Children’s museums don’t just have to be for children. Many feature exhibits that are equally engaging and entertaining for adults. Share creative experiences with your kids at three of the U.S.’s best children’s museums. Each offers its own spin on imaginative fun.
The best children’s museums engage kids with hands-on exhibits that make learning fun. Bond with your youngster by inventing an animated character at ¡Explora!, Albuquerque. Or discover what genes make us alike and different from other creatures at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. A final option: morphing into a clown at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Children’s museums offer affordable, learning adventures.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
¡Explora! the city’s hands-on, not-just-for-kids museum. Here children and adults push, pull, twist, turn and build things.
“Explora is part science center, part children’s museum, part free-choice school, part grandma’s attic, part grandpa’s garage, part laboratory,” reads the facility’s website.
Interestingly, most exhibits have few or no instructions. We watch others and then create our own interactions. We fashion 8-inch bubbles from Frisbee-size wands. We help a fourth-grader construct a Rube Goldberg-like chain reaction machine by setting the ramps that lead a golf ball down a track that flips a seesaw that topples a block. We watch a sixth-grader create an animated character.
The museum’s so popular that it had to create an adults-only night to stop some parents from pushing kids out of the way to create too.
The Museum of Science and Industry. Hands-on learning makes discovering a range of science and technology facts and principles fun. This summer, inspire budding architects at Brick by Brick. The exhibit showcases LEGO-built, large structures, such as a 60-foot Golden Gate Bridge, and replicas of the International space Station and the Roman Colosseum. Additional admission required. Through Sept. 4, 2017. The Genetics and the Baby Chick Hatchery exhibit mixes the sight of fuzzy baby chicks hatching in an incubator with facts about what genes and traits separate us from chicks, worms or other critters. Discover the science behind lightning, fire and tornadoes and walk into a wind tunnel booth to experience the force of 80 mph winds.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. One of the world’s largest children’s museums at 472,900-square feet, the Indianapolis facility features a wide range of exhibits plus a play area for little kids. At Circus—Starring YOU!, which debuted in February, experience the thrills of tightrope walking by wearing a virtual-reality headset, learn juggling, and dress as clowns to cram into a clown car. Through Nov. 26, 2017.
Go back millions of years ago to the age of dinosaurs at Dinosphere. Meet Bucky, the Teenage T. rex, dig for faux dino bones, and touch a real T. rex fossilized leg. In Beyond Spaceship Earth, discover the history of U.S. space travel, try on space gear and learn just how astronauts conduct experiments in a weightless environment. At Playscape, designed for babies through 5-year-olds, kids can fish in a pond, play musical instruments, climb on a rope area, and mix and build with sand.