Learning about science in a classroom just isn’t the same as experiencing it for yourself. These science museums across the United States feature exhibits and events for all ages, from simulated dinosaur digs to real working science labs.
Don’t wait for your next school field trip to experience the workings of science firsthand at a science museum near you!
1. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
Ranked the best science museum in the United States by American Mensa, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has the largest collection of aviation and space artifacts in the world, as well as an IMAX theater and planetarium. It’s the most visited museum in the U.S., with over eight million visitors per year. They hold Family Days twice a month with programs, presentations, and activities suited for all ages, sometimes with free admission.
2. Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA
The Exploratorium’s mission is to change the way the world learns. Located in San Francisco, the museum has interactive, participatory exhibits on subjects including light and sound, human behavior, electricity and magnetism, and weather. The creative, thought-provoking exhibits combine art and science and are fun for all ages. If you don’t live nearby, you can still experience the Exploratorium on their website and through their free iPad apps.
3. Arkansas Museum of Discovery, Little Rock, AR
The Arkansas Museum of Discovery has interactive exhibits on science, history, and technology. Kid-friendly permanent exhibits include a bug zoo and Earth Journeys Gallery of over 50 live animals, including tarantulas and an alligator. The museum has recently decided to focus future exhibits on science, technology, engineering, and math.
4. The Children’s Museum, Indianapolis, IN
The largest children’s museum in the United States, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is famous for its Dinosphere exhibit. The Dinosphere includes one of the largest collections of real fossils in the country, as well as interactive simulated fossil digs, a paleontology lab, and many life-size dinosaur models. The museum also includes an interactive biotech lab, planetarium, theater, and several other interactive historical and science exhibits. It would take days to see them all!
5. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry is the largest science museum in the entire western hemisphere. Specializing in family-friendly interactive exhibits, the museum has over 2,000 exhibits, including a German submarine captured during Word War II, the spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon, and a full-size replica coal mine.
6. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA
Founded in 1812, Philadelphia’s Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is the oldest natural science museum in North and South America. The museum’s permanent exhibits include a hands-on children's nature museum, the world’s first hands-on dinosaur dig simulation, and a live butterfly zoo. The museum is also known for its complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil showcased at the museum entrance. On selected weekends year-round, the museums hold “Wild Weekend” events with various programs for children and live animal shows.
7. Children's Museum of Houston
Often rated as one of the best children’s museums in the U.S., the Children's Museum of Houston features a wide variety of exhibits and events. They also have Free Family Night every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Many of their permanent exhibits are interactive, including science labs, playscapes, and a kid metropolis. They also have a kid’s climbing tower and climbing wall for younger children.
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