Hours of Amusement at the Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem

One of the best things about being a parent is living vicariously through your children, and, basically, getting to be a kid again! To this end, I love children’s museums. For a minimal cost, they provide hours of fun for kids (and their parents!), and are a great reprieve for everyone’s sanity on cold and dreary days during the winter months.

We have visited children’s museums all over the state, and on a recent weekend, decided to revisit an old favorite, The Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem. At just an hour and a half away, the excursion makes for a fun day trip into the heart of Old Salem.

We grabbed a brochure on the way in and tried to figure out our plan of attack. We headed first into Circulate It, a room where we got to play firsthand with an exhibit that uses an amazing airway to demonstrate the power of healthy blood circulation. The room also featured a loft chock full of Legos, a replica of the house from the “Three Little Pigs” children’s story and giant foam building materials similar to Lincoln Logs. The kids didn’t want to leave this room, but we finally coaxed them out by promising to return before we left.

We also had a blast in The Amazing Library, which was outfitted with cozy rugs and chairs, as well as a puppet theatre and bins of dress-up clothes. You also can find restrooms (including one for the whole family with a changing station), a snack shop, an outdoor garden and the multi-purpose “Under the Stars” room on the first floor. Unfortunately, the outdoor garden is closed during the winter months, so we didn’t get to explore the sandbox or dig in the soil on this visit.

In the middle of the building is a functional replica of the beanstalk from “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and my daughter had a fun time climbing it to the second floor. Beware though, if you have a young child who wants to join in the fun. I saw several parents climbing into the beanstalk trying to rescue their wailing toddlers, who didn’t know how to get out of the beanstalk but didn’t want to follow it all the way up.

On the second floor we marveled at the craftsmanship and detail of The Enchanted Forest/Once Upon a Time Gallery, complete with a footbridge, rowboat and wishing well. My son decided to take a short snooze on one of the little beds from “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” My daughter had a great time taking care of the dolls in the Forest Babies Nursery. Both kids went to work so industriously in the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Factory that I began to think they might have a future in the pastry business.

The child-size factory has its very own conveyor belt, where kids can crank out doughnuts and collect the finished products in boxes for the delivery truck. They also had a blast in the Food Lion Supermarket, but it got a little crowded with all the miniature shopping carts and kids clamoring to check out their groceries at the same time. Children also enjoy dressing up as a veterinarian and taking care of all the animals in the fully stocked animal hospital, complete with lab coats, animal crates and X-rays.

We visited the museum on a Sunday afternoon, and we got so caught up in all the exhibits we never made it to the Art & Publishing station on the second floor before it closed, where there usually is a craft planned daily. Rooms for birthday parties and additional restroom facilities also are located upstairs.

Also, beginning Feb. 10 and running through May 17, the museum will feature a traveling exhibit with beloved PBS character Arthur, on loan from the Boston Children’s Museum. The exhibit is designed to encourage storytelling and dramatic play as building blocks to being good readers and writers.

If your family is up for more exploration after your visit, the museum is located in the middle of Old Salem, where there are plenty of other historical sights to see and an old-fashioned toy museum children love.

The excursion was a hit with all of us, and it also gave us some great ideas for how to set up our own playroom at home for optimal imaginative play. Now, if I could just get started on that.

If You Go
Children’s Museum of Winston-Salem
390 S. Liberty St., Winston-Salem

On the Web

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sunday, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Monday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (Members Only)

Adults and children 2 and older: $7

Renee Roberson is an associate editor for Charlotte Parent magazine.