Preschoolers soak up knowledge like sponges, so be sure you’re providing your little ones with the imagination stimulation they need at these top New Hampshire parks and and museums.
Who says you have to wait until December 25 to see Santa? At Santa’s Village it’s Christmas all year round! This holiday-themed amusement park has a whole host of Christmas-themed rides, many of which are fun for all-ages or designed specifically for toddlers. Take your preschooler for a spin on the Antique Cars, then go for a ride on the Reindeer Carousel or in The Little Drummer Boy tea cups. For summertime fun, your little ones will love getting wet at Poogie’s Splash Pad and in the Ho, Ho, H2O water park.
Location: Route Two, Jefferson, NH 03583
Rates: Vary by season; Children ages three and under are free with a paid adult admission
Meredith Children’s Museum
Imagination stimulation can be found in every themed room of the Meredith Children’s Museum. In the bubble room, little ones can discover what it feels like to be inside a bubble in the Bubble Tire, or blow bubbles of their own at the bubble table. The Make Believe Room encourages kids to imagine future careers in the fire truck and police car, or they can invent their own fairy tales in the puppet theater and the castle play structure. Preschoolers discover history in the Log Cabin Room while playing at the rice table or by building their own replica log cabins.
Location: 28 Lang St., Meredith, NH 03253
Rates: $6 Admission for adults and all children who old enough to walk
Fairy tales come alive at Story Land amusement park. All the rides at the park are suitable for preschoolers, with over half of them available for toddlers to ride, too. Infants are even welcome on many rides, like Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach, the Swan Boats and the Antique Cars. When the weather turns toasty, take your toddler to the park’s splash pads, or cool off while watching one of Story Land’s preschool-friendly performances.
Location: 850 NH Route 16, Glen, NH 03838
Rates: Ages three and above are $29 per person; Children under age three are free
Seacoast Science Center
The informative ocean exhibits at the Seacoast Science Center may be great for educating older kids, but the center also has plenty to intrigue preschoolers! Little ones will become transfixed watching the fish swimming in the aquariums, plus they’ll love the hands-on experience at the center’s touch tank. Check the museum’s calendar to be sure your visit coincides with the center’s preschool programs, so your little ones can engage in singing, dancing, playing and crafts that will teach them all about ocean life.
Location: 570 Ocean Blvd., Rye, NH 03870-2104
Rates: Ages 13 and up are $5; Children ages 3-12 are $2; Children under age three are free
Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum
The small, yet charming Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum is a perfect activity for preschoolers on a rainy day. Each room has a creative theme and colorful murals that are designed to stimulate imaginative play. The themed rooms include the Dinosaur Center, Castles and Dragons, Under the Sea and the Animal Care Center. The museum’s Little Green Closet Thrift Store is a great place to donate clothes and play things that your kids have outgrown. Or you can purchase a few things at the store and support the museum at the same time!
Location: 2639 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, NH 03860
Rates: All guests are $5; Children under age one are free
Strawbery Banke Museum
Taking a preschooler to a history museum can be an arduous experience when there are so many hands-off exhibits. Luckily, the Strawbery Banke Museum is all about hands-on history. In the Discovery Center, little ones can play games, make crafts and perform chores that kids would have played over a hundred years ago. The Wheelwright House is stocked for dressing up in period costumes and playing with vintage dinnerware — they even have spices and teas for your kids to smell! Outdoors, preschoolers are enchanted by the Victorian Children’s Garden, where they’ll discover plants that tell time, fairy and butterfly gardens and a two-story treehouse.
Location: 14 Hancock St., Portsmouth NH, 03801
Rates: $15 for Adults; $10 for Children ages 5-17; Children ages four and younger are free. Or opt for the $40 family rate, which includes admission for two adults and two children under age 17.