Just because children are small doesn’t mean their museum has to be. And the Paso Robles Children’s Museum in California is large enough to house a vintage fire truck – that’s because the museum is inside a firehouse once used by volunteer firefighters. The museum is located near the busy center square in the cozy hamlet of Paso Robles, California, but just far enough away that you wouldn’t necessarily walk by it on your way to dinner or the Friday night concerts in the park.
In fact, even though I live only a few blocks away I didn’t know about the Paso Robles Children’s Museum until I had grandchildren. As I speak to other grandparents in my community I find many others either don’t know the museum exists or don’t realize all the fun things it has to offer.
My grandchildren were charmed by the museum before they even entered because there’s s special small door right next to the main entrance just for kids. Once inside they couldn’t wait to explore the fire truck, the realistic oak tree with its crawl-through tunnel and all of the blocks and toys available for play. Little did we know the best stuff was still waiting for us upstairs!
The museum has a fantastic craft station with a new project to work on each time we go. The craft station isn’t always supervised, but supplies and samples of the finished product are enough to get us on the right track.
Both my grandson and granddaughter can stay and play in the pizza kitchen for hours. They have fun taking orders, putting the plastic pizza in the “authentic” wood-burning oven and serving everyone at the cute little parlor tables. If they run out of food in the kitchen someone can always go shopping in the well stocked “market” next door.
There are dress-up clothes, a small stage for performances and a puppet center upstairs, but almost everyone’s favorite place seems to be Newton’s Playhouse. The playhouse is a netted area where air tubes suck and blow balls up and down ramps and in and out of containers. The kids love filling the ball basket above them until it finally opens up and showers everyone with the soft plastic balls.
My best tip for visiting the Paso Robles Children’s Museum is to pack a lunch and come early. You can’t eat inside the building but there’s a nice grassy area right in front where you can spread a picnic blanket and recharge for a while. If the weather’s bad or a picnic is too much trouble, restaurants (including an ice cream parlor) and Paso Robles’ charming downtown park are two short blocks away. Just be sure to get everyone’s hands stamped and you can all return to the museum and play some more!
Founded in 2002, the PRCM is located at 623 13th Street. Hours of operation are 11:00am to 4:00 pm on Thursday, Friday and Sunday and 10:00am to 4:00pm on Wednesday and Saturday. The museum is closed Monday and Tuesday. Fees are reasonably priced at $7 for adults, $6 for children 1 to 13 and $5 for seniors. If attending the museum is something your family would like to do often, ask about their family memberships. A membership is a big money saver if you plan to visit frequently.
Paso Robles Children’s Museum