A short 2 hour drive south of Nashville in Huntsville, AL you will find enough family fun for a weekend, but its close enough for a day trip too. Before you head to the attraction you plan to visit make sure to stop at the Huntsville Visitors' Center for information and discount coupons.
The EarlyWorks Children's Museum is located downtown. We parked on the street but there is also a parking garage available. The fun starts as soon as you walk in the door with a big checkers set and a cafe.
After you pay your admission wander past the life sized tree sculpture and enter the historic village area. EarlyWorks is a unique children's museum with an American history theme. Most kids' museums in our region have a science and art focus so the focus on history was a refreshing change. The front area has three homes – a log cabin, Federal house and Victorian House. Inside is an area where you can play “house” and also a great exhibit on different architectural styles including wooden blocks to use to build examples.
There is also a model Court House that houses a game where you can be a delegate to the 1819 Constitutional Convention and learn about U.S. laws and famous Americans. If you have a little one make sure you go to the Story telling Courtyard to sit in the big rocking chairs and listen to the talking tree. You also walk right past a display of scavenger hunts available on clip boards to use to explore the museum.
Rounding out the entrance hall is a general store and a bandstand with HUGE instruments played by the push of a button. And you can't miss the big map of Alabama in the middle of the room.
Once you have your fill of this area venture further back into the museum to explore waterways and industries of Alabama. If you have a child under 6 don't miss Biscuit's Backyard – which has a water table, a barn area and a climbing hideout. This area is supervised and only a set number of people can be in the room at a time so there may be a line. They do take hourly breaks for 10 minutes to clean up and allow for people to take turns enjoying the space.
Your kids can then explore the keelboat and learn about life on the water. There is a hands' on chance to try to load a vessel and you can play with the rigging in the front of the boat. Continue on and learn about mining and the timber business.
The museum changes focus as you wind through the KidStruction Zone which gives you an opportunity to build with building bricks and logs. Don't miss the exhibit about Helen Keller – I found it faciniating and I learned quite a bit more than I knew about her life and accomplishments. On your way out you pass through several rooms of unique toys to play with and a small area dedicated to African culture.
The Children's Museum is actually one of three attractions in the EarlyWorks family of museums. There is also the Huntsville Depot & Museum as well as Constitution Village. If you are in Huntsville definitely add EarlyWorks to your “to visit” list. It's a great place to spend an afternoon!
Family Fun Facts
EarlyWorks Children's Museum (Map) – Huntsville, AL
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9am-4pm Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Years Day
Cost: $12/Adult, $10 Student/Senior, $5 Toddler