Although I spent three and a half years living in Rochester, NY, I was a college student, so I didn’t spend much time as a tourist. I was surprised to later find that my beloved college town was home to the second largest children’s museum in the United States. Although I didn’t visit the National Museum of Play at the Strong with my kids, I did spend quite a bit of time exploring during my brief visit to Rochester NY.
I visited the Strong National Museum of Play at no cost during a press trip to Rochester, NYC. All opinions are my own.
The National Museum of Play, formerly known as the Strong National Museum of Play is part of the Strong. It’s located in downtown Rochester. You could also visit as part of a road trip through upstate New York – perhaps to Niagara Falls.
The Strong National Museum of Play Review, Rochester, NY
Upon entering the National Museum of Play, guests are greeted with an indoor full-sized 1918 Allan Herschell Company carousel and diner – showing that this is not your typical museum! The diner is the former Skyline Diner, but is now home to a location of the local chain Bill Gray’s. There are other dining options in the museum’s food court, including a Subway, Taco Bell Express, and Pizza Hut Express.
Since you are likely to spend a good amount of your day at the National Museum of Play, it’s good to have some kid-friendly kid options. The food court seating is only available to those purchasing food from one of the restaurants, but there are places where you can eat food brought in from home.
The National Museum of Play is the only museum entirely dedicated to the art of play, and almost everything in the museum is interactive. We visited on a school day, so it wasn’t crowded at all. I’d imagine it’s a little different on weekends and days off. We spent several hours touring the museum, and if I had my kids in tow, I’d expect it to be a whole day adventure. There’s so much to do.
Here were the highlights:
Sesame Street: Featuring Elmo’s World and all of the beloved Sesame Street characters, the Sesame Street area is great for young children. There’s a full-sized replica of the 123 Sesame Street stoop, and kids can even be on video with the characters!
Wegmans: There’s a kids’ sized Wegmans grocery store, which is larger than some convenience stores. Kids can shop for groceries and even use a working cash register to check out. My kids would have absolutely loved this when they were younger.
Game Time!: Our family loves board and video games, and the Game Time! area showcases both. Displaying the history of games – including a display of Monopoly games through the years, this exhibit is a place where I could spend most of my time.
The Berenstain Bears – Down a Sunny Dirt Road: I loved the Berenstain Bears as a kid, and that was something I passed on to my kids. This fun play area was actually developed in partnership with the Berenstain Family, and is best for younger kids.
Reading Adventureland: My kids love reading, and I know they’d love the five different areas of this fun adventure in reading. It includes a shipwreck, fairy tale characters, and a mystery mansion.
American Comic Book Heroes: The Battle of Good vs. Evil: Comic book lovers can experience what life would be like as a superhero in this interactive exhibit.
Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden: I’ve been to a lot of butterfly gardens over the years, but none of them were as nice as the butterfly garden at the National Museum of Play. It’s definitely worth the extra admission fee – the butterflies are beautiful.
In addition to these exhibits, the Strong National Museum of Play is home to the National Toy Hall of Fame, the World Video Game Hall of Fame, the American Journal Hall of Fame, and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games.
I especially loved visiting the National Toy Hall of Fame, where you can see all of the dozens of toys that have been inducted into the hall. It’s fun to see some of the beloved toys of my childhood.
I’ll definitely be returning to Rochester, NY with my kids, and we’ll plan to spend the day at the National Museum of Play.
National Museum of Play at the Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester, NY 14607
Disclosure: My admission to the National Museum of Play was complimentary for purposes of review. All opinions are my own.