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Monday, July 30, 2012

Naperville: DuPage Children's Museum

My young engineers drive the Metra 
Outside the museum, give the wheel a crank and watch the train's wheels spin.
Excited train face at the model RR

The evening before our most recent visit to the DuPage Children's Museum my oldest developed a stomachache from a bit of overindulgence at a church potluck. He was miserable, not because of any discomfort, but because he was afraid he might miss going to the museum. This is how much this place is loved. Fortunately, time and a few train videos on YouTube cure all ills and the trip went off as planned.

As a children's museum, there's no shortage of fun activities for kids of all ages and interests. From their very first visits, my children have loved the WaterWays, AirWorks, and Make It Move exhibits. Last year, however, the museum made itself even more appealing with the opening of a new exhibit: "Trains -- Get On Board!" Kids have always stopped playing to watch the Metra trains zip by just north of the museum's parking lot, but the new exhibit brings the trains right into the museum. Children can be engineers or passengers in a kid-sized Metra.  ("It's the old diesel engine," points out my boy who knows these things.) A control tower gives the children something to climb. A ticket window, engineer and conductor clothing allow for pretend play. Of course, the requisite model railroad layout fills the center of the area with viewing areas both outside and within the tracks. A few observant children might even delight in the beautiful Art Deco travel posters recalling train travel of days gone by. For the youngest members of the family, one of the museum's two Young Explorers areas for babies and toddlers is next to the train exhibit allowing fairly easy supervision of all family members at once.

Thanks to the generosity of the museum and our local library, the kids earned free admission passes for participating in the summer reading program. I was happy to find a discount coupon for myself in the Oaklees Guide. The baby just squeaked in for free since he's a few weeks shy of his first birthday. Without these discounts, everyone under 60 pays $9.50 each, so consider a membership if you'd like to make repeat visits, or do your coupon scouting homework!

The museum is at 301 N. Washington Street in Naperville. Road construction on Washington and surrounding streets is making entering the parking lot a bit of an adventure these days, so watch for construction and detour signs as you approach. 



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