The new Children’s Museum of Cleveland (CMC) recently reopened in a new location and all I can say is “Wow, it’s awesome.” First, I am a sucker for historic mansions (where the museum is now located). Moreover, the CMC has a “new museum smell” (if it’s possible).
The exhibits truly wowed me, like the water table shooting plastic balls high into the air in the Wonder Lab and the plethora of miniatures on the top floor. (Cathy Lincoln is one detail-oriented lady!)
As a parent to small children, it is rare to find something I am genuinely interested in seeing and doing as much as my kids. This may make me sound like a “bad mom,” but I’m being honest here. At kiddie parks and museums, I’m usually standing around watching my kids play and thinking, “How much more of this?”
Conversely, at the CMC I was excited to see what was behind the next corner. I wanted to keep exploring, which is great. All in all, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland is a winner for kids and adults alike.
Here are my three tips for when you plan your visit:
Maintain a 1:1 adult-to-child ratio if you want to be able to see your kids at all times.
I am not an anxious parent, but in a sea of people with tons of kids running around and adults trailing behind them, I want to have eyes on my three nuggets.
Adventure City is like every kid’s dream tree house expanded and plopped down in the middle of an indoor space (ie. you don’t need to worry about a torrential downpour ruining your fun). There’s a farmer’s market, kitchens, car building, a nursery full of baby dolls, and more multi-level climbing space than I could keep track of.
This is why I feel having a one mobile kid to one adult ratio is helpful. I couldn’t keep track of my three kids (ages 6 and 3-year-old twins), who shot off in three different directions like a cue ball breaking a rack of balls on a pool table.
Arrive as early as possible.
The morning we planned to visit the CMC, we arrived 20 minutes before they opened. I am chronically late, so this was truly a miracle.
As we bided our time waiting for the museum to open, the parking lot began to fill up – a sign of its popularity. As the crowd grew, we milled outside the doors (like Shaun of the Dead needing our kiddie museum fix). When the doors unlocked, my toddlers dashed to be first in the museum. Subsequently, they experienced the exhibits and toys while they were still in their pristine states.
As the day progressed, the museum became more crowded and the once tidy farmer’s market looked as though a hoard of destructive locusts had descended. This is what life with little kids is like, so I was not surprised in the slightest. Still, I am glad we were able to see the museum in its “just opened,” tidy state.
I imagine the wonderful staff at CMC finds toys and objects in very odd places at the end of the day. At night, magical museum elves put everything back in its place before the next day of tiny toddler chaos ensues.
Another advantage of going early is missing some of the crowd. The museum felt swarmed as time marched on. So, if you are not a fan of big crowds, go early to miss the major rush.
Bring a picnic lunch
The CMC encourages families to bring their own food knowing there are food preferences, special considerations and allergies to account for. This is incredibly thoughtful and helpful (compared to places searching bags for food not purchased on the premises prior to entry -grrrrr).
My children thrive on adequate food and sleep, so if they are grumpy, the solution is often a need for sustenance and shut-eye. When we noticed our kids were having meltdown upon meltdown, it was time to quench the hangry. We packed a picnic lunch and the museum has plentiful seating, complete with kid-size tables and chairs, too (which my kids love).
We all crowded around a tiny table together. Having food I know we will enjoy beats worrying about getting a tray from a dining hall. Not needing to juggle bags, drinks, plates of food ready to topple over, then run back to pick up napkins and utensils made the visit to CMC all the easier. I guess our spread looked rather inviting because a random kid toddled up to us to snag a pb&j quarter for himself!
I highly encourage you to check out the CMC for yourself. You will not be disappointed.