Tips for Family Visits to Museums

Tips for Family Visits to Museums
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Museums are one of the best family values you'll find. They are fun, educational, inexpensive and usually have something for everyone in the family. Take advantage of your area museums. Find out where they are, if they have special family memberships at a discount or free days you can take advantage of.
There are a few things you can do to make the most of your museum experience. First of all, consider the ages of the kids and adults that are going with you.

-Toddlers/Babies: Take a stroller that they can sleep in and one that you can either put things in the basket or at least hang a bag on. You'll need to take extra clothes, diapers, wipees and drinks (some museums don't allow food or drink-but you can take them into a vending area, cafe or restroom for a break). Be prepared with toddlers to allow them some time out of the stroller. Pick the areas that seem toddler friendly, let them play, then tell them it's time to get back in for a little bit. Once you establish this routine, it seems to work fairly well. Also, they may need a nap during the trip. In our case, Grandma Barb volunteered to walk around with our then 2 1/2 year old until she fell asleep, and we arranged a place to meet up with her in a little bit. This worked really well.

-Seniors-If you take along grandparents that are older, consider that they might not race through the museum at the same speed as a ten year old. Also, be aware of health needs such as diabetes, where they may need to take their lunch break at a certain time. We've taken our great grandmothers to museums and other activities and it's been a wonderful experience for them and the kids. It's really a matter of being sensitive to the needs of each person in the group, and planning your day accordingly.

-General Tips: Call ahead to the museum and find out if you can bring in your own lunch. Some have tables set up inside or outside for sack lunches, while others only have cafe seating. Plan around your budget. Eat a big breakfast, make a snack stop and plan a big dinner, or eat lunch at the museum. Plan on getting to the museum when they open if at all possible. Try heading to the back of the museum and working your way forward to avoid some of the crowds as they come in. If the museum is large, such as The Field Museum in Chicago, you simply won't be able to see all the exhibits in one day. Go online to look at a map or a description of the museum sections or call to get a brochure ahead of time and discuss with everyone what they want to see the most. If you can't get the information ahead of time, then do this as soon as you arrive. Your visit will be so much more relaxed!

Lastly, let's talk about the gift shop. We've always loved museums, and we've been taking the kids since they were babies. When we couldn't afford a stop at the giftshop we told them we would stop at the store on the way home and pick up a special dessert. Now that they are older and we have a bit more money to spend, we still set limits. They save their allowance and birthday money, and we allow them to spend a certain amount at each museum we visit. We've also had them do specials chores at home, and then give them money to take with them. We always visit the giftshop last, and "guide" them to things that we know they will be happier with. I've found that bean bag animals, pencils, keychains, small books and playsets are some of the favorites that aren't overly expensive. Work with your budget, and have fun!


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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