The 10 Best Children’s Museums in America
Museums are for more than just dinosaurs. With interactive exhibits and kid-friendly activities, these museums bring history to life for kids of all ages.
Please Touch Museum | Philadelphia, Pennsylvaniavia pleasetouchmuseum.org
Babies can play alongside their older siblings at the Please Touch Museum, specially designed to keep them both entertained at once. In the popular Wonderland exhibit, one-year-olds can pick out giant flowers in the Fairytale Garden while their five-year-old siblings can have a pretend tea party with Alice at a giant table nearby. Older kids can try out musical instruments from around the world while the younger ones crawl on lily pads that make nature sounds. Everyone can take a spin on the antique carousel or take in a live theater show. Best for kids ages six months to seven years. Don’t miss these weird museums you never knew existed.
Kohl Children’s Museum | Glenview, Illinoisvia kohlchildrensmuseum.org
The Kohl Children’s Museum is tops in pretend play. Kids can nurse sick stuffed animals back to health at the Pet Vet exhibit, work as a construction worker laying tiles, or drive through a car wash. A two-acre outdoor space offers mazes, a painting wall, and a giant underground tunnel. Best for kids ages six months to six years.
Children’s Museum of Houston | Houston, Texasvia cmhouston.org
Forget kiddy pools or water tables; at Children’s Museum of Houston, your children can create aqueducts and race boats and turn on geysers in a Texas-sized outdoor play area. Kids can also learn about money by taking a temporary job as a police officer, chef, or artist and take their paycheck to the store to figure out how many groceries it will buy. For little ones under 3, there’s a Tot Spot equipped with balls, cushy stairs, mirrors, and doorbells. Fun for kids six months to ten years. Check out these indoor activities that’ll keep kids occupied for hours.
Madison Children’s Museum | Madison, Wisconsinvia madisonchildrensmuseum.org
Environmental awareness is the big focus of this green museum. Housed in an environmentally friendly building, Madison Children’s Museum features a rooftop garden where kids can get their hands dirty planting, collect chicken eggs, and learn about homing pigeons. Those under 5 can then explore the tree house or little huts. Crawlers have their own special padded play area made from local natural materials. The entire museum is cleaned with natural products, and the café offers healthy foods. Great for kids ages six months to six years.
Minnesota Children’s Museum | St. Paul, Minnesotavia mcm.org
At Minnesota Children’s Museum, toddlers can feel their way around the Sprouts exhibit, featuring a large play space where they can explore through drawers and play with waterworks. The space allows young children to safely investigate a creative, interactive, and experiential world made just for them. Other exhibits include a four-story jungle gym, a laser maze, and a musical rooftop patio. Kids can also create artworks, paint their own faces, play with hula-hoops, and listen to stories. Recommended for kids one to ten years.
Boston Children’s Museum | Boston, Massachusettsvia bostonchildrensmuseum.org
Pre-schoolers can prepare for the future by catching a pretend bus, putting books in a backpack, and playing school at the Countdown to Kindergarten exhibit. Older kids can safely work with tools they’re not allowed to use at home, learn about the importance of exercise while biking or dancing, and create and test out their own golf ball racetracks. Parents also can benefit from Boston Children’s Museum. Scientists from MIT are available to give child development advice, or ask if your child wants to play a game as part of a study. Best for kids six months through age 8.
Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniavia pittsburghkids.org
Mister Rogers fans can visit replicas of his Neighborhood at this Rogers-inspired museum. The whole family can take a ride on the Neighborhood Trolley and peer through the window of the house from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood TV show. The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh is also home to MAKESHOP, where kids learn how to create projects through woodworking, stop-motion animation, and more. They can even put on shows with their friends in the museum’s theater. Fun for kids ages six months to six years.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis | Indianapolis, Indianacia childrensmuseum.org
One wing of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis contains recreations of an Egyptian pharaoh’s tomb, a burial site for Chinese warriors, and a pirate shipwreck. Here, children can embrace their inner Indiana Jones, unearthing archeological finds while learning about their history. But this is just one of many thrilling exhibits. Animal lovers can travel back in time in the Dinosphere. Stargazers can visit Beyond Spaceship Earth and become astronauts-in-training. Transportation enthusiasts can take virtual train rides. Plus, there are 11 interactive sports exhibits outside. Good for kids ages six months to 10 years. Be sure to check out these 13 museums where you and your kids can spend the night.
National Museum of Play | Rochester, New Yorkvia museumofplay.org
Kids can ogle fish at a vast aquarium or follow the flight of butterflies in the butterfly garden at this upstate New York museum. The Sesame Street exhibit, with a piano kids can pound, is particularly popular. Older kids can star in a cooking show at the play TV studios and check out the National Toy Hall of Fame. Great for ages 2 to 8.
Children’s Museum of Phoenix | Phoenix, Arizonava childrensmuseumofphoenix.org
Everything in the Children’s Museum of Phoenix is hands-on. Burgeoning chefs can learn how to make pizzas at the kids’ kitchen or shop like mom and dad at the market. They can also spin their wheels at the Pedal Power exhibit or create masterpieces at the Art Studio. Children under 3 have their own special area full of fuzzy balls and other fun things for little fingers to feel. Great for kids from six months to 10 years.
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