If you are looking for great days out for kids then you need to consider Eureka Children’s Museum. Eureka is a fantastic place for younger children and although they call it a museum it’s nothing like. In museums you can’t touch anything; at Eureka, you interact with everything on a totally multi-sensory level. And there is so much to interact with. If I were to list everything here I would be writing a seriously lengthy article. Instead, I’ll give you an overview.
There are two main parts to Eureka. An indoor and an outdoor section. The outside is just one big play area with climbable objects, a small garden, a huge sand pit, and tents with extra activities going on. When we last visited there was a tent where children could see exotic animals, my eldest daughter even got to hold a snake and another tent with an interactive play on where all the kids took part in the action. All good fun.
Indoors, however, is where the magic starts. Take a right after entering and you come to the main square. There’s a bank where kids can work as bank staff and explore a vault where they have to solve puzzles to open secret compartments. Across the road is a Marks and Spencer food outlet with kid-sized shopping trolleys, shelves full of replica food and pretend counters with tills. Just outside is a trench dug by builders. They have to wear a builder’s hat and can explore what’s under the building and the historic layers in the soil.
There’s a garage section with cars, a fuel pump, a car wash – all for kids to operate. They can even climb up into the front of a huge wagon and steer the wheels. Cleverer kids can try to make a motor run by connecting the spark plugs in the right order. There’s a kids’ kitchen and post office. Up the stairs. there’s a water room which shows kids how toilets and Jacuzzis work. There’s a loft with a play stage and a box of dressing up clothes. Next door a story room where readers tell stories to the children. From here you can go through the scary dark tunnel which has mirrors and the floors and ceiling so as you look over the edge it goes down for eternity.
I haven’t begun to scratch the surface of this place yet and I’m getting the sense that I’m listing things.
My kids love the body section. This is a huge area of the museum which focuses on the human body. There’s everything here from a pedaling machine, which when you start pedaling you can see a skeleton of yourself moving at the side of you. There’s the birth section which shows the inside of the mother’s tummy and another interactive model of a pregnant woman that you can listen to, poke and prod with a stethoscope and a mock-up of a scanner.
Tactfully, there’s no sex-ed section, but virtually every part of the body and the senses can be looked at in interesting ways. There are TVscreens, smelling activities, touchy-feely things to do in. You can look through microscopes, watch a body scanner, test how tall and wide you are, look through ears and eyes. It’s impossible to get bored.
And I still haven’t covered everything by a long long way. There’s the desert section, the power section, the light and sound section, an animal section. All interactive. All educational and stimulating learning experiences where kids can climb on things, measure things, jump and pull and just play.
And there’s still more. I won’t go on.
Are there any disadvantages? Well, there are some. It can get very busy, especially at the beginning of the summer holidays and during bank holidays. If you arrive for opening time you may have to queue to get in – though the kids can play in the outside section whilst you are waiting. The only other downside is the cafe. The menu is quite limited and I’ve not been over impressed with the quality. It’s quite pricey for what you actually get. The tip is to take a picnic and eat on the train carriage they have parked outside. Much more fun.
As for prices at the time of going to press they were: aged 1-2: £3.75 (there are some areas specifically for under 5s) everyone else aged 3+: £10.95. Not in the same league as some of the more pricey places like LegoWorld but still could be a lot if you have three or four kids in tow. However, if you live fairly locally, the ticket allows admittance for a year, not just for the day; so you can go again and again. We go four or five times a year and I reckon we’ve still got a few years worth of visits left yet.
For more information visit the Eureka Website