The BEACH is back at the all-new Sandy Shack! 

The BEACH is back and better than ever at Great Explorations Children’s Museum.  We are thrilled to announce that the brand new Beth’s Beach at the Sandy Shack is open for the public to enjoy!  This exhibit has been generously championed by longtime museum supporters Beth Houghton and Scott Wagman in honor of their children and grandchildren.  

This unique, interactive, and much-beloved exhibit now features a beautiful, handcrafted Sandy Shack to enclose the beach and includes benches lining the exhibit where caretakers can comfortably dip their toes in the sand and continue to interact with the kids.  The “sand” that makes up the beach is comprised of more than 2000 pounds of rubber supplied by American Recycling Center and is certified contaminant free.  The Sandy Shack exhibit, including the sand, will receive the same loving care and cleaning procedures that we utilize both while we are open and nightly on all our exhibits to ensure optimal health and safety standards for our guests.   There are many developmental benefits that come with playing at the new Beth’s Beach at the Sandy Shack exhibit.  Fine motor skills are developed as children utilize small shovels to dig, buckets to fill and toys to maneuver through the sand.  Sand play allows for the development of a sense of textures as children feel the unique rubber on their skin, the sensations as they bury their feet and legs, as well as sensing the contrast created with the surrounding wooden benches and carpet in the other portions of the exhibit.  Language skills can be enhanced with opportunities to explore new words that might not otherwise be part of a regular day for a child.  Playing in a limited space such as the beach allows children to develop social skills as they learn to problem solve, share and communicate while working alone or together to accomplish goals.  Additionally, play experiences in a contained space like the Sandy Shack will help to build trust and confidence as little ones can feel safe to play independently, but still at a short distance from caretakers, reducing separation anxiety and promoting healthy caretaker-child attachment.   

Lobby Renovations  Starting July 1st  

Sunken Gardens will begin a renovation project for our shared main lobby scheduled to begin July 1st and lasting for approximately 8 weeks.  Great Explorations Children’s Museum will be open throughout the construction and will continue to have access through the main lobby for the majority of the project.  On Friday, July 5th and Monday, July 8th all guests coming to Great Explorations for any reason (preschool, camp, field trips, general museum visitors, etc) will enter and exit through our secondary entrance which is a single door located just to the left of the main entrance when facing the building.   The temporary entrance and exit will be clearly marked with signage and balloons as well as a staff member nearby to help direct our guests!  Please note Great Explorations is closed on Thursday, July 4th in celebration of the holiday. 


Member Mornings – Members Only  Saturdays in June & July – 10 am  

On Saturday mornings in June and July we open our doors an hour early for Members only!  Enjoy this quiet time on the museum floor as our way of saying thank you for being members and supporting the museum all year long!      Memory Mondays  July 1st    10 am – 12 pm  *Location change to The Coliseum at 535 4th Ave N Great Explorations will host a FREE program for adults with memory loss. Participants will take part in programs focusing on art, music, movement and stress reduction and will enjoy quality time with others. This monthly event is sponsored by AARP and presented in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. Additional support is provided by Harmony Home Health.    July program features will include patriotic songs with Larry Lewis;  red, white and blue parfaits; seated mindful movement; and a make a coaster craft!  As always, the program will incorporate art, movement, humor, brain boosts and brain-healthy recipes along with socializing and light refreshments.     For July 1st the Memory Mondays program will be held at The Coliseum at 535 4th Ave. N.   Free parking is available at The Coliseum.  For those who prefer to park at Great Explorations, we will provide a free shuttle from Great Explorations to The Coliseum and back. The shuttle will leave the Great Explorations parking lot at 9:45 AM sharp and will leave The Coliseum, as soon as the program has ended (no later than 12:00 PM). Space is limited and advanced reservations to ride the shuttle are REQUIRED. Email Lael at no later than June 24 to reserve a ride or for more information.  Memory Mondays will take a brief summer break and will not occur during the month of August. Due to the Labor Day holiday, the September programming date will be Monday, September 9th as originally planned and will take place in the exhibit gallery of Great Explorations Children’s Museum. For more information please email Lael at    Terrific Tots at Sundial  July 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 9:45 to 10:30 am  Every Tuesday join us at 9:45 am in the outdoor plaza at Sundial to participate in this iconic Great Ex program. Terrific Tots at Sundial is for children ages 1-4 along with their caregiver and includes songs, stories, creative expression opportunities through art and movement, and community time with fun and engaging toys.  The program will encourage curiosity, communication, creativity, and critical thinking! This program is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Lael Arango at  Themes this month include: 
  • 7/2:  Every Little Thing by Cedella Marley (instruments and music) 
  • 7/9:  Dinoshapes an Alphaprints book (dinosaurs and shapes) 
  • 7/16: Dig, Dump, Roll by Sally Sutton (construction and building) 
  • 7/23: Only One You by Linda Kranz (uniqueness and sea creatures)
  • 7/30: My Car by Byron Barton (vehicles) 
  CLOSED  July 4th  Great Explorations will be closed on Thursday, July 4th in honor of the holiday.  We will open again at 10 am on Friday, July 5th for regular business hours.      Blue Star Museums  Free Admission for Active Military  Great Explorations is proud to announce free admission for all active military families (up to 5 guests) from now through Labor Day as part of the Blue Star Museum program!  We salute our incredible military families that sacrifice so much on our behalf to ensure that we are able to enjoy the freedom to create, play and explore.    Great Connections  July 14 10 am to 12 pm  Great Connections is a monthly, sensory-friendly program for children with special needs and their families. Great Explorations will modify lights and sounds and will provide a “cool down” room for families who need to take a break.  This is a wonderful opportunity to connect with other families and community resources while the kids enjoy the power of PLAY!  Cost: $5 per person and is free for Great Ex members!  Contact Lael Arango at 727-821-8992 x 209 or for more information.    Apollo 50th Celebration  July 20th  10 am to 2 pm  Join us at Great Explorations to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first human Moon landing. Moon and space themed activities created by the National Informal Science Institute and NASA will take place during the event from 10 am – 2 pm.  Activities will include Pocket Solar Systems, Hide & Seek Moons, Rocket Reactions and more!  All activities are included with admission or are free for members.         Community Outreach  The Great Ex STEAM team is on the move and out in the community at lots of wonderful events available to the public.  Stop by and play! 
  • July 21 – Back to School Bash at Westfield Citrus Park Mall from 10 am – 3 pm 
  • July 13 – Sirata Market at 5300 Gulf Blvd, St. Pete Beach from 11 am – 3pm 
  • July 13 – Minority Mental Health event 5 – 8 pm  
  • July 18, 22, 24, 25 JWB Book Bus at various sites throughout the county: 9 am – 2pm 
  • July 27 – Jr. League’s Care Fair 8 am – 12 pm 

Toy of the Month  Smart Games 

Vacations, road trips, and time away from school – what do these all have in common? For many families, summertime means more free time for the kids. And what better way to pass the time than with a game that makes you think? Avoid staring at screens all day and still have fun with July’s toy of the month: Smart Games!   St. Pete-based licensed pediatric psychologist Dr. Audra Walsh shared the many uses of these compact, portable brainteasers: “Smart Games can be very versatile once you have a few strategies for how to use them in your back pocket. They’re a great way to teach about concepts like growth mindset, which is all about perseverance and flexibility when confronted with a difficult task. For example, you can use Smart Games to model how to work through hard problems. The challenging aspect of the game provides a great teaching moment for you to talk about the value of brain breaks and approaching problems from a different, fresh angle. Smart Games also can be used to scaffold your child’s learning and increase his or her stamina for focus and attention. Have you ever noticed that your child has difficulty focusing on homework but can focus on a video game for hours? It’s easier for us to focus on tasks we enjoy, which means that fun activities like Smart Games that require extended concentration are a great way to increase your child’s ability to pay attention to a task for longer periods of time.”   Dr. Walsh’s practice provides families with individualized attention and strategies for their unique needs and goals. If you’d like to learn more about strategies for developing your child’s growth mindset and facilitating his or her attention and learning, you can visit or schedule an appointment.   So, whether you’re looking to challenge your child’s mind, help them develop a growth mindset, or just hours of road trip fun, stop by Great Explorations and grab your Smart Game before they’re gone! Enjoy our Cube Puzzler GO and IQ Puzzler Pro for $12 each and our fan favorite IQ Stars for only $8.    Plushy Pal Party  August 2nd & 3rd   On Friday, August 2nd we are inviting your children’s favorite stuffed animal friends for a sleepover party at the museum!  Drop off your child’s stuffed animal on Friday, August 2nd to the museum staff between 4-5 pm and return for a celebration on Saturday, August 3rd from 9-10 am to reunite, see pictures of what your stuffed animal friend got to do all night and create a craft at the museum!  This is a member only event and there is no charge to participate but limited space is available.  Contact to register or for more information.     

Donor Spotlight

For July we are proud to spotlight our friends at Sir Speedy St. Petersburg!  Sir Speedy has generously been supporting Great Explorations for years with incredibly high-quality signage and marketing materials! Jerry and the team at the St. Pete location have also been generously supporting our annual fundraising gala to allow Great Explorations to maximize funds raised to go directly to educational programming for the children of our community.  No job is too big or small for Sir Speedy St. Petersburg located at 956 1st Avenue North.  Please join us in thanking these generous partners for supporting Great Explorations in so many ways!