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My cousin’s daughter recently had her 7th Birthday Party at the Shenandoah Discovery Museum. We live about an hour and a half from there but we usually go out for birthday parties for the kids + to visit.
What I Loved
My first impression of the museum from the outside was, “What a neat place!” It looks like it’s an old fire station that was converted into a museum. It is the end unit of a building with more than one business now but there is a large window garage door that makes up almost the entire front lobby of the museum.
On the side of the building is a painted mural. It gives off a fun, vibrant + artsy vibe.
It’s location, in the middle of downtown Winchester, is a special treat. There is plenty to do in the historic area. Pubs, restaurants, museums, historic homes + more are within walking distance to the museum. Bonus points because you can walk the area easily.
The inside of the museum is a kid wonderland. It is three floors of activities. The second floor also has two or three party rooms dispersed throughout the activities.
My girls (5, 3, and 1) really seemed to enjoy the activities. They had indoor climbing structures, an ambulance, a hut that you can crawl through + sit inside of + arts + crafts + so much more!
They also had a small soft-play area for younger kids.
In the lobby is a huge maze-like structure. There is likely a better name for this but it’s not coming to me at the moment. It’s not a maze that you can walk through but it has different moving parts that my girls really enjoyed watching on the way out.
What I Didn’t Love
I wish there was more activities for the 1-year-old. She enjoyed the soft-play area for some time but it did not entertain her for the entire time we were there. She’s also not walking yet so she wanted to crawl around on the floor, which made her a target for kids + adults that were walking/running around to the various activities.
The climbing structure/maze on the first floor was hard for my tall 3-year-old (almost 4-year-old) to climb up into. Even with her older sister + two other girls who were climbing trying to help her, she could not get past the first climb-through hole.
I noticed that many children were having a hard time climbing it so it wasn’t just one of my kids.
Parking was also a HUGE challenge. Street parking is free on the weekends so we eventually found street parking at a meter that was approximately one block from the museum. There is a parking lot adjacent to the museum but it was small + full.
We used the stroller to get two of the kids from the street parking to the museum but the museum is not really set up for strollers so my husband ended up returning the stroller to the car while we were there. We carried the baby back to the truck when we left + the two older girls walked.
Of course, there is a small shop right when you are entering + exiting the museum so my girls wanted to go through it + buy everything when we we arrived + when were leaving. It took some effort to keep them out of it because we don’t need any more trinkets (aka crap) at our house.
I give the museum an A. It’s definitely a unique place in a great location. Kids of all ages enjoy it + you can grab a nice lunch or enjoy other activities within walking distance from the museum.
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