Families who like to go day-tripping will have a great time at this little jaunt from Huntsville over to Gadsden, AL. The Mary G. Hardin Center for Cultural Arts has just a few more weeks for kids to enjoy their latest temporary exhibit, “The Amazing Castle”.
If you’ve visited the Hardin Center before, you know the charm of these kid-friendly exhibits. They are always very hands-on, and this one is no exception! If you go, I would allow for 2-3 hours to explore, have lunch in downtown Gadsden, then head over to Noccalula Falls to run off lunch and make sure the kids nap all the way home.
The Amazing Castle
When you enter the exhibit room, you’ll notice eight themed areas to explore – they coordinate with characters who live and work in the castle. From the carpenter to the seamstress, each character has a special role. As they move through the castle, kids can playfully explore the interconnectedness of community members in a setting inspired by fantasy and history.
Your kiddos can enjoy a royal puppet show, whip up a delicious medieval meal in the castle kitchens, or harvest vegetables in the gardens. My boys especially loved the giant dragon that appears when you play the castle matching game correctly. All in all, this area takes about an hour to experience, possible longer with younger children. I definitely think it is geared best for ages 2-6, but even kids as old as 11 will have fun. An added bonus – text graphics on the hands-on activities are in both English and Spanish.
One caveat – you better plan your trip quickly! This exhibit is coming down on May 8th to make room for the next installation. It hasn’t been unveiled yet, but RCM Readers do get a hint… think GIANT games like chess & Twister!
Directly across a small courtyard from the Amazing Castle and a permanent exhibit at the Hardin Center, you’ll find Imagination Place. Definitely allow for another hour or so of playtime here!
A full town in miniature, everything here is kid-sized, from the bank to the grocery store, to the hospital and train station. It’s “KidsTown USA”, designed primarily for children ages 2 through 10.
The Amazing Castle Details
Dates: Now through May 8th, 2016
Address: 501 Broad Street, Gadsden, AL 35901 (map)
Cost: $8 for all day access to the Hardin Center and all of its exhibit as well as Imagination Place Children’s Museum. Children up to 24 months are free
Monday – Saturday | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Imagination Place closes at 5 p.m. daily and is closed the first Monday of each month.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy boys, wife of one, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Managing Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and also manages to conduct freelance marketing and PR work.