For a fun-filled family day out, head to one of the best museums for kids. Every museum on this list offers engaging, interactive, play-based experiences to cultivate your children’s interests and passions, igniting their curiosity and inspiring creativity. They’ll be so enthralled they won’t actually realize they’re actually learning something too!
COSI: Center of Science and Industry, Columbus, Ohio
One that parents will love just as much as their tots, tweens and teens is part-science museum, part-research center, COSI. Ii is filled with over 300 enthralling exhibits that take you on a voyage of discovery through science and innovation, tackling themes such as life, space, gadgets, energy and the ocean. There is a working TV and radio studio, planetarium and a 10,000-square foot area for kids under first grade.
Best for: Age 4+
Exploratorium, San Francisco
One of San Francisco’s top attractions, Exploratorium, explores the world through science, art and human perception. It is home to six main galleries and more than 650 eye-opening exhibits focusing on color, sounds, light and motion designed to engage and inspire kids of all ages (and their parents too!). It’s just like walking into a mad scientists lab! Highlights include the Tactile Dome and Tinkering Studio.
Best for: Ages 5 and up
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Set on 29 acres and measuring a whopping 470,000-square feet, Children’s Museum Indianapolis is the largest and one of the best museums in the USA. Dino-fans will go crazy for Dinosphere, where they’ll find simulated dinosaurs and fossil digs. Other awesome exhibits include American Pop, Circus-Starring YOU, Take Me There: China, All Aboard and Playscape, for the under 5s.
Best for: Ages 2 to 10
National Museum of Play, Rochester, New York
The National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York will appeal to kids of all ages. It offers an interactive look at historic toys and games from classic video-game exhibits to Sesame Street. There’s an indoor butterfly garden, Reading Adventureland, pretend supermarket and National Toy Hall of Fame, for parents who fancy a trip down memory lane.
Best for: Ages 2 to 10
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City, New Jersey
This interactive science museum provides an informal insight into science and technology with 12 galleries housing endless hands-on exhibits for all ages. The most popular exhibit is the pitch-black Touch Tunnel for 7 year olds and up (but be prepared to stand in line). The Eat and Be Eaten zone is also a crowd pleaser. Kids can burn off some energy on the Infinity Climber or rock wall, while toddlers will have a blast at I Explore. Don’t forget to check out the 3D films at the nation’s largest IMAX theatre!
Best for: Age 2 to 12
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
One of the largest science centers in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry is home to an array of permanent and temporary exhibits designed to spark the curiosity of the whole family. Descend into a simulated coalmine, explore a German submarine, wander round a giant fairy castle, navigate a mirror maze or find out how your body works at You! The Experience. A big hit with under 10s is the interactive Idea Factory.
Best for: Age 5+
Children’s Museum of Houston
Expect 14 galleries of high-tech, interactive fun for kids of all ages. They can explore Kidtropolis, a pint-sized metropolis, burn off some energy on the three-story Power Tower and cool off outside during the summer at Flow Works. For tiny tots, there’s The Tot Spot, a padded play wonderland for zero to 35 months.
Best for: Ages 2 to12
American Museum of Natural History, New York
This iconic Manhattan museum stretches across four blocks and houses 45 exhibition halls filled with more than 30 million artifacts from the land, sea and outer space. One of the biggest draws is the 94-foot reconstructed blue whale. Other must-sees include The Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, The Discovery Room and The Helibrium Cosmic Pathway.
Best for: Ages 5+
EdVenture, Columbia, South Carolina
EdVenture, the South’s largest children’s museum, located in Columbia, South Carolina, has over 300 exhibits and 92,000-square feet of interactive, hands-on fun. It is also home to Eddie, the world’s largest child, who is 40-feet tall and a big draw for kids, who can clamber through his body. Other highlights include Flight, The Cooking Lab, Planet Putt and Play, The World of Work and the seasonal Blooming Butterflies.