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An Upstate New York Adventure

Rochester Museum and Science Centre

This is a road trip you will never forget!

The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York is a space that is always highly recommended to us.

At just over 2 hours from Halton some make the trip within the day before returning home.

We decided to stay for the long weekend and explore what Rochester and surrounding areas had to offer.

We experienced Rochester in the winter but I will include all the warm weather finds in this blog.

A fun trip under the sea along the way…

To split our trip up (for the sake of our sanity) with two littles in the car we made a reservation at the Aquarium of Niagara.

During the warm weather months Niagara Falls, New York has a few attractions to visit. In my personal opinion, compared to Ontario’s side it lacks a lot of fun.

Aquarium of Niagara is one of the few fun places to visit for the chance to watch a Sea Lion or Penguin show.

The Aquarium is small in size and your visit will last around an hour with two floors to visit and a small gift shop.

The first floor is where you can visit the penguins and see the sea lions swim through their windows.

There are plenty of fish to see and a space near the gift shop to touch their resident sting rays.

From the second floor you can visit their jelly fish, frogs and more. You can also get an up close look to their sea lion shows.

They have scheduled feedings and shows throughout the day.

If you are looking for an accessible entrance you need to go to the back of the building and use their buzzer to get let in.

Parking is by pay and display.

There are no food options at the aquarium.

A few options for your stay

We opted to stay at an Airbnb since we stayed for 3 nights and wanted the extra space for naps and relaxation.

There were many Airbnb’s to choose from that were a quick distance to the Museum and local Target.

Airbnb in Rochester, New York

Hotel accommodations recommended to us

We had plenty of hotel recommendations given to us by people who enjoyed their stay.

You can check out these accommodations to see if they fit your needs.

Or the small town of Batavia (about 30-40 minutes from Rochester) has an indoor/outdoor waterpark.

The Main Attraction

The Strong National Museum of Play had been recommended to me SO many times.

Even the outside of the Museum looks very cool.

We were told to spend 4 to 6 hours here but ended up spending 7 hours with a short lunch break.

There are two additional spaces within the Museum to consider.

The first is the Butterfly Conservatory. We did not visit this space because we had been to many Butterfly Conservatory’s in Ontario and wanted to spend more time in the Museum.

The second is the Skyline Climb. Initially we did not schedule the ropes course but ended up buying a spot for our son during the end of our visit. They have two ropes courses depending on the age. My son did the smaller ropes course and our friends and their eldest children did the bigger ropes course that even includes a zip line.

There are two smaller attractions that cost additional money ($1 per person per ride) and that is the carousel and the train. You can pay using a debit/credit card when you line up to use the ride.

Now for all the fun the Museum has to offer!

We reserved our date and time in advance using their online system.

The museum has a huge food court with a delicious menu full of hot and cold lunch options. Their kids menu is great and I loved that they had healthy options for everyone. There were plenty of spaces to sit and bathrooms were located around the corner.

The food court is located at the very back of the first floor. There was only one way to get there and that is directly through the Museum.

There is also a Café to your left when you first walk in to the Museum from the parking lot. The Café offers baked goods, snacks and warm beverages.

We made multiple coffee stops at the Café to keep up with the Littles. You can walk back through admission to visit the Café during your stay. You just need a stamp on your hand to gain access to the Museum again (which you can get from admission on the way out).

The Museum is HUGE sitting at 100,000 square feet!

For a full look find the Museum’s map here.

The main floor of the Museum is where we spent the majority of our stay. When you first walk in you can head to your right or to your left but basically the whole bottom floor is in a line of exhibits so we started on our right.

From here we started with the Storybook Theater and Reading Adventureland. It was hard for me to take any pictures of the Museum because it was busy and there is so much to do and see packed into every little corner. We enjoyed this space for their indoor climber, hidden doors in the walls, creative stations where we made crown’s and more. I can’t even begin to explain how much there was to do and see.

After you make your way through here you will find yourself in a hallway to the Pinball Playfields and the Berenstain Bears. At the Pinball Playfields you can purchase tokens to play one of the many pinball machines. This was a huge hit with my Son and Husband. My Daughter loved the Berenstain Bears room. They had a really cute Berenstain Bears photo opportunity on the way in. Inside the room was a treehouse with a slide, farm, restaurant, kitchen and more. It was a lot of Berenstain Bear pretend play and it was all super cute.

Once you leave this space you will find the Butterfly Garden and another open space to the American Comic Book Heroes. This was another favourite of my Son and Husbands. Here you could test your super powers and tons of photo opportunities. They designed games and photo experiences throughout the Museum that will generate photos that can be emailed directly to you. There was even dress up play.

Then you can walk through the atrium to the Imagination Destination. You will find a pretend theatre with dress up clothing, another indoor climber, a giant airplane with a slide. The Strong Express Train is also located just off of this open space. Sesame Street is a little further ahead. There is a really fun photo opportunity of the famous Sesame Street steps here. Inside you will find a lot of replicated Sesame Street scenes with an ice cream station, food truck and immersive dancing room.

Across from Sesame Street is Wegmans Super Kids Market. The kid’s absolutely loved this. It’s HUGE. They can actually go in and pretend to grocery shop in all different isles of the grocery store. They even received a real receipt they could take home with them. They loved it. 

Further on, they had tables set up in the middle of the hall with thousands of Mr. Potato Head pieces.

Next was Field of Play which was a super fun room. They had a table of magic sand, ramps, giant hot rod cars, optical illusions and so much more.

Next door is the Play Lab. We didn’t have time for this but they have scheduled classes that teach kids arts and crafts and include an instructor to teach the lesson. You can learn more about that here.

After all this fun you will find the Rainbow Reef which is a hallway full of colourful aquariums and fish and a really neat installation. The Littles can choose a fish colouring page and make their fishy unique before heading over to the scanner. Once their drawing is scanned their fish gets added to the Museums ‘aquarium’ on the wall and you can watch their fish come to life. We LOVED this.

At the back of the Museum you will find the Skyline Climb ropes course and Carousel.

You will also find the Food Court here. 

We started our Museum trip at 10:00am and by the time it was noon we had only done the right side of the main floor. We had lunch before we headed to the left side.

But wait, there’s more…

On the second floor you will find the Toy Hall of Fame home to the GIANT and interactive Mr. Potato Head, Jenga and our favourite; the GIANT Etch A Sketch that will send a copy of your Etch A Sketch to your email.


My Son loved the next part, Game Time! and eGameRevolution. Think – every video game ever invented. You could spend a lot of time here. My Littlest liked the back of the top floor; Play Pals and Build, Drive, Go. There were tons of Barbie’s on display, even a Barbie house to play with. They had a pretend house with a kitchen, big Lego wall and a dump truck full of rocks.

That concluded our trip to The Strong National Museum of Play. There was so much to do. We barely had time in the 7 hours we were there to do it all. Next time we visit we will know what areas to focus on more.

Another day, another amazing Museum!

We booked our spot online with the Rochester Museum and Science Centre in Rochester, New York

There is so much to do and see here with all of their interactive exhibits. We loved our visit and stayed for over 2 hours.

They have a food court on the basement level that offers pizza and subs with plenty of seating options.

The Museum is accessible.

They have a giftshop on the main floor. 

A parking lot is located in front of the Museum, free of charge.

You can access the Museum’s map here

The main floor was a lot of fun to explore. On the right hand side is their newest exhibit which is all about water. It feature’s a pirate ship the littles can climb on lily pads that change colours. It was pretty neat and the kids loved the challenge of exploring here.

On the left hand side is Expedition Earth. The kid’s loved walking through the ‘Ice Age’ and digging for fossils. I loved looking at all the displays and learning fun facts along the way.

On the second floor we learned a lot through the exhibits Take it Down! Objectively Racist, Face to Face and Native Peoples. They offered learning experiences in their room ‘Science on a Sphere’ where they use a GIANT planet earth as a prop to the experience. The Little’s loved learning through the exhibits; Sound Bites and Illumination. Here they learned about sound and light through interactive installations.

On the third floor we enjoyed a show on lightening and even jumped on stage to be ‘electrocuted’ to sound, safely. They had a makers experience on display where you were asked to build a catapult and demonstrate it’s accuracy using their displays. 

There are a lot of installations set up to learn about inventions and how they work. 

At the time they also had giant Lego’s, blue blocks and Kapla blocks to build with.

We had a ton of fun and loved that everything was hands on. The Little’s had a great time.

There was so much left on my list to do so I’ll leave you to it until we get there again!

One place we had reservations for dinner that was recommended to us by a few people was Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester. Ultimately, we were way too tired to go out for dinner so I can’t comment on the restaurant but it did come highly recommended.

I had high hopes for visiting their local waterfalls. One looked very accessible to visit – High Falls in Rochester. It’s lined by a beautiful park. There is also Lower Falls but I’m not sure how easy it is to see the waterfall from the pathway along the waters edge.

Rochester is full of beautiful bridges.

The Seneca Zoo was on my list and it comes highly recommended and I think would make a fun option for the warm weather months.

Six Flags Darien Lake would be a fun option to venture to on the way in or on the way out for the day! I’ve never been before so it’s something I would love to explore.

We highly recommend a trip to Rochester, New York

There is just so much to do and so much to see in Rochester, New York. We highly recommend the short trip there and make sure The Strong National Museum of Play is top on your list.

On the way home

We love stopping in Niagara Falls, Ontario and visiting all of the fun ‘touristy’ stops any chance we get! Be sure to read our blog on all the fun.

For more road trip ideas

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