Visiting the Westchester Children's Museum in Rye: New and Ongoing Exhibits

Explore what makes things fly with the Westchester Children's Museum's Wind Tunnel Design Challenge. Photo courtesy of the museum
Explore what makes things fly with the Westchester Children's Museum's Wind Tunnel Design Challenge. Photo courtesy of the museum
3/1/24 - By Marisa Iallonardo

The Westchester Children’s Museum in Rye is a go-to spot for area families looking for a fun day out with the kids. And now there’s even more to love: The STEAM-centric museum recently introduced 14 new exhibits to its 20,000-square-foot space—so there’s plenty to keep everyone from toddlers to elementary-schoolers busy and happy.

We took a tour of the updated space to get the scoop on what’s still in play, what’s been added, and what’s on tap.

For even more great kid-friendly activities, check out our guide to area museums and galleries, or sign up for our newsletters.


Exploring the Westchester Children’s Museum

If you went to the Westchester Children's Museum in the early days—it opened in 2016—you’ll be excited to learn that it is now open seven days a week, with drop-in programming happening every single day.

The museum offers a diverse and wide range of activities, whether your kids are into science, art, or playing dress-up. (More on that last one later.)  And if you think of it as a place that’s primarily for the younger set, I’m happy to report that when I visited recently with my 6- and 9-year-olds, there were exhibits and activities—particularly the Clixo set and Keva planks—that engaged them both.

Familiar Favorites at the Museum

As far as exhibits go, you’ll notice a few familiar favorites, like Build Your Own Roller Coaster, and others that have been upgraded. For example, there are now multiple Wind Tubes, where kids use a scarf to better understand how wind works. The beloved Toddler Beach, where little ones can climb and play on soft structures, is still in play—and will also be getting a bit of an upgrade in the coming months. And, of course, the bright green Book Nook is still available for kids to curl up with a new or old favorite read.

New Exhibits at the Westchester Children's Museum

One of the new exhibits that we loved on our recent visit included the Pool Noodle Pixel Wall, which is a 48-foot mural that features 2,500 pegs where kids can place small pool noodles to design their creations. What’s particularly fun about this one is that kids of all ages—my kids and other kids, including toddlers, were using it at the same time—come together to make things. Parents and caregivers are also encouraged to help and interact with kids as they create.

Also great is the Play Around the World: Explore Cultures Through Play exhibit, which currently highlights Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean cultures. My 6-year-old loved finding—and “feeding”—the stuffed panda, and there are opportunities for kids to play with magnets, pretend to have their own “Street Snacks” stand, and more.

My two kiddos also loved playing with Clixo, a magnet engineering set—think of it as a new take on Magnatiles, as the team there explained it—which can absolutely fuel a ton of creativity.

The newest exhibit, set to open in March 2024 and sponsored by White Plains Hospital, is Fit City, “a fun, hands-on exhibition designed for children and their grown-ups to learn about healthy choices for their bodies, bellies, and brains,” including interactive games and lots more.

There is also a Makerspace, a train table, a cardboard construction zone, and a whole exhibit dedicated to nanotechnology, among other exhibits.

One fun feature: Posted under the name of each exhibit is a list of skills kids are learning and using while playing—for example, fine motor skills, spatial awareness, literacy, creativity, and flexible thinking—along with ideas for how to further engage kids once you leave the museum.

Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

The museum is great for the toddler and preschool set and they will enjoy the vast majority of the exhibits, with some, like Toddler Beach, geared especially for them. For this age group, we particularly love the Pretend Play Stage, which has an entire stash of dress-up costumes that kids are free to wear throughout the museum. (And there are some creative options here, too, like spaghetti and meatballs and astronaut costumes.)

The Pretend Play Stage is also the spot where the daily Music & Movement and Storytime events take place, which are especially great for this age range.

Monthly Westchester Children’s Museum Events for Families

Another new feature at the museum is “Big Weekend Events,” which take place one weekend a month and center on a fun theme, like Halloween, Kindness, SlimeFest, and Shark Weekend. Each two-day event features a variety of STEAM stations and activities that highlight that particular theme. For example, creating friendship bracelets during Kindness weekend and making recycled sculptures during Earth Day weekend.

Getting to the Museum and Parking

The entrance to the museum is on the Rye Playland boardwalk. (And it has fantastic views of the Long Island Sound.) Parking is free in the colder months—when we visited in February we didn’t pay, for example—but in the summer, when Playland is open, there’s a fee. Higher-level membership includes parking, though.

Admission and Membership

The museum is open daily and it’s $14 for admission and $12 for seniors. Drop-in programs are included. Kids under 1 are free—as are active duty military. Important to note: They don't accept cash. You can buy tickets online ahead of time or pay with a credit card on-site.

As far as membership goes, there are three different levels, starting at $150 per year. The highest level, at $250 per year, includes unlimited admission and guest passes, as well as free parking and more. There's also a FAM membership for qualifying families for just $25 per year.

Know Before You Go to the Westchester Children’s Museum

  • Hours are from 9am to 5pm. Its also open on a number of holidays, like MLK Day, Memorial Day, and July 4th. 
  • There’s a cafe space where you can eat food and snacks you've brought. For other food spots, there’s Tiki Beach and Barley Beach House within walking distance—just note that the hours are seasonal for both. 
  • You can bring strollers into the space.  
  • There’s a separate place to hang up coats and jackets.  
  • The museum also hosts birthday parties and field trips. 

Places featured in this article:

Westchester Children's Museum