We had the time and opportunity over winter break to explore the AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children’s Museum, in Lancaster, Ohio, and we are so glad we did! The museum is an easy 45-minute drive from Columbus and admission is only $6, which makes it a very manageable and worthwhile day trip. The museum’s mission statement is, “Educating children in a world of discovery, curiosity and imagination through hands-on play.” The museum is designed to educate and accommodate children ages six months to eight years-old.
There is a lot to take in upon arrival. The museum is a 4,000 square foot, open space, with 33 hands-on exhibits (at last count). When we first arrived, we set our daughter down at the entrance to let her take it all in. It took her a few seconds to warm up before she made a beeline to the interactive fire engine. The fire engine had bells and whistles (literally) in and around the truck. Children can dress the part of a firefighter, drive the fire engine, turn on sirens, and pretend to put out a fire.
Her other favorite exhibits included:
Water Table: The water table is made up of four sides. Each side is a different height with a specific activity to appeal to different age groups. This water table held her interest for a long time. Children can manipulate the flow and current of the water by building different sets of tubes and funnels. Inevitably, she was soaked afterwards, but loved every minute of it!
Ball Mountain. This was such a fun interactive exhibit for our daughter to learn problem solving and discovery skills. She could fill a bucket with balls and then carry the bucket to the top of the mountain, with assistance. Once at the top of the mountain she could push the balls through the different tubes to see where each one came out.
Fishing Pond. She may have been a bit small for this exhibit, but she loved trying to catch those fish! With our help, she was able to “catch” a magnetized bean bag fish with her fishing pole and then throw it back into the pit.
Honeycomb Climbing Structure. She didn’t make it past the first level (thank goodness!), but she loved climbing in and out and waving to the kids on the different levels. When she’s older, I’m sure she’ll make it to the top!
These were the exhibits that held her interest the longest. But, there was so much for her to see and explore throughout the museum. It was wonderful watching her play with other children and interact with exhibits designed for someone just her age.
Some things to know before you go:
- Parking is located next to the building and it’s FREE!
- There are lockers and a coat room just to the left of the entryway into the museum.
- Admission is $6 per person and children ages six months and younger are free.
- Bring a change of clothes. If your child is anything like mine, she will be all in when it comes to the water table and will need a change before going home.
- A visit can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours. We explored for close to an hour and a half and didn’t even get to everything in the museum.
If you are looking for a place to have lunch after visiting AHA!, be sure to stop at The Well. The museum director, Wendy, recommended the restaurant and we are so glad she did! The restaurant is a two-minute walk from the museum and describes itself as “a modern gathering place for the whole family to eat, drink, play and live.” The restaurant is family owned and you can tell how much thought and love they put into the service, food, and space. The restaurant offers delicious, healthy food choices, which hit the spot after a cookie-filled holiday, and our daughter loved the beautiful play space available in the rear of the restaurant.
We are so glad we made the trip to the AHA! Children’s Museum and can’t wait to go back! Just a heads up, AHA! will be moving to a new location in Lancaster, which is double the size, in the fall of 2017.
Disclaimer: The AHA! A Hands-On Adventure, A Children’s Museum provided me and my family with complimentary admission. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.