Kids’ Zone: Family-Friendly Fun in the Mountain State
February 9, 2018|
By Jamie Null
While the Mountain State’s calling card is outdoor adventure, it has something wild and wonderful for every age. Across the state, kids are discovering adventure—and West Virginia—on their level. From educational playtime and cultural lessons to puzzle solving and high-energy activities, locals and visitors alike are having one-of-a-kind experiences in these five family-friendly kid zones.
Avampato Discovery Museum
With two floors of hands-on discovery exhibits, the Clay Center’s Avampato Discovery Museum always has something to see and do. The exhibits will turn children into doctors, mechanics and even mayors. The town scenarios are great for all ages, from toddler to elementary school age. For something more advanced, the Inventor’s Lab explores the engineering process, and a team will help build robots, cars and more. For adventure, try Ashton’s Climbing Structure where participants—both children and adults—can climb up a work of art and see all three stories of the Clay Center. Exhibits at the museum have included Healthy-Me, WaterWorks and Maier Foundation Music Studio, through which visitors have learned about a healthy body and the beauty and mystery of water and even created music. Guests can take in a giant-screen film or planetarium show in the Caperton Planetarium & Theater. Admission is $9 for adults and $7.50 for children. For more information, visit www.theclaycenter.org.
Epic Escape Room
The newest adventure in the New River Gorge area isn’t outside—it’s at Epic Escape Room. To play this game, you will need to use your brain. You and your team are given one hour to escape the room using interactive clues. Guests can choose from three escape rooms on three levels of difficulty: Runaway Train, rated easy; Mothman, rated moderate; and Brave New World, rated difficult. This activity can be used for birthday parties, events and team building exercises, and private events are available for groups of four or more. There is no group minimum requirement; however, smaller groups can be combined together for the game. While there is no age restriction for participants, children under the age of 15 must be accompanied by an adult. Admission is $27 per person. For more information, call (304) 574-0137.
For the Kids, by George Museum
Get your passport ready for the train at the For the Kids, By George Museum. Your first stop will be at Imagination Station. Once you have your passport, the trip through time begins. Children and parents will embark on 300 years of change along the Washington Heritage Trail, learning about a young George Washington, the GW Giles Shay Locomotive and much more. At this point, travelers will select one of three separate journeys: the Pedestrian Bridge, Trackside or the Grand Idea. Each journey gives children a different perspective. For example, the Pedestrian Bridge shows off the historical buildings of Martinsburg and allows children to load and unload interchangeable freight. With Trackside, visitors travel through history in the Tunnels Through Time via a Native American village, a furnished cabin, a general store and the Pedal-a-Watt Gallery Theatre. Here, guests will take a virtual 3-D bike tour of the Washington Heritage Trail. Lastly, guests can take a trip to the Old Berkeley Hotel and train station. The highlight of this journey is learning about all the different jobs with the railroad. General admission tickets are $6. For hours, visit www.forthekidsbygeorge.com.
Launch Pad Trampoline Park
At Launch Pad Trampoline Park, little people have a lot of energy and seem to literally bounce off the walls. Northern West Virginia’s favorite indoor
trampoline park is the perfect place for children to release their never-ending energy. Toddler moms will appreciate the Little Launches program, during which the private jumping time is only for children ages 2-5. For older kids, open jump, the foam pit, launch hoops and the climbing walls will keep them entertained for hours. With homeschooling hours, exercise programs, birthday parties and events, the Launch Pad Trampoline Park can accommodate any group. For children who do not like loud noises, parents can request information about sensitive hours. Advance tickets are recommended. Walk-ins are welcome, but tickets are limited during high-capacity hours. For more information, visit www.launchpadtrampolinepark.com.
Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia
The Youth Museum and Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley joined forces in 2002 to deliver an accurate look at life in a coal mining region. The Youth Museum’s gallery is made up of four railroad boxcars that complement the underground mine, the Mountain Homestead and the recreated coal camp. The most popular attraction is the exhibition coal mine. This tour takes visitors inside the dark passage way of a vintage mine. A veteran guide tells stories about the mine and the coal miners who worked inside the dark earth. Visitors are asked to wear a jacket because the temperature of the mine is always 58 degrees. Exhibits inside the museum change throughout the year and range from “T-Rex” to “Artist in the Studio.” Of course, a visit isn’t complete without looking up at the stars and planets in the planetarium. Group rates are available, and reservations are required. For more information, visit www.beckley.org.