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For most of you this week is Spring Break, so I thought it would be a good week to focus on some family friendly activities.  There is no better place to take the family than the Children’s Museum of Richmond.  CMOR opened its doors in 1981 in the old Navy Hill building downtown.  In 2000, the Museum opened in its current location, increasing in size from 8100 square feet to 44,000 square feet.  This summer it will open a satellite location in the Short Pump area. What other place can the kids sit inside a real ambulance, climb a treehouse, milk a cow, ride a dinosaur, put on a play, change a tire, and create an artistic masterpiece?  For kids around 10 years old and younger, this place is heaven.  

The Art Studio (my daughter’s personal favorite) is every kids dream.  There are tons of recycled materials including paper bags, styrofoam, string, fabric, and more for the kids to choose from and create.  There are also the basics — markers, paint, glue, and scissors.  Leave their masterpieces to dry on the drying rack while you check out the rest of the museum. 

The Dairy Barn is a newer exhibit where kids can actually milk a “pretend” cow.  Obviously the cow only holds water, but the kids love this activity.  Right next to this exhibit, following in the same theme is the Little Farm.  This is the closed in area for little ones ages 3 and under.  It keeps the younger kids separate from the wild ones and gives them a safe place to crawl around.  This area was recently redone in the farm theme.  I saw it today and it looks great. 

The water play area is always very popular.  This replica of the James River allows kids to float boats down the James River, create dams and make their own floods. There are also waterwheels, squirts and a waterfall.  The museum provides waterproof aprons for the kids to wear to try to keep them dry, but if your kids are really enjoying themselves, it’s a lost cause.  Be careful around this exhibit, it gets very slippery.

The treehouse is very popular with the older kids.  As its name indicates, it is a climbing apparatus that is located above the waterplay area.  It is big enough for parents to venture up as well.  On the other side of the museum is the Town Square exhibit.  Town Square is a mini version of Richmond. It has cobblestone carpeted walkways that lead you to a garage, TV studio, café, grocery store, health center, ambulance, bank, school and shadow park.

One of the best parts of CMOR is the back yard exhibit.  This is an outdoor play area for the kids.  There is a gigantic sandbox, play house, riding toys, water play and more.  Parts of this area are shaded and there are plenty of chairs for weary parents to relax while the kids play.  For the little ones, there is a separate back yard play area off of the Little Farm exhibit. 

In addition to free play, the museum also offers toddler classes, art classes, and summer camps.  I can say from personal experience that the summer camps and the staff are fantastic.  The museum often has special events on weekends.  Some of the upcoming events include the Backyard 500 Race and the State Yo Yo Competition.  

So, now that you are convinced, here are some of the logistics.  The Museum is usually only open to members on Mondays, unless it’s a major school holiday, in which case it opens to the public.  Hours are 9:30-5pm.  Admissions is $8 per person.  If you are planning on making a lot of trips, an annual membership is a much better deal.  Admission prices are cut to $4 after 4pm, but I can say from personal experience that the kids usually aren’t ready to leave after 1 hour.  There are also $1 Target nights on the third Friday of every month from 5:00-7:30. There is no dining facility at the museum.  If you want to bring lunch or snacks, there is an eating area out in the lobby.  Or, you can walk over to the McDonald’s for lunch (right next door) and then re-enter the museum at no cost on the same day.   I didn’t cover all the exhibits, and they are always changing, so be sure to check out the website before you go!

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