Insectropolis is a nice, short excursion if you're looking for something to do with the kids and you're in the area, but before making a trek note that it is a small museum. If your child is interested in insects, there is a lot to be learned here.
Cost to Enter: $8.00 per person. Free for children 2 years old and under. There is a group rate of $6.00 per visitor, for groups of 15 or more (though the group rate may not apply for special events).
How Much Time You Need: You’ll need about an hour to see it all.
Food Options: Other than the flavored honey straws and freeze-dried bugs in the gift shop, there is no food for sale. So make sure you either eat before you go, or pack snacks for later.
When to Go: We went on a Monday afternoon and there were only one or two other families there. I was told that the museum can sometimes be crowded during the school year on weekday mornings, because it is a popular field-trip destination. It is a small location. If you plan on going then, call ahead to be safe. There are also special events throughout the year, like the Halloween Boo at the Zoo with Scooby Doo (which takes place inside the small zoo inside Insectropolis).
What to Bring: You may want to pack snacks (though freeze-dried bugs are tastier than you'd expect). I recommend the salt and vinegar variety, but good luck getting the kids to eat them! Since it isn’t a whole day experience you don’t need much more than your basic supplies.
Best for Ages: There is a lot of reading required in order to fully engage with the exhibits. Elementary school aged children are the perfect audience for Insectropolis. If you’ve got younger kids, be prepared to do a lot of reading aloud to give them a full experience.
What You Should See and Do: The museum is a continuous loop, broken down into small rooms. Although each room has an exhibit name and different focus, as long as you keep walking you’ll see it all.
INSECTROPOLIS ZOO: Features a bunch of live creepy crawlies (kept safely behind glass). Look for lizards and tarantulas and more. During scheduled presentations, the animals come out of their cages as they get discussed. And there’s time to actually touch them, which is a must-do, and a highlight of the entire place. If your children don't love petting the tarantula, cockroach and scorpion, they'll love being way too creeped out to do it!
THE MUD TUBE: Billed as a the place where kids can "see a glimpse of what's happening underground," we kind of thought it was just a dark carpeted tunnel with nothing particularly special to look at.
THE HIVE AIRPORT: It appears that this exhibit sometimes shows bees going to and from their hive via a clear pipe on the wall. When we were at Insectropolis, however (in winter), there were live bees in the hive, but there weren’t any live bees in the pipe system.
ROCK STATE PRISON: It’s is a tongue-in-cheek look at the "mass murderers" of the insect world where you can read about the "crimes" of different species.
If you are expecting a museum with a ton of hands-on play time, you may be mildly disappointed.
Having said all that, my kids had a good time running around like lunatics, and we did learn a ton, especially cool to learn that tarantula hair is not actually hair but bristles that can be flicked off and used as a defense mechanism. For a short, relatively inexpensive trip, parents and kids can have a lot of fun looking at (and touching some) bugs.
For more information, visit insectropolis.com.