Ottawa Museums: Why I love our Ingenium Membership

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One of the things about big days out doing fun activities is that I find them kind of exhausting. You pay a bunch of money to get your family into a museum or attraction and then you want to stay as long as possible and get the most out of your money because "money doesn't grow on trees" and all that fun stuff :)

One of the reasons we got an Ingenium membership (a membership that let's us into the Science and Tech Museum, the Aviation Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum) was that 1) it was a good deal - we've more than gotten the value out of the membership in a few months already 2) it took the pressure out of our trips to the museums.

Short and fun outings

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When I want to go out with the kids and do something fun I like to suggest one of the museums because I know it won't cost us anything (we got the parking pass as part of our membership too!) and I know there will be fun activities for the kids, and I know I'll plan to leave before they even have a chance to start fraying my nerves or getting bored ;)

We typically visit one of the museums for about an hour to an hour and a half. We get in, the kids explore, if there are presentations we visit a couple, and then we leave.

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It's beautiful. Nobody has gotten overtired or started complaining about not wanting to do this or that. I don't feel guilty that we haven't gotten more out of the money we spent to get in. We're spreading out our enjoyment of the museums over the year. 

The museum also has a reciprocal agreement with 360 other museums, which means you can spread the value out all over the place. 

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Cost

It was about $160 for the year with parking for my family of 5. As a comparison, it would cost me $42 plus parking to get in to the Aviation museum without the membership and $50 plus parking for Science and Tech. It's a pretty simple decision to opt for the pass when all the museums are so close by.

Other bonuses

We got a discount and first access to summer camps (my kids are heading to City Farm camp this summer and are so excited to get to interact with the animals in a more personal way than you get to as a regular visitor!) and first invites to other special events, and 10% off in the cafeteria and in the gift shops.

And look at how much fun we've been having!!

Summer of Awesome - Canada Science and Technology Museum

by Lynn Ever since the Museum of Nature reopened last year, it's been getting the love. I've read more than one post here at KITC about how great it is, and we're certainly believers - we had an annual pass this year, went many times, loved it every time, can't say enough good things about it.

As a result, the Museum of Science and Tech kind of got pushed into the background. We'd gone there so many times when our kids were younger that we kind of had a been-there, done-that attitude towards it. It just didn't seem as shiny and new.

This week my eight-year-old son asked to go back to the "train museum," and since we hadn't been in ages, I said yes. And it's true that there are a lot of displays that are getting older, and areas that are in need of an update.

But the thing I didn't realize is that they have so many cool outdoor activities there in the summertime. We barely spent any time inside during this visit. Instead, we explored the grounds and did a TON of super cool stuff. It was well worth the visit.

First of all, we rode the steam train:

Steam Train

It's a real steam train from the early 1900s, and with the Wakefield steamer out of commission, it's your best bet for a train-loving child this summer. It's a short ride but still a lot of fun, especially if you make pronouncements in Sir Topham Hat's voice for the entire ride. The train costs $2 extra per person, but if your kid likes trains, it's worth it. Oh, I should mention that the train only runs on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Then we took a tour of the lighthouse:

The lighthouse

I looooooooove lighthouses. And I love this one best of all, because it's in my very own home town. Did you know it was moved from Cape Breton Island in over 1000 pieces? It used to be that you had to go to the museum on special "lighthouse days" to see the inside. Now there are a few tours a day. AWESOME.

The light fixture is so fascinating (I won't spoil it, but you'll be surprised at what is making the light), the spiral staircase gives you quite the thrill (but was easily handled by my four-year-old), and the view from the top is charming:

View from the top

There's also daily tours of the observatory for those of you who are into astronomy, and on the days when the train isn't running, you can take a tour of their storage area featuring all kinds of goodies that didn't make it out onto the main floor - we'll be going back to see that, for sure (think we'll find a secret pirate treasure back there?).

We did go inside for a little bit, because the kids love the Crazy Kitchen, and the light tunnel system never gets old (even if it is in need of repairs in a few areas):

Light tunnel

We also checked out their current special exhibit, which is a history of cars in Canada, featuring several unusual models that were manufactured or designed in Canada. Nothing makes you feel old like seeing the first ever Chrysler minivan - man, I remember when those came out, for heaven's sake. Now they look like your grandfather's car. SHEESH.

The kids had a really good time at this exhibit playing with some funky interchangeable cars that were out - in fact, they liked them so much that my oldest two decided to spend some of their own piggy bank money to buy themselves a small car to take home from the gift shop.

Cars

Then it was back outside because it was time for WATER ROCKETS. AWESOME.

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You put a little water in a bottle and screw a special adapter on the end. Then you pump it up and watch it rocket hundreds of meters in the air. SO COOL.

Plus, the water rocket experiments took place at the foot of an actual Atlas rocket that is on the grounds, which is on loan from NASA. Did you know that if the rocket wasn't kept under constant internal pressure, it would crumble like a pop can under its own weight? Now that is awesome science.

We were there for almost five hours, and we didn't even get a chance to check out the internal presentations (on lasers, physics, and deep freezing, all of which we have seen before but the kids still want to see every time), see the big engines inside, hear the talk about the Titanic, visit the space station, or even see their brand new exhibit which is on eco-power - renewable and safe energy sources. And there's also a simulator ride which we have never been on, because I always assumed it was for bigger kids, but now my kids actually are bigger, so I think we are ready.

Good thing we bought a membership, because we'll be back again, soon.

If you get a chance in the next couple of weeks, it's worth a trip out to the Science Museum. Turns out the old lady still has a lot of life left in her.

(But not on Mondays. It's closed Mondays.)

Lynn is mom to three tombliboos, age 8, 6, and 4, and blogs over at Turtlehead.

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