Tips for visitors
food & fun
Middletown is a vintage "Main Street" kind of place. We've made a list of kid-friendly restaurants and fun things to do, all within walking distance of Kidcity (click a red button).
By the way, Kidcity does not sell food or drinks. If you bring snacks from home, you are welcome to enjoy them in the snack area of our coatroom or on our covered porch. If you do use our space to serve snacks, please remember that some children suffer from life-threatening allergies, so avoid serving peanut butter and other allergens. (On the other hand, if you have a child with a peanut allergy, we suggest that you use all the precautions you would normally use in a public place, since we are unfortunately unable to ensure a nut-free environment.)
INSIDER'S GUIDE TO KIDCITY
Here's a list of newbie questions, nosy advice and general stuff we want you to know about visiting Kidcity. Some bits are repeated elsewhere on this website, and some just couldn't fit anywhere else but here.
Really, no strollers?
We’re sorry to lead with the bad news, but yes, it’s true. We don’t allow strollers past the coatroom. The exhibits in the museum are just too small for strollers plus playspace, and we had to make a choice for safety’s sake! If you don’t have a baby carrier, we can loan you one at the front desk. If you have a disability or special need, please let us know so we can make an exception.
THE TODDLER SEA CAVES
The basement of the museum is an exhibit just for crawlers and early walkers — it's called the Toddler Sea Caves and it is restricted to age 2 and younger. This means that families who bring both older and younger children will have to skip that room unless they have an extra adult to take the little one downstairs (please know that the whole museum is designed for little ones, so they will find plenty to do upstairs). However….on the first day of every month, Kidcity offers “Big Swim”, when older siblings can join their younger brothers and sisters for gentle play in the Sea Caves. Grown-ups are asked to be watchful during Big Swim to prevent climbing, running and other active play, since the area is still intended as a quieter spot for crawlers and early walkers.
Pesky Mondays and Tuesdays
It’s annoying, but Kidcity doesn’t open to the public until 11 am on Mondays and Tuesdays. Why? Because we offer members-only mornings on Mondays from 9 to 11 am (just for Kidcity cardholders), and on Tuesday mornings, we are either making repairs or hosting group visits (we don’t allow large groups when we are open to the public). If you forget and show up on those mornings, we suggest you visit our neighbors at Amato’s Toy & Hobby or the Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore (both off the same parking lot as Kidcity) or play in the excellent Children’s Room at Russell Library, a half-block away on Broad Street, until our opening time.
Construction at Kidcity
We make all of our own exhibits at Kidcity, and we’re always building something. It might be big, it might be small, and it might mean that the room you want to visit is closed for exhibit construction! If you are coming to see a specific room, please call ahead to learn about any disruptions.
WANT TO AVOID A CROWD?
Kidcity is never crowded when it’s a beautiful day outdoors! So, if your child likes things a little quieter, then we recommend that you make your first visit when the weather is lovely. Also, the last few hours of every day are always quiet at the museum. Sometimes, though, Kidcity does get crowded - about a dozen days per year - and it tends to happen on holidays or bad-weather weekend days, usually for just a few hours. At those times, we reserve the right to close the door and limit the number of families who enter the museum. Generally, our concern is that each visitor has enough room to enjoy their play. If we need to ask families to wait, we keep a list and admit them in the order they arrived regardless of whether they have a membership to Kidcity.
Bathrooms & Conveniences
Kidcity has family-style bathrooms scattered throughout the museum, on all floors. Each one has a built-in changing table to make diaper-changing easy. One of our bathrooms has a toddler-size toilet, and the rest have special toilet seats that flip to offer both adult and kiddie-size seating.
Finding some Quiet
Sometimes little ones get over-stimulated or just need some one-on-one time with their grown-ups. That’s why we have two Quiet Spots with a few books and comfortable seating - one can be reached from the Main Street room and the other is off the hallway outside of Middleshire. (Note: Please be aware that other families may join you. Also, food is not allowed in the Quiet Spots.)
We’ve noticed that some kids cry when it’s time to leave Kidcity! That’s why we have colorful hand-stamps and washable ink-pads at the front desk. Some parents make a “Good-bye” ritual of coming to get a hand-stamp on the way out the door, and it seems to help make the transition easier. Also, the Lobby Train Set can help with good-byes. It’s on a motion sensor that is triggered on the OTHER side of the train, so if the museum is quiet and you wait 30 seconds or so, the train will come to a stop. Then you can say, “Look! It’s time for the train to have its nap!” while you and your little one wave it good-bye and head out the door.
BREASTFEEDING AT KIDCITY
We truly hope you will feel comfortable feeding your baby anywhere in the museum, but if you would like a place with fewer distractions, then try one of the Quiet Spots. One is off the Main Street exhibit and the other is outside Middleshire. They have comfortable seating, a few children's books and are open to anyone needing a bit of quiet.
Give the Gift of Play!
Kidcity annual memberships and one-visit passes are available as gifts. Click here to purchase online or call us at (860) 347-0495. We also recommend the Downtown Middletown Gift Card, which can be used for admission to Kidcity and at more than 90 area shops and restaurants. See www.downtownmiddletown.com for more info.
Does Kidcity Make Donations?
If you represent a non-profit or school that would like to request a few Kidcity passes to use in your fundraising, just send us a letter on your organization's letterhead. Send it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by snailmail to Kidcity, 119 Washington Street, Middletown, CT, 06457. And good luck with your fundraising and the work you are doing!
The Kidcity Bookstore
We have a small bookshop at the museum where we sell our absolute favorite children’s books & tshirts. Generally speaking, we think there are few problems in the world that can’t be solved by a good read-aloud. Here are a few of our top book suggestions and which Kidcity staffer loves them: The Spider & The Fly (Sioux/operations); Roxaboxen (Cait/retired); Seven Silly Eaters (Matt/exhibits); When Dinosaurs Came With Everything (Jen/admin); Possum Come a Knockin’ (Scott/exhibits); and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type (Carl/operations). Plus, our bookstore sells original Kidcity t-shirts for both adults and children, designed by the amazingly talented Scott Kessel. Keep Earth Weird! By the way, if you can’t get enough books at Kidcity, there is a terrific bookstore just steps away, Wesleyan RJ Julia Bookstore (yes, run by the same folks as RJ Julia in Madison, CT). Check out their weekly storytimes!
Members from Other Children’s Museums
If you have an up-to-date membership from another museum, and if your membership card has the ACM Reciprocal Network logo, then show us your card and photo ID and receive half-price admission to Kidcity for up to 6 people, including one of the adult cardholders. As much as we love having you, please note that reciprocal memberships may not be used during Kidcity’s Members-Only Mornings or other special events.
People with Disabilities
Kidcity has an elevator which serves all levels of the museum, and there are ADA-compliant restrooms throughout the museum. There is also a wheelchair lift to access the second level of Middleshire, which requires assistance from the front desk. Most areas of Kidcity have a variety of activities which suit different levels of ability and mobility. If you or your child have sensory issues and/or need a break, we do have a few "Quiet Spots" in the museum where you can re-group and hopefully keep playing in the museum when you're ready. One tip is that our exhibits are sized for children age 7 and younger, and can be frustratingly small for older children.
About Birthday Parties
At the end of 2017, we decided to close our party room to make room for future exhibit space. Even though we don’t offer parties anymore, you might want to try a DIY party (have a playdate with friends at the museum and then continue your celebration elsewhere downtown). Here are a few tips: This can work well if the birthday child is turning age 5 or younger and you are planning 5 or fewer families (we *really* don't recommend it for older kids or larger groups - please trust us on this). Another tip is that playing at Kidcity with other families seems to work best when each child has their own grownup, because it's typical for some kids to be engaged in play while others are ready to move to another room. If you decide on this sort of outing, just arrive with your guests and pay regular admission - you don't need to give us advance notice. After your playtime at the museum, there are a few bakery/cafes downtown that would love to set aside a table where you and your guests can feast on treats, sing happy birthday & relax. We heartily recommend NoRA Cupcake Company and Sweet Harmony Cafe, both on Main Street. Contact them directly to make advance arrangements. (Please note that we don't allow group celebrations in our small snack room.)