This blog post was updated on September 6, 2018.
Now that I travel with a toddler, I am always thrilled to find out that a city has a children’s museum. Admittedly, I was not very knowledgeable about what children’s museums actually contained before I started frequenting them. In general, they are educational in nature and have fun, interactive spaces for kids to discover and play. Here are five of the top children’s museums (out of over 200) in the country.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
If your kids are dinosaur fans, this is the place for them. One of the first things they’ll see is the life-size replica of a T. Rex at the door. Budding paleontologists will also be thrilled by one of the world’s most complete T. Rex fossils, as well as a simulated fossil dig. The dinosaur goodies are just the tip of the iceberg at one of the most established and respected children’s museums in the country.
Toddlers and preschoolers will love the multisensory exhibits designed just for them, while their older siblings learn about world arts and cultures (the Japanese silk merchant’s home is a popular exhibit). A truly unique space for the whole family.
Discovery Center (Illinois)
Focused mostly on science, the Discovery Center features a planetarium for budding astronauts and a giant mouse-hole maze that is sure to delight. The Rock River Discovery Park is an outdoor area aimed at environmental education. This is truly a world-class institution that will impress both kids and adults.
A favorite amongst New York City’s youngest citizens, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum houses over 25,000 cultural and natural history artifacts (favorites include the dinosaur footprints and Indonesian shadow puppets). There is also quite a bit of emphasis on “city life,” allowing kids to discover the history and cultures of New York and other parts of the world. Founded in 1899, it is the world’s oldest children’s museum and one of the best.
At this eclectic fun learning center, role play is key. Kids can pretend to be animals living in their native habitats or humans living in different periods throughout history. There is also plenty for the very young visitors to do, namely the Minnesota habitat exhibit where they can learn about the prairie, the pond, the forest and the bluff caves.
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