Location: 902 N. 8th St., Sheboygan, WI
Hours: Monday: Closed
Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am – 4 pm
Sunday from 11 am – 3 pm
Cost: $8 per person ages 1 and up
$7 for adults over 60 years old
$3 Museums for All members (Bring your EBT card)
Children under 12 months old get in free
Disclosure: We were provided a trip to Sheboygan to visit the Above and Beyond Children’s Museum. Opinions are our own.
Above and Beyond Children’s Museum is located in downtown Sheboygan, Wisconsin about 2.5 hours from Rockford, Illinois. The museum is housed inside a historic three-story building that immediately catches your eye due to the bow and stern of a ship sticking out of its sides. This ship makes an appearance inside the museum as well. The museum also has a beautiful mural of whales painted on it.
The Museum started as a traveling show bringing children’s exhibits to events in the community more than 25 years ago, but eventually moved into a space that it outgrew within a year. Since 1999, it’s been a staple in downtown Sheboygan.
The Museum saw 20,000 visitors in 2021, after being closed for part of the year due to COVID restrictions. The Museum offers a variety of memberships for local families as well as birthday parties, field trips, weekly programs, and the option to rent out the entire museum after-hours.
We were invited to the grand opening of Above and Beyond’s newest addition, an outdoor playground called The Purple Octopus Playground.
There is so much to do at Above and Beyond Children’s Museum! We put together a list of exhibits that we think each age group would enjoy. You can see a full list of exhibits here.
Things for Kids of All Ages to Do
The Purple Octopus Playground
Upon walking up to the towering Museum, the first thing you’ll see is the colorful purple, pink, and blue playground. The Purple Octopus Playground is an all-abilities playground that has been in the works for more than seven years. The playground was built in the green space next to the museum to fulfill a need in the community for a downtown public play space that is ADA-accessible.
This very unique playground is structured to look like an octopus’s body from above. The museum worked with a Norwegian playground company to design the artistic space that complements the whale mural it faces. The playground is 90 feet in length and 47 feet wide, enclosed with a fence, and includes an octopus head hideout with slide, several climbing areas, balance beams, a birds nest swing, ropes and more.
Kids of all ages will enjoy playing on the imaginative structures that inspire creative play. Even the smallest toddlers can enjoy climbing the low hills built into the flooring. The playground flooring is rubber foam so wheelchairs and strollers can easily navigate on it. The rubber flooring is also fantastic for playing during any season because it stays mess-free all year unlike sand or mulch flooring. There are numerous benches around the play structure, including some in the shade, where parents can relax while being able to view the entire playground.
We’ve never seen a playground quite like this one! It is artistic and beautiful and fits in perfectly with downtown Sheboygan’s numerous murals, fountains, and public art sculptures.
Once you’re done playing outside, you can head into the Museum for lots more opportunities for active and imaginative play as well as educational experiences!
Things for Babies to Do (Birth – 12 months)
Melitta S. and Joan M. Pick Toddler Barnyard
Your little one’s favorite spot is going to be the barnyard on the second floor. This play area is conveniently gated off and has a sign that recommends only children 4 and under play here. There are two levels to the barnyard structure and a slide. There are also mats on the floor for crawlers, chairs for parents, and a thoughtfully included breastfeeding area for nursing moms. Though my kids are too old for this section, it looked wonderful to visit with a small child.
Things for Little Kids to Do (18 months – 10 years old)
Above and Beyond Museum is the perfect place for little kids! They can run, play, climb, and pretend to be all sorts of things. Here are the exhibits that we think kids ages 18 months – 10 years would enjoy.
When you enter Above and Beyond, you’ll immediately notice the stairway leading up to a series of tubes. As you enter the first floor, you’ll also see a treehouse with a tire swing and two slides. Kids can use the staircase or climb up the inside of the tree to get to the slides. They can also continue to the mezzanine level where they can use the Sky Crawl. The Sky Crawl is a rope mesh tunnel that makes its way across the first floor into the Music Mezzanine area. It’s thought to be the largest Sky Crawl in the US! In case you’re wondering, the Sky Crawl is safe for parents to use too!
This exhibit is not only Rachel’s favorite, but it was my son’s too! This Rube Goldberg-esque machine allows you to make a basket with a soccer ball using household items like hockey sticks and ice skates. Kids need to turn a series of cranks to make the ball drop into the basketball hoop. My son spent a lot of time at this exhibit and talked about it all the way home!
Also on the first floor, you can find the Flight Site exhibit which allows you to test an object’s ability to fly in a wind tunnel. While we were there, there were lightweight scarves to play with in the exhibit.
A tall pin screen is within view of the Treehouse and is a favorite for little kids. Kids can push the plastic pins through the board to make shapes. Try making an imprint with your hand or face!
Close to the Flight Site exhibit, there’s a magnetic table with a variety of screws, washers, and bolts that you can use to build structures on the table. This table gives kids the chance to be creative and play with items they might not usually have access to. Please note, the clanging of the items on the table can be a bit loud for kids with sensory sensitivities.
The Music Mezzanine is technically a half-floor, located between the first and second floors. You can take the stairs to reach it, or you can take the Sky Crawl tunnel. The Music Mezzanine has two main sections – a musical instrument section which includes a Whompamaphone PVC pipe organ that kids can use a flip flop to play and a string harp. The second section is the Sounds Like Fun music studio where kids can play a real keyboard and record their own tunes. There is a computer and soundboard in the room to play with too.
On the second floor, you can view a huge enclosed beehive buzzing with hundreds of bees. The beehive enclosure has a tube that allows the bees to get in and out of the children’s museum. You can watch them making honey and living their best bee lives.
Around the corner, is the Theater. This exhibit includes a dressing room with vanity, costumes, and a stage with a red curtain. Kids can put on a show complete with puppets. There’s a bench outside of the stage area where parents can watch kids perform. My kids enjoyed getting dressed up and putting on a performance with another child they met in the exhibit.
Above and Beyond will be renovating this area in November 2022 and adding a house structure, interactive world map, and Cultural Exchange exhibit.
The Glow Room is fun for all ages! There are numerous multi-colored glow sticks that you can put in a pegboard to create designs. My kids worked on a large heart while we were there. The black lights also make anything white or light-colored glow which is fun to experiment with.
In the back of the glow room, there was a shadow room that was unfortunately out of order when we visited. The shadow room looks like it would normally function as a place where kids can pose in front of a white screen while a light flashes, creating a temporary shadow on the screen.
Fire Truck and Station
The third floor of Above and Beyond was our favorite! There are so many unique opportunities for imaginative play on this level! The first one you’ll encounter upon walking upstairs is the fire truck and station. This includes a large open fire truck that kids can climb around in as well as some costumes they can wear while they play. There’s also a firepole that kids can slide down.
Memories School House
Around the corner is the Memories School House. This is a cute school house equipped with student desks, a teacher’s desk, and a chalkboard. One of the coolest parts of this structure is that it was formerly a fish shanty, built in the 1800’s, that was deconstructed and used to build both the School House and the entrance to the Port of Sheboygan located in the Festival Foods Fresh Marketplace.
Festival Foods Fresh Marketplace
The Festival Foods Fresh Marketplace is so adorable. The space is colorful and bright with a large mural of Sheboygan painted on one wall. There are numerous stands spread around the space with toy vegetables and fruits for kids to shop from.
U.S.S. Efroymson is the official name of the boat that’s sticking out of the sides of the Children’s Museum. Once you’re in the exhibit, you are able to see why! The steering wheel placement allows you to look out the window and imagine that you are navigating the ship through downtown Sheboygan. The rest of the area is set up like a ship deck with pulleys to lift buckets, a cabin area, and fishing off the side of the boat. There’s also a smaller boat that kids can sit in and a table and chairs for resting or pretending you’re at a restaurant using the food from the Festival Foods Fresh Marketplace exhibit.
Above and Beyond Children’s Museum was created for families and all of the exhibits, including the Sky Crawl, are safe for adults to use too. There are numerous benches throughout the three story building as well as benches outside in the Purple Octopus Playground. Families can use the stairs, or an elevator, to get around the museum.
There are two bathrooms on the first floor equipped with changing tables and a family bathroom on the second floor. There is also a nursing room on the second floor in the barnyard exhibit. Outside food and beverage are not allowed and the drinking fountains are not in service, but there is bottled water available for purchase.
We loved exploring Above and Beyond Children’s Museum in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. If you have kids under the age of 10, we’d highly recommend taking a weekend trip there and checking it out!