Monday, January 18, 2010

Easton and the Crayola Factory (and Canal Museum)

Today’s visit was to Easton, Pennsylvania. It’s an intriguing town, with hilly streets, narrow houses and buildings that reflect a rich history. But it’s also clearly down on its luck. It seemed like a good 50% of the storefronts downtown were empty, there were lots of “for sale” sales, and evidence of neglect. The people seemed sad and downtrodden, as though they’d been through a rough time lately. We hadn’t been out of the car for two minutes before a toothless man approached us, asking for change.

In this unlikely place is a fun and unique destination for kids, the Crayola Factory and the attached Canal Museum. Admission includes both attractions. While most seem to go for the Crayola Factory, the Canal Museum is fantastic – very interactive and child oriented. If I had it to do over again, I might have started at the Canal Museum first, then let my son run himself to the point of exhaustion at Crayola. Go on a weekday if you can and try to get there early. When it gets crowded, the need to manage your child among so many others reduces the fun factor.

I can’t say there is a lot to learn at Crayola, certainly not compared to the nearby Davinci. It’s basically a big test center for a wide variety of Crayola products. But it’s bright, friendly and there are lots of artistic opportunities. It was nice for River to be able to run from one project to another and for the parents to not have to clean anything up. I got to see what interested him most (the glow-in-the-dark coloring), which of course led me to the Crayola store to buy him the glow-in-the-dark color pad. At least I knew he’d like it before I bought it.

The Canal Museum does have some good educational elements. Especially the exhibit on the 2nd floor (also a good place to get to early, before a line forms), where each child is given a plastic boat and helped to guide it along a canal and through the locks. The third floor is less hectic than the others and it has several activities that appeal to young children. The opportunity to place panels that guide a boat through a maze is especially fun and thoughtful. This is a smaller, more controlled space, and more relaxing for kids and parents.

For lunch, there is a McDonalds on the premises and a Subway nearby. For more adult food we went to the River Grill, about a block away. They get a lot of Crayola Factory visitors and were very accommodating to kids.

No comments: