It’s Spring Break! which means there are a few extra hours in the week for an adventure. I have heard so many wonderful things about the Little Buckeye Children’s Museum, so I decided to take a mini road trip with my daughter to Mansfield, Ohio to check it out. The museum is approximately an hour and 15-minute drive north of Columbus and admission is only $8 (for 2 and up). The museum’s mission statement is “To Provide Children and Families Opportunities to Learn and Discover Through The Power of Play” and is an ideal location for visits by children ages 2-12 years. My daughter is 21 months and enjoyed herself.
The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum is located in Downtown Mansfield in a beautiful old building. There are 28 exhibits (at last count) that occupy the two levels of the building. When you first arrive, there is a lobby area to check in and regroup. An open door leads into the lower level exhibit area, and right next to the open door is a door that leads to the upstairs exhibits. It didn’t take long for my daughter to find her way to the lower level exhibits.
Most of the downstairs area is designed as a mini-neighborhood and includes a grocery store, construction site, and theatre area. The lower level also includes an elaborate H2O Factory, with water flowing in from a large pipe on the wall and a dino dig site.
The upstairs is separated into rooms with designated themes. We enjoyed exploring the camping/nature room and the blue room filled with the big blue blocks that can be found at many children’s museums.
If you have a train lover in the family, she will love the train room located on the second level. There is an elaborate model train set up with a button to make the trains go, a button to activate the train horn, and a button to activate the fire station siren.
A nice addition to this museum is the tips for “ways to play” posted in each exhibit. Parents have a cheat sheet on the wall with specific tips to help support and engage a child in play for that specific area.
What is interesting about this museum is that there aren’t designated areas designed for specific age groups. While this would often deter me, because I am often worried about my little one being run over by older children, it was interesting to see the interactions between the different age groups in each exhibit. The exhibits are set up for open-ended play, so your child is able to experience the exhibits at her level and possibly learn new ways to play from the other children.
Some things to know before you go:
- Parking: We parked in the lot at Main and 4th St., two blocks down from the museum. The free parking is designated by green curbs. There are also meters located on the street in front of the museum if you are in need of a closer parking spot.
- Admission is $8 per person for ages 2 and up.
- Bring a change of clothes if your child has any interest in the water table. There are smocks for your child to wear, but they may not always keep your child from getting wet.
- A visit can last anywhere from 30 minutes to 2+ hours. We explored for about an hour, but a hungry toddler cut our visit short.
- When I visit a children’s museum in a new area, I always like to ask staff where to eat. When I asked, we were directed towards The Coney Island Diner, a 50’s inspired diner. We feasted on greasy burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and french fries.
While you are in Mansfield visiting the children’s museum, be sure to check out Richland Carrousel Park before you head home. It is located two blocks down from the children’s museum (right by the parking lot). It opened in 1991 and is the first new, hand-carved carrousel to be built and operated in the United States since the 1930’s. The carrousel is indoors, so even if it’s a rainy day you and your little one can enjoy a ride. One ride costs $1, and a package of 6 rides costs $5 (kiddos under 2 ride for free). There is a gift shop, concessions, and an outdoor area to enjoy as well.
I wan’t sure what to expect when I decided our destination was Mansfield, Ohio, but both my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed our adventure.
Disclaimer: The Little Buckeye Children’s Museum provided me and my family with complimentary admission. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.