The Strong National Museum of Play

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Our Northeast Adventure continues! Our trip to Rochester, NY is the perfect example of a fabulous silver lining of some not-so-fabulous circumstances. Right before our trip to New Hampshire for Clint & Catie’s wedding reception, Grandma Montague passed away unexpectedly (as unexpectedly as it can be when you’re 99, anyway), which meant we needed to go to Kentucky for her funeral just a few days after we were to return home to Mississippi from New Hampshire. It was quite a conundrum to figure out how to alter our travel plans, but the best solution turned out to be forfeiting our plane tickets home, riding with uncle Alex from New Hampshire to New York so he could work for a couple of days (he just had to build someone an ear, no big deal), tagging along with him on his drive to Kentucky, then renting a car to get home. Shew! Definitely a roundabout trip, but a great opportunity for some extra family time and a visit to a pretty cool place! I’ve definitely never had so much fun en route to a funeral—ha!

We thoroughly enjoyed our quick visit to Rochester, and a major highlight was The Strong National Museum of Play. I hadn’t even heard of this place before we arrived, but it’s a BIG deal, and I am so glad we got to visit! The Strong is so many things in one—an immersive play experience for kids and a truly educational/inspiring experience for adults. Its an extraordinary place to play, but mixed in with the discovery-center-type activities for little ones, there are more traditional museum elements for adults—information documenting the history of various toys, scientific research related to the role of play in brain development, and so much more! My psychology nerd brain couldn’t get enough.

Of course, Afton was immediately enamored by the aquarium.

aquarium exhibit at Strong National Museum of Play

And the kinetic sand! This exhibit was so cool—kids could mold the sand however they wanted, and the resulting landscape would show up on the wall in the form of a topographical map!

little girl playing with kinetic sand topography exhibit at Strong National Museum of Play

There were tons of ways to explore physics!

little girl playing with cars at Strong National Museum of Play
little girl and dad playing with physics exhibits at Strong National Museum of Play

And mind-bending optical illusions! (Psych nerd could’ve stayed in this section all day.)

crazy mirrors and optical illusions at Strong National Museum of Play

The expanse of this place was truly overwhelming. So many things to do!

little girl visiting The Strong National Museum of Play

One of my favorite areas was the Sesame Street exhibit. It really was like being on the set of the show and brought back so many fun childhood memories!

Sesame Street Exhibit at Strong National Museum of Play

Alex’s favorite part was the grocery store exhibit. Not just any grocery store, but Wegmans! He and Afton spent plenty of time at the seafood counter, obviously. ;)

Wegman's grocery story exhibit at Strong National Museum of Play

There was a huge section called Reading Adventureland, full of interactive play that put kids right inside so many favorite stories!

children's literature exhibit at Strong National Museum of Play

The Strong is also home to the Toy Hall of Fame, an awesome collection of iconic toys, plus a MASSIVE Rube Goldberg-style machine that kids could control with a stationary tricycle! (Scroll down to the bottom of this post for a selection of which toys made the cut!)

toy hall of fame at Strong National Museum of Play

I really cannot overstate how impressed I was with this place, and one day really wasn’t enough to take it all in! It’s the kind of place I’d definitely want to be a member of if I lived locally—I don’t think I’d ever get tired of The Strong, and I know that would be even more true for Afton! If you’re anywhere near Rochester (and even if you don’t have kids), I highly recommend a visit! It’ll make you want to live life more playfully, and I’d say that’s a good thing, indeed. :)

Stay tuned to find out what else we did in Rochester!

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family visit to The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY blog post

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