Holyoke Children’s Museum and the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round at Holyoke Heritage State Park

So, I am FINALLY getting around to writing this long-overdue review! We visited the Holyoke Children’s Museum and Heritage Park at the end of the summer. It was one of our last hurrahs before school started! And finally, here is our experience!

I had been told many times “You have to go to Holyoke Children’s Museum”. And I knew I had to go, but I never had the opportunity or I would not think of it when I was planning my outings.  Now that I’ve been, I ask myself, what was I waiting for!  The Holyoke Children’s Museum is incredible! It is probably one of the best children’s museums I’ve been to (and that’s saying a lot because I’ve been to a fair amount in the last two years)!  On top of that, they are located in Heritage Park which is also home to the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round. It was an amazing day for us checking out both of these wonderful places in Holyoke! 

Holyoke is about twenty or so minutes over the border in Massachusetts.  You can get there from I-91 but it is more direct if you go up I-391. This is where your trusty GPS or Google Maps come in handy! I am not familiar with Holyoke at all so I definitely needed help finding my way

If you come via I-391, you’ll travel over the Connecticut River and a small canal that the Holyoke Children’s Museum overlooks.  


The Holyoke Children’s Museum is located in Holyoke Heritage State Park, which is also home to the Volleyball Hall of Fame and the Holyoke Merry-Go-Round.  For our visit, we actually visited the Children’s Museum, the Merry-Go-Round and we explored the park. 

Parking is located across the street from the Holyoke Children’s Museum in a garage. We actually had a confusing time with this because I entered in the wrong way, or so it seemed, and could not print a ticket.  I actually asked the front desk workers at the museum about this and it seemed like this was an ongoing issue and that I could just exit the garage without paying. I was weary but I didn’t get a ticket so that’s good. At this point, I am not sure if the garage ticket machine is working but come prepared with cash in case you do have to pay to park.  I also discovered when I visited the Merry-Go-Round that you can park over on that side of the park (by the merry-go-round) for FREE!  Now I know. 

Crossing the street from the parking garage will bring you right into Holyoke Heritage State Park. There are signs that will help you find your way around the park.  


If you walk straight into the park, you’ll eventually encounter the Visitor’s Center.  Inside, it was pretty desolate but we did find bathrooms which was great! 

We actually headed straight to the Merry-Go- Round. It’s located just past the Visitor’s Center. 

Inside, you’ll find the beautiful merry-go-round with a rich history from years in Western Massachusetts.  The merry-go-round is open all year long. During the summer months, July and August, they are open Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays); during the rest of the year, they are only open on the weekends. 

Towards the front of the building you’ll find the welcome desk where you can buy tickets for rides on the merry-go-round. Tickets are $2 per ride; or you can buy 6 rides for $10.  Every person going on the merry-go-round must have a ticket; but children under 1 are free. They also sell popcorn, drinks and souvenirs at the ticket counter. Just behind the ticket counter, you’ll also find restrooms. 

Before buying tickets, you’ll want to check to see if your children can ride the merry-go-round alone or if you have to go with them. Honestly, merry-go-rounds are fun so you’ll want to get a ticket for yourself regardless of their height! We ended up buying a ticket for both of us (since he’s way too short to go on the ride alone). I stood next to him while he sat on a horse.  He’s still not quite at the point where he can be trusted to hold on the whole time! 

The rides run continuously during their open hours.  So you will never wait too long for a chance to go around on the merry-go-round.   While standing in line, you can check out the history of the merry-go-round and read the rules.  

We had a blast on the merry-go-round but he decided one time around was good enough for him! 

After our ride on the merry-go-round, we decided to have our picnic lunch in the park.  They have great shaded areas with picnic tables available for anyone to use.  So, we parked ourselves between the merry-go-round and the visitor’s center.   There were actually many people there having lunch in the park – most were people on their lunch breaks but it was a popular thing to do that day! 

He ate quickly because he spotted train tracks. Oh boy. 

He was very excited at the sight of those train tracks; so much so that I had a hard time distracting him with the playground we found right near the canal.  It was also a super hot day and the slides were warm so our time exploring this little playground was pretty limited.  We actually had a hard time finding this little playground; so if you do head here some day, remember that it’s close to the canal, on a lower level, by the museum.  Also, just a heads up, it’s set on sand so be prepared for sand in the shoes!  

We had now been at the park for well over an hour and a half, and we finally were making our way to the Holyoke Children’s Museum! Trust me, this place will keep you busy for a good half day, if not a full day.  If it wasn’t for a grumpy 3 year old in need of a nap, we would have stayed all day. We were in Holyoke until 3 p.m. as it was! 

The entrance to the Holyoke Children’s Museum faces the playground, and is located in the back of the museum.

Don’t go to the entrance perpendicular to the parking garage! It’ll direct you to the back of the building anyway! 

When you enter the Holyoke Children’s Museum, you are on the second (upper) floor.  Take the elevator downstairs. 

When you come in through the lobby on the bottom floor, you’ll find coat racks and bathrooms.  You can park your stroller in this area as well. There is no specific rule on strollers, and since this is a single floor museum, you can move around with it.  It’s tight in some areas though and a stroller can be cumbersome. We had ours with us, and I kind of wish I had parked it out here in the coatroom!  If you can have a stroller and can leave it behind, I’d suggest doing so. 

Right when you walk through the lobby doors, you’ll find the admissions desk in front of you.  The current price of admission  is $8 for children and adults. Kids under the age of 1 are free. Seniors (over 62) are $5.  I thought their admission prices were one of the lowest in the area.  However, there are ways to save on admission including half price admission with a library museum passes, free admission for military/active enlisted persons, half price admission for Massachusetts Teachers,  $3 admission for Massachusetts EBT cardholders (up to four people), and 2 for the price of 1 for WGBY members (up to 2 people).  That’s actually the discount we used- and we paid only $8 for the two of us.  You can also sign up for a Holyoke Children’s Museum membership and admission to the museum will be free every time you visit. 

Right by the front entrance, you’ll find the gift shop.  They sell lots of little toys and books, as well as puzzles and other activities. We were able to steer clear of this even though it was right in the front entrance! 

The Holyoke Children’s Museum opens up to a huge room. There are rooms off to the sides but overall things flow together pretty smoothly in this museum. Because it’s not too big, you can easily keep track of your children (I have a fast little bugger and there was not too much chasing going on). Every room connects to the next and it’s easy to get around. 


Towards the front of the museum, you won’t miss the curvy climber and curvy crawler.  The climber is a two story structure with different levels that kids can climb through. It’s enclosed by a netting and is pretty easy for them to maneuver. I did not attempt to climb in this because who knows if I would have made it out!  The crawler is a huge tunnel on the ground with lots of turns and curves. 

The biggest rule in the curvy climber is that no shoes are allowed. They offer cubbies for the shoes- make sure you remember your child’s shoes! I failed to do so and ended up getting half way out of the museum and had to turn around! Oops! 

Also right near the front you’ll spot this forklift and construction play area.  There were hard hats and uniforms to try on, as well as a tool bench to play with Surprisingly, he was not interested in this. I tried forever to get that one good photo; but he was just not having it. I thought that was funny since this kid is a construction equipment fanatic! 

Next to the forklift, you will find this super impressive water table! He loved this, and so did I! Until I realized he was DUMPING cups of water on his feet. They offer rain coats that keep your child’s clothing dry, but there is nothing I could do about his feet.  Fortunately I did learn that they sell socks at the admissions desk, just in case you have the same issue I did! Those came in handy. Thankfully the water play area was one of the last things we did, but that’s also why I forgot about his shoes! 

The Imagination Playground is an enclosed room with blue foam building blocks. We actually did not explore this room but normally he is not into those blocks (occasionally they spark his interest but just not today).  

In the main room of the museum, you will find tons of things to do! There’s the Magna Tile Table and Maxi Rollways that put your building and design knowledge to the test. 

There is a huge light bright wall (which I personally enjoyed)!  He had a great time putting pegs in to the wall! I think I need to get him a light bright! 

You’ll also find a pretend post office with a mail box and a slide.  There are also music instruments: a piano and bongos. 

Also in the main area, you’ll find a huge ambulance and a pretend vet clinic. This child is fascinated by being the driver’s seat of an ambulance! 

Over by the ambulance, you’ll also find a small theater and the frozen shadow room.  I took a peak inside the shadow room since I could not tear my child away from the ambulance! 

There is a large bubble table with several stations for the kids to work together making bubbles. It can get wet this area, so be forewarned! 

Behind the bubble table, you’ll find bathrooms. There is a baby changing station in this bathroom. 

On the opposite side of the bubble table, there is an enclosed area called the Amazing Air Race. There are soft balls and scarves that kids can stick into the air tunnels and watch them fly around until they blow out the top! This is definitely an activity that will suck your child in… literally. I sat in this area for a while as he sent scarves flying over and over again.  It’s nice that the area is enclosed too so you can have a break from chasing your kids for a few minutes! Plus there is seating! 

Just past the main room, you’ll find these small replicas of a diner, a kitchen and Big Y’s Supermarket. He loved the pizza oven! 

Over by the bubble table, you’ll find a small room called TOT LOT.  The room is for the smaller museum patrons with a building block table, lots of small toys, magnets, a rocking chair and other baby toys. 

I checked this room out before my son did; and I really did everything I could to prevent him from going in here… because I knew we’d never leave.  There was a train table… And we were done. Lots of tantrums occurred when I suggested we move on to another room. But seriously, he has a train table at home, this is not healthy. Of course, he still got plenty of time playing with the trains but I’m glad we were able to venture throughout the rest of the museum! 

In the room next to the TOT LOT, you’ll find the Holyoke Police Station and Fire Station.  The firetruck was pretty cool. I tried to get him to check more of this room but we kept going back to the train table. 

Towards the back of the museum is the last exhibit room which is packed full of great STEM activities.  This is the World of Motion room and there is a lot of movement going on! After the train table, this room piqued his interest the most!

There was so much to do in the World of Motion and all of the activities made you think!  These walls are always fun to try to figure out! I saw a lot of moms trying their best to work out a solution with these pipes. I love that moms have fun too!

There were smaller STEM activities including circuits, magnets, balance and weights, as well as a few other areas with music instruments and a race track for cars that you could build. 

He was totally fascinated by this lever and pulley system! He and another little boy worked hard for a good ten minutes trying to figure out just what was happening as the bricks disappeared at the top.

There was a place to climb towards the back with a lookout tower. 

The room also had a shadow dance floor that was popular with all the kids! I was lucky to get a picture when no one was in it! 

We had a blast visiting the Holyoke Children’s Museum.  This museum is great for any age, as young as 6 months in the Tot Lot. When we visited there were mostly children my son’s age but we spotted a few older elementary age kids too. And of course, the parents and the grandparents were having a good time as well. It was easy to jump in on the fun while your kids played.  

I am definitely a fan of Holyoke Children’s Museum, and we will be back again! I love that the museum is located in an all-inclusive park, especially one where you’ll find a playground, picnicking AND a merry-go-round! We spent a good half day up in Holyoke that day, but once we see naptime disappear, I can easily see us staying here for lot longer.  The museum alone could suck you in for a few hours! Add in a few rides on the merry-go-round and you will have quite the day! 

For those of us in Connecticut, this is absolutely a place that is worth the road trip!  And for my friends in Western Massachusetts, you are super lucky to have this amazing place in your backyard! 

This about sums it up…

The Children’s Museum at Holyoke
444 Dwight Street – Holyoke, Massachusetts

Website

Hours:

Tuesdays – Fridays:  9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturdays:  10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sundays: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Closed on Mondays

 

Costs: 

Children & Adults: $8.00
Seniors (62+): $5.00
Children under 1 year of age: FREE
Museum Members: Free

Ways to Save: 

Military/Active Personnel: Free admission
Massachusetts Teachers only: ½ price admission 
Massachusetts EBT cardholders: $3 admission for up to 4 people
WGBY Members: 2 for 1 admission for up to 2 people
If you live in the area, make sure to check with your local library for a museum pass! 

Features:

  • Strollers Allowed but I would recommend leaving them by the coat racks
  • For kids of all ages, as young as 6 months
  • One Main Floor of Play
  • Bathrooms  & changing tables located on the main floor by the Bubble Table. Bathrooms area also located by the coat room.
  • Party Room available for rent
  • No food for sale
  • Cash or Credit Cards accepted
  • There is a water table so be prepared for some wet shoes or clothes
  • Parking available in the garage across the street at a cost.

The Holyoke Merry-Go-Round at Holyoke Heritage State Park
221 Appleton Street – Holyoke, Massachusetts

Website

Hours: 

From September to June, the Merry-Go- Round is open on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. (as well as during school vacations and on Monday holidays).

From July to August,  the Merry-Go- Round is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. (Closed on Mondays unless a holiday)

Admission: 

Tickets are $2 a ride (all riders must have a ticket).  Or a bundle of 6 rides can be purchased for $10. 

Features:

  • Free Parking available at lot outside of the Merry-Go-Round
  • Children must be a certain height to ride alone; if they are not tall enough, an adult must ride with them
  • The Merry-Go-Round runs continuously so you’ll never wait too long for a ride
  • Snacks and drinks for sale
  • Parties can be booked at the Merry-Go-Round

Leave a Reply