Here’s a list of our favorite children’s museums across the country.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, San Jose, California
There are 150 semi-permanent and traveling interactive exhibits at the Children’s Discover Museum, all designed to help your children explore the world they live in. Current Connections teaches kids about energy they can even generate their own electricity by cranking gears and working a pulley. Visit before January 11, 2009 and take part in “Alice’s Wonderland,” a 2,500-square-foot exhibit that teaches visitors about time, shadows, words, and physics by exploring the world of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Other area attractions: Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park with over 40 unique rides, gardens, and exhibits to explore.
The New Children’s Museum San Diego, California
The New Children’s Museum opened in May 2008, in the lively Marina district, housed in a spectacular three-story, glass and concrete structure built from recycled materials to limit its environmental impact. Kids can climb a graffiti wall, jump on walls and floors covered with mattresses, move around on kinetic “scooter” art, dance in the Porta-Party disco booth, and create art in indoor and outdoor studios using recycled and sustainable materials. Toddlers can crawl through the fabric-enhanced Texture Forest, while older kids can hang out in the Teen Studio.
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, Norwalk, Connecticut
Set in five acres of Mathews Park, the museum has four galleries with more than 100 interactive exhibits and educational programs. In The Works provides the chance to “manipulate” the laws of physics; Healthyville uses role-play to help children understand their bodies via a Good Foods Market, Healthyville Community Center, and WBOD, a clever TV network broadcasting
inside the body. The Rainforest Adventure inspires kids to become conservationists, and Waterscape encourages future meteorologists with whirlpools, cascades, fog, mist and ice.
Children’s Museum, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida
The Children’s Museum is a hands-on museum for children highlighting the arts, sciences and humanities. The interactive exhibitions encourage learning through creative play.
Children’s Science Explorium, Boca Raton, Florida
The Explorium works to achieve the mission by providing a fun, interactive, and kid-friendly exhibits that relate to everyday experiences with the physical sciences.
Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, Boynton Beach, Florida
This museum, a restored 1913 school building, features ìhands-onî exhibits, facts and activities about pioneer days in Palm Beach County. Family fun for all ages.
Young at Art Children’s Museum, Davie, Florida
This museum is a unique, hands-on children’s museum. Enter a new dimension of learning and creativity by touching, exploring, creating, imagining and enjoying the limitless possibilities of art.
My Jewish Discovery Place Children’s Museum, Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Jewish Discovery Place is a hands-on, interactive museum of Jewish culture, history and values. A place where children and families learn about the joys of Jewish life. A place where creativity and play become a bridge to learning and understanding.
Imaginarium Hands-On Museum & Aquarium, Fort Myers, Florida
The Imaginarium – a hands-on science and nature-based museum – provides visitors with over 60 interactive exhibits including a theater, a traveling exhibit, live animals and ongoing special programs.
Tree Hill Jacksonville’s Nature Center, Jacksonville, Florida
Located in the center of Jacksonville, Florida, Tree Hill Nature Center is the place in our community to benefit from important environmental programs and experience family fun in a natural environment. Home to 50 acres of trails, a Florida Natural History Museum, butterfly and hummingbird gardens and native animals, Tree Hill Nature Center has provided the best in environmental and energy education to our community for over three decades.
Miami Children’s Museum, Miami, Florida
This museum is a non-profit educational institution that offers interactive exhibits, programs, and learning materials related to arts, culture, community and communication.
Children’s Museum of Naples, Naples, Florida
Opening in fall 2010 the Childrenís Museum of Naples will be ìan exciting, inspiring environment where children and their families play, learn and dream together.î Under construction in the North Collier Regional Park, the 30,000-square-foot Children’s Museum of Naples will feature ten spectacularly designed, child-scaled exhibits to invite sensory and intellectual exploration.
Orlando Science Center, Orlando, Florida
Enjoy four floors of hands-on exhibits plus giant screen films and stargazing in the observatory as you discover the amazing impact of science on your life.
Great Explorations – The Children’s Museum, Saint Petersburg, Florida
Great Explorations Childrenís Museum, located next to historic Sunken Gardens on 4th Street North in St. Petersburg, is one of Floridaís top museums and one of Americaís top museums for children. At Great Explorations, fun educational experiences make learning fun for visitors of all ages. In keeping with its coastal locale, the museum offers several programs on the topic of water and marine life. Children get to play grown-ups in a kid-size grocery store or experience what it would be like to be a doctor, veterinarian, police officer, firefighter, or restaurateur. Tech-savvy kids can create cartoons or experiment with making sounds on computers. Kids can also build their own robots, scale the 18-foot climb wall, or take in a puppet show.
Other area attractions: Clearwater Marine Aquarium or the Egmont Key State Park. Or take your family on the Ghost Tour of St. Petersburg for spooky and fun vacation memories.
Glazer Children’s Museum, Tampa, Florida
Scheduled to open in downtown Tampa in 2010, the Glazer Children’s Museum’s mission is to inspire children and families by creating learning opportunities around innovative play and discovery. The new 53,000 square foot facility will provide an exceptional learning environment for children and the adults in their lives. Here, visitors of all ages will interact with one another, learn with and from each other, try, explore, test, figure out, imagine, laugh, cooperate and play their way to new understandings. Opportunities for learning in novel ways are plentiful.
South Florida Science Museum, West Palm Beach, Florida
The South Florida Science Museum provides curious minds of all ages with an entertaining and educational journey through science and technology. Located in West Palm Beach, the museum features more than 50 hands-on exhibits, a digital planetarium, freshwater and saltwater aquariums, as well as natural history exhibitions.
Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago, Illinois
Let your kids explore three floors of exciting permanent and traveling exhibits at the Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier. Whether they’re expressing their creativity in the “Inventing Lab,” learning how to prevent danger in the Allstate Foundation’s “Play It Safe” area, or experiencing what it was like to be a part of a dinosaur dig in 1997 in the “Dinosaur Expedition” authentic excavation pit. This fall, the museum will host the “Secrets of Circles,” an exhibit
exploring the use of circles in art and science.
Other area attractions: Navy Pier’s Pier Park and Amazing Chicago’s 4,000-square-foot Funhouse Maze.
SPECIAL FREE DAYS AT SELECT CHICAGO MUSEUMS
Adler Planetarium (1300 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-922-7827, adlerplanetarium.org)
Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S Lake Shore Dr, 773-684-1414, msichicago.org)
Shedd Aquarium (1200 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-939-2438, sheddaquarium.org)
STANDING FREE DAYS
Art Institute of Chicago Thursdays, Fridays 5-9pm. (111 S Michigan Ave, 312-443-3600, artic.edu/aic).
The new Ryan Education Center is always free (use the Modern Wing entrance on Monroe Street).
Chicago Children’s Museum Thursdays 5-8pm, first Sunday of the month (Navy Pier, 700 E Grand Ave, 312-527-1000, chicagochildrensmuseum.org)
Chicago History Museum Mondays (1601 N Clark St, 312-642-4600, chicagohistory.org)
Clarke House Museum Wednesdays (1827 S Indiana Ave, 312-745-0041, clarkehousemuseum.org)
DuSable Museum of African-American History Sundays (740 E 56th Pl, 773-947-0600, dusablemuseum.org)
Field Museum second Monday of the month (1400 S Lake Shore Dr, 312-922-9410, fieldmuseum.org)
Glessner House Museum Wednesdays (1800 S Prairie Ave, 312-326-1480, glessnerhouse.org)
Museum of Contemporary Art Tuesdays; kids 12 and under always free with paying adult. (220 E Chicago Ave, 312-280-2660,
Spertus Museum Tuesdays, 10am-noon, Thursdays 2ñ6pm. Gray Childrenís Center is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
(610 S Michigan Ave, 312-322-1700, spertus.edu)
Swedish American Museumís Brunk Childrenís Museum of Immigration Second Tuesday of the month. (5211 N Clark St, 773-728-8111, samac.org)
The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Thursdays pay what you can; regular admission is $9, kids $7. Or print out a coupon for free childís admission any day of the week with a paid adult. (2430 N Cannon Dr, 773-755-5100, naturemuseum.org)
Oriental Institute Museum Suggested $7 donation every day, kids $4 (1155 E 58th St, 773-702-9520, oi.uchicago.edu).
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana
The biggest and most popular children’s museum in the U.S., there are five floors, a planetarium, and 11 galleries with educational exhibits,including areas about trains, dinosaurs, and family health. Check out the “Dragons Unearthed” exhibit, opening September 19, to find out how
these mythical creatures have influenced cultures around the world for centuries. At the “Animation” exhibit, open until January 4, kids can learn about the art, math, science, and technology that goes into creating a cartoon.
Other area attractions: Indianapolis Zoo and White River Gardens for a wild adventure, including a Dolphin Adventure Show.
Boston Children’s Museum, Boston, Massachusetts
The Boston Children’s Museum has been hands-on since its founding in 1913. Now there are 17 exhibits designed to encourage a child’s interest in everything from art and culture to math and physics. Take your child through the “Kid Power” exhibit, which encourages healthy living with nutritious foods and fun physical activity. Or go to work in the “Construction Zone,” where kids can build, tunnel, demolish, or even ride an authentic Bobcat. Visit before January 4, 2009 to take part in the “Airplay” exhibit, which teaches visitors the laws of motion with pinwheels and handheld fans, as well as letting them make music like the Blue Man Group with PVC instruments.
Other area attractions: Franklin Park Zoo and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn, New York
The world’s first museum created expressly for children, this historic institution opened its doors for the first time in 1899. It’s been under construction, but the newly expanded attraction will open its doors on September 20 as the first “green” museum in New York City. New exhibits will teach children about environmentally friendly practices and allow them to become scientists with activities based around ecology and conservation. The first traveling exhibit after the opening will be “Living in Space,” offered through January 2, where kids can experience sleeping, working, and dressing like astronauts.
Other area attractions: Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Prospect Park Zoo.
Children’s Museum of Manhattan, New York City, New York
The Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) is a not-for-profit institution, founded in 1973, to engage children and families in a partnership of learning through interactive exhibits and educational programs. CMOM inspires children and families to learn about themselves and our culturally diverse world through the arts, literacy, media & communications, science & the environment and early childhood education.
Other area attractions: Central Park Zoo and The Museum of Natural History
Children’s Museum of the Arts, New York City, New York
The Children’s Museum of the Arts provides stimulating, interactive exhibitions and programs for children under ten years old, encouraging them to develop their full creative potential through the visual and performing arts. The Museum emphasizes inclusion, with programs geared to integrate special needs children, their families and school into the life of the museum.
Other area attractions: Central Park Zoo and The Museum of Natural History
Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York City, New York
This floating museum offers exhibits that let kids climb aboard a British Airways Concorde jet, ride inside an A-6 cockpit simulator, and poke around a space capsule.
Long Island’s Children’s Museum, Long Island, New York
LICM is a hands-on museum for kids and their grown-ups. Youíll find places to play, learn and have fun.
Other area attractions: Museum Row
New York Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, New York
Built as a pavilion for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair, the Hall of Science served as a museum from 1966 to 1981. In 1986, an improved museum reopened with 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, new hands-on exhibitions, and a new staff.
Other area attractions: Queens Zoo and Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Nitchen Children’s Museum of Native America (NCMNA), New York City, NY
The museum is a project of Nitchen, Inc., a non-profit organization serving NYC Native American families in the social, educational, cultural and health areas. This museum will offer a peek into the past, present and future of Native America.
Science Museum of Long Island, Long Island, New York
SMLI is a not-for-profit science activity center located on the Leeds Pond Preserve in Nassau County. The Science Museum offers enrichment workshops for children on weekdays and during school vacations. All activities at the Science Museum are pre-registered hands-on science workshops. To experience the Science Museum, you must register for our programs.
Sony Wonder Technology Lab, New York City, New York
The Sony Wonder Technology Lab is a great place for kids of all ages to learn about technology through interactive exhibits. Children under 8 may need a little help with some of the exhibits.
There are several permanent exhibits at the museum.
Staten Island Children’s Museum, Staten Island, New York
Collection of interactive exhibits for children to explore and learn about the world around them. Exhibits range from a children’s theater where dressup is encouraged to scientific exhibits focusing on the human body and the environment.
Strong National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York
Many of the exhibits at the Strong National Museum of Play are based on some of your children’s most beloved characters, so you can step into the world of the Berenstain Bears or stroll down Sesame Street. Get close to nature in the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden or Rainbow Reef aquarium, or climb inside a helicopter and man the controls. Visit from September 20 to January 4, 2009, and learn to see the world through a mischievous monkey’s eyes in the “Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!” exhibit.
Other area attractions: Seabreeze Amusement Park, Rochester Museum & Science Center, or the Seneca Park Zoo.
Child-Friendly Museum & Art Gallery Tours in New York
Based in New York, Art Smart specializes in tailor-made museum and gallery visits for small groups. Kids love the private museum tours with an enthusiastic art historian who knows how to keep kids engaged and get them excited about art. Art Smart also caters to adults, whether they want an in-depth look at the Guggenheim’s latest exhibit, or need advice on expanding their contemporary painting collection. Art Smart offers visits to cultural institutions in and around New York City, but custom itineraries and guides can be arranged.
New Jersey Children’s Museum, Paramus, New York
The New Jersey Children’s Museum was featured as one of the “50 Best Places To Take Kids in New York City” (City and Co 1998). Although they are located in N.J., they are so close (15 minutes from the George Washington Bridge) and so great for little kids that the editors made a geographical exception for them. They have special programs for school groups and are available for birthday parties. Your family will have hours of fun playing and learning together! The Museum has over thirty different exhibits, in 15,000 square feet, each designed for specific groups, from the special Baby Nook and Housekeeping for two’s and toddlers, to the challenging Science and Technology for first graders
ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, Charlotte, North Carolina
As the first public building in Charlotte to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council, ImaginOn is as friendly to the environment as it is to families. Visitors can flex their creative muscles through storytelling exhibits or by designing or performing a play in the Wachovia Playhouse or McColl Family Theatre.
Other area attractions: Levine Museum of the New South, the Mint Museum of Art, and the historic Charlotte Trolley.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, North Carolina
This museum is known as one of the best things in Raleigh — a free place that kids love and learn so much from, including late at night. There are great dinosaur exhibits, great cafes and staff, amazing special events and exhibits. There’s a new wing with video screens and plenty of interactive exhibits.
Portland Children’s Museum, Portland, Oregon
Kids can play paleontologist in the dinosaur-themed maze, learn about eco-friendly construction in the recycled arts studio, or join the construction crew for a 17-foot-high house. At the Clay Studio, kids can create masterpieces or try their stage chops by directing a production in the Play It Again Theater.
Other area attractions: Washington Park and the Oregon Zoo.
EdVenture children’s museum, Columbia, South Carolina
At the biggest children’s museum in the South, little ones can check out the world’s largest “kid” and learn about the human body by exploring the 40-foot-tall Eddie. They can discover different career paths at the “World of Work”; check out a farm with a full-size tractor next to the “Little Pig Market”; or explore a Volkswagen Beetle at the “AutoWorks” station. In the summer, EdVenture offers “BubbLeoosa,” where children can explore the shapes, sizes, and colors of a bubble blower that shoots out 25,000 bubbles per minute. In the winter, visit “Snowville” to learn about the North and South Poles, build an igloo, and discover the science of snow.
Other area attractions: Frankie’s Fun Park and the Riverbanks Zoo and Gardens.
Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee
With more than 12 exhibits to explore, kids can excavate dinosaur bones in a giant sandpit, pretend to be doctors in the Corner Clinic, or become rock stars in the recording studio. Visit from November 22 to February 1, 2009 to take part in the “Helping Hands” exhibit, which aims to teach children how to make a difference in their community.
Other area attractions: Tennessee Aquarium & Imax Theaters and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.
Children’s Museum of Houston, Houston, Texas
This museum serves more than 750,000 annually, making it the third most frequented children’s museum in the country. There are 11 permanent exhibits, including Kid-TV, which lets kids experience life as a TV news anchor, sound booth director, or camera operator.
Other area attractions: Houston Museum District and Hermann Park.
Children’s Museum of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia
At this 44,000-square-foot museum, visitors can do everything from exploring a Virginia limestone cave to preparing and serving a mealóand then trace the food’s journey through the human body! This October you can be among the first to play in the museum’s new “Town Square” exhibit, where you can find out what it’s like to work in six different careers, including a car-repair shop and a TV station.
Other area attractions: Metro Richmond Zoo, Three Lakes Nature Center & Aquarium, and the Science Museum of Virginia.
Amazement Square: The Rightmire Children’s Museum, Virginia Beach, Virginia
Science lovers can see science in action in the “Raceways” and “Voltageville” exhibits by connecting circuits and racing balls down a track. For those kids with an artistic side, the Imagination Studio is all about sculpting, quilt- or printmaking, and art history. Each floor of the museum is connected by the Amazement Tower which happens to be the tallest indoor climbing structure in the country.
Other area attractions: Rotary Centennial Riverfront Skatepark and the Riverwalk Trail.