~Thank you to The Strong National Museum of Play for hosting our visit. As always, opinions are still 100% my own.~
Just a couple of weekends ago we were visiting family in Rochester, NY and a friend suggested taking our kids to Strong. I was like, Strong? What the heck is that? The Strong National Museum of Play! I went online to check it out and knew right away our kids would enjoy it.
At first glance it appeared to be a big children’s museum, where kids can spend the day and just enjoy playing with different set ups. Our kids have been to other children’s museums and loved it, so I thought this would be no different. Boy was I wrong! The experience is so much more than that!
The Strong Museum is NOT a children’s museum (I’ll explain this more in a bit), and even us adults had a great time. We all enjoyed it so much that a day trip to The Strong Museum is now going to be routine for us when visiting our family in Rochester!
6 Reasons to Visit The Strong Museum
1. A fun-filled DAY!
When I say you can spend the whole day at The Strong Museum, I’m not kidding. There is so much to see and do, from hands-on exhibits, to fun crafts, historic displays and more.
We visited on a Sunday when the hours are limited to 12pm-5pm. We didn’t get there until around 1:30pm and in the few hours we explored, didn’t even see and experience all The Strong Museum has to offer.
But boy did it wear us out. We were all ready to go when closing time came. Our daughter actually fell asleep before we left and had to be carried out, and our son started snoozing on the car ride home. Yay for a nap, though!
The Strong Museum is a 285,000 square foot facility, 100,000 of which is actual hands-on exhibits and displays. There are two floors to the museum and we had so much fun on the first floor, that we had to rush through the second floor (hence we WILL be going back).
And when you do stay the whole day, you don’t have to worry about getting hungry because there are dining options on-site. Grab a bite at Bill Gray’s Skyliner restaurant, in the lobby, or something quick at Subway, Taco Bell Express, Pizza Hut Express, or Louie’s Sweet Shoppe, all located in the food court.
I experienced some pretty epic nostalgia as we explored The Strong Museum . From Reading Adventureland, which takes us right into the fairytale books we enjoyed as kids, to Bear Country where we can experience the Bear Family’s adventures, it was like reliving my childhood in action. Oh, and the kids enjoyed it too. I just don’t think they understood the excitement I had for it all.
It’s not even just the nostalgia of reliving our favorite childhood stories, but The Strong Museum is packed full of history. The Strong Museum is NOT a children’s museum, but is the National Museum of Play. Throughout the facility, and especially on the second floor, there are featured displays of historical significance in how play as evolved.
From technology like video games and pinball machines, to more simple play like G.I. Joe, dolls and toy trucks, The Strong Museum has the largest and most comprehensive collection of toys and historical materials, all related to play.
The Strong Museum is home to:
- The International Center for the History of Electronic Games (largest in the world)
- The National Toy Hall of Fame
- The World Video Game Hall of Fame
- The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play (187,000 volumes and papers of national figures)
- The American Journal of Play (first of its kind)
4. Imaginative Play
The Strong Museum is truly an imaginative haven. The countless number of interactive exhibits makes it fun for everyone. My daughter had a grand time sliding down the treehouse clubhouse in Bear Country, making her own fairy wand and creating music with the colorful Crayola “drums.”
My son loves video games, so when he saw the giant Super Nintendo controller, he jumped at the chance to play. This was a blast from the past for me too. I used to play Super Mario ALL the time.
He also really enjoyed shopping at Wegmans. Actually, I think both kids enjoyed that. If you’re not from the northeast, you probably have no idea what Wegmans is, but it’s a really popular grocery chain.
We’ve visited children’s museums that have something similar, like the Miami Children’s Museum has a Publix to shop, Publix being a popular grocery chain in the southeast. But nothing compares to the Wegmans shopping experience at The Strong Museum. The kids even got a real receipt for their groceries! How cool is that?!
5. Outdoors brought Indoors
On top of all of the hands-on displays and historical displays, The Strong Museum is also home to The Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden. Admission to the butterfly garden is separate from museum admission, but for just $4-$5 per person, you can enjoy an indoor walk through the outdoors.
As soon as you walk into the garden, you see a few butterflies floating around, but if you’re not looking hard enough you’ll miss a lot. Many of the butterflies we saw were just resting on plants. The garden features more than 80 different butterfly species that come from all over the world including Asia, Africa, and South America.
And it’s not just butterflies you’ll find in the garden, but you also might see moths, turtles, quails (watch out so you don’t step on them), a chameleon and let’s not forget the beautiful botanicals.
6. Variety of Programs and Events
As if all of this wasn’t enough, The Strong Museum features different programs and events every week. We visited on Over the Rainbow Weekend and got the opportunity to take a photo with Dorothy and Toto, Glinda the good witch, and the Wicked Witch of the West.
- May 13, Fairy House Magic – Meet Leafy the Fairy and get a little sprinkle of fairy dust for good luck, visit the Discovery Garden to check out the colorful fairy houses, and more!
- June 3, Fit Kids Day – Get active in the Fit Kids Fun Zone, discover the best places around town to exercise and more!
- June 15 to June 25, Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures Mobile Park – Embark on an indoor, action-packed adventure on a 26 foot wide endurance zone that includes vertical nets, a spider web, log swings and rope bridges. (Requires additional ticket purchase.)
- June 24 & 25, Have a Ball Exhibit Opening Celebration – Enjoy a comedic group perform ball tricks, in celebration of the most timeless toy ever – the ball. Then enjoy the exhibit itself by zooming a ball through a pipe maze, build a cup-and-ball toy, and more!