Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Thinkery, Mueller Lake Park Playground and Texas Farmers Market at Mueller Park

The Thinkery is an interactive children’s museum, essentially a smaller version of San Francisco's Exploratorium.  It takes about 2 hours to go through the museum.  

There are exhibits for all ages that are hands on, tinker-y and in some cases messy. Below are some of our favorites.

  • Fresh! Farmers Market  is one of my kids favorite areas.  It has tons of plastic fruits, vegetables, baskets and even chickens and wooden eggs to play with.
  • In the Light Lab kids (and you) can play with shadows and giant light brights and lighted tetris.
  • At Innovators’ Workshop kids can paint on glass (do not wear your Sunday best), play with microscopes and more.   
  • Upstairs, Currents helps kids see, feel and hear water.  Although your kids will get wet, there are dryers on the wall to dry off when they are done playing in the water.
  • Spark Shop lets you build and launch gliders and make a tube maze and release ping pong balls inside and watch the vacuum air send them through.
  • Older kids (>8yo) can attend Space 8, a Maker Lab and learning environment specifically designed for children to tinker and make.  What’s more Space 8 is open most AISD school holidays but hours are limited check before going. Drop your 8 year old off to learn and take your little one to an area for smaller children.

The Cost: $10 per person but children 0-23 months are FREE
Hours: Tuesday–Friday: 10 am–5 pm  & Saturday and Sunday: 10 am–6 pm

After one visit we decided to become members.  Visitors who purchase general admission tickets may apply that cost towards an annual membership on the same day as their visit, which is what we did.  A family of 4 membership is $95 and because the Thinkery is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) organization the membership fee is considered a gift and is tax-deductible.

Members receive the following:
  • Unlimited FREE Thinkery admission for one year for a family of 4.
  • 10% discount in the Thinkery Shop
  • Member only hours the first Sunday of each month 8:30-10:00
  • Members receive 15% off at Hat Creek Burger Company.  I wish I would have known about this as I just went to Hat Creek Burger Company.  It is another playground restaurant that I will add to my list when I have another blog about fun playground restaurants in Austin 10-20.   Stay tuned for that.
  • 15% off at Snap Kitchen at the Thinkery Entrance
  • Advance notice and early registration for Camps
  • For Gingerbread Workshops Members enjoy exclusive pre-sale October 1-14.  They have fresh gingerbread from La Mexicana Bakery, an assortment of candies and plenty of icing. After the workshop, all participants are welcome to explore Thinkery while their house dries in the Gingerbread Village. Finally, capture the fun by posing for a picture with your house at the Gingerbread Photo Booth.  I will make sure to check this one out in December and write up a review.

Hungry?  A snack area is available with tables and chairs, as well as a healthy food vending machine. Your are welcome to bring food but all food must be consumed in the snack area.  Snap Kitchen is also onsite and offers healthy meal and snack options.  Members receive a 15% discount at this location. Snap Kitchen is located at outside the museum entrance.  Snap Kitchen is currently open Monday- Sunday, 10 am-4 pm.

Right in front of the entrance to the Thinkery is the Mueller Lake Park Playground.  It includes a really unique play structure with a very modern-design. It is in a fenced-in park and is adjacent to a lake where you can feed the ducks and take a stroll and on Sundays enjoy the farmer’s market.  You kids will be able to see it from the entrance of the museum and they will want to play.   Plan on some time there it is quite fun. 

For a special treat make your visit on a Sunday and enjoy the farmers market for 10:00am – 2:00pm at the “Browning Hangar” is the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller This Farmers Market is dog friendly, has live music, a clown balloon twister, food trucks and fresh produce.  Make it a day and hit up the Thinkery, playground and farmers market for lots of family fun.

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