For kids who love hopping in and out of emergency vehicles and fire trucks, Greensboro Children's Museum might just be a must-visit destination.
The 37,000-square-foot facility in downtown Greensboro, about 90 minutes from the Triangle, features more than 20 permanent hands-on exhibits that will appeal to kids under age 10 - especially toddlers to young grade schoolers.
And here's what makes it different from other museums designed for kids around here: Inside, you'll find an actual fire truck, ambulance, police car, mail truck, semi cab and even the cockpit of an airplane complete with a slide for kids to zoom out and down. Kids can climb in, explore and play in and around the vehicles.
Here on Go Ask Mom, we feature places to take kids every Friday in the Triangle. But, sometimes we go a little further afield and add a destination to our occasional road trips series. That's what we're doing today.
My kids and I visited the Greensboro Children's Museum over spring break. The museum has all of the other usual exhibits you might find at a children's museum - a pretend town complete with a market, post office, a media room, a home under construction, Grandma's house, doctor's office and theater.
My first grader, especially, enjoyed the real piano she could bang out a tune on in the theater; the pretend dentist office with an actual dentist chair; and that mailroom where she sorted all kinds of letters, which she delivered to the various stops around the pretend town. (My middle schooler had aged out of pretty much everything). There's also a train depot with a small, stationary kiddie train, along with train tables for play and other areas for arts and crafts and building.
This is the kind of place where kids run from one spot to the next, engaging in all kinds of pretend play with help, sometimes, from their parents. I especially liked that the path that gets you to all of the one-story museum's exhibits is a big circle. Kids just love going around and around ... and it's fairly easy to find a little one who has gone a little bit too far.
Until this month, the museum's outside has primarily consisted of a large outdoor garden, complete with a teepee, a storybook trail and other hands-on activities.
But, on May 13, the museum will open its latest addition - two European-imported 30-foot-tall Neptune XXL Climbers connected by a suspended net tunnel at a height of 25 feet, the only ones of their kind in the world, according to a press release. On our visit there last month, we got a glimpse of it and I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed both of my kids were that it wasn't open.
Also opening this month: a new outdoor classroom and a redesigned museum entrance.
It's the first phase of a bigger project that also will include an indoor, interactive water feature and a kid-friendly technology center. Construction on those pieces should begin in late 2017. Admission to the museum, which is open to the general public Tuesday through Sunday, is $8 for adults and kids ages 12 months and older.
The museum sits right across the street from Greensboro's LeBauer Park and Center City Park, which feature a great play area for kids with slides, a little putt putt course, table tennis, foosball tables and more. There's also a nice amphitheater and buildings with a couple of restaurants.
Coupled with the museum and its new outdoor playground, along with the park, you could easily spend several hours in this little part of Greensboro - making that 90-minute drive well worth your time.