I know how hard it is to get young kids out of the house to go somewhere - even quick outings require you to pack enough snacks, diapers, and toys to make you think you’ll be gone for a week. And who wants to wrestle kids in and out of carseats just to find out that your destination isn’t kid-friendly? That’s why I’ve decided to visit Triangle area sites to see if they’re worth your trip. I won’t use a rating system but I’ll try to describe what you’ll see well enough for you to decide if your kids would find it interesting. I’ll also give you the heads up on bathrooms, stroller accessibility and any other SNAFUs I encounter.


Imagination Station - Wilson


        On a blustery October day, after my wife returned to work from maternity leave, the three of us men hit the road for some adventure. My toddler seems to like riding in the car - he's been asking to go some place all week. Maybe he'll be a truck driver when he grows up. As soon as I got him and his brother in the car I taught him a new phrase - "We're off!"

       We approached our destination through Wilson's historical district along tree-lined streets amidst antebellum and federal style homes. It was clear as soon as we entered the downtown area that there is a need for urban renewal.

       The Imagination Station is housed in a building that has been used as a courthouse and a post office. Limited parking is available in the rear of the building. Five dollars will pay for your adult ticket. Because the two boys were under three they got in for free.

       We had the whole Museum to ourselves and we puttered around the first floor with its exhibits on simple machines and the human body. The exhibits are meant to be kid-friendly and interactive but unfortunately many of the ones relating to the human body are not working. The collection of exhibits seem somewhat mismatched as if they were found at a carnival's going out of business sale and thrown in a room together. There is a building block station that kept my toddler's interest for a little while but it wasn't long before we were ready to see what was on the next level.

A mouth display on the first floor

       Upstairs is where you can find the old courtroom which is now used during birthday parties for science demonstrations. As I followed my toddler into the jury box I couldn't help but wonder what kind of grisly testimony may have been heard in that space. The second floor is also where you can find the live turtles, lizards and snakes. There are two noteworthy exhibits in this room. One was the largest snake I have ever seen alive and close up - an albino ball python that was thicker than my arm in diameter. I couldn't get over the shock of seeing a snake that large coiled in his habitat in the corner of the room. The other exciting display was an open top enclosure at floor level where a live tortoise was being kept. Even though my toddler could reach the tortoise, it was unclear if the Museum expected him/her to be touched. And then there's the whole thing about salmonella with turtles that I didn't know if it applied to tortoises as well so we just kept our hands to ourselves.

This cell phone picture does not do this ball python justice!

        On the second floor, near the restrooms, you can also find the Curiosity Room for children under five. The room is furnished like a daycare with loads of preschool toys and books that are quasi-scientific in nature. Needless to say we spent a long time in that room. I have to say one of my favorite parts of this whole adventure was playing with the dinosaur figures with my toddler in that room.

The Curiosity Room

      The third floor of the building houses the NC Museum of the Coastal Plain which is a one room gallery featuring changing exhibits. The current exhibit is a photographic essay of African American gardens.

     The staff at the Station was very nice and I would recommend checking this place out only if you live in Wilson or very close. Of greater interest to my toddler than the Museum was the constant train whistles he heard nearby. I asked one of the staff if there was someplace in town we could go to watch trains coming and going. She suggested the Amtrak station a block down from the Museum on Nash St. We spent a few minutes parked at the station hoping to give my toddler the train fix he so desperately craved. But alas, even though we had heard trains pulling in all morning, the time we spent at the station didn't bear fruit.


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