Exploring St. Louis (er…Illinois) — Edwardsville Children’s Museum
Last week was brimming with desperation. Freezing temps (4. It was 4 degrees one morning), rainy skies were looming, and I decided it was time to step it up, do something fresh and new.
So, after years of hearing about it, I decided to hit up the Edwardsville Children’s Museum.
I was always kind of ashamed to say we hadn’t visited this special little place, (since I tend to claim to know all the fun kid stuff to do around these parts) blaming it mostly on the fact I’m a city snob and to lazy (or spoiled with so many options) to cross major interstates and/or rivers. But seeing the museum’s recent “Grand Re-Opening” announcement was the tipping point, a drive over to IL sounded like a perfect cabin-fever-buster.
Last Tuesday my friend Melissa and I packed up the kids to check it out.
The drive over took about 32 minutes, that’s from my front door in Tower Grove, so not bad. We arrived a few minutes before the 10am opening (just enough time to nurse our babies in our side-by-side cars while conversing through the open windows) to find a large, unassuming-yet-historic building.
At 10 on the dot, we swarmed.
Melissa’s kids are 4.5, 2, and 4 months so between the two of us we were prepared to thoroughly test this joint.
The big kids hit the ground running, we barely got coats off and tickets purchased ($7/kid over one but they have awesome membership pricing) before they were totally consumed with the mini-world contained in this old building. Set up kind of like a town, the space features a market, restaurant, police station, fire department, bank, dentist, air traffic control tower, library, flower shop, ice cream parlor, YMCA, and post office.
The whole building is bright and cheery, fresh paint and clean toys everywhere. Enough details to have fun but not so many to look messy. Everything was inviting and the perfect size for playing. The little “buildings” were simple and very cute, with real elements like menus, an ATM machine, and dentist chair complete with overhead arm light. Kids LOVE playing with the real thing, they don’t want some brightly-painted copy.
The Police Station had dress up stuff and a Crime Lab with magnifying glasses and cases to solve while the Fire Department had a giant pump-type contraption with a lever and gauges…very cool. Elliot was our demonstrator, putting on all the outfits.
At least one of our kids liked to dress up! The older two were more interested in doing everything then dressing the part. They ran from one thing to the next, cleaning teeth then racing over to get cash at the bank, but due to the small size of this place, it was easy for us baby-wearing mamas to keep track of everyone.
By far the crew’s favorite part was the Ice Cream Parlor. Melissa and I were showered with sundaes and triple scoop cones as the kids ran around this adorable space. Sunken in the counter must have been 10 trays of different flavored ice cream scoops and the shelves held jars for sprinkles, fudge, and apparently gummy bears. All the fixins. A cash register and chalk board menu…so cute.
So clearly this place was a hit. How can I be so sure? Because our kids didn’t beg for a snack once in two hours. That might be a record for Ethan, he’s usually feigning starvation at the slightest lull in activity.
I loved how the interactive spaces encouraged our kids to play together, not just near each other. It was an easy and very enjoyable morning for everyone, babies included. And hey, we left around noon, me promising Ethan we could stop if he spotted a “Kenera Bread” along the way (he didn’t), and made it home for a quick lunch before naps at one, right on time.
The morning was almost perfect. Perfect would be a babysitter that whisks the kids away so us moms could enjoy a delicious lunch at Cleveland Health. Then massages.
Have you been over to the Edwardsville Children’s Museum? What did you think?