Tot Heaven: The Exploratorium

Looking for a fun way to spend a couple hours with active tots? Then head over to the Skokie Park District’s Exploratorium and enjoy all of the fun there is to offer!

exploratorium skokie -

Fun on a Small Scale

One of the reasons I prefer the Exploratorium over places like the Chicago Children’s Museum, Kohl Children’s Museum, or DuPage Children’s Museum is because it has many of the same engaging and interactive play features—but on a much smaller scale. So that means that it is much easier for me to track down my active boys without being on a run non-stop. There are also many different areas to sit throughout the museum, so you can sit and hold/nurse a fussy baby if need be and still have an eye on your older kiddos.

exploratorium gears

Excitement for Everyone

We started going to the Exploratorium when my oldest was still a baby, and we were pleasantly surprised with all of the activities that a crawler could enjoy. There is a large room with tons of push toys, climbing structures, and other wall mounted toys so the little ones are able to be just as excited as engaged as their older counterparts, all while safely separated.

exploratorium baby space

What is the perfect age for the Exploratorium? In my experience, I would say it is best for kiddos from ages 1 through 4. The older kids love the climbing wall and fortress of tubes and slides, and the younger ones adore the water area, light up tables, and magnetic toys. The train/car table is not very exciting at the Exploratorium, but they have a great theatre area for putting on a show—with red curtains and all! Since my boys are very into arts and crafts right now, they also like to explore the different art supplies that are set up in the crafting area, but then get sidetracked by their beloved water area (surprise, surprise).

exploratorium theatre space

What to Pack

Since there is a water area, I highly recommend bringing a change of dry clothes. I must pleasantly report, however, that the water smocks provided do a great job of keeping little ones dry. But don’t even think about putting your kiddos in the baby seats in the water area…they will be SOAKED.

exploratorium water play

There are a few vending machines in the eating area, but I highly recommend bringing your own snacks and lunch—which is allowed. There are a handful tables to choose from, so on a busy day it gets to be a pretty cramped space. If you are looking for somewhere to eat out after your Exploratorium visit, there is a great pancake house just a few blocks down from the museum.

exploratorium toys

We prefer to visit the Exploratorium when the weather is bad as an alternative to being outside, but if you are able to visit on a nice day, be sure to build some time into your schedule for enjoying the park outside of the museum. It has a ton of great slides, swings, and a really fun sand play area.

exploratorium outdoors

You can bring your stroller into the museum (there is an elevator) but I would recommend wearing your baby just so you don’t have to worry about pushing your stroller everywhere around the small museum space.


The museum is closed on Thursdays and Sundays

Non-residents are $5 each and residents are $3 each

There are also packages available, see their site for details.


Looking for other museums to visit? Enter “museums” into the search box in the right side bar.

Check out my suggestions for indoor fun!

Happy Playing,
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  1. Aubrey @ 53 Weeks says

    Nice! I will keep this in mind for our next Chicago trip. I’m glad you mentioned how it’ll work if you have multiple children. I used to take them to the Miami Children’s Museum when we were in Florida, but my older one kept running into the different rooms and I was trying to keep up with him and baby (in the stroller).

  2. Aprill says

    Sounds like a very cool place. The next time I’m in the area with my family, I will stop by and see how my kids like it. We have a nice museum like this in Mississippi, but we dont go often.

  3. Kita says

    We have something like this here in GA called the children’s museum it’s very fun. Wish I had a little one but my kids are over it these days lol

  4. Terri Ramsey Beavers says

    What a fun place to visit to get out of the house when the weather is too bad to play outdoors. We don’t have anything like that around here, so I’ll just have to bring the kids to come visit you, J/K don’t panic, lol. Thanks so much for sharing, I need to find somewhere or something for us to do during bad weather because school will be out here for the summer in 2 1/2 weeks. The kids here go year round.

    • amandasimkin says

      I used to teach in a year round school…it was a tricky adjustment but great for retaining learning.

  5. Jeanine says

    This looks like such a fun place! I wish we had something like this in the city I live. It’s so hard finding things to do on rainy days or for little home school field trips. This would be perfect I know most of my little ones would love going to something like this!

  6. Geanine says

    I love a museum that is hands on and engages little ones. They are always so curious and definitely learn more when they are interacting. If ever in Chicago I would love to visit.

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