Based in Halifax, Eureka! is a fantastic interactive play centre for children aged 0-11. On arriving, you walk through the outdoor play area, There is a ‘beach’ (incredibly large sandpit), climbing apparatus and lots of grass for running around on and for picnics in good weather.
There’s lots more to discover outside though, including the Wonder Walk (sensory trail) and PlayScape (climbing items for twisting, turning and hiding in), which provide fun ways of discovering the natural environment, and lots of opportunities for tiring out energy filled children.
When you enter the centre, be prepared for noise. It’s a large, open plan centre, and is always busy with children having lots of fun, loud play, which is as it should be. There are two levels to Eureka! and if you’re visiting with young children and toddlers, one level of the museum is probably enough for a visit. If it’s busy downstairs, then head to the next level where there might be more space.
The Town Square
There is plenty of opportunity for role play in the Town Square. There’s a post office, a bank, a shop and a garage, full with interactive items and hands-on play. This leads through to the two-storey house, with a full kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom. It’s great fun for children to role play and learn in these areas, which are built at the size that is just right for them.
Little ones like mine can get tired quickly by the sensory overload. Eureka! does well in catering for tots though by creating separate areas designed for 0-5s, which provide a welcome oasis from the enthusiastic and more boisterous play of older children. We went into the Sound Garden, which is a giant-sized garden so children can experience the sights and sounds of nature close up. There are giant flowers, which you can smell, a giant honeycomb, and tree trunks with cubby holes holding animal outfits for children to try on. It’s a magical garden, perfect for little ones to explore.
Learning as they grow
Eureka! is a place you can return to time and time again as your child grows and develops. The innovative galleries will spark the imagination in different ways, at different ages. For example, there’s a theatre section in which you can control the lights and sounds from the technician’s booth behind the performance area. My daughter is very much at the race around and press buttons stage, so she sped through this gallery quite quickly. However, the older children were involved in role play and exploration within the theatre, so they spent much longer there.
The galleries mentioned above are just a few of the many hands-on themed areas within Eureka! It’s an incredibly large site, with so much to offer making it near impossible for your children to tire of it.
There is a cafe onsite, serving tea and Fairtrade coffee as well as lunches and snacks. You are welcome to bring your own food to Eureka! too though, and can eat this outside. If you bring your own lunch, don’t worry about the inevitable rain, as there’s a Northern Rail train carriage to eat your lunch in too!
The fee for entry to Eureka! is quite pricey, however, you can upgrade your ticket to get an annual pass at no extra cost. This ensures that everyone who came with you on your first visit can go back for free as many times as you like within a year. I’m not quite sure why they don’t give you the annual pass when you initially pay at reception – you have to go through to the appropriate desk to show your receipt and receive the pass, which seems a bit laborious but it’s well worth doing.
Travel & Parking
Eureka! is next door to Halifax train station, making train travel a great way to get to the centre easily. Be aware that parking is pay and display. We paid £3 for 4 hours. Don’t panic if you don’t have change with you though, as you can pay by card upon entry at the museum. The reception staff will note down your car registration to ensure that you don’t get a parking fine.