Garden State Discovery Museum
Discovering a new childrenís museum is like discovering some new fantasy world for my children in which playtime and laughter seem to be endless. Each time we plan a trip that extends past the two-hour mark, we try to find something new to discover between here and there. When we recently visited my aunt in Maryland with my sister and her two boys, we knew that our trip needed a stop to stretch our legs and giving the boys a much needed place to expel some pent up energy. For us, this meant a trip to the Garden State Discovery Center in beautifully named Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Reviews likened it to the Please Touch Museum in Philly; a tall order to meet. We were skeptical, but happy to find out for ourselves. Found in a slightly more commercial area, the museum greets you with its charming butterfly garden, complete with outdoor play area and picnic tables, shielded by colorful canopies, inviting your hungry bellies to have a seat.Inside the museum matches the charm of the façade. What we liked so much here was the incredible amount of rooms and nooks, all ornamented with different themes, brilliantly rolled into one massive complex of fun and excitement. The simplicity of each roomís theme was amplified by the massive attention to detail that seemed to transform the simple ideas into an educational haven of excitement. Our favorites include a mini hockey rink where kids can toss a puck back and forth for hours as my nephew did. We loved the dinosaur discovery room that included a padded baby spot, a full archeological digging site, and climbing structure complete with slide and winding corridors. We seemed to spend half of our time in the construction zone. The tree house-type structure allows children to build to their heartís content and copy architectís designs for a variety of structures. There is a full miniature restaurant with a kitchen and prepping station. Our boys loved creating dishes and serving them in the full booths while we fiddled with the mini jukeboxes on each table. The museum exceeded every expectation we had and we opted to stop here on our return trip as well. Making a long car trip doesnít have to be some dreaded task, where the hope that the expectations at the destination are met to counteract the sheer madness of the journey. Go for the variety, stay for the excitement and always think outside the box in your adventures in life with your children.