  The Village is comprised of 68 buildings and encompasses three different time periods: the Pioneer Settlement (1780’s -1830’s), Antebellum Village (1830’s – 1860’s) and Turn of the Century (1870’s – 1920’s).  To visit in time period order, you must start at the left after passing through the village entrance.

Costumed interpreters are in almost every building acting the part of a 19th century villager.  We met many villagers during our visit including a blacksmith, a printer, a tailor, a tinsmith and a dressmaker.  They are both knowledgeable and informative and able to answer any questions you may have.  They actually practice their craft while you visit, building baskets, spinning yarn, making prints and more.

We enjoyed sitting at a desk in the one room schoolhouse and learned that approximately 20 students of different ages would attend each day.  The exception was during planting season, when they would be needed to help in the fields.

Another favorite building was the Pioneer Farmstead.  There we watched a woman preparing Bubble & Squeak (cabbage, onion and potato) for the lunchtime meal.  There are animals on the farmstead  including a pig, sheep and chickens that the kids especially enjoyed visiting.

At 11:30 AM we headed to the Civil War Camp for the Civil War Cooking demonstration.  There we learned about the different types and small amounts of rations the soldiers received. Since there was no mess hall, soldiers had to prepare their own food.  With limited supplies, they had to cook their meager rations to make them edible and to prolong their shelf life. Besides the cooking demonstration we were also able to peek into a camp tent.

Watching the cooking demonstration made us hungry.  After the demo we headed to lunch at the Depot Restaurant.  The restaurant serves sandwiches, burgers, salads, chicken fingers, soup, mac and cheese and more.  The chicken salad sandwich was very good and the kids liked the mac and cheese and chicken fingers.  The restaurant sells ales for those interested in an adult beverage.  Everything is reasonably priced as well.

When the kids needed a break, we headed to the village square where they played 19th century games and attempted to walk on stilts.

D.B. Munger Confectionery is located in the village square and sells sweets and homemade baked goods.

We stopped by Silver Base Ball Park to some of the match between Spring Creek and Flower City.  It was fun to sit in the stands and see them playing ball, with no baseball gloves!

At 2:30 we returned to the Gallery for the free adult-and-child art activity.  On our visit we first took a look at a Bruno Liljefors fox painting out in the gallery. Then we went into the art studio and under the instruction of a gallery staff member painted our own copy. (If you have children 10 or older who enjoy art, like my children, try to take advantage of this fun activity!)

We left the Historic Village right around the 4 PM closing time.  Unfortunately, by the time we visited the Nature Center adjacent to the parking lot, it was closed.  There is access to several hiking trails from the Center but our feet were so tired from walking all day that we opted not to.  We did stop to take some pictures of the  beautiful water gardens before heading out.

We enjoyed our visit to the Genesee Country Village & Museum.  As you can see, there is a lot to see and do here!  When you’re in the Rochester area, make time to visit this fun and educational living history museum.

The Details:

Genesee Country Village & Museum
1410 Flint Hill Road
Mumford, NY 14511
(585) 538-6822

Parking:  Free, large parking lot

Hours: 10 AM – 4 PM, Tuesday through Sunday (May through September)  Wednesday- Sunday (September & October) The Historic Village and John L. Wehle Gallery are closed for the winter months except for special holiday events.  Please check the website for more details  as well as for the nature trail hours.

Admission:  $18/adult, $15/senior citizens (62+) and college students (w/ID), $10/youth (4-18)
-includes access to the Historic Village, John L. Wehle Gallery and nature trails (please check the website for admission prices for only the gallery or nature trails)

Food:  Food and snacks are available on premise at the Depot Restaurant, Freight House Pub and Pavilion Garden Restaurant (summer only).

Tips:

*The Historic Village is very large and you will most likely not be able to do or see everything.  Make sure to check out the daily visitor’s guide to plan which timed activities you’d like to visit.  They only occur once throughout the day.

*Certain village buildings close between 11 AM and 2 PM for staff lunch breaks.  You may want to visit the village before or after those times if you wish to see all the buildings.

*There is a free trolley on weekends (or by advanced registration if needed).

*This attraction requires a lot of walking. Wear sneakers or comfortable shoes.

*These are historic buildings.  Most of them are not stroller friendly.  You may need to park your stroller outside the building and walk with or hold younger children.

*For an additional fee you can make your own punched-tin ornament or purchase prints at the Printing Office.

*Go to the gift shop at the end of your visit.  During the summer it stays open until 4:30 PM, 3o minutes after the museum closes.

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19

6 Reasons Why The Rockwell Museum is Perfect for Families

(We were hosted by the Rockwell Museum and Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes.  All opinions are my own.)

The Rockwell Museum sits on Cedar Street in Corning’s Old City Hall.  The brick building looks similar to many of the structures surrounding it….except for the buffalo head protruding from the front façade!  This is fitting, since the museum’s diverse collection of paintings, artifacts, sculptures and photographs tells the story of the American experience from the perspectives of American artists. The core of the Rockwell Museum’s art collection was gifted by Bob and Hertha Rockwell.  (no relation to the artist Norman Rockwell). In November 2015, the Rockwell Museum became a Smithsonian affiliate, one of only 200 affiliates nationwide and the only one in upstate New York.

My kids are big animal lovers and especially enjoyed seeing buffalo, horses, moose and other animals in various forms. Although I have visited many museums during my travels, I was sadly unfamiliar with many early American artists.  I enjoyed becoming familiar with some of the works of famous artists like John James Audobon, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt and Frederic Remington.  One of my favorite paintings was Judith Lowry’s Family: Love’s Unbreakable Heaven (pictured above). Hanging on the red wall, the colors in the piece seem even more vibrant.  Besides its incredible collection of art, here are 6 reasons why the Rockwell Museum is perfect for families.

1. Size – Compared to many other art museums that we have been to, the Rockwell Museum is comparatively small. This is not a bad thing, especially for families! Encompassing only three floors, you can tour the museum in a couple of hours.

2. Art Hunts – Children can pick up an Art Hunt board at the admissions desk, located in the gift shop, upon arrival.  During your visit, they try to find the images on the board that match actual museum pieces.  Once the board is completed, they receive a small prize.  My kids enjoyed participating in the Art Hunt and were able to complete their boards without difficulty.  I like that they were getting exposed to and having to closely examine the pieces of art.  Plus, it gives them some focus as we walked around the museum.  The Art Hunt has two sides, one each for the 2nd and 3rd floors of the museum.

3. The Balcony – The third floor of the museum leads to an outdoor balcony.  If your child is getting restless, you can bring them outside on a nice day and let them burn off some of their energy!  Added bonus, you get to take in some spectacular views of Corning!

4. The Family Exploration Studio – Located on the second floor of the museum, you can literally spend hours in the Family Exploration Studio!  The space is made specifically for kids to explore and enrich their museum experience. The space includes a book nook with art-related books, a magnetic wall puzzle of one of the museum paintings, a landscape drawing game and more.  The activities change seasonally, so there’s always something new to do.


My kids spent the majority of their time working on their Paper Blanket Stories, which connects to the current, temporary exhibit Blanket Stories.

5. Alley Art – After touring the inside of the museum, be sure to take a walk down the alleyways around it.  In a partnership with the High School Learning Center of the Corning-Painted Post Area School District, students work with Rockwell Museum educators and create a mural.  I’m a big fan of street art and was super impressed with the Alley Art projects that we saw walking around the village.

6. New York State Social Studies Curriculum Connections – The former teacher in me is coming out now! The NY state 4th grade social studies curriculum focuses on the state of New York.  Units of study including Native American Groups, the geography of NY state and the Westward Movement are depicted in various art forms throughout the museum.  Children can make connections with the museum exhibits and what they are studying in school.

If you visit the museum in late November through the end of December you will be treated to the special Gingerbread Invitational exhibit.  13 artists are featured in this special exhibit, where they create historic landmarks and architecture from the Corning region out of gingerbread!  Museum visitors get to vote on their favorites.

Children 17 and under are admitted free to both the Rockwell Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass. Admission tickets are valid for two consecutive days.  You can also purchase a combo ticket at a discounted price to both museums. A sample one-day itinerary might include starting your morning at the Rockwell Museum.  Then, have lunch and walk around the Gaffer District, adjacent to the museum.  Finally, take the free shuttle to the Corning Museum of Glass!

The Details:

The Rockwell Museum
111 Cedar Street
Corning, NY 14830

Parking:  Free parking is available in the rear of the building

Hours:  9 AM – 5 PM Daily, 9 AM – 8 PM (summer hours), seven days a week

Admission:  $11/adult, $10/55+, $10/AAA and military, $5.50/local residents and students with I.D.,Free/kids 17 and under.  Admission is valid for two consecutive days.

**Combination tickets are available for the Rockwell Museum and the Corning Museum of Glass.  A free shuttle bus travels between the two museums, allowing you to park once. Combination tickets are valid for two consecutive days.   Combo ticket prices:  $27.25/adult, $26.25/55+, $25.25/AAA and military, $21.25/college students, $14.25/local residents, Free/kids 17 and under

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