Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Staycation Adventures: Ohio Fun is Child's Play

This road trip is for the young and the young at heart. It's for those who made playing with toys their job and their duty as a kid. This expedition is a time machine back to the days when toys didn't have to be plugged in and when quality was prided, not cut to satisfy shareholders and the bottom line. Time to gas up, pile in, and drive down to southern Ohio for a visit to 3 toy museums. Because it's only a day-trip, the drive is like child's play!

1st Stop: Ohio Toy and Plastic Brick Museum
Get an early start that morning and head down to Bellaire, Ohio. To get in this itinerary in just one day, you want to be sure to get to this first stop at the time they open, which is at 10:00, Wednesday through Sunday.

Because of little licensing laws, they can't exactly call it a "LEGO" museum. But, what do you call a place that wows you with complicated LEGO sculptures, mosaics worthy of holding Guinness Book of World Record records, and also owns nearly every life-sized mini-figure LEGO ever made, now retired? "Brick Museum" doesn't really do it justice. I like their alternate name: the Unofficial LEGO Museum of Bellaire, OH. Has a nicer ring to it.

How many LEGO's does it take?
Kiddo back in 2010.

A mosaic made entirely out of LEGOs!

Ohio Toy and Plastic Brick Museum
Summer hours 2013: Wed-Sun, 10:00 to 5:00
4597 Noble Street
Bellaire, Ohio 43906
Dan Brown, Founder
Admission: $8 adults, $6 child/senior

2nd Stop: Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
You're going to head for the border on this one. West Virginia, here you come! Even though it's another state, it's really not that far, so don't panic.
This toy and train museum brings back so many memories. They have a wonderfully amazing teddy bear collection and toys fill rooms and rooms named by theme: Transportation Room, Miniatures Room, Game Room, Doll Room, and so many more. The toys are housed in an old schoolhouse, equipped with original tin ceilings, fine woodwork from wall to floor.

On our visit, the museum had a fun game you could play while on the self-guided tour (guided tours are available per request). It was a Where's Waldo search of about 7 various characters, hidden throughout the museum. Incorporating the search game is brilliant to keep kids engaged while looking at absolutely everything there is to see in each museum room. A small prize in the gift shop awaits the ones with very keen eyes! There are several hands-on activities, too! Challenge your young companion to a slot car race, for example.

The curator of the museum was working on a brand new exhibit, KINEX, while we were there and he was nice enough to allow us a peak into his progress. WOW! Upon entering the room, you wish for an actual human shrinking machine so you could enjoy the carnival setting that is before you. So many moving constructions, so many parts, so impressive! Every detail is thought out including a series of lighting sequences that takes the room from sunset to sundown, dawn to dusk. Definitely worth the drive!

Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum
Summer hours 2013: DAILY, 9:00 to 5:00
144 Kruger Street
Wheeling, West Virginia 26003
James M. Schulte, Curator
Admission: $9 adults, $7.50 seniors, $6 students (6-17), children 6 and under, FREE

3rd Stop: LUNCH at TJ's Sports Garden Restaurant
Local places are the best places to explore and eat! If you're ever in a new town, ask the locals where the best place is to eat. They know, and they're usually not shy in telling you. We asked James, the Toy and Train Museum's curator, where we should get a bite to eat and he praised TJ's left and right, up and down, side to side. Enough to convince us so we went.

What a fun place! The sports theme was really family friendly. The big screens surrounding the eating area had every imaginable sport showing. And, your table had its own TV so you could tune in to what you were interested in, including cartoons, which is where Kiddo landed on. The food is American fare and it was really delicious. Lunch hit the spot and we were off to our final destination.

TJ's Sports Garden Restaurant
808 National Road
Wheeling, West Virgina 26003

Final Stop: Marx Toy Museum
You may not recognize the Marx name, but when you see the toys, get ready to be flooded by the memories. Anyone remember Rockem' Sockem' Robots? Then you know Marx, at one time, the largest manufacturer of toys in the world. Only in business from 1919 to 1980, the Marx Company left an indelible mark on the toy industry forever. What a nice collection!

Marx Toy Museum
915 Second Street
Moundsville, West Virginia 26041

I hope you take the time to take a little trip down memory lane, introduce your kids to the toys you grew up with, and even some their grandparents grew up with. It's such a fun trip, all located in the same general area. The trip is so easy, only takes a day, and is super fun for all.


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