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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Curiosity Connection - Harrisburg, PA

Curiosity Connection is a special section of the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.  If you're traveling from Interstate 83, it's the 2nd Street exit that will take you into the city of Harrisburg.  A few more turns, and you'll see parking along the street all around the circular museum.  We were there on a Sunday morning and circled the block once before we found a parking space.  There are also parking garages in the city.  One nice reason to go on a Sunday is that metered parking in downtown Harrisburg is free on Sundays.

When we arrived at the museum, we found Curiosity Connection to be located right beside the front desk.  There is an admission charge to the museum, but the three of us entered for under $20.  We headed directly to Curiosity Connection, because the 3-year-old was very excited as soon as she saw it through the glass wall and doors.

There are different sections of the play area, much like Storyville in Baltimore.  There is a building materials section, bedroom / house, forest, farm, school bus, and automobile section.  The 3-year-old started with the house and immediately went through a small door that adults could not easily fit through.  I didn't realize that it was a tunnel that led to a couple of different places, so I waited for her to return to the bedroom play area, and she didn't.  The play area isn't very big, so it didn't take long to find her when she came out in the forest.

The play area was decorated for winter, with a special winter section for building a snowman with large stuffed white balls and an area where the kids could pretend to ice skate.  The trees in the forest were snow covered at their roots, and there were a few woodland creature costumes as well as a snowflake costume, which the 3-year-old loved and refused to take off.  We played in Curiosity Connection for about a half hour, and then decided to walk around in the rest of the museum, since that was included in our admission.

The escalators to the three other floors of the museum were a hit with the 3-year-old.  She also enjoyed the top floor which had the prehistoric animals, fish, large mammals, and small critters.  Older children may also enjoy the collection of wagons, stagecoaches, and the airplane.  There was also an interesting exhibit of an archaeology dig site.

Things to Remember:
1.  Conveniently, there's a family bathroom inside Curiosity Connection.
2.  The museum is really close to the Capitol Building, so if the weather is nice, it'd be a great walk.
3.  Curiosity Connection is only for children five and under, so make arrangements for older children.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Central Market - York, PA

Central Market in downtown York is located along Philadelphia and North Beaver Streets.  It's simple to get to from Route 30 in York, by taking George Street into the city and turning right onto Philadelphia Street.  There is a large parking garage across the street from the Market, and it's free to park on Saturdays.  We visited the Market on a very cold Saturday morning.

We entered the historic Market using the doors along Philadelphia Street, and the 3-year-old immediately saw the candy shop.  Our rule for trips to the Market is that she must walk up and down all the aisles before she decides what she'd like to purchase.  We kept her walking and enjoyed looking at all of the fresh vegetables, delicious desserts, and crafts for sale from the wide variety of vendors.

Eventually, we made our way to YorKitchen, which is a commercial kitchen incubator that has activities for kids on Saturdays.  Since this weekend was Superbowl Sunday, the kids had to throw a football through a goal to win a prize, which was a small football.  There were also a few other cute games for them to play.  Usually the activity includes decorating food in some way, for example on Valentine's Day weekend they decorate rice krispie treats with chocolate and sprinkles.

After seeing all of the goodies that the Market had to offer, the 3-year-old decided that candy was her choice for a treat, and we headed back to the candy stand.  There are various bags of candy, most $1, but ranging up from there.  Normally, she picks a cookie from a bakery stand, and now and then we get a pretzel wrapped hot dog.  There is plenty of kid-friendly foods at the Market, as well as many exotic treats to keep adults happy.  There are tables throughout, though the best seating location is a small loft overlooking the entire Market.

The Market is a great place to wonder around with the kids on a Saturday morning or early afternoon (they close at 2 PM), but there are also special events for kids throughout the year.  These events include a special New Year's Eve kids countdown; the Market is also a great place to get a treat before or after the York Saint Patrick's Day parade on Saturday, March 14th.

Things to Remember:
1.  If it's warm outside, bring a cooler to keep the goodies you buy cold until you get home.
2.  Check the YorKitchen website to confirm hours for the kid's activities.
3.  There are other small shops to check out around the Market, so consider walking the streets a bit.