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Westchester Children's Museum: A Welcome Addition to the County

Westchester Children's Museum: A Welcome Addition to the County

When I heard that a new children’s museum had opened recently in Rye, I decided to take the kids and check it out. Despite an abundance of great kid-focused activities in the area, Westchester was sorely lacking a children’s museum, with the wide range of hands-on educational, fun activities that that would bring. Westchester Children’s Museum is definitely a work in progress—what opened constitutes just the first piece of a multi-phase plan—but it is a great start and well worth a visit, especially for kids in the preschool and young-elementary age groups.

The museum is in a long-abandoned building on the boardwalk adjacent to Rye Playland and the beach. Its location is beautiful and opens the possibility for a full-day outing when coupled with the amusement park and/or beach.  The price—$7 per person, $6 for seniors—is low, befitting a small venue, and we found the staff to be knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and effective at communicating with kids and drawing in those who are shy and not self-directed. 

What to do at Westchester Children's Museum

Most of the activities are creatively simple, by which I mean they provide engaging, educational fun without fancy equipment or devices. One station that my 5-year-old loved features a wind tunnel: a fan pointing up into a large, clear cylinder. Kids are invited to use the provided materials to create something that will hover above the fan, neither falling to the ground nor shooting too high up. Those who are successful get their name posted on the wall. 

Also on the arts-and-craft theme, another area focuses on shadow puppets, where kids make their own and then improvise shows behind a screen with an overhead projector. A reading room provides space for quiet time, while a “toddler beach” lets kids run, climb, and pretend to swim on the play structure. For older kids, an area with tons of Keva Planks offers a chance to build, balance the planks, and challenge themselves.


Details on Visiting Westchester Children's Museum

The museum was not crowded when we were there, though it was a weekday. I am sure that will change, as word gets around that it is open. Strollers are not allowed in the exhibit space, but there is a room in which to park them. Speaking of parking, we parked in the Rye Playland lot, which was free and empty because the park was not open yet for the season, but that won't be the case now that it is.

Food is not allowed in the museum, either, but we sat on a bench on the boardwalk outside and had a snack that we'd brought from home. It was a good way to unwind after the museum, if rather windy on the day we were there.

We spent close to two hours at the museum, which was longer than I’d expected the kids to want to stay based on my initial survey of the offerings. At 6,000 square feet, it’s relatively small, but uses the space effectively. One of the staff members opened a door to show me the remainder of the building’s 22,000 square feet, the space into which the museum’s organizers hope to expand. She described plans for a massive climbing structure and other activities that will be built there once they've raised the funds.

I am hoping they succeed and expand as quickly as possible; we’re hoping to be back regularly. 

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Photo at top: My two younger daughters playing in the "toddler beach" area. 

Michael Kress

Author: Michael Kress is the former editorial director of NYMetroParents. He is the former executive editor of Parents.com, the website for Parents magazine, and was previously the VP of Editorial at Beliefnet.com. He is the father of three girls and lives in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. See More

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