Most children are interested in science while growing up and if you nurture their interest it will blossom into a life-long passion for exploring the wonders of the natural world. A hands-on exhibit, workshop or an enthusiastic speaker will make kids even more excited to learn new scientific concepts at home and in school. Plan your family vacation to one of these amazing science museums in the U.S.
1. Massachusetts - Boston Children's Museum
2. Indiana - The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
3. San Francisco - Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences
4. Arizona - Children's Museum of Phoenix
5. Texas - The Frontiers of Flight Museum
6. New York - National Museum of Mathematics
7. The Children's Museum of New Hampshire
8. California - The Tech Interactive in San Jose
9. Alaska - Thomas Planetarium at The Anchorage Museum
10. Utah - The Leonardo in Salt Lake City
11. Oregon - The Museum of Natural and Cultural History
12. Illinois - Adler Planetarium in Chicago
13. Texas - Houston Museum of Natural Science
14. Nebraska - Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History
15. New York City - The American Museum of Natural History
16. Albert Einstein Planetarium in Washington, DC
17. Colorado - Denver Museum of Nature & Science
18. Colorado - WOW! Children's Museum
19. Pennsylvania - The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
20. North Carolina - The Greensboro Children's Museum
21. Mississippi - The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
22. New York – The Strong National Museum of Play
23. Virginia - The Children's Museum of Richmond
24. Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory
What are the 25 Best Science Museums & Planetariums to Visit on Your Family Weekend Getaway?
The 25 Best Science Museums & Planetariums to Visit on Your Family Weekend Getaway according to local experts are:
- Massachusetts - Boston Children's Museum
- Indiana - The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
- San Francisco - Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences
- Arizona - Children's Museum of Phoenix
- Texas - The Frontiers of Flight Museum
- New York - National Museum of Mathematics
- The Children's Museum of New Hampshire
- California - The Tech Interactive in San Jose
- Alaska - Thomas Planetarium at The Anchorage Museum
- Utah - The Leonardo in Salt Lake City
- Oregon - The Museum of Natural and Cultural History
- Illinois - Adler Planetarium in Chicago
- Texas - Houston Museum of Natural Science
- Nebraska - Hastings Museum of Natural and Cultural History
- New York City - The American Museum of Natural History
- Albert Einstein Planetarium in Washington, DC
- Colorado - Denver Museum of Nature & Science
- Colorado - WOW! Children's Museum
- Pennsylvania - The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
- North Carolina - The Greensboro Children's Museum
- Mississippi - The Lynn Meadows Discovery Center
- New York – The Strong National Museum of Play
- Virginia - The Children's Museum of Richmond
- Los Angeles - Griffith Observatory
»Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia
Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia houses a 61-foot domed screen featuring planetarium shows as well as films about the ocean and the natural world. Immerse yourself in two floors of hands-on science exhibits at the Clay Center's Avampato Discovery Museum where you can learn about geology, tornadoes, geysers and waterfalls. Kidspace was built for children under five and features a giant tree house, puzzles, games, and clouds that rain balls. Little Builders is a fun space for smaller kids who get to operate a child-sized crane, work a conveyor belt and build with interesting materials. STEAMworks is a changing exhibit gallery which presents new scientific concepts. Health Royale lets children learn about health and wellness through interactive play.
»Minnesota - ExploraDome at The Bell Museum of Natural History
ExploraDome Theater at The Bell Museum of Natural History in Minneapolis lets visitors take a virtual trip to remote stars and learn about recent scientific discoveries about the universe. ExploraDome offers an intimate experience because the theater seats only 15 people. It's a good idea to reserve your tickets ahead of time. Many shows are presented by a planetarium educator so that kids can ask questions afterwards. Children as young as Pre-K can watch the show. The museum also offers "Saturday with a Scientist", special exhibits, and the highly interactive Touch and See Discovery Room.
You may also like: 25 Best Things to Do in Minneapolis.
»Georgia - The Museum of Arts and Sciences
The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon, Georgia has a planetarium with a 44-foot dome, an observatory, diverse interactive displays and a mini zoo. The outdoor section of the museum features the observatory, picnic facilities, a cave and a nature trail. Through special lectures and exhibits, visitors learn about black holes, reptiles, fossils, butterflies and other topics. The observatory is equipped with several Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrains, a Dobsonian and a Meade LX200. Telescope observing is free for all visitors.
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Attraction Spotlight: Children’s Museum of Phoenix
A trip to a children’s museum is a great way to find something that will appeal to both kids and adults alike. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is specially designed to engage kids and a place where both kids and parents can enjoy themselves and have an educational visit. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the museum was founded as an interactive learning tool for younger ages.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix has a rich history that has significantly contributed towards making the place what it is today. The museum was pioneered by a group of individuals who had a vision in mind – to build a museum that was both educational and appealing to kids. The museum received a lot of funding prior to its development from the community as well as the city council, who all loved the idea of a museum catered towards children. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix was built on the premises of the historic Monroe School, which had until then served solely as a heritage site. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix was part of the Monroe School’s alumni program and since then has developed significantly to achieve its goals. The alumni of the school realized that there was no better way to pay homage to the school than to help it grow as a noteworthy educational institution, making it what it is today.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix was one of the first children’s museums in the country and remains one of the four ever built in America. Unlike other museums, where all you can do is stand around and look at an exhibit, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix encourages people to get a closer look at all the art and craft pieces on display at the museum. Kids like to touch everything, even when told not to, and this foundation allows them to move the exhibits without any repercussions.
A large number of the exhibits here are interactive and are great teaching tools to help kids learn more about the world and all its wonders. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix has exhibits that range across a variety of subjects, making it an excellent overall educational tool. In addition, the museum has some interactive learning sessions and workshops specifically designed to spike a child's interest. These programs are intended to help kids question the things around them and discover the answers for themselves by simply being given the right tools for learning. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix has partnered with numerous schools in the past and has received a stellar response from educators and parents alike about the various teaching programs that the museum has to offer.
The Children’s Museum of Phoenix doesn't just cater to kids; it remembers the parents who brought them here as well. There are numerous programs for parents to partake in that are centered on child development and learning as well courses in child psychology and anything else that would benefit the parent when it comes to properly raising their child. The Children’s Museum of Phoenix is a place for both parents and kids to learn.
Since the museum is catered to children, kids get some pretty good discounts on admission tickets when it comes to entering the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. If you plan to revisit the museum again in future, be sure to save your pass for the next visit to get more discounts on admission prices. The list of programs and workshops the museum conducts is regularly updated on the museum website. It is advised to go over those when picking a date to visit to get the most out of your experience at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix.
215 N 7th St, Phoenix, AZ 85034, Phone: 602-253-0501
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Attraction Spotlight: San Diego Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum in San Diego, California, aims to bring together education and the natural world. It teaches visitors about the world we live in through its fascinating exhibits. The original goal of the museum was “to educate and help people know and love nature”, and it has continued this mission. Exhibits on respecting and learning about the world are strong themes running throughout the collections of this museum.
In 1874, the San Diego Society of Natural History founded the Natural History Museum, making it one of the oldest scientific institutions in California; in 1912, the society opened its first museum in a single room. In 1917, the society moved to a vacant building in Balboa Park after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, and this is still its present location. It functioned as a museum until World War 2, when the building was used as a hospital. Once the war ended, the building was converted back into the Natural History Museum, and is now a center for biodiversity research and environmental science education.
Many of the exhibits at the museum are constantly changing, giving visitors a new experience each time they visit. The goal of these exhibits is to emphasize and display the natural diversity in both the region of San Diego and the world as a whole. Currently, some of these exhibits include Baja’s Wild Side, Ultimate Dinosaurs, Coast to Cactus in Southern California, Water: A California Story, and Skulls. Baja’s Wild Side is a collection of photographs on the subject of California’s Pacific coast, captured by marine biologist Dr. Dan Cartamil. Ultimate Dinosaurs is an exhibit that combines modern technology and the prehistoric world to give a new perspective on dinosaurs. Coast to Cactus in Southern California is a permanent exhibit that examines the biodiversity existing among the coastal wetlands, urban canyons, mountains, and desert. The Skulls exhibit is a collection of almost 200 skulls of mammals, birds, amphibians, and reptiles from around the world.
Due to the ever-changing nature of the museum, there are a few past exhibits that should be mentioned, such as the Photo Ark, Whales: Giants of the Deep, and Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed. The Photo Ark was an exhibit on the images of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. In the museum, 30 of these photos were on display to educate visitors on different animal species. Whales: Giants of the Deep was an interactive and immersive exhibit that featured an up-close experience with whales. Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed focused on the findings of archaeologists in ancient Maya in regards to the social, natural, and spiritual realms in this ancient society, showing viewers this hidden world from the perspectives of the kings, queens, and regular people in the society.
A future exhibit coming to the museum in November 2017 is Shelved: Big, Small, Beautiful, Bizarre. This collection will allow visitors to explore the “storage areas” of the museum. It will have a little bit of everything in it, from massive whalebones to beetles and coral. It is meant to be an example of the hidden wonders that can be found within the collection of a museum.
There are many different events for families and for the general public on offer at the Natural History Museum. For families, there are summer and winter camps geared towards using the natural world to educate children. From September through May there are monthly family days that include family-friendly activities in new exhibits. There is also Nature & Me Storytime, which is an opportunity for children to hear stories about nature through readings and exhibits. Events available to the public include NATtalks and Films, Take a Hike, and whale watching. NATtalks and Films are when experts and researchers come to educate the audience on specific topics related to the museum. The Natural History Museum also has many opportunities outside of the building to learn about nature, and both whale watching and hiking are offered by the museum as a way for the public to learn about and enjoy the environment.
Education is one of the founding principles of the Natural History Museum and many different school programs are offered. For classes of students there are lessons on bio-diversity, while the Bio-regional Environmental Education Project is a program between the U.S. and Mexico that teaches environmental education in the bio-region of Southern California and the Baja California peninsula in Mexico. The museum also has a wide variety of educational resources in different media to help inspire and teach.
1788 El Prado, CA 92101, Phone: 619-232-3821