Located in the heart of Old Town Winchester, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is a really fun museum, especially for kids ages 1 to 12.
The museum has 19,000+ square feet of space with 13 exhibits, as well as, weekly programs.
The museum has 4 floors of interactive cultural and science based exhibits that teach kids through play so they have a blast!
What to See and Do
With four floors, there is a lot to do and every child can easily find something fun for them.
They’ll definitely burn off plenty of energy here, be highly engaged and yes, even learn quite a few things.
You’ll want to make sure you have a minimum of 2 to 3 hours to spend here if you really want to enjoy everything.
While I’ll share more details below, some of the highlights of the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum are:
- Stuff animal vet clinic
- Puppet theater
- Roof deck with instruments
- Honey bee area
- And more
They have a bit of everything for kids from natural history, paleontology, and art.
And these exhibits are hands-on so you don’t have to worry about kids touching everything as that’s what it’s all there for!
Here is what you can expect to see on the different floors:
The Moccasin trail
Located on the 3rd floor, the Moccasin Trail is where the kids will learn about the history and culture of Native Americans.
And they love it too! The kid-favorite here is the Indian Long house to explore and for children to role play building a fire, reading books and more imagination play. There’s even a dugout canoe for them!
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Kids will also be able to experience Native American culture here with different hands-on activities, like:
- Making moccasins
- Playing Native American games
- Learning about Native American foods
The Health Works
On the 1st floor is a Health Works station for the little medical minds.
This floor is so fun, your kids may not leave for awhile!
This mock emergency room has a real ambulance kids can play in and explore as the medical staff.
Kids get to explore a real ambulance and learn how it is used to transport patients to the hospital. They can also learn about the different medical equipment that is used in ambulances.
They can look through a special x-ray machine and see bones, arteries and more.
They have an absolute blast here!
Roller Coaster Alley
Next, explore the laws of motion in action at Roller Coaster Alley, where you can create your own track and roll balls down ramps and through loops.
Here kids discover how the laws of motion affect the speed and trajectory of the balls.
Apple Packing Shed
On the 2nd floor you’ll find the “apple processing area” where children can learn about the various steps involved in processing apples. It’s hard to get them away from this exhibit too!
They can throw foam apples, move them with pulleys, and send them rolling down ramps.
This is a fantastic method for children to learn about engineering and the value of teamwork.
This part is really neat…there is a live bee hive on site with a whole honeybee colony!
It’s pretty cool to see the bees working, coming in and out of the tubes as they work in the beehive that sits behind plexiglass.
Ask kids if they can find the queen bee and that will keep them entertained for a bit too!
They also have some water stations and fish tanks.
Also here on the 3rd floor, are large foam blocks and magnetic activities.
The rooftop “Sky Level” has a panoramic view of Winchester.
There are musical instruments and space for you and your kids to dance, play with life-sized checkers, a small indoor area with arts-and-crafts, and gardening activities.
Be sure not to miss the garden in full bloom season even if that means returning again.
On the rooftop, you’ll find:
- Life-sized checkers game
- Shade pavilion
- Special dance / video piano set-up
If you think the museum is awesome, you’ll probably want to check out the events the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum hosts throughout the year, such as:
- Sensory Friendly Nights: are the first Saturday of every month, 5pm-7pm. Low lighting, reduced noise, and other modifications make the museum more comfortable for those with sensory sensitivities.
- Sock Skating: A slippery-but-not-too-slippery sock skating rink on the museum roof is open from November to early January. Admission is included with museum admission. No blades, no risk of injury.
- Visiting Artist Series: is a monthly drop-in program, on the third Saturday of each month, where visitors can meet artists, learn about their work, and see them in action.
- Summer Camps: led by experienced educators who create a fun and engaging learning environment. Campers will have the opportunity to explore their creativity, learn new skills, and make new friends.
Hours and When to go
The Shenandoah Museum is open from Wednesday to Saturday, 9:30 am to 3:30 pm.
Temporary Summer timings on Sunday span from 12:30pm to 3:30 pm.
If you want to avoid the larger crowds, consider visiting during the weekdays.
If you need to go somewhere or take a short visit, worry not, just remember to get your hand stamped so you can re-enter.
Tickets and Pricing
Make your visit a breeze by securing your admission tickets online in advance. Walk-ins might not always be available, so planning is key to ensure a seamless experience.
You can visit the museum for free every first Friday of the month from 5pm to 7pm. Make sure to register in advance to get your free tickets.
The ticket pricing is family-friendly, with a flat rate of $9.00 for both children above the age of 2 and adults.
Kids under that age get to enter for free, making it a fantastic destination for families of all sizes. Get ready for a day filled with fun and learning for everyone!
Good to Know Before You Go
- Call before you go, as school groups typically visit during the week from 10am to 2pm.
- The museum offers summer camps, birthday parties, sleepovers, scouting programs and field trips.
- There is a gift shop, so if you’re looking for a unique gift, be sure to check it out.
- No food or drink is allowed in the museum.
- There is an elevator, bathrooms & water fountain on each floor of the museum.
Getting There and Parking
The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is located at 19 West Cork Street in Winchester, Virginia.
While the museum doesn’t offer dedicated parking, you’ll find plenty of metered street parking available for around $2 for a 2-hour duration.
Just remember that these spots have a time limit of 2 hours, so make sure to keep an eye on the clock to avoid exceeding the parking limit.
If needed, you’ll also find parking garages in Winchester.
Do keep in mind, strollers are not allowed inside the building; walking and interactions from children are encouraged.