Children's Maritime Museum
|The Children's Maritime Museum in Port Jefferson is still in its temporary home, but there's enough fun for salty dogs and landlubbers alike.|
The museum is located in the renovated Port Jefferson Village Center in Harborfront Park. Its permanent home in the nearby Chandlery building is still undergoing construction. One thing that you need to keep in mind before setting out for Port Jefferson is that parking can be a real issue. The town has recently installed a parking meter system for all of the public lots. It's not particularly expensive -- a dollar buys you two hours -- but it's definitely a hassle and we encountered one machine that didn't work at all and another that was temperamental. If you plan on visiting the museum with small children, you should also be aware that it's a bit of a walk from the nearest lot to the museum and you'll have to cross a fairly busy East Broadway. The Village Center does have a drop-off area if you want to unload the kids first and then park the car.
Once inside, you may at first be a little disappointed in the size of the museum, it's basically one large room. However, they have managed to pack a lot to do in a small space. The centerpiece of the museum is a small boat that is set up like a sandbox with shovels, pails and other beach toys. Upon closer inspection, however, you will find that the boat is in fact filled with rice. As strange as it sounds, it was definitely the highlight. Not only does the rice feel like playing in sand, but it doesn't get stuck in clothes and shoes and its weight makes it superior to sand when playing with toys that use spinners.
The rear wall of the museum is painted with a wonderful mural of Port Jefferson. A pair of boathouses are connected by a pail on a pulley system, which had kids sending all manner of toys across the room. A wide selection of nautical hats, binoculars and a periscope complete the feeling of adventure on the high seas.
A number of hands-on areas around the museum let children explore different facets of maritime life. They have a good range of activities for kids of many ages: seashells to hold and examine, materials to test buoyancy, moorings to practice tying knots, and lots of books and crayons. The staff there was extremely helpful during our visit, pointing out different activities to the the kids and offering assistance where needed.
The waterfront location of the museum really adds to the atmosphere. You can see the Long Island Sound from anywhere in the museum and the afternoon sun fills the space with light. There are restrooms nearby in the Village Center building, as well as a few other points of interest like a photo gallery. There is no food for sale here, but there are plenty of options in town.
Another big attraction at the Village Center is the ice skating rink. There are a number of rates and times depending on when you visit, go their their website at www.portjeffrink.com for complete details.
The Children's Maritime Museum is open on weekends from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is $5 per child, accompanying adults are admitted for free. A visit is good for up to two hours, depending on how much your children enjoy exploring the different activities. And don't forget to check out Kip Lee Park while you're visiting Port Jefferson.
The Children's Maritime MuseumOfficial Site: www.childrensmaritimemuseum.org
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