Exploring not-so-child-centered museums.

This morning we spent an hour exploring the Lane Motor Museum, a local museum in Nashville filled with unique antique cars, motorcycles, and a small kids area. This is NOT a traditional children’s museum, and it’s definitely not going to keep kids occupied for a whole day, but my littles were intrigued by the different types of cars (especially the one powered by a propeller and the one with snow skis attached). In a short time they learned a few things, played with a few toys that we don’t have at home, and gained the confidence to explore a bit on their own.

It’s easy to find children’s museums, but discovering places to explore beyond the child-centered that are entertaining yet age appropriate can be a challenge. When trying to move beyond the children’s museum routine, there are a few extra considerations. Below is our list of tips for visiting not-so-child-centered museums.

  • How to find them:
    • Google, of course, is your best friend. Try a google search for museums, taking out the “children’s” or “kids'” modifier. You can then quickly browse the results and look for names that pop out as things that might interest your children.
    • Follow parent-related Instagram and/or Facebook accounts that are specific to your city. One great place to find adventure ideas is in Instagram stories. If a local blogger shares a picture that intrigues you, don’t hesitate to send a message and find out where the picture was taken!
    • Scan your local parenting magazine’s events pages. If a venue is holding an event for children or families, chances are that would be a great place to visit with kids anytime! You may not be able to attend the noted event, or you may simply want to avoid crowds, but you can add the venue to your list of things to explore in your city.
    • Talk to other parents! The most fool-proof way to find local places to explore is by recommendation. Ask other parents at school, the park, or even online if they know of any must-dos in your city.
  • Know before you go:
    • While children’s museums are usually accustomed to goldfish crumbs in their floors, the policies at more adult-based museums are likely different. Check the museum’s website before you go and know whether snacks are allowed. Also, check their “touching” policy and warn your kids beforehand if exhibits are hands off–no one enjoys being kicked out of a museum!
    • Speaking of snacks…check to see if the museum has a cafe or snack machine, or come prepared with snacks in the car. We all know how quickly a preschooler can go from happy to hungry, so it’s best to have a plan in place for food. I like to use my maps app to locate a restaurant nearby and have a plan for where we might grab lunch or dinner after our visit.
    • Check the website to see if the museum has a kids’ area. Even a small space with a few toys can save an otherwise disaster of a day!
    • Check the admission prices before you go. Unless your kids are far more cultured than mine, a trip to a non-child-based museum is probably not going to last too long, maybe 1-2 hours. Add up your expected admission and make sure you are okay with the financial investment to potential enjoyment ratio.
    • Most importantly, adjust your expectations. When trying a new museum that is not designed for children, realize that it may be amazing, but it may also be a total bust. Remember that the failed adventures often make for the best memories!
making our best race car faces

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