Visiting the national play museum as an adult & other things to do in Rochester
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Year visited: 2020
Time of year: October
Can You Visit the Strong Museum of Play without Kids?
This is the most important question to start off with, because if you’re like me, and you’re totally a child at heart and still love doing all the “child-y” things, but don’t have any kids as an excuse to do them with… well… is it going to be awkward to go to this museum??
And the answer is… Yes, you can totally go to the Strong Museum of Play without kids (and also no, it will not be awkward)!
Now, that being said, there are parts of the museum that are more geared towards kids, and parts that are for everybody.
I’ll walk you through (virtually!) what parts are most “kid-friendly” and what parts are best for adults (and my favorite parts!), as well as what it is like to visit in 2020 and beyond.
Can You go to the Strong Museum of Play WITH Kids?
Well, YES, of course! So if you DO have kids, then make sure you visit here while they are still young enough to appreciate it. Because they will appreciate it!
About the Strong Museum of Play
History of the Museum of Play
The museum began in the 1960s as Rochester philanthropist Margaret Woodbury Strong’s personal collection of toys (because who doesn’t love collecting toys?).
In the 90s the museum developed its mission to focus on the history of “play,” and went through several upgrades to become the place it is today, complete with the National Toy Hall of Fame.
How long to spend at the Strong Museum of Play?
We spent around 3 hours here (that seems to be the average with most large museums).
The museum is open from 10 am-5 pm Sunday-Wednesday, and 10 am-8 pm Thursday-Saturday.
Do they have food at the Strong Museum of Play?
Yes, there is a cafeteria available at the Strong Museum of Play.
Where to Park for Strong Museum of Play
The museum has their own parking garage adjacent to the museum. It’s bright and colorful, so you really can’t miss it!
The parking garage is located on Howell St.
Parking for museum guests costs $5.
Where to pay for parking
You can pay at the kiosks in the parking garage, or you can pay at the front desk. If you pay at the kiosks, be sure to scan your museum admission ticket, as this will give you the discounted $5 rate.
Can you walk from the parking garage to the museum?
This may seem like a dumb (or obvious) question, but I am full of dumb questions, so I am happy to inform the planners like me.
As I said, the parking garage is literally right next to the museum. How far you have to walk only depends on how full it is and how far away you have to park. If you can park in the corner spot right by the door, you only have a few feet to walk to reach the museum!
The Museum Galleries
There are multiple different sections to the museum. Some of these sections are more geared toward kids, and some are for everybody. I am going to go over each section to let you know which parts of the Strong Museum of Play are good to visit without kids, and which are better to visit with kids.
This is the first place we saw when we walked into the museum. And I can tell you that 9 year old me would be So. Stoked. to be here (Also, 9 year old me told my parents I wanted to come!).
While grown up me was still excited to explore, especially since there were not a lot of little kids around, this is one of the areas that is definitely more geared toward little kids.
They have games, crafts, even a mini theater and costumes so the kids can put on a show!
Every little nook has a different “storybook” theme, like mystery books, fantasy books and adventure books.
This was my favorite part of the museum! SO. MUCH. FUN.
There are just so many different types of pinball machines. Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones, Star Wars. They even have an EPIC Lord of the Rings one, which I eagerly waited for to light up after I put in my token, only to realize that it should have been lit up before I put in my token if it was actually going to work…
This is definitely an “adult-friendly” part of the museum!
Each game costs 1 token to play. You can purchase tokens (4 for $1) at the kiosk by the door.
The Butterfly Garden
The Butterfly Garden is an add on you can get to your admission ticket. We chose not to add it on, so I can’t tell you what it was like, but I bet it would be a nice place to take some pictures!
The garden is behind the Pinball Playfields. It is open from 11 am - 2:15 pm.
American Comic Book Heroes
This section of the museum is sort of a cross between the “kid-friendly” of the Reading Adventureland, and the “adult-friendly” of activities that a grown up wouldn’t be embarrassed to try (maybe).
The really nice thing about going when the museum is not busy—nobody is there to judge your attempt at being a “super hero!”
If you’ve always wanted to be a super hero, this is the place for you. You can test your ability to chase down bad guys at warp speed, feel what it’s like to have super strength, and try out your super hero cape.
There are a lot of activities in this section that both kids and adults will enjoy.
The Toy Hall of Fame
This is the largest section of the museum, and my second favorite spot behind the Pinball Playfields.
Of course, the huge arcade area in this section puts the Pinball Playfields to shame!
All along the walls are the most famous toys from over the decades. And you might not even notice them because of all the interactive games in between.
I honestly didn’t pay much attention at all to the actual “toy hall of fame,” except the Barbie section (don’t judge me!). I wish I had paid more attention, but there is just so much to look at!
This is definitely the main area that adults will enjoy, while there is enough to do to keep the kids very well entertained too.
Just like in the Pinball Playfields, each game in the (huge) arcade costs a token. There are kiosks where you can buy tokens (4 for $1).
Field of Play
Just when you think you’ve seen all the interactive games there can possibly be, you enter the Field of Play.
There are just so many fun, giant games to play in here. DDR (this one’s free), a fun house with slanting floors, a system of pulleys and tubes to drop balls from the ceiling and watch where they go.
There are more crafts for the kids, but the exhibits are interesting enough for adults to be engaged as well.
This was another area, like the Reading Adventureland, that is mostly geared toward kids. And again, 9 year old me would have been thrilled.
But since there weren’t a lot of kids hanging around there when we went (#2020), Jason and I could explore the little kid world of Sesame Street without feeling weird.
And it was fun!
But again, if there are a lot of kids there, adults on their own will probably just keep out of their way and let them play a song with the foam ping pong paddles on the giant pipes that are so far apart you literally have to dance in order to play them.
SO cute! But again, I shop at the real Wegmans, thanks. So I’ll let the little kids shop at their cute little mini sized Wegmans.
If you’re visiting, and you’re not from NY or somewhere nearby, and you haven’t been to Wegmans, then definitely check out the real live grown up Wegmans in Rochester before you leave!
Strong Express Train
It’s just a little train to ride on. Fun for the kids, worth skipping for the adults. Unless you want to ride the train. Because I would. So no judgement.
The train does cost extra to ride. I believe it was $1.
Fidelis Care Gallery
This is for the sports lovers out there. Basketball hoops, pitching, quarterbacking. It’s fun for kids and adults to try out all the sports related games.
I definitely threw three strikes when I tried my hand at pitching! And then I tried again and ruined my streak. But we won’t talk about that.
The theater was not open when we visited in 2020.
Other Things to do in Rochester
There are a lot of other things to do in Rochester besides just the Strong Museum of Play. You will find history, outdoor adventures, and Wegmans. Because Wegmans is the best.
Rochester is the home of Kodak, formerly the Eastman/Kodak Company. You can visit the Eastman Museum, housed in George Eastman’s mansion, to see old cameras, crazy lenses, contemporary photography works, and watch Eastman’s home videos! Also be sure to check out an old film screening at the Dryden Theatre on site.
Susan B. Anthony House
Another famous resident from Rochester is women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony. You can visit the Susan B. Anthony Museum in her old house, as well as her grave in Mt. Hope Cemetery (and Frederick Douglass’ grave!).
Not far from Rochester, in Pittsford, you can ride a boat down the Erie Canal, walk the paths along the water, or get something to eat.
If you haven’t been to a Wegmans before, you need to go to one while you’re in the area! No, it’s not just a grocery store. But also it’s the best grocery store.
Wegmans was founded in Rochester in 1916, and you will have no trouble finding one near Rochester. The Pittsford Wegmans is the biggest one around, complete with a 2-story burger restaurant.
Where to Eat in Rochester
Nick Tahou Hots
Nick Tahou Hots is the original place to get a garbage plate, a Rochester classic. You can find one almost anywhere in the city, but I’m always a fan of the original.
Our local friends took us to Dinosaur BBQ. It was delicious and right downtown, very close to the Museum of Play.
Genesee Brew House
Genesee Brew House is one of the oldest breweries in the US. And it’s overlooking High Falls, the waterfall that runs right through the city.
One of the best coffee shops in Rochester is Java’s Cafe, located right downtown.
A good choice to eat is always Wegmans. You can visit the restaurant area, or just grab some pre-made food to go.
Where to Stay in Rochester
Courtyard by Marriott
The Courtyard by Marriott is the perfect place to stay right downtown, and close to everything.
If you’re looking for something a little more fancy, The Strathallan boutique hotel is also right in downtown and pretty close to everything you’ll want to see.
The Holiday Inn is a little cheaper, but still close to downtown Rochester. It is just across the river from the main city center, and is in between High Falls and the Museum of Play.
Any more questions?
If you have any questions about visiting the Strong Museum of Play (with or without kids) or the Rochester area, don’t hesitate to email me or comment below.
Planning a trip to Rochester?
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