Discover the Lied Children's Museum

Jul 11, 2011 at 12:06 p.m. ET

Before you go to the Lied Discovery Children's Museum in Las Vegas, be forewarned: your children will not want to leave. Considering all the fun you and your kids will be having, you may not want to leave either.

Lied Children's Museum

Fun for the entire family

Lied's is a two-story, developmentally aware, science, technology, and general discovery center. With traveling exhibits, creative workshops and themed birthday parties, this may become your favorite place to play. Upon entering the museum, you are first greeted with the Desert Discovery Room.

This room is devoted to patrons ages 5 and under, and includes a workshop area where they can drop in on Whimsical Workshops that change every few weeks (right now the Little Learners are experimenting with glitter paint). Your little construction worker can don a hard hat and join others honing their large motor skills at Boulder Mountain. There they can use a bucket and pulley system to transport balls or clamber up the stairs to the upper phone where they can call their co-workers at the lower phone, thus maintaining good communication on the assembly line.

A brightly colored puppet stage is also available, complete with a bench for tired parents. Their "Desert in the Dark" exhibit begins in a pretend bedroom and asks, "Do all living things sleep when it gets dark?" Step into the "desert" and discover the answer. Kids learn about the things that go bump in the desert's night and even get to practice perching on a limb like a desert owl (it's harder than it sounds).

The Desert Discovery Room is rounded out by the Parents Resource Room and the Baby Oasis. The Baby Oasis is a padded area designated for those children who are not yet walking. It is highlighted by the Peek-A-Boo Tree and a large overhead mobile of desert birds and butterflies. Parents can find books, magazines and even video clips with answers to their parenting questions in the Parents Resource Room. Fliers advertising local events and further resources are gathered in this room and there are big comfy chairs where you can read the picture-less books to yourself or the picture-full books to your child.

Real life experiences

Venture further into the museum to play with basic economics. At various professional displays (firefighter, airline worker etc.) your child collects a direct deposit receipt that gives them their secret ATM code. They can take that code to the bank and withdraw 40 Discovery Dollars from a real-looking ATM. They can spend their play money at the post office or at the corner grocery store.

Also on this level are games that are fun for adults and kids alike. My favorite spot is the Shadow Freeze Room. One wall is coated with phosphorous, a substance that glows upon exposure to light. Your body keeps the light from reaching parts of the wall so those parts do not glow -- your shadow is then "frozen" on the wall! Step out from there and play musical hopscotch (each square plays a note when jumped upon) or watch your child's stage debut at the small stage available (costumes and all) for imaginative play.

Even the stairs to the Science Tower are filled with fun. At the base you'll find an echo tube and an experiment with the density of liquids that extends the entire height of the stairwell. At the top you'll find a periscope to view the city and an electrical piano that is connected to neon lights above -- your melodies control the twinkling of the lights.

Once inside the tower itself there are a myriad of interactive science displays -- far too many to list each one. Especially fun displays are the Speed of Sound display (where you speak into a scrunchy tube and hear yourself a few seconds later through the other end of the tube) and the Space Shuttle display (where you sit in the "cockpit" and control a model shuttle with your control panel). Also on the second floor is a workshop area for older learners and a giant doll that can be unzipped to learn about our internal organs. Currently, hot air balloon demonstrations are being held; these demonstrations change periodically, as do the workshop themes.

Plan your child's birthday here!

Does this sound like a fun place to have a birthday party? Generally speaking, parties last two hours, with one hour for cake, ice cream and the like, and one hour for playing in the museum. Party guests are welcome to spend as long as they like in the museum, though, either before or after the party. Included in the party package are invitations, a T-shirt for the birthday child, goodie bags, paper place settings, a customized cake, ice cream, juice and museum admission.

Lied Children's Museum

The best part, of course, is that they do all the set up and clean up (a feature worth any price!). How much does all of this gloriousness cost? The Classic Party will put you back $125 for the first 10 kids plus $5 for each additional kid. Grown-ups attend free of charge. Themed parties cost more ($160 for the first 10 and $6 for each additional) but come with a museum-provided party host. Choose from such themes as Slime Time, Crazy Kaleidoscope and Tot Time. I know what you're thinking -- who can resist a party that explores the properties of green slime?

An affordable day out

Now that you're convinced of the fun of the Discovery Museum the only question on your mind before you load the kids in the car is how, where, and how much. Bottom line cost on the museum experience is $6 for adults and $5 for seniors, military and children ages 1 to 17 (children ages 1 and under are free).

Once you realize this is something you'd like to do all the time, though, it's much cheaper to become a member. Members get unlimited free admission to this museum and 280 other science and technology museums across the US, a discount at the gift shop and 10 percent off birthday parties. There is also a newsletter and lots of members-only events.

For more about Lied Discovery Children's Museum

Address: 833 N. Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas NV 89101