We’re excited to have our buddy Zay with us again for another episode of Travel Waterloo. After all, kids dig Waterloo too! In this episode, we’ll visit two children’s museums, which are located just blocks from one another in downtown Waterloo.
Bluedorn Science Imaginarium
Our first stop is at the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium, which is part of the Grout Museum District. This three-floor interactive science center features over 80 hands-on exhibits that demonstrate how science affects everyday life. The Imaginarium is also home to numerous animals like a Burmese python named Athena, bearded dragon, turtle and more. Zay was definitely much braver than I was and didn’t think twice about holding a ball python from Africa.
In addition to the many permanent exhibits on display, the Imaginarium also brings in a variety of traveling exhibits throughout the year. Check out their current traveling exhibit – “Bone Zone Carnival of Healthy Choices”. This exhibit teaches kids about the importance of healthy habits for bone health and will be at the Imaginarium until September 5 of this year.
Visitors to the museum can also take advantage of science demonstrations and programs and activities for kids of all ages. Be sure to check their calendar prior to your arrival for a list of things happening that day.
- Dollar Days: Every Wednesday in August, you can visit the Imaginarium for only $1 per person. You can do the math, but for a family of four, that’s just $4.
- Extended Hours: From now until August 27, you can enjoy special summer hours on Thursdays, as they will be open until 8pm.
- Gift Shop: Science and animal enthusiasts will find plenty of fun and educational items available for purchase, so be sure to stop in the Imaginarium’s gift shop before you leave.
- Make a Day of It: If you’re interested in visiting the Imaginarium, as well as other sites within the Grout Museum District, Explorer Passes are the way to go. You can visit two or three sites, plus save on the cost of admission.
Phelps Youth Pavilion
Our next stop, the Phelps Youth Pavilion, is located next door to the Waterloo Center for the Arts. This children’s museum is filled with creative, hands-on experiences and over 40 interactive exhibits.
Just like Zay, you can learn about art and cultures from around the world in their “Creativity Across Cultures” gallery. Or, let your imagination come to life on the “FunStage”, complete with costumes, props and sound effects. Last, but not least, check out their featured exhibit – “Super Powers of Art” – on display until August 31. Here, you can become a superhero (like Batman) and learn how art has the ability to change the world. Because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be a superhero?
In addition to the Youth Pavilion, you’ll find art classes and workshops for both kids and teens at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.
- Dollar Days: Every third Thursday of the month, you can visit the Youth Pavilion for just $1 per person. Plus, they’re open until 8pm these days as well.
- Art’s Workshop: Get creative and make a masterpiece of your own or take part in one of the “craft of the week” projects. It’s free with your Youth Pavilion admission.
- Gift Store: Artists of all ages will enjoy the Waterloo Center for the Arts gift store which sells jewelry, pottery, artwork, and children’s items.
- Make a Day of It: While you’re visiting, pack a picnic lunch and spend some time outdoors at Mark’s Park – a free splash park and playground located next to the Youth Pavilion.
There’s still plenty of summer left, so get out there and enjoy it! And make sure your summer bucket list includes stops at the Bluedorn Science Imaginarium and Phelps Youth Pavilion in Waterloo.
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- Beth Keeney, Waterloo Convention & Visitors Bureau