Thinkery is Austin’s version of a children’s museum. What does that mean? It’s cool. It’s different. It’s big, but not too big. The environment itself challenges your mind. (And some might call it a bit too crowded at times … 😉 ).
Today I’m excited to tell you all about our recent visit to Thinkery. My kids love visiting the interactive museum and I love watching them expand their minds in so many ways … whether it’s through art, building with cogs, designing planes, or pretending to run a farm-to-table restaurant.
Thinkery is located in the Mueller area, which is just east of I-35 near Dell Children’s Hospital.
If you’re headed there on a weekend morning or week day morning after traffic dies down, you can get there in about 25 minutes from the Four Points area. With traffic, though, it could be closer to 45 minutes.
Thinkery visitors can have up to three hours of parking validated in the McBee Street District Garage which is right across the street from (but behind) Thinkery. With children in tow it can take about 5 minutes to get from your car, though, so plan accordingly. Mine were pumped heading there on their own. Parker was practically power walking. Ha.
The entrance to Thinkery is a few steps away from Mueller Lake Park’s Playground. It’s on a few best playground lists, so it’s worth checking out during your visit. Don’t forget – you can read about my favorite Four Points Area playgrounds on my Four Points Playgrounds and Parks Resource.
As you can see, my kiddos loved climbing all over the lock ness monster at the entrance.
During our most recent trip, the weather was beautiful and the kids enjoyed playing outside at the playground before heading into the museum.
Parker was too scared to go down the slide …
But she was all smiles when her brother promised to catch her.
Lake Mueller Park Playground will appeal to kids of all ages. But it can get crowded! Sorry – I move the camera too fast in this video.
Before heading to Thinkery, though, I want to point out some of the area’s new spots … restaurants (J.T. Youngbloods, Colleen’s Kitchen, Halcyon), Lick Ice Cream, and even an Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater. You can find out more about these Aldrich Street businesses here. I highly recommend doing some research beforehand and combining your trip to Thinkery with lunch or a treat. I always kick myself when I get there and realize I didn’t time it right to do so. Learn by my mistakes! This is also probably a great area for date nights. There is an amphitheater at the park – combine a night listening to music with dinner and drinks. Fun! Now I’m thinking a need a date night resource page! Okay, I’m on it. 🙂
General admission to Thinkery is $10 for anyone 2 years old and up. However, Thinkery offers wonderful membership packages for families and I wholeheartedly recommend getting one. We went in last year, paid $30 for the four of us to visit (before Parker was 2) and ended up signing up for the membership that day (and applying the $30 to the membership). If we came back more than two more times it paid for itself! Even though we can’t make it to Thinkery as often as we’d like, we probably come about once every two months and it’s nice to not have to pay anything each time! Plus, members have several other perks, including early access on a couple Sundays each month and a discount at the gift shop.
Add it to your kids’ Christmas list for grandparents!
When you first walk into Thinkery, you’ll immediately find a huge train table, a camera for taking silly photos (which then get blown up on the wall – the kids love seeing themselves up there), and a giant block table.
Foster used to want to just stay at the train table all day. This was the first time he walked right past it. My baby is growing up. Sniff sniff.
This is where you’ll find a wall full of lockers.
We’ve never used them but they’re a great idea. I carried around my mom bag (which I told you all about its contents last week) and you can imagine how heavy that monstrosity was on my shoulders. I should have used the lockers.
As you move into the main area of Thinkery, your kids will likely be overwhelmed with how many awesome exhibits there are to explore.
Read more about the Thinkery Exhibits ahead of time or just do what we do – show up and follow your kid! Mine made a beeline into the main downstairs area, the Innovators’ Workshop. True to their personalities, Parker headed to paint …
And Foster started building a car.
This is the largest, indoors open area in Thinkery with tons of options for your kids to work those brains. It can get crowded, but it’s super nice that there is a confined “baby” space in the middle for parents with both older and younger kids. Genius!
So parents can stand by their baby but keep an eye on and interact with their older child(ren) at the same time. Parker even enjoyed a few minutes in there (pretending to be a baby).
While Foster was busy perfecting his car, Parker started stacking cups.
Look how proud she was!
Next we headed to the Spark Shop where kids can learn all about aerodynamics. Foster could have spent hours testing his Flow theories.
He probably did spend a good 10 minutes doing so before I encouraged him to check out the other fun exhibits.
But we eventually did move on and investigate some flying objects.
You can also design your own gliders and launch them in the air in this room.
When my husband joins us, he and the kids could spend all day in the Spark Room. But, he was on call this day so I quickly encouraged us to head to my favorite exhibit, the Light Lab.
True to the way his brain excels, Foster soon started sorting all of the pretty colors into easily-defined lines.
On this wall, you could push on the various pressure zones to get it to change a variety of colors. Of course, Foster wanted them all the same color.
Lol. I love this boy.
Parker enjoyed moving the shapes around.
Then we headed upstairs and caught a glimpse of the Backyard play space at the window.
The Backyard is Thinkery’s outdoor play space. There you will find a separate water play area, a huge playscape (geared towards older kids), an area where kids can build with foam noodles, and more. On this day, we passed it since we spent time at the playground before our visit. But we usually spend a good majority of our time in the Backyard.
Upstairs you’ll find the Let’s Grow Exhibit which includes a farmer’s market, a play space for younger kids (0-3), a reading nook, and more. My kids LOVE the farmer’s market.
They love having me sit at the table and serving me dinner. If only I could get them to do this at home …
We stopped by Bloom for a short bit too, but Parker has just about aged out of the “baby” play area.
I wish this play space was next to a play area where bigger kids can play and parents can watch both areas. Older siblings are encouraged to join their younger siblings in Bloom but I’ve seen it get a bit too crowded.
Before we left, we had to stop by the Currents Exhibit.
I love this Exhibit. There are plenty of toys and activities for all ages of children.
Foster literally worked on filling his bucket for 20 minutes.
Patiently (and then impatiently) I waited for it to fill and spill everywhere so I could catch it on camera. Of course, I missed it …
But getting that face caught on video after-the-fact was priceless! I love how he thought he was going to do it again real quick …
Plan Your Trip to Thinkery Today!
Okay, so if you can’t tell, we love Thinkery. My review didn’t even cover half of everything they offer. I wish I could but there are still areas of the museum we haven’t spent time in, and as the kids get older I’m sure we’ll begin to discover even more.
So, let me know if you also love Thinkery and share your tips!