Sticking close to home this summer? We’ve got you covered with our favorite picks in our local areas. These tips translate if you’re traveling from far away, too! Check out the rest of our Staycation Summer series.
Last fall, the Orlando Science Center opened its expanded new “Kidstown” exhibit. This special section of the museum is specifically targeted to children ages 7 and younger. I’m always up for a new adventure, so I convinced my brave friend/fellow twin mom, Brandi, that we needed to check it out with our four kiddos. We picked a day when all the local schools were in session (hoping to avoid spring break crowds) and set out to explore!
Know Before You Go –
- Regular admission to the museum is $19.95 for adults, and $13.95 for children ages 3-11. Students and seniors get a slightly discounted ticket at $17.95. The museum offers an annual family membership for $155, which includes discounts at partner museums all over the country.
- Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. every day but Wednesday. The museum is closed on Wednesdays during the school year. It is open the first Wednesday of the month, however, with no field trips scheduled. We did not know this, and would definitely take advantage of that first Wednesday for future visits. The Kidstown area wasn’t terribly crowded, but the rest of the museum was full of students on field trips.
- There is a Subway restaurant on the bottom floor of the museum with plentiful seating. We actually brought our own lunches (my picky kiddos will ONLY eat peanut butter for lunch) and had no problem sitting in the dining area even though we did not purchase any food.
The new Kidstown area is immediately visible from the ticket booth, so we headed straight there. Kidstown is divided into 7 distinct zones. We visited most zones, spending more time in some sections than others, before taking a very brief tour of the rest of the museum.
Kidstown Zones –
- Orange Grove – This was, hands down, everyone’s favorite part of the museum. This exhibit features small, child-sized pretend orange trees where the children can pick an orange and then take it from grove to market. The kids placed the oranges on a conveyor belt and then used their muscle power (either pedaling a bike or rotating a hand-held set of gears) to move the fruit to the factory. They then checked their oranges for ripeness, washed and dried them, and packed them in crates. After loading the crates into a truck, the kids “drove” them to a farmer’s market. Visitors could also take turns shopping for produce or working the checkout counter at the market.
- Climb Time – Climb Time is a large climbing structure overlooking the outdoors. Though your little climbers may disappear from sight within the structure, there is only one way to enter or exit, thus making it easier to ensure you do not lose any wandering adventurers. The kids enjoyed some free play and then were ready to move on to …
- Drip Drop Splash – This area is home to the largest water table I have ever seen! There were areas to build dams or lay pipe to control the flow of water, but our 3-year-olds were content to experiment and splash. Kids can also turn a wheel to send water through a series of scoops overhead. Our kids had a blast in this area! The Science Center provides small aprons for the children, but my kids were still pretty wet. I was a bit damp myself, but it didn’t concern me enough to pull them away.
- Toddler Town – We did not stop in this play area designed for very young children. It looked like a good place for babies and toddlers to take a break and move around.
- Explore It! – There was certainly a lot to explore here! A complex system of windpipes fascinated my son. The pipes sucked colorful scarves up and then released them near the ceiling to float down to the ground. My daughter experimented with a giant “Lite Bright” style board, changing colors and creating designs. We all tried our hand at rolling balls down a series of ramps and loops.
- Kidstown Studio – This art studio looked like a place where my daughter and I could have a lot of fun being messy and creative. But alas, they were holding a private class while we were there.
- Kidstown Theater – Children donned dress-up clothes and hopped up on the stage to put on their own show. Our group was a bit too young to fully participate, but we enjoyed a special story time presentation given by one of the museum’s staff members.
Once we left Kidstown, we took a break for lunch and then briefly explored the rest of the museum. The kids all loved the Dino Dig area, where huge dinosaur skeletons overlook an archaeological dig site. But the rest of the museum was very busy (OSC is a popular field trip destination) and our littles were losing steam. I can see how the museum and its exhibits will grow with our children and know they will experience it differently each time we visit. I know our family is already looking forward to our next trip to the Orlando Science Center!
Where are your favorite staycation spots in Orlando?
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