The Discovery Museums
If you find yourself in Acton, MA or close by I highly recommend going to the Discovery Museums. The Discovery Museum is actually three attractions in one place. There is the Children’s Discovery Museum geared for children ages 0-6 which is open Tuesday through Sunday 9-4:30, the Science Discovery Museum geared for children 6 and up which is open 1pm-4:30 Tuesday through Friday and 10-4:30 on the weekends and Discovery Woods which is great for all ages (open 9am to dusk Tuesday-Sunday). In addition there is also outdoor exhibits including Whisper Dishes, the Slapaphone, and Bessie's Cove spread throughout the 4.5 acre campus, and a trailhead to 180 acres of Great Hill conservation land. And don’t forget to visit Bessie the dinosaur out front.
The Discovery Museums recently had a sale on memberships so I decided to join. If you don’t have a membership admission is $12.50 per person. My kids and I went one afternoon this past week arriving at 1ish and the museums were pretty quiet. We started by exploring Discovery Woods which just opened over the summer and we had not been to yet. In Discovery Woods there is a tree house with small tables set up with two to three activities for the children to explore; today was building bugs out of various materials, observing items with magnifying glasses and kid tweezers for exploration. There are also child level shelves all around the tree house with materials for the children to explore, it reminded me of a Montessori classroom. Below the tree house is a slide which unfortunately is out of order since it is a little too fast (a solution is being worked on). The slide leads to a building area with a tippee structure in place and other sticks, fabric and material for exploration. Continuing along the path there are two wigwam like structures one with kitchen materials in it. Beyond that is a vernal pool area, bird houses and a gated path down to the conservation area. Also in Discovery Woods is a playgroundish area with a great saucer swing, hoppy balls, EZ steppers, jump ropes and hoola hoops. Plus there is a seating area, a gravel pit, spider web climber and logs to play on. Outside my kids enjoyed the tree house and play area best.
After about 30 minutes we headed into the Science Discovery Museum. First we hit up the bathroom which is conveniently located right by the entrance. Then we went to the craft and inventors workshop room. My daughter spent about 45 minutes at the craft table creating a masterpiece out of recycled materials. My son (with my assistances) enjoyed hammering, sawing, and drilling wood creations in the inventors workshop. Then we waited in line for the Harmonograph table where both kids made cool geometric drawings; the wait is definitely worth it! By this point the kids were hungry so we headed out to the car for a snack (there is no snacking inside the museums do to allergies but there are tables/benches outside).
After refueling we went to the Children’s Discover Museum which we had to ourselves. This museum is quite small and great for little kids. Since we were the only ones there the kids were able to roam room to room easily. We spent most of our time in the train room which has an engine to “operate”, a ticket booth plus play train tracks and Bessie’s cafe which is a pretend diner setup. There is also a Water Room, Ship Room, Backyard at night, Sensations exhibit, Chain Reaction Room and AirPlay exhibit. My kids love exploring this museum and the freedom it allows them (they feel like big kids there). They would have stayed longer but it was getting close to closing time.
If you are looking for a day trip or are already in the area you should go to the Discovery Museums as they are an unique and wonderful experience. I would definitely recommend allowing a whole day when you come to visit the Discovery Museums. We stayed over 3 hours and never even saw the rest of the Science Discovery Museum. I came here as a child and loved the museums and Bessie and now my kids do too.
Have you been to the Discovery Museums in Acton? What over unique museums have you been to?
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