Thursday, February 19, 2009
Museum of Science and Four Burgers, Cambridge
Toddlers are a ball of energy. This is great. This winter we have had a good amount of snow. When it first falls, the simplicity of the white outdoors is gorgeous. But when it is really cold for days on end and the toddler is starting to implode…it is not so pretty. Needless to say, a reoccurring conversation with my friends is about great places to take the kids in the winter. Many choose to take their kids to indoor gyms. Alas, although fun, the price quickly adds up.
However, with some careful planning, the Museum of Science can be an inexpensive and wonderful place to let kids expend their energy. Kids under 3 are free (as are teachers) but many libraries also have passes that can be reserved which cuts the cost from about $16.00/person to $5.00. We arrived as it opened at 9 and there was already a crowd forming. Unlike the Children’s Museum, the parking is easy and somewhat affordable ($10.00 for a few hours).
Honestly, one of my favorite parts are the long corridors that allow Raphael, our 3 year old, a chance to explore (um…run). I was excited for him to see the new Triceratops and an exhibit on frogs, but to our amusement he mostly wanted to check out the novelty that was the escalator! He liked being able to go into a space ship, but a number of the other exhibits offered too many words or were too complex for him to get very engaged.
Ultimately, the two best sections for our kids (who are 3 and 1), were the animals upstairs (featuring little monkeys called tamarins and baby chickens) and the Discovery Center that is on the main floor. This area offers a few great features. The entire area is closed off to older kids which makes it particularly safe. Then, inside there is a wonderful space for non-walkers. My one year old enjoyed the toys. My older son absolutely loved the discovery boxes: sets of dinosaurs, shells, etc. that are packaged with magnifying glasses. As he said, “I can touch everything, mommy!” In the second floor level are building blocks, musical instruments and other manipulatives.
By 11:30, the museum was packed and we were hungry. It was almost impossible to choose a place for lunch as the museum is near so many great restaurants in Chinatown, Brighton and Cambridge. However, we settled on the recently opened 4 Burgers in Central Square. The owner, Michael Bissante is both the long time owner of The Paramount Restaurant on Charles Street in Beacon Hill and father to a son. Perhaps that explains the family friendly atmosphere and great food at reasonable prices. My kids had hot dogs (nitrate free!) with homemade potato chips (called waffle chips). I am not sure which was a greater hit, but they devoured everything. Although the restaurant offers 4 types of burgers (beef, turkey, salmon and veggie) and salads, we stuck with the basic burger made from all natural meat from Brandt Beef. I loved mine-not greasy, perfectly cooked. I recommend the “secret sauce”, a sort of jazzed up French dressing. The sweet potato fries were good, but the “regular” French fries were my kind of heaven-mealy and soft inside with perfectly crunchy and salty skin-covered outsides.
We went home full and tired.