SARATOGA SPRINGS: A museum of amusements

Chris, Roman and Abby are tough customers.

The two 5-year-old boys and the 3-year-old girl are yelling at the woman behind the diner counter as she struggles to balance a block of cheese, a piece of sushi and an entire chicken on a dinner plate. She succeeds in delivering the meal, but the three young ones aren't satisfied now they want ice cream.

The woman behind the counter doesn't get upset. She laughs, in fact, and encourages the children to choose healthier foods. She is Chris' mom, Diane Kostas, and she is serving up fake food and real fun behind the counter of the diner exhibit at the Children's Museum at Saratoga.

Her family and that of Roman and Abby Sabatini are on vacation from New Jersey and made special stop at the museum.

We come up to Saratoga each summer, and we make this part of trip," said Kostas. "It's a great family thing to do."

The Children's Museum at Saratoga has been committed to providing positive opportunities for children, ages 2 to 7, to learn about science, history, community living and the arts since its inception in 1990. Housed in an unassuming building at 69 Caroline St. are many interactive exhibits, most of which are framed in toddler-sized renditions of Saratoga Springs landmarks like Congress Park, Lillian Andrew's attic and the Spa Little Theatre. The facility also hosts special events and workshops designed to encourage children to learn by making discoveries for themselves.

Though all of the exhibits are educational, the most popular are still the ones that are the most fun, said Ashley Terwilliger, director of education at the museum. Case in point: the mock fire engine and firehouse.

"The kids get to jump on board and put on real fire gear and pretend to go off and save the world," said Terwilliger. "The diner is a big hit with the kids too. We have all sorts of fake food and facts about health and nutrition in a model diner, so kids can learn in somewhat of a real-life situation."

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