AHA! Children's Museum

Melissa Kossler Dutton

It had been about two years since we visited the AHA! A Hands-On Adventure Children's Museum in Lancaster, and I wondered if the kids, now 4 and 6 years old, would love it as much as they had on previous visits. (We brought along a 3-year-old friend for good measure.)

I had no reason to worry. The boys had a blast exploring the museum's two rooms dedicated to creative and sensory play.

As in previous visits, they were drawn to the center's awesome water table. The four-sided table has several spouts to which kids can attach PVC pipes. Using joints and more pipes they can send water all over the table - and themselves. It's great "cause and effect" fun. (You definitely want to pack an extra dry shirt.)

The kids also loved the performing stage with lights, a sound system and racks of costumes. Our boys left their super-hero costumes on after sharing the stage with other visitors, and they played for a long time on the hive-shaped climbing structure.

The stage area has nice seating for caregivers to sit, though some areas of the museum have no seating for parents.

The museum's newest addition, an 11-foot fire engine, also was a huge hit. The boys donned fire gear before they jumped into the truck, turned on sirens and extinguished imaginary fires.

Later the boys dropped a line into the "pond" and caught some magnetized fish. The pond is a great exhibit but requires close supervision: It's easy for kids to accidentally whack each other with the pole or magnetic bait.

Youngsters with an interest in construction will want to install foam bricks at the under-construction house, a great display that also helps with shape recognition.

Little ones will find Ball Mountain an inviting stop, where they can drop colored balls down various tubes to see where they emerge.

The museum has enough exhibits to entertain kids for several hours. The only way I could convince my crew to break for lunch was by promising to return after we ate. The museum does not sell food, nor does it have a dining area. There are plenty of fast-food options on nearby Route 33 if you want to leave for a bite to eat or grab something on your way home.