Monday, July 25, 2011

Discovery Place (Charlotte)

This weekend I was solo with my son. And, as a SAHM, I was anxious to get some help and some adult time for the weekend. You know, anyone to keep me from going crazy and help me out. I have found this works out so much better when the other adult is trapped with me overnight so that they can't escape. Thus I took C to Charlotte to visit his Uncle (surprise!). I love Charlotte, and we have already talked to you about the awesomeness that is IKEA. Yet this trip to Charlotte found us taking C to Discovery Place.

Discovery Place is smack downtown, not to be confused with Discovery Place KIDS which is in Huntersville (a 20 min drive from downtown Charlotte but supposedly still great...next trip). We weren't really sure what we were getting, but we knew it was convenient. We were worried about what ages this catered to, but loved the location.

Our time here was great, and totally worth our foray into the unknown(ish). The admission price here isn't cheap. It was $10 for kids over 2 and $12 for adults. If you want to do IMAX (which is available) that is extra, of course. So you will have to fork out some cash. And you might feel like you were ripped off when you then look at the map and see that it looks tiny. But don't be, there is a lot here.

We headed immediately for the KidScience area, for kids 7 & under. This reminded me some of Marbles, yet it was all contained in a tiny area. There was an enclosed place for crawlers and wee ones. There was a water table, light board, crafts (overseen by staff), instruments, puzzles, dress-up, and who knows what else that we missed. This was great! It was definitely more learning-centric than Marbles or Greensboro Childrens Museum. There were signs around explaining, demonstrating, and hypothesizing. Of course, most kids in this area don't care and don't read.

After some time there, we headed out to the rest of the museum. We went into a little rainforest area. Downstairs you look through glass (they have shows in here) and upstairs you are on a bridge....and you can go over a rope bridge....exciting stuff!

We passed a python held by a museum worker that I and Uncle Dan had to touch but C wouldn't come near.

We personally skipped over the wild nature center as these were microscopes and exhibits for older kids. Instead we made our way to the fish aquariums in the back. It's the little things that make a place great: like the benches that they had placed under every display window in the aquarium portion so that little tykes could stand and see.

All that was just the first floor! On the second floor there were electronic and electricity booths; there was a rotating exhibit section; there was a section that I didn't get that was called "Think It Up" where kids make their own footwear, play with stop motion animation, experiment with air tubes, make stuff out of foil, and run through holograms; there was an area to walk through looking at microbes (ew); there were hands-on things for older kids such as pulleys and slingshots. I mean, a lot. There were also little hidden surprises along the way (check out the light up sticks on the second floor).

We didn't try out the shows at either the IMAX or the 3D theatre. With our 2 hours our little guy was amused enough by exhibits. But you can spend all day here.

We got there right when the place opened on a super hot Saturday morning (10 am). And while we were never crowded out of any place it felt like the place was filling up quick. I can imagine that summer weekend afternoons could be packed.

There is a parking garage on site for the museum. You can also try your luck parking downtown.

If these pictures here weren't enough to tickle your fancy, and/or you are a visual person, and/or you are bored and really would like something to click on, you can check out more pictures online of the place at our photobucket site here.

There is a cafe on site, but we didn't evaluate the prices. Instead we ended up walking 2 blocks to a Brixx. Yes, the same chain that we love here in Chapel Hill. We assumed it would be kid friendly (it was; lots of families), it was open (we ate early), and it was super close. They even gave us the same dough ball to play with.

Bathrooms at Discovery Place are gorgeous with changing pads. Everything is stroller friendly....really, all the things you can think up for a good kids museum. What I personally liked about this was that it seemed to work well for all ages and felt like there were opportunities to learn. Some of these kids "museums" are simply imaginative play stations (which I love, no criticism) but Discovery Place actually had a lot of learning and science in it for the older ones.

FYI, there is a cute little park 1 block over on the corner of Trade & Tryon that is at a church but open to the public. If you want to get some outdoor (free) playtime in combined with this visit, I recommend it.

Discovery Place
http://www.discoveryplace.org/
301 N Tryon Street
Charlotte
1-704-372-6261

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