by Bri Kilroy | photography by Sarah Anderson
Few things exemplify the longing to be a kid again more than passing the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum (GRCM), at the corner of Monroe Center and Sheldon Avenue, and peeking indoors at the iconic yellow Volkswagen, a supermarket replica with a meat counter and produce bins and the front end of a car with the hood propped open to welcome tinkering hands. It reminds us of fun we have not outgrown, yet we hesitate to go to a children’s museum without a child chaperon. Thankfully, GRCM agrees experiencing childhood is for everyone and invites ages 21 and over to a Grown Up Play Date.
“Play is something all ages should continue,” GRCM’s Communication and Events Director, Adrienne Brown-Reasner, advised. “It serves as a stress reliever, allows us to take a break and it’s often something we forget to do.”
Recounting the magnitude of activities and exhibits housed in GRCM – including the kid-sized collection of businesses and grocery stores in Little GR, the Just Fort Fun area with everything you need to make the coolest fort ever and a bubble nirvana complete with a bubble tower and tools that let you explore every size in the bubble spectrum – you discover your old definition of “playtime” didn’t change much into adulthood; encasing yourself in a bubble that encircles your whole body is still awesome, and there’s something about shopping in a miniature grocery store stocked with plastic produce, goods, meats and
cheeses that is so much more fun than a typical stop at the supermarket.
Adults have access to all of GRCM’s exhibits and full “permission to be a kid again,” Brown-Reasner said. Seeing grown-up guests embrace the freedom to be silly and goofy while enjoying the museum’s games and activities is her favorite part of the annual evening and makes it “a magical experience” for everyone.
The evening is your ticket to revisit things you enjoyed in your childhood before you were too busy to make Shrinky Dinks or paint just for the fun of it, both of which you can do during the Grown Up Play Date. Joining the exhibits for the night is a life-sized Candy Land game. Players act as their own game piece and move from tile to tile in a “luck of the draw”-driven race to be the first to reach Candy Castle. Creative design by GRCM’s inventive staff and oversized candy decorations from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. transform a segment of the museum’s interior into a colorful fantasy land that guarantees the feeling of being a kid in a candy store.
Don’t worry about packing a lunch for this play date; you may be playing like a child, but Barfly Ventures is making sure you eat like an adult with a Crack Fry bar, a build-your-own Coney Dog station and drinks provided by New Holland Brewery. Tickets include three drink stubs that can be used on beer, wine or pop. When those are gone, additional drink tickets are available for purchase onsite.
Playing is something we often forget to do, but GRCM’s Grown Up Play Date is unforgettable. Mark your calendars for February 9, 6:30-10:30 p.m., and indulge in a long overdue play date with your friends, partners, coworkers and everyone’s inner child. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased online at Grcm.org/grown-up-play-date.
What: Grown Up Play Date
Where: Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, 11 Sheldon Ave. NE.
When: Feb. 9, 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Cost: $35 per person. Tickets at Grcm.org/grown-up-play-date.