The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Downtown Milwaukee Wisconsin has well earned reputation for being one of the top children’s museums in the country.
Logistics and Overview for Visiting the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is located right in Downtown on the lakefront. Admission is (as of this writing) $8 for anyone over 1, but you might check Groupon for discounts.
While this may seem spendy for a family, this is a place that you could literally spend a whole day. We were there from morning until late nap time and still didn’t see it all.
The museum consists of a number regular exhibits, as well as a rotating exhibit (which was unfortunately closed for replacement when we visited).
The regular exhibits include a pretend city that includes a multitude of activities for creative role play, and a well stocked pretend grocery store.
There is also a great toddler area and two outdoor play areas on balconies (which were not yet open for the year yet during our visit in April).
The museum does offer a small grab and go café for lunch which is open Tuesday-Saturdays from 11a-1:30p. We visited on a Sunday, so we had to leave the museum for lunch.
By the time that we were done, the kids were napping and we never made it back to see the rest of the museum. I peeked in later and the other half of the museum looked awesome…we will have to hit it next time we come!.
The “Hometown” Exhibit
After we checked in, we headed to the Hometown Exhibit. This area of the museum is the most appropriate part for toddlers. The Pocket Park designed specifically for preschool aged children is also in this area.
My 2 and 4 year old were completely immersed in the interactive exhibits in the Hometown. They bounced happily from pretend driving a bus to fixing a car in a mock garage to building a house.
What I really loved about the exhibits at the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum is the level of detail and attention paid to making these children’s exhibits as realistic as possible. This really helped my kids immerse themselves in their imaginative play.
The exhibits were also constructed with attention paid to fostering different levels of learning depending on the age of the child. My toddlers loved roleplaying simple tasks, putting on costumes and pretending to “be” adults.
Older kids could participate in more advanced aspects of the exhibit…for example, there was a fun section in the bank portion where kids could simulate counting and sorting change, or a section of the mechanic shop exhibit where older kids could “supervise” and check needed tasks off of a checklist.
These were too advanced for my toddlers to grasp, but would have been a perfect way for older kids to engage with the exhibit without getting bored while waiting for younger siblings.
The hometown exhibit had the most detailed play grocery store that I have ever seen. It included a checkout with a working scanner, a bakery counter with ovens, a deli counter where kids could assemble sandwiches and salads to sell and an announcement every few minutes that store employees needed to “restock the shelves” (so the food could get replaced for more play).
The Gated Preschool Play Area
And then there was the special area for the “littles.” This gated area was anchored by a large tree at the center with a slide and treetop puppet show.
There was a play fruit/vegetable stand where the kids could bring the fruits and vegetables that they picked from the orchard and rooftop garden and sell them. The space also had a little hidden nursing nook so mama would be able to keep an eye on older kids while nursing.
The Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee was great fun and worth a trip from anywhere in the area. My kids loved it!