Open year-round, Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Sunday noon to 5:00 p.m., select Monday openings. Closed New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Admission: $10 for adults, $8 for children 3 to 16. Free admission the first Sunday of each month. Planetarium programs $3.00 per person, Explorers Express Train $2.50 per person. The Tree Canopy Walkway is an additional fee and by reservation only (see schedule on the Web).
Preschool and Toddler Wednesdays
Session one (story and animal): 10:30 a.m.
Session two (same story and animal): 11:00 a.m.
Drop-in craft time: 10:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Free with museum admission.
Budding Scientists - Program for Kids Ages 4-6
(First Thursday of every month)
Session one: 10:15 a.m.-10:45 a.m.
Session two: 11:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
Free with museum admission.
This is the old New England Science Center. It is great. We were heading to Southwicks Zoo, but the weather did not look that great so we changed plans. I am glad we did. My two daughters 7 and 9 were fascinated all day. This place is very clean (nice smelling restrooms) and safe. A great place for families. The indoor and outdoor aspect makes this special. My family lives in CA and the museum is similar to the Discovery Science Center in Orange County, but the outside areas and relaxed atmosphere make this place unique and special. In addition to children, I enjoyed myself and learned a few things (and I have a Ph.D.). Even my 79 year old father enjoyed it. The youngest person in our party was 2 and a half. She also was busy and occupied the whole time. Basically there is something there that will interest people of any age. It is well worth the trip from Providence or Boston. If you have children between 6 and 12 and are anywhere near Worcester, this place is a must visit. I recommend you bring a picnic lunch as the food service stops at 2.30 and there are plenty of places to picnic. You pay as you go in. Then there is the museum and some nice places to play outside. The train ride is also cool. I've been on lots of trains, this one is short but fun. I don't usually write reviews but had such a great time at this place that I can't recommend it high enough. It is a lot of fun and educational. The grosology exhibit was especially interesting for kids like mine who like Captain Underpants and that kind of stuff. But even without that, super super super.
After reading reviews about the EcoTarium being a half day excursion I made sure to plan a few other things to do in Worcester since it's about 35 minutes from the hotel we're staying in. We arrived around 10:30 in the morning and only left around 4:45 because we were meeting my husband for dinner after work. There was so much to see and do, and we could have stayed even longer. It was great for a day out. For my family at least. Needless to say, we didn't get to the other plans.
My kids are 8, 7 and 5, and they enjoyed everything we did. In the main building they started out exploring the exhibits in the Arctic area. I would say their favorite part was the simulation of a category 1 hurricane where they stood in a cylindrical closed off area and winds were blown in that reached up to 78.9 mph. It was fun to wach as their hair and clothes were being blown around at high speeds.
On the middle floor (as you walk down the stairs) the kids enjoyed playing all sorts of games. They had a large chess board, mancala the way it originated (with real rocks), checkers, Jenga and other old games. We spent a lot of time there relaxing and playing games. There were other things to explore on the floor, including animals such as frogs, turtles, and an opossum. We were also able to watch as a staff member brought out a screech owl and taught us all about her. It was interactive, question and answers, and my daughter was great at answering the questions.
The bottom floor held the temporary exhibit Grossology: The (impolite) science of the human body. My kids enjoyed making a "man" burp, making tooting noises, making another "man" throw up, climbing a wall of "skin," and much more. Okay, so it sounds just like it's name: Gross. But it was a great (and fun) learning experience for the kids!
Outside was a bubble exhibit where they were able to play with bubbles in many differet ways. Another temporary exhibit.
We ate lunch at their outdoor dining area. The prices weren't too bad, but the food (and drink) wasn't too great either. If we ever come back this way and go there we'll definitely pack a lunch. I was just too lazy this morning.
After lunch we headed for the playground for a little bit, and then to the train (I was so happy to find out that they accepted credit at the station because I had $1 in cash). The train ride was fun, and it's about 12-15 minutes long. You go through a tunnel twice and all the kids (ahead of time) are encouraged to make some noise! Which, of course, they do!
When we were done with the train we walked all but two nature trails, seeing more animals (the polar bear Kenda passed away in June 2011, so her area is empty), then headed back inside where we went through a couple more exhibits, then finished up with the last two trails. There was so much to learn, and on one of the trails there was a spinner with 4 things to do such as, "Take 6 giant steps, crouch down, and then find a place to hide like a mouse."
We missed the planetarium and the boats, but if we come back we might do those too!
Ok, so I could have gotten into the place for free with our membership to our local science museum in NY, but I forgot my card at home (about 7 hours away). I wasn't sure about paying for something I could have done for free, but the more I checked it out online the more I just had to do it, and I'm so glad I did. I would definitely go back, and I'm sure we'd spend just as much time there if not more. To me this place has so much. I could go on and on and on about it! A semi-zoo, science museum, kids museum and nature park rolled into one.
The Ecotarium is located in Worcester, MA...being that it is only 15 minutes from our house and that we get in for FREE with our Boston Museum of Science membership we visit quite often. My daughter's favorite thing to do is visit for the FREE Budding Scientist classes that they offer for 4-6 year olds on the first Thursday of every month. They are always really interesting and hands on, she always has so much fun learning something new. We love to visit Kenda the polar bear and we always enjoy a little hike along one of the trails on the property. They switch out their traveling exhibits every few months so there is always something new to explore. In the warmer months we pack a picnic and enjoy a meal outside on the grounds. There is a small area inside with vending machines which offer pretty undesirable things so pack your own drinks and snacks, unless of course you’re ok with Gatorade and a Snickers ;) The Ecotarium also offers a variety of Animal Encounters so to speak. You can learn about a specific animal and possible engage in a related craft or activity. A fairly new addition to the Ecotarium is the Skywalk which is a cool rope bridge in the tress and once you reach the end take a zipline ride back down to the ground! Our children are not yet old enough for this activity but we are anxiously awaiting the day that they can. Looks so fun! Bottom line you can’t spend a day here or your kids will get bored but for a few hours you can’t beat it! Check it out!
My 6yo son had a great time on the outdoor train ride. The outdoor animal displays weren't too much to brag about, but the indoor center was great. We went on a hot, sunny day, but I would probably go back on a rainy day or in the winter and do more inside as the outside activities are just so-so.
This is a nice place located in the heart of Worcester. There are outside and inside parts to this.
The best part of this for our family was the polar bear exhibit, and other animals that are featured in the outside part of the campus.
Inside is somewhat small, and the kids seemed to get restless. There was a computer area, which my boys enjoyed. (4 years old)
Don't forget discount passes!
we were limited in what we could experience. We got the family in for an inexpensive 11 dollars using a library pass and walked around the museum and outside to see a few of the animals. We missed the tree canopy walk and the zip line which I have heard is a lot of fun. The highlight of the trip was definitely the train ride the park (which cost extra).
The focus at the Ecotarium (formerly the New England Science Center) is on the environment. An $18 million expansion and renovation plan created trails, an outdoor observation walkway, and renovations to the existing building’s architecture. The Nature Trail traverses the property and rounds the two existing ponds, the Water Pavilion, and the Pier, giving access to more than sixty acres of lake and woods. For a twelve-minute overview tour of the property, sign up for the Explorers Express Train, which is a small-scale 1860s steam engine and train.
WARNING: Tall adults may be a bit uncomfortable! The Tree Canopy Walkway allows you to study and inspect the leafline of the trees. The walkway, suspended approximately 20 feet above the ground, allows you to observe the habitat of birds, insects, and wildlife.
There’s a zoo with larger animals, such as polar bears and big cats. For a one-on-one experience with the Ecotarium’s wildlife, sign up for the always popular “Wild Toys” tour (extra fee by reservation). Inside the three-story building are several good interactive environmental exhibits, a huge natural history collection, three large aquariums, and a planetarium show (the planetarium schedule is subject to change; call for a schedule).
TIP: Start your visit at the Fuller Orientation Theater for an overview of the museum.