DuPage Children's Museum: An Insider's Guide
The DuPage Children's Museum is once again open to the public and accepting reservations! Since the weather in Chicago can be hit or miss all year round, indoor play options can be lifesavers. The DuPage Children’s Museum is one of my very favorite spots to bring my kids. It's a fun, safe, indoor play space that has some major educational bonus points. With hands-on experiences for kids of all ages, this museum was made for tinkering, exploring, and letting creativity flow. Read on for tips and ideas for how to get the most out of a visit to the DuPage Children’s Museum.
About the Museum
The DuPage Children’s Museum has been inspiring and entertaining kids for over 30 years. From building blocks to using a real hammer and nails, everything in the museum was designed for kids to get their hands on actual objects that they can test out. There are places for little ones to crawl and for older kids to create a woodworking masterpiece. Create together or let your kids engage in solo play in a safe environment.
I've been bringing my kids since they were teeny toddlers, and even the youngest explorers can handle climbing, stairs, and the exhibits with ease. Each museum exhibit is designed as a neighborhood to group types of play together. There’s even an art room full of paint (with genius hard-to-spill cups), dot markers, paper, and supplies to encourage the budding artists.
Don't Forget to Reserve Tickets
Tickets are available for purchase on the museum's website for $15 per adult, $15 per child (infants under 1 are free), and $14 for seniors. While you used to be able to drop in and play all day, currently families must make a reservation for a 1.5-hour time slot between the hours of 9am-4pm, Wednesday through Sunday (the museum is closed Monday and Tuesday). Tickets may only be purchased one week in advance.
Kids of all ages are encouraged to touch and try absolutely everything.
Recommended Age Group
While there are some exhibits and camps designed for older children, the museum is really designed for younger kids. I’d recommend this for kids ranging from 18 months to 10 years old. If you have an older sibling or child who’s really into building and engineering, a child over 10 could definitely keep busy at a handful of physics and construction exhibits.
Just Like Mr. Rogers, the DuPage Has Neighborhoods
The museum is divided into different sections known as neighborhoods. Each neighborhood has a different theme and experience for your little ones. There's something for future engineers, kids who need to get some wiggles out, little artists, and budding scientists. These are my family's favorite play spaces, and the ones we always plan to visit first, before kids get tired or hungry.
Build, stack, balance, and create!
Creative Connections Exhibit
With the Creative Connections exhibit, kids can explore shadows, light, and different textures. They can stack, balance, and create patterns on a giant pyramid bench. There are hundreds of building pieces including Magna-Tiles and Glow Roads. For kids who like to build, this is heaven. For parents with kids who like to build, the chance to let them go crazy without leaving tiny pieces all over the house is worth the price of admission to the museum.
Wiggle, balance, bounce, and roll. They'll never notice they're also learning.
Move and Groove Experience
If your child wants to get their wiggle on, check out the Move and Groove experience. This exhibit allows kids to bounce and roll through a scooter track of their own design. Kids can pretend they are frogs, balance on a teeter-totter, and learn a little math along the way.
Calling All Creators
For the budding actors or musicians in the family, kids can play with instruments, or take the stage for their own production. Using foam drumsticks and a PVC pipe organ, children can create their own beats.
The Studio features arts and craft supplies in a special room where kids can let their creativity shine. The best part is you don’t have to clean up any marker mess or paint spills.
A giant marble run entrances kids for hours. Photo by the author
Ramps and Rollers
The Ramps and Rollers exhibit offers blocks, tubes, and tunnels to give kids a little glimpse into physics. My son could have stayed here all day watching balls roll on different tracks and tubes. There are multiple gears, balls, and other supplies that let kids experiment with motion, rolling, and cause and effect. It's pretty mesmerizing, so get comfortable in this neighborhood.
Use real tools, not pretend ones! Photo by the author
By far one of the coolest parts of the whole museum is the Construction House. Be careful with very little ones, they can just walk right in if the gate isn’t locked! But this is a fabulous area for supervised play and older children. We try to head here first before it's crowded or the snackies set in.
The Construction House features real hammers, saws, and screwdrivers, along with nails, wood, and screws. Kids have everything they need to tinker or draw up actual plans and build something to take home. Safety equipment is also provided. On our last visit, my kids (ages 3 and 5) were so excited to be able to use real tools and nails, I couldn’t get them out of the Construction House.
In the summer months, you can register your construction lover for Tinkering Camp. This camp is primarily held outdoors but campers also have access to playtime in the museum. The camp is divided into two age groups for children 4-15 years old. Camp runs Monday-Friday from 9am-noon. You can register for one or all three weeks of camp.
This camp is great for mini-engineers or kids who are interested in learning how to use tools and create woodwork. Kids get to work with their hands and build with adult supervision and peer collaborators.
Where to Eat
Due to COVID-19, snacks are not currently allowed in the museum. The café remains closed but check their website before your visit, as the cafe plans to reopen this summer.
Thankfully, the museum is located in the heart of downtown Naperville. Before or after visiting the museum, you can eat at neighboring Giordano’s, Cold Stone Creamery, or Egg Harbor Café. Smoothie King, Starbucks, and Sparrow Coffee are also nearby for a kick of caffeine or a quick, sweet treat.
Know Before You Go
- The DuPage Children’s Museum is located right by the Naperville Metra station. If you’re coming from the city and up for making a day of it, you can board the train from Chicago and walk right from the station.
- Parking is available in the parking lot and strollers are allowed inside the museum.
- The restrooms are designed for kids and babies with small toilets and step stools that are just their size. There are also changing stations and a private nursing room.
- Consider buying a membership; there are three levels of membership that pay for themselves in just a few visits. Plus, you get discounts on camps, birthday parties, and even on tickets for friends.
This is a great museum for the under 10 crowd; kids never want to leave. Keep in mind making reservations in advance and planning around the fact that the cafe is closed, and I think this will quickly become one of your favorite museums, too.
All photos are courtesy of the DuPage Children's Museum unless otherwise noted.