The Garden State Discovery Museum is a hands-on museum that celebrates imagination through themed interactive exhibits including a newspaper office and TV studio, the Get Fit! sports area, the Check Up exhibit, a Pet and Vet Clinic, and the Silver Diner. The museum offers numerous exhibits, daily workshops, programs, and weekend events.
The sprawling, open, warehouse-style floor plan allows parents to keep an eye on several youngsters at one time. Small tykes will have to be dragged out of Little Discoveries, devoted to participants four and under, which includes a "pond" area open only to crawlers. Older kids can broadcast the daily news, scale a rock-climbing wall, put on a show in a large mock theater, and get inside a gigantic bubble. A Dressing Room in the Discovery Theater is complete with dressing tables, mirrors, and new costumes every month, offering little stars the opportunity to shine as they hit the stage for impromptu productions.
For such a hands-on kind of place, the exhibits are in good shape and staff members check frequently to replace wayward exhibit pieces.
Daily drop-in workshops (check the board as you enter), covering arts and crafts, zoo animals, etc., are free with museum admission and run at different times throughout the day. These also give parents great chance to take a rest!
Programs and classes include interactive storytelling for kids ages two to four (with an adult) and science, art, and construction classes designed for ages five to seven. Classes for older kids allow you to sign up for either one or all the workshops in a series.
Discovery Parties at the museum are offered for all ages and include the use of a private party room for 90 minutes, a party host to help you with the celebration, free admission for one adult per child. Birthday parents and grandparents attend free, and the birthday child gets a free gift when you register in the museum's Discovermore store. Double Discovery Parties include all of the above, plus a hands-on arts and crafts workshop led by program staff, an extra half hour in the party room, and themes such as Mad Scientist and Incredible Edibles. The museum also hosts Stuffin' Parties that allow guests to choose and stuff their own take-home animals. Call 856.424.1233, ext. 305 for additional information about parties.
Annual Family Membership ($99) includes free general admission for one year, two free guest passes, a subscription to the museum's newsletter, 10% discount on workshops, classes, and birthday parties, 10% discount in the Discovermore store, and savings on special events, concerts, performances, and summer camps. The Family Gold Membership ($120) includes all of the above, plus admission or discounts to children's museums around the country affiliated with the Association of Children's Museums. A Family and Friends Membership ($149) includes all of the above, as well as free admission to nearly 150 museums around the country, free admission for up to four guests per visit, and a 15% discount in the museum store.
The small eating area is available, but bring your own lunch. Bathrooms are kid-friendly and include a family bathroom adjacent to the exhibit area.