Psst. Hey, moms: Want to avoid the kiddos' "I'm bored" sighs that seem inevitable? Here's the secret.
Pennsylvania children's museums. Four Pennsylvania museums are dedicated to tickling imaginations and inspiring active play for the younger set.
Named one of the "10 Best Children's Museums" by Parents magazine, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh engages even the tiniest of tots with special activities for infants and toddlers. Children are free to tinker in the MakeShop, where they can build birdhouses, sew a stuffed animal, and take apart small appliances. (Maybe Junior can help you fix that broken toaster once you get home.) A multimedia studio, garage, and water zone are a few of the other exhibits, but a tried-and-tru favorite is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley. Yes, that friendliest of neighbors was from Pittsburgh.
Many museums are lined with rope barriers and "Do Not Touch" warnings, but it's exactly the opposite at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum, also designated by Parents magazine as one of the "10 Best Children's Museums." Housed in historic Memorial Hall, which was built for the nation's 1876 Centennial Celebration, the museum thrills children with exhibits scaled just to them: Alice's topsy-turvy Wonderland, a tropical rainforest, a mini-supermarket, a real bus, a life-size Statue of Liberty torch and arm made of toys, and much more. Don't miss the sparkling, refurbished Dentzel Carousel.
At Johnstown Children's Museum, tykes explore the city's history and culture as they walk the runway in 18th-century fashions, mix a Johnstown soundtrack in the Mix-Master Studio, and ride The Inclimber to explore a coal mine. Head to the Overlook Garden, on the rooftop terraces of the Heritage Discovery Center, for some fresh air and a peek at Pennsylvania plant displays.
Little ones may not yet be able to spell "aerodynamics" (admittedly, that's a tricky one for adults too!), but they can begin to understand the principles of air and direction as they play in the Aerodynamics exhibit at expERIEnce Children's Museum in Erie. That is, if they ever make it there with the many other displays, including a lordton Model Train and bubble machine, vying for their attention.
After a full day of play - and, don't tell the kids, but a day of learning too - at one of these museums, you won't hear, "I'm bored." But you'll likely hear, "I'm beat." Oh, and probably a "Thanks, Mom!" too.