Think about a kid in a candy store. Now imagine that the candy store is actually a three-story museum full of interactive exhibits promoting science, art and culture -- and your child's reaction is strikingly similar to being confronted with a three-story candy cane.
That's the Discovery Children's Museum. Home to nine themed exhibition halls, the 58,000-square-foot museum entices children of all ages with a well-rounded array of learning experiences that feel a whole lot more like play.
The experiences start from the minute you approach the building, located in Symphony Park, adjacent to The Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas. The museum's façade brings to mind prestigious museums in historically cultural cities like San Francisco or New York. The flashing stars on the building's colorful marquee are the only real reminder that this is still Vegas.
As soon as you enter the building, your children will hit the ground running … and possibly even squealing with happiness (true story).
Here is a roundup of the fun in store for you and your little ones:
Dec. 7 - 13
Children get to design snowflake prints in Toddler Town on Level 1, create snowflakes in Young At Art on Level 3 and explore animal adaptions to cold places at It's Your Choice on Level 2.
Dec. 14 - 20
It's all about dance and movement. In Toddler Town on Level 1 children can dance with streamers. At Young At Art on Level 3 kids can make a variety of crafts inspired by the Nutcracker Ballet. At Patents Pending on Level 3 learn the physics behind how a ballerina spins and jumps.
Dec. 21 - 27
Children learn all about set and character design in the Nutcracker. Design a crown for a king in Toddler Town on Level 1. Create props for your own ballet at Young at Art on Level 3. Explore the music of the Nutcracker Ballet at It's Your Choice on Level 2.
Dec. 28 - Jan. 3
Children can create a mouse in celebration of the Nutcracker Ballet in Toddler Town on Level 1. Construct your own Nutcracker puppets at Youn at Art on Level 3. Explore the world of mice at It's Your Choice on Level 2.
This 70-foot, 13-level tower puts your favorite park's climbing structure to shame with jungle gym-esque features like slides and climbing tubes as well as hands-on experiments along the way, centered around machines, air pressure, flight, magnets, electricity, light and more.
Note: Be sure to keep a close eye on your child here. The multilevel entrances and exits (particularly the enticing slides and climbing tubes) make it easy for you to get separated.
Children make a splash as they learn about the movement and power of water at play stations with turbines, whirlpools and water wheels. This wet and wild adventure includes colorful lessons and fast facts on water so your child dives right into learning.
Wanna be a cowboy, a doctor, an astronaut? You can dress up and be whoever you want to be at Fantasy Festival. Put your imagination to play as you learn how to tie clove hitch, constrictor and anchor bend knots on a two-story pirate ship, do puppet-theater in the two-story castle or perform a skit front and center on a stage.
Art projects, animal noises, a padded baby center and a two-story pulley system for beanbags await your tot in this little learners' retreat for children ages 5 and under.
Solve It! Mystery Town
Crack the case and put your investigative powers to the test as you uncover clues in this interactive exhibit for mini-mystery-solvers.
If you were given a paper cup, tissue paper, straws and tape, what could you invent? Find out here as you put your creation to work and experiment at other interactive stations including an earthquake center, ball track and more.
Young At Art
Unleash your inner artist as you paint a picture on paper or draw on a computerized wall. Learn about the intricacies of everyday objects such as pennies and wood as you put them under a microscope, and more.
It's Your Choice
Did you know that a serving of fruit is about the size of a baseball and a serving of veggies is about the size of a light bulb? From serving sizes and good food choices to sun protection and heart rate, interactive exhibits turn learning about healthy living into a game.
Run errands just like a grown up, plus learn the ins and outs of spending and saving money, in this mini city with a bank, animal clinic, smoothie store, grocery store, car center and airport.
A 5,000-square-foot-space for temporary, traveling exhibits from some of the nation's top museums.
The Discovery Children's Museum replaced the Lied Discovery Children's Museum that was previously located near Cashman Field for 22 years. The new museum succeeds in carrying on the mission of the original, and does it with finesse and expertise. Windows provide natural lighting throughout the building while restrooms are located on all three levels, making them easily accessible. There are stairs as well as elevators (and, of course, you can always travel via The Summit).
The parking garage, located to the side of the building, makes it easy to come and go. That being said, you might have a hard time convincing your child to leave!
-- Aleza Freeman