A Riotous Good Time at the National Museum of Play


The moment, we stepped through the glass doors, he was off.

20130422-200956.jpgFlip-clop flip-clop, sticky fingers and a nose pressed against a 1,700 gallon aquarium.

Flip-clop, flip-clop, climbing, problem solving, exploring, a toddler sized puzzle.



Eyes wide, finger pointing, at a wide mouthed, wild eyed, golden pony aboard a Victorian carousel.

Ohm moved non-stop for over three hours. He explored through his nap, and played through lunch.


The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York is an extreme kiddie wonderland.

On a recent visit home, after dragging my poor 20 month old all over the Rochester/Buffalo region to visit relatives, old friends from high school and my best college buddies, I made sure to plan a special trip for Ohm. I guess I shouldn’t say plan. I didn’t actually have to do anything except show up, pay the admission fee and ta-da! The perfect afternoon found us.

I’d heard people sing the praises of the National Museum of Play, I’d listened to the proclamations of greatness, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much more than a few brightly colored rooms of engaging fun to fill the space before nap-time.

I stand corrected.

Rochester’s National Museum of Play is a world class museum, with more nooks and crannies and educational programs to experience than one has time to explore during one visit.

Priding itself as being the only collections-based museum in the world dedicated entirely to play. The National Museum of Play is massive. After three hours and consequently missing nap-time, we only saw about a quarter of the offerings.

Full of stimulating hands-on exhibits, Ohm was off and engaged from the onset. Wiggling out of my hand, he ran ahead of me, capitalizing on every opportunity to twist,  turn, press buttons, and climb anything and everything.


We ducked into toddler playrooms, where he socialized with the other kiddies and played dress-up.


Attracted like a moth to the shiny golden ponies, we took a turn on the beautiful working carousel from 1918.


It was all-aboard, as we chugged along the track through a simulated village on the kiddie passenger train.

There were science displays, collections of old fashioned teddy bears and dolls. There were tea-party sets and pianos to play.


20130422-200626.jpgThe National Museum of Play is truly an experience. Home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of dolls, toys and games, one can enjoy a life-sized doll house then walk down memory lane at a 1980’s style arcade full of vintage video games.


This is a place to  build memories.

We didn’t make it to the indoor butterfly garden, or to the life sized Bernstein Bears exhibit, or to the American Comic Book Heroes display. There just wasn’t enough time.


We did make it to the life sized Sesame Street exhibit, featuring the characters, scenes and experiences from the show.

20130422-200721.jpgOhm got to meet his best friend Elmo, drove Cookie Monster around in a taxi and screamed in mortal fear at a ten foot tall big bird (those eyes were creepy).



We played supermarket in the life-sized simulated Wegmans Supermarket, where kids push mini carts down tiny isles, where they can grab their favorite food. The piece de resistance, is when they get to send their purchases down a conveyer belt where they can scan and bag their items. Ohm was focused. When he realized it was time to leave, he almost had a meltdown. I had to distract and trick him to get him to leave mini-supermarket land.

20130422-200409.jpg Luckily there are plenty of distractions. 


Story Time is announced over an intercom and occurs several times a day.

A 1950’s style dinner near the lobby serves up tasty soda shop style snacks and meals.

Ohm and I had a ridiculously good time at the National Museum of Play. If you live near the Rochester, New York area or are traveling through with a child, this is a stop you MUST make.


The National Museum of Play

One Manhattan Square

Rochester, NY 14607


Monday–Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Friday & Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Age 2 and older: $13

Under age 2: FREE

Have you visited the National Museum of Play? What did you think?