When we travel, we are always looking to find some of the best museums for kids; whether they’re children’s museums, family friendly museums, or just museums that happen to be perfect for the whole family, we know these are great ways to entertain kids in a new place. I’ve collaborated with some of the best family travel bloggers out there to round up the most fun museums for kids in the United States. Take a look!
Orlando Science Center
Located in Downtown Orlando, the Orlando Science Center is the perfect way to escape the crazy Florida heat (or the crazy Florida thunderstorms!) With five floors of interactive exhibits, 3D movies, and even a dedicated kid’s space the museum really has something for everyone. There’s even a cafe on the ground level serving sandwiches and pizza.
Even though all of the exhibits are kid-friendly with interactive experiences dedicated to keeping kids interested, Kids Town is 11,000 square feet of fun designed for kids 7 and under to really get involved. My oldest son loves the Orange Grove, where you get to experience how an orange gets from the tree to the factory, and he loves to run off energy in the indoor play zone. My toddler loves the Drip Drop Splashwater exhibit (smocks are provided to keep the little ones dry-ish) and the Toddler Town where the very littlest can safely play.
Parking for the Orlando Science Center is in the multi story lot across the street and costs $5 per vehicle. If you think you’ll be back to the center more than once, it’s definitely worth checking out their annual passes which save a lot of money for families, and Bank of America customers get in for free the first weekend of every month.
Read more about family friendly things to do in Orlando.
Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral is a great place to visit for both kids and adults. Everyone will learn something new or find an interesting activity here. I would highly recommend you to plan a full day visit when you are in Southern Florida. The entrance costs $57 for an adults and $47 for children, which is very reasonable considering the whole experience.
Kennedy Space Center offers a great educational journey. It is organised into Mission Zones grouped chronologically, giving you a full overview of the history of space exploration. You will start with the beginning of space exploration, the race to the moon and space shuttles, learning about current missions and getting an insight to the future of space travel. You can also take the bus tour to see the real launch sites and operational working facilities.
There are additional activities like astronaut training, shuttle launch simulator or dine with an astronaut, which are extremely enjoyable for children.
Read more from The Happy Kid on Southeast Florida with a toddler.
Boston Tea Party Museum and Ships
Still our best museum experience so far with children was at the Boston Tea Party Museum. As soon as you enter, you become Sons and Daughters of Liberty and are given a historic identity for maximum involvement. Actors take the stand in the Meeting House where they do a good job summarizing the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party and getting the audience on board. Huzzah! Then the actors guide you to one of two beautifully restored ships where the kids can dump the tea into the water, disguised with the feather visitors receive. After this interactive part, you are led to the actual museum where talking paintings and holographic displays keep the kids engaged while the guide gives some details about the original tea chest on display.
Finally, a multi-sensory film, which is quite graphic and confronting for young kids, shows how the Boston Tea Party led up to the American Revolution. Abigail’s Tea Room is the perfect place to end the tour, which lasts just over an hour, with an old-fashioned board game and a hot chocolate. The Boston Tea Barty Museum is truly designed with families in mind. It’s actually more of an experience than a museum and the actors do an amazing job making even the smallest visitors feel part of this historic event.
Read more from Cosmopoliclan on How to get your kids excited about Boston’s heritage.
Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
When you’ve got children who span different age groups it can be difficult to find a museum that will captivate them all. That’s where the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose has got your back. The museum is about a 45 minute drive south of San Francisco, in Northern California’s largest city.
The sprawling museum caters for children up to 16-years-old and has spaces dedicated to each age group. The soft-padded Crawl Space is a fully enclosed room for babies and toddlers up to four, who can listen to stories, roam around, and try a few self-guided activities.
Older patrons have the run of the place and can discover Mammoth fossils, do arts and crafts, get their groove on in the dance and theatre room, have their faces painted, climb into a western stagecoach, and blow bubbles that would make anyone proud. The Children’s Discovery Museum even has special sensory friendly sessions for children aged between two and 15, who have autism. It gives them the chance to experience the museum on their own terms.
Read more from Bright Lights of America on 5 reasons why San Jose is great for family days out.
The Treehouse Museum of Ogden, Utah
The Treehouse Museum of Ogden, Utah is a must see for families visiting northern Utah. When you first arrive and see the two-story namesake tree in the center of the building, you will know just how special of a place you have entered. The magic will continue throughout your visit, as every detail of the Treehouse Museum is perfectly planned and executed to create the ideal blend of fun and learning. The museum’s focus on literacy and arts is apparent in every exhibit room, where children can dress up and put themselves directly in their own imaginative story. The huge tree rising up through the center of the building plays its own unique role in the museum experience. The spiral staircase climbs along the trunk and through the branches, setting the mood and transporting kids into their own creative world with each ascending step.
The different interactive learning rooms focus on world countries, Utah pioneer life, and real-life play scenarios such as fire houses and restaurants. Daily theatre performances invite guests to dress up and get on stage to act out the book of the day.
The museum offers daily specials throughout the year for emerging and young readers to their early literacy programs. Revolving monthly admission specials for members help introduce new children to the world of the Treehouse. Whether you are passing through or live in the region, take advantage of the amazing Treehouse Museum experience!
Read more from Chasing Abandon.
Montshire Museum of Science, Vermont
This hands on museum has plenty of activities both inside and out. On the first floor, Montshire houses their permanent exhibits. The hands on bubble station is always a hit with the kids and the Life in Local waters exhibits shows frogs, fish, and turtles you could find in your own Vermont backyard. The second floor has rotating exhibits. Over the last few years we’ve explored hands on puzzles, the mechanical workings of toys, and how instruments work.
Outside the main building is over 100 acres of forest and hiking trials. One of my kiddos loves space and we frequently explore the Planet Walk, the musuem’s largest exhibit, taking you from the Sun all the way out to Pluto! During the summer months the Science Park offers fun ways see science in motion and maybe get a little wet on a hot day!
Montshire offers programs for kids and adults. School vacations bring fun programs offered throughout the day, a sleepover is always a blast, and during the summer children can attend summer camp programs. An adults only night at Montshire with good food and drink is perfect to explore the things you don’t get to when you’re chasing around the kids.
Read more by Roaming Nanny on 60 things to do in Vermont (in any season).
New York Hall of Science
Looking for an awesome, hands-on museum that is the perfect museum for kids of all ages? Then head to the New York Hall of Science located in Queens, NY! Little ones will love pre-school place, a large interactive science based playspace just for the 5 and under set. Older kids – and adults – will love the myriad of science and math exhibits! Everything is totally interactive and hands-on! On our recent visit my kids loved learning about the science (and art) of light, all about evolution, nutrition and the science of sports.
In warmer weather, the New York Hall of Science offers a chance to play on their rocket mini-golf course or enjoy the outdoor science playground. Another thing we love about the Hall of Science is the rotating list of shows, exhibits and special events. There is always something new to do each time you visit!
Read more from Momma To Go on the New York Hall of Science here.
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. The immense size of MSI means it has an incredible number of permanent and rotating exhibits. There are live science demonstrations daily and hands-on science opportunities throughout the museum. This variety of exhibit options makes the Museum of Science and Industry perfect for families.
One of our favorite exhibits is the Baby Chick Hatchery. Each day baby chicks hatch right in front of your eyes! Do you have a model train enthusiast? Then stop by The Great Train Story, a 3,500 square foot interactive model railroad. Want to explore space? The Henry Crown Space Center is for you. Here you can see a real Apollo 8 module or try an interactive docking simulation of the International Space Station.
The Museum of Science and Industry also has a replica coal mine, a captured German submarine from World World II, a mirror maze, a huge upcycled pinball machine, a fairy castle, and so much more to explore. If you happen to visit Chicago around Christmas, the Museum of Science and Industry also has one of the largest Christmas tree displays in the city.
Read more from Smart Mouse Travel to get tips for your Museum of Science and Industry visit.
The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York
Where can you test your Hulk strength? Play in the Berenstain Bears backyard? Walk the yellow brick road and shop in a kid size grocery store? The Strong Museum of Play! The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York is one of the best children’s museums in the country because it is amazing for kids but also brings out the kid in you, making it the ultimate family friendly destination.
The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, New York lets you step back to your childhood with exhibits and interactive activities that the whole family will love. There is something for everyone. You can learn about butterflies at the Butterfly Garden and explore the outdoor garden in the summer months.
Every exhibit is made for play. They have areas for all ages including a Sesame Street themed area, a fairy tale exhibit, and a pinball play area. The Strong is also home to the National Toy Museum that houses toys from every generation. We love sharing our favorite childhood toys with our kids.
Our favorite part about the Strong is that there is something new to explore every visit. The exhibits encourage family time and play time making it a great place for families to visit.
Read more from Five for the Road for more information on The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.
The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California
The kid-friendly experience at the Getty Center in Los Angeles, CA starts with a Disneyland monorail-style transport from the parking lot to the top of the hill where the amazing museum sits. This museum is full of world-class art, but they also go out of their way to make sure families with kids feel welcome. In fact, they have an entire exhibit called the Family Room with an assortment of creative experiences designed for kids to play detective and learn on a “treasure hunt”. They can build structures from bendy tubes, play with camera lenses and a wall of mirrors, or lay in a replica aristocratic bed from 18th-century France.
Throughout the week they have different events for families like concerts in the garden, and special events during the year so the kids can learn about Origami from a world-renowned expert, or learn about sculpting clay from a local ceramic artist. The calendar is bustling with new family activities, so check back often and see what hits your zizz wheel. Oh yeah, and their amazing galleries/exhibits also allow kids to explore, just with no touching (of course)! Best of all, entrance to the Getty is FREE and it costs just $15 flat rate to park a vehicle all day long. The Getty Museum is located off the 405 freeway, just minutes from UCLA. So my advice – load up all the kids in one minivan and head out to the Getty the next chance you get! You won’t regret it.
Read more from Hot Mama Travels for more information on The Getty Center in Los Angeles.
Boston Children’s Museum
One of the best Children’s Museums we have ever been to is the Boston Children’s Museum, where we spent eight hours on our recent visit. With areas dedicated to kids of all ages, as well as plenty of places for kids to move around and burn off some energy, this is the perfect place for families to spend the day.
The PlaySpace is an area specifically for kids 3 and under where they can play on smaller play equipment, dress up, play with a huge model railway, and there’s even a kitchen with small tables and chairs to feed little ones and places to heat up bottles. Older kids can play on the huge New Balance Foundation Climb which spans three stories and will let them burn off some energy. My boys loved the Construction Room where they played for hours with dump trucks and diggers moving wooden boulders, and the bubble room was a huge hit with the adults and kids alike.
There is nowhere to eat in the museum itself, although there is an eating space set up with tables and chairs if you want to bring in your own food (and a Starbucks right across the street!)
Read more about visiting Boston with kids.
Which are your favorite museums for kids in the United States? Let me know in the comments!