We love exploring children’s museums in this family. So when we were looking for something fun to do last week while down on the shore, I looked on my list for the nearest children’s museum. And I found an awesome one right on the coast in Niantic: the Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut.
Now I will totally admit, for a Connecticut mom, I am still completely clueless when it comes to the shoreline. We usually head down there for the aquarium and the casino, that’s about it. I have been trying to venture down there more often – but these trips are like an hour for us. So they have to be reserved for weekends or summer vacation. Since my husband was off for the last week, we did a lot of day tripping, and I was excited to finally explore a little bit down in this area!
Needless, we had to break out our map for this one. Niantic is located on the coast, just between New London and Rocky Neck State Park. We took Rte. 15 to I95 to get there, and as I mentioned, it was a good hour long drive for us. As you can see on the map, the museum is right near the water.
They have a small parking lot located behind the building, but you can also try to park on the street. Since it’s peak summer time, parking on the street was looking impossible but we did manage to get a spot in their lot. We visited around 2 p.m., so it was pretty quiet there.
The entrance faces the road. Just look for the purple awning.
The Children’s Museum is open daily for the summer. They close at 4:30 on most days, except Friday when they are open until 8. The last admission is a half hour before closing though.
Once you head through the door, you will see their check-in desk. They have someone at the desk that will check you in and tell you all about the museum. If you have any questions, they are happy to help!
Admission to the Children’s Museum is $8 per person (ages 1 and up). Children under 1 are free. If you have an ACM membership (like the Lutz), you get in for half price.
They have their Rules of Play hanging up at the front desk too. They are pretty standard at any children’s museum.
Just behind the front desk, you’ll spot a small gift shop. If you try to steer clear of those, you can easily lead your child towards the exhibits!
We headed to the left for the start of our visit. This is a huge open room with lots of fun things to do. They call it the “Imagination Room”.
Of course, he spotted Thomas right away!
They have a replica of light house and a small boat (this is the shore, so of course) in the Seaside Village.
They had a wind machine to make your scarves fly, and one of those coin things that the kids love. If you don’t have any coins, you can buy a cup of pennies at the front desk.
We see these at every children’s museum. The big blue blocks are the best!
Just past this first half of the room, you’ll find even more. Most of this area focuses on pretend play.
The Global Market has a place to shop, and then prepare and serve all your food. This had to be one of the nicest pretend restaurants we’ve seen at a children’s museum!
Around the corner is Fire Company 409, a firetruck exhibit with fire gear to try on, a small fire truck (with working lights), and much more.
The Niantic Farmer’s Market was a cute little gardening area with a chicken that laid eggs, farms to harvest including peas to pick. He had fun planting vegetables in the dirt. And yes, my child has no shoes on… he thought he could go in the toddler area. He’s still learning he’s not a toddler!
Tucked behind two black curtains is a Light Lab. They have a glow in the dark light bright board and other fun light play.
There is a small area called Toddler Land for your kids, under the age of 3. It has a lot of soft play areas and seating for the parents too. This is a no-shoe area (the only no-shoe area of the museum).
Speaking of seating, you’ll find lots of that throughout the museum, including in the Imagination Room.
At the back end of the the Imagination Room, you’ll also find the restrooms (with changing tables).
This Children’s Museum is great because it also features an outdoor play area. The door to this area is located just near the boat in the Imagination Room. The door closes a half hour before the museum closes. So you’ll want to make sure you allow time to check out.
Once you head outside, you’ll find a lot to do!
Right in front of you is a huge treehouse!
A zipline runs off the tree house. He had a blast with that!
To the right is a play house with slide.
Behind that is a sand box. A giant sand box. I fortunately kept my child away from that — he didn’t even spot it actually! Sand… ugh.
To the left, you’ll find an obstacle course with tires and a tube to crawl through. He needed a little help from daddy to get across the tires!
There is a musical garden with lots of things to bang on while making music! I loved the xylophone!
And they had a great water play area set up with bubbles! This kid loves his bubbles!
After about a half hour outside, we headed back in to check out the other room. To the right of the front desk is the Discovery Room. This room is packed with STEM activities, some live animals and so much more. They were also celebrating science this week with tons of special activities.
They had a few different magnet areas, along with magnatiles and roll-away boards.
They also had a really neat pipe organ. I don’t want to brag but I totally rocked some Hot Cross Buns.
You will find some neat live animals including a tortoise, a bearded dragon and some hermit crabs. We were actually lucky to catch them doing a special demo with the bearded dragon. And we always saw the tortoise while he ate.
There were also some little hermit crabs climbing around the sensory water table. That took sensory tables to a whole new level!
The last live animal we spotted was a whole hive of bees! We even found the queen bee!
Back to their science theme in this room, they also have microscopes. Slides can be obtained at the front desk if you want to do a little discovery with the microscope!
They had two creations station areas. One was actually closed off for our visit but they normally have STEAM activities including creation kits for the kids to use.
The other area was a Maker Space with plenty of things to use to create and make! They had stencils, crayons, paper, and much more!
Naturally, what kept this child entertained the entire time was the train table. We just can never escape these. It doesn’t matter how much he plays with trains at home, he just gravitates towards the train tables wherever we go! He’s happy and that’s all that matters!
We had a great visit at the Children’s Museum of Southeastern Connecticut in Niantic. We really have some amazing children’s museums in Connecticut, and I am glad to add this one to our list!
If you are in the area, or just looking to make a daytrip to the shore, or even just love visiting children’s museums, you’ll want to check this one out!
This about sums it up…
409 Main Street – Niantic, Connecticut
Hours vary by season. For up to date hours, please visit their website.
$8 for all visitors over the age of 1 (under 1 are free).
- Strollers can fit but they also have a coat room if you want to park it.
- One floor of play with two rooms (a discovery area and an imagination area) and an outdoor play area
- Small area designated for toddlers and babies
- Bathrooms with changing table available
- Party rentals available
- Cash or Credit Cards accepted
- Small gift shop located near the front desk
- Free parking in lot behind museum or on street