Oh, “Free Friday”; two of my favorite words. Free because I am cheap, and Friday because, well, Rebecca Black says it best: “tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards”. But this summer, Friday means three straight days of trying to figure out how to entertain the world’s most active toddler indoors to avoid the 110 degree heat index.
Well, once a month, the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal (CMC) makes my “momming” easy. Every summer, the CMC hosts four Free Fridays (underwritten by Duke Energy) where all three museums are open to the public and free of charge from 4pm to 8pm (Children’s Museum, Museum of Natural History and Science, and Cincinnati History Museum).
If you have never visited the CMC, you simply must, you must! It really is such an amazing place for kids of all ages with incredible exhibits, a beautiful historic building, and playful learning opportunities abounding. We stay in the Children’s Museum area, which is, essentially, a giant playground where children learn while playing. It is very well designed with a separate area (Little Sprouts Farm) for children under 4 years of age but primarily populated with really little children. The toddlers and older seem to love playing with the excavator, or in the ball area where children learn some mechanics, in the water zone where kids can build dams, operate a pulley system, or build a boat on a huge water table, or, the favorite of many, The Woods. The woods are essentially a forest where children can climb through the trees, slide down slides, and learn about ecosystems.
Additionally, they have a whole town with a grocery store, gas station, restaurant, and houses where children can play-act like their parents; Knox loves to make me the most interesting concoctions to eat at the restaurant. They also have blocks, pegboards for building, a virtual reality machine, turtles and a live aquarium, skeletons, and, and, you know what, you really just need to go see for yourself!
The schedule of free Fridays can be found online at http://www.cincymuseum.org/events/freefridays but the next one is this Friday, July 13, 4-8 pm. Parking is $4 after 4:30. I must warn you, it is usually quite crowded in the children’s museum but totally worth making a night of it; maybe even splurging for some Graeter’s in the lobby afterward, but only if you’re feeling really wild!