Kudos to Groupon for introducing us to another place that we didn’t know existed. And given the fact that The New Jersey Children’s Museum
is tucked away in an industrial section off a highway in Paramus, we likely never would have found it otherwise.
A large non-descript building, it has a big parking lot and was easy to find. When you walk in, you are greeted by friendly staff members at the front desk. There is a coat check near the entrance and fun house-type mirrors that grab the kids’ interest right away. After hanging up our coats, we set off to explore.
The museum is set up in different sections (as depicted above), with each area revolving around a particular theme or profession. A giant life-size fire truck for the kids to climb into. A veterinarian’s office with animal x-rays, lab coat, stethoscope, and examining table to encourage children to play vet. A space odyssey area with a fun space suit photo opp. An eye doctor area with examining chair, complete with the appartus you would normally find at your eye doctor’s office. A newsroom area where your child can sit behind an anchorperson’s desk and see themselves on the tv. Something interactive and hands-on around nearly every corner to draw a kid’s attention.
You go through the museum at your own pace, in a self-guided way, which is nice when you have a little bit of time to do wandering. I wouldn’t suggest going on a weekend, if you can help it, because the museum also does children’s birthday parties, so it can get a bit crazy and crowded. We went on a Saturday and it was pretty busy. And with the layout the way it is, with one area spilling into another, the crowd + the layout made it a bit challenging to keep track of the kids, as they took off in various directions.
This piano was a sore point with me. The sign said that you couldn’t go on it with your shoes. Fine. But the problem is, that meant lots of kids were going on there in their bare feet, which skeeved me out more than a bit.
There was a gift shop towards the exit of the museum, filled with the usual tchotchke items that we don’t need, and oddly enough, it was (thankfully) closed.
Some exhibits, particularly towards the end, were closed for repair or not working. More than a handful for sure.
The museum itself was a bit dark, felt a bit dated, is in serious need of little freshening up, and, honestly, just felt a bit dirty.
Although Nick managed to keep himself reasonably entertained, it really is better suited for the toddler and preschool set, ideally ages 4-6 or so. As the children can play on their own, without assistance needed from their parents, you are basically the coat holder during your visit. Although there are chairs scattered throughout the museum, there aren’t very many. Also, for parents with younger children, no strollers are allowed, so be aware of that and plan accordingly before you go. And while it was a fun morning for the kids and a good way to spend a rainy weekend, it isn’t the type of place that you need to revisit regularly. One and done. Unlike the Liberty Science Center
, which the kids love, the exhibits don’t change or rotate, so if you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it all.
It is relatively close to the Paramus IKEA, so if you have a little shopping to do, you can eek out a visit here for the kids, and a visit to IKEA for the grown-ups.
Although if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll like IKEA just as much as you do. And perhaps even more than the museum.
The New Jersey Children’s Museum
599 Valley Health Plaza
Tags: Liberty Science Center
, New Jersey Children's Museum
, things to do with kids in New Jersey