McKenna Children’s Museum, centrally located in New Braunfels, Texas, between San Antonio and Austin, is a wonderland for little people with big imaginations. Though not huge, the state-of-the-art facility is filled to the brim with interactive exhibits that encourage creative play for eager tykes.

McKenna Children's Museum

McKenna Children’s Museum; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Pint-sized fun at McKenna Children’s Museum

From the moment my children entered the main hall of McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels, Texas, they were drawn in to explore the many hands-on exhibits. Even the elementary school boys, who claimed to be too old for little kid fun, couldn’t resist the urge to play. Within minutes they were racing around, eager to see every exhibit.

Exhibits at McKenna Children’s Museum

The Museum’s Hill Country Campgrounds offer tepees and tents to crawl through, fish to catch with a magnetic fishing rod, a kayak to paddle, and a pretend campfire.  A neighboring kid-size cave houses bat costumes. Take a peek Under the Comal River and you will find two small crocodiles swimming in an exhibit designed by Animal World and Snake Farm. After strolling through the Lend-A-Hand Ranch, young builders can help construct a house, adding Velcro siding, magnetic wallpaper, and plastic plumbing.

Hill Country Campgrounds; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

McKenna Children’s Museum; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Nearby, children may visit a make believe hospital. There, they can sit in the waiting room, check out the Biolab, or take a shift in the nursery. Parked outside is an ambulance, which needs workers as well. My 3-year-old delighted in making the emergency vehicle lights flash, signaling that help was on the way!

McKenna Children's Museum; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

McKenna Children’s Museum; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Destination Space has plenty more buttons to push. At Mission Control, kids run the show. They can also inspect the inside of a shuttle and learn about the solar system in this fun corner of the Museum. I was surprised that my fifth-grader wanted to dress up, but he had a great time playing astronaut with his younger sister.

Destination Space; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Destination Space; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Kids in Control

Continue on to the Outside the Lines Art Studio, where kids can unleash their inner Picasso. With easels, brushes, and paint at their disposal, young artists can don aprons to create masterpieces in a mess-friendly environment that makes cleanup a cinch.

In the Town Square, you will find a bank with a working ATM machine.  The machine issues play money, which kids can exchange for a prize. Next door, the Grocery Store is fully stocked with play food, carts, and cash registers. Toward the end of our visit, two middle schoolers took great pleasure in playing cashiers for the pint-sized shoppers.

Photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub.

Photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub.

There is so much to do at McKenna Children’s Museum that the exhibits spill out to The Great Outdoors.  If you visit on a sunny day, head outside to check out the Music Exhibit and let your littles climb inside the huge net playscape. Kids with energy to burn will also enjoy a little rock climbing wall and an incredible water table, where kids can splash and play in the waterways. My kids’ favorite attraction was Imagination Playground, where they spent ages using foam blocks to construct their very own forts.

Imagination Playground; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

Imagination Playground; photo by Big Family TravelingMom, Heidi Gollub

McKenna Children’s Museum can be explored in just a few hours, which makes it a perfect day trip from Austin or San Antonio, Texas. But good luck getting your children to leave, once they’ve settled in to play!

Know Before You Go

  • McKenna Children’s Museum is open Monday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  The Museum is closed on Sunday.
  • Admission is $7.50 for anyone age 12 months or older.
  • Parking is free.
  • There are often free activities, included in the price of admission. Check the website for the schedule.
  • You can buy lunch onsite at Butterfly Bistro, or pack your own and eat at one of the Museum’s picnic tables. Butterfly Bistro is open Monday to Friday, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Following your Museum visit, consider a trip to New Braunfels’ Landa Park. Landa Park has a miniature train that operates on weekends, from September to April. A train ride is $3 per person.
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McKenna Children’s Museum
801 W. San Antonio St.
New Braunfels, Texas 78130
(830) 606-9525