Do you have a favorite museum? Do your children? After a visit to one of these children's museums, they just might. Museums are often on the 'to-do' list when visiting a new city, but not many offer exhibits catered specifically to children. The museums highlighted on this list cater specifically to families with children, but fortunately for all visitors, their exhibits are designed to engage adults too! These standout children’s museums present relevant, interesting information in a hands-on, interactive way, making the learning experiences fun and engaging. So next time you travel with kids, consider visiting one of these spectacular kid-friendly museums.
Best Museums for Kids
1. Please Touch Museum - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum is the first museum in the nation designed specifically for children 7 and under. Founded in 1976 by a former Montessori teacher, this museum started as a modest experiment in interactive play and blossomed into an industry leading center for children’s education and exploration. With nine themed spaces, a theater, an art program, a musician in residence, a carousel, various art and memorabilia collections, community programming, and more, the Please Touch Museum offers a robust collection of engaging activities for curious kids.
The museum is only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Check their site for hours, as they vary. Visitors pay $17 per ticket (child and adult) and $3 for a ride on the carousel.
2. Children's Museum of Indianapolis – Indianapolis, Indiana
This top children’s museum steps out of the box, providing programming that is a bit off the beaten path. Exhibits on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and a 5-story Chihuly glass sculpture showcase this museum's creative offerings. With unique exhibits like live theater and storytelling, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is particularly a great spot for children with an interest in performing. The museum also offers special programs for home-schooled children in addition to the ever-popular 'after-dark' events for adults (21+).
The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesdays through Sundays and is closed on some holidays. Admission ranges from $18-$22.
3. Port Discovery Children's Museum – Baltimore, Maryland
If you visit enough of these museums, you'll start to notice certain patterns emerging. There are themed play areas, seasonally rotating exhibits, community programming, exhibits that feature water, bubbles, fitness, and science, and options for school groups, birthday parties, and overnight rentals. Port Discovery has all of these things and then some. Located in Baltimore, this museum has been recognized as one of the top children's museums in the country and focuses programming primarily on children ages ten and under. It provides all of the opportunities for children that you'd expect, plus the supplemental community and parent resources that adults seek out. Their website features a virtual tour as well as lots of helpful information to plan your visit.
The hours vary and include several closures in September, so be sure to check the site’s calendar. Admission is $15 but several discount options are available.
4. Montshire Museum – Norwich, Vermont
What sets Montshire apart from other museums is its sprawling campus. Its 110 acres look out on the Connecticut River just a mile outside of Norwich, Vermont. The museum features several miles of trails that guests can explore in the context of an immersive educational experience and water features to play in during the summer months. Montshire Museum is a great attraction to visit with very young kids, as it even boasts a specific exhibit geared toward children five and under. With over 140 different exhibits pertaining to the sciences and technology, curious travelers of all ages should plan a visit to the Montshire Museum.
The museum is open daily from 10am-5pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas days. General admission is between $10-$16 per person, depending on age and season, with discounts available to some members of the community.
5. Kentucky Science Center – Louisville, Kentucky
Louisville's Kentucky Science Center offers exhibits and programming to promote school-readiness in children and lifelong learning. Hosting a variety of educational series, workshops, and lectures, there are countless opportunities for children and adults to learn something new at the Kentucky Science Center. Its 4-story theater attracts visitors of all stripes, while the new 'Science in Play' exhibit leverages existing child development research to create a space where children can explore and learn simultaneously. For the adults, the Kentucky Science Center offers several speaker-series and special 21+ events (including date-night specials!).
The Kentucky Science Center is open 360 days a year (check the calendar!) and costs between $10-$20. Visitors that enter after 5pm on Fridays or Saturdays can gain entry into all permanent exhibits for only $5!
6. Glazer Children's Museum - Tampa Bay, Florida
This Tampa Bay museum caters specifically to children 10 and under. With over 170 exhibits split into 17 themed areas, this fantastic children’s museum offers something for kids of all interests. 'Get Moving', one such themed area, will awaken your child’s inner athlete by allowing them to scale a mini climbing wall or become a virtual goal-keeper. Other themes include 'Design and Build', 'Art Smart', 'Engineers Workshop', 'Vet Clinic', and more.
Glazer Children’s Museum is open 360 days a year but hours vary on the weekends, so be sure to check before you go. Admission ranges from $9.50 – $15.
7. The DoSeum - San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio's DoSeum takes interactive learning to a new level for children. With seven distinguished exhibits, which feature a variety of topics including the environment and music, kids of all interests and ages are sure to find something fascinating. The 'Big Outdoors' exhibit, for example, features almost 40,000 square feet of outdoor space which encompasses a kid-safe stream, a 100-year old oak tree, a wheel-chair accessible tree house, and a 30-foot high climbing structure. The DoSeum offers on-going educational programming for children in the area. There are multiple educational workshops open to the public each month, and parents can sign kids up for on-going weekly programming as well. Hours vary and admission is just $11!
8. Santa Fe Children's Museum - Santa Fe, New Mexico
The Santa Fe Children’s Museum, started by four educators in 1985, strives to cultivate a unique environment based on the premise that “children learn best when they can be self-motivated, have fun, and experience the enjoyment of seeking and searching for answers to the questions they formulate for themselves”. The exhibit hall’s content and layout thus undergo seasonal changes, allowing each visit to be its own unique experience. On-going programming is available and admission is only $7.50. As a special treat, round up a whole group and rent the entire facility for an overnight slumber party!
9. Madison Children's Museum – Madison, Wisconsin
The Madison Children's Museum has three floors of awesome exhibits designed with a variety of colors, sounds, smells, and textures intended to create a vivid sensory experience for its young visitors. With rotating exhibits in addition to permanent themed areas, kids and adults alike are sure to have a unique experience with each visit. The opportunity for discovery continues outdoor into its 'Urb Garden', an outdoor deck open three seasons of the year. Covered with greenery, this outdoor area is designed to give small children five and younger an opportunity to learn how plants grown and thrive. Whether it be their kid-specific exhibits or adult-only programming, The Madison Children's Museum’s programs offer fantastic opportunities for guests of all ages to learn, play, and grow.
Standard hours are 9:30am to 5pm, with the museum closed on Mondays during the school year, with several holidays and 'maintenance weeks'. Admission is only $6-$8.
10. Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose - San Jose, California
Like most of the museum on this list, Children's Discover Museum is home to a variety of enriching exhibits designed to stimulate children’s curiosity and interactive learning. Its exhibits feature a variety of interesting topics spanning history, nutrition, art, mathematics, culture, theater, physics, fitness, and more. Special installations and workshops are held regularly which cater to youth and adolescents as well. The Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose also holds special events for children with autism a few times a year, with resources for parents and staff prepared to facilitate a positive family experience.
The museum is closed on Mondays, open 12pm-5pm Sundays, and 10am-5pm the rest of the week with admission set at $13.
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