Attractions

10 Best Children’s Museums in the US

Children spend hours and hours in school and doing homework, but that’s not the only learning they should be doing.

One way of enriching your kids’ education is by taking them to museums.

Traditional museums aimed toward adults may not engage them very much, thus came the need to establish children’s museums.

The best children’s museums are the ones that are interactive and multisensory, encourage play and recreation, and where fun and learning go hand in hand.

In today’s article, we run down the best museums for kids in the US.

The Best Children’s Museums in America

Here are our picks for the top children’s museums in the US.

1. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

Known as: The largest children’s museum in the world

Founded in 1925, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is now a 481,000-square-foot facility covering over 30 acres, making it the largest children’s museum in the world.

Visitors can explore science, history, art, and culture hands-on through the permanent exhibits ScienceWorks, National Geographic Treasures of the Earth, Fireworks of Glass, The Power of Children: Making a Difference®, and many more.

Indianapolis Children's Museum

Photo Credit: anjanettew

Don’t miss: The Dinosphere: Now You’re In Their World® exhibit, featuring real T. rex, Gorgosaurus, and Triceratops fossils.

Essential Information
Address: 3000 North Meridian Street, Indianapolis, IN | 317-334-3322
Hours: Spring and Summer: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm; Fall and Winter: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm, Mon closed
Cost: $24 to $28 per head for adults, cost varies depending on the day of the week; discounts available for children
Membership available? Yes
Website: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Note: If you’re planning a trip to Indiana, here are other things to do in this state.

2. Boston Children’s Museum

Known as: The world’s second oldest museum (founded 1909); Boston’s first LEED-certified Green museum

The Boston Children’s Museum prides itself on giving children experiences that help them learn life skills while keeping them entertained.

Whether your child is into books, art, culture, music, building, science, or pretend play, they’ll find an exhibit or activity that they’ll enjoy.

Check out the permanent exhibits Arthur & Friends, Countdown to Kindergarten, Japanese House, Construction Zone, KidStage, Science Playground, and PlaySpace.

They also have a special section for toddlers aged 3 and under, with a gate to prevent little ones from wandering off.

Don’t miss: The New Balance Foundation Climb, a three-story, jaw-dropping maze is one of the most popular areas of the museum.

Essential Information
Address: 308 Congress Street, Boston, MA | 617-426-6500
Hours: Sat-Thu 10am-5pm; Fri 10am-9pm; Members-Only Hours: Sat-Sun 9am-10am
Cost: $18 per head for adults; $1 every Fri 5pm-9pm; discounts available for New England teachers, military, WGBH members, Red Sox Kid Nation, and Go Boston cardholders; free for infants
Membership available? Yes
Website: Boston Children’s Museum

Note: If you’re debating whether to visit this museum, bear in mind that Boston has one of the best skylines in the country and could be worth the trip.

3. Strong National Museum of Play

Known as: The only collections-based museum devoted solely to play; one of the best children’s museums in the east

The initial mission of the Strong Museum, named after Margaret Woodbury Strong, was to showcase American culture between 1830 and 1940.

Eventually, in the 1990s, the museum’s mission changed to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of play.

Now, The Strong has expanded to become an educational institution devoted to the study and exploration of play, and the museum became the National Museum of Play.

Explore award-winning video games in the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, dance your heart out in DanceLab, play with modern and classic toys in America At Play, chase butterflies in the extremely popular Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, and many more exhibits.

Strong National Museum of Play

Photo Credit: Sean X Liu

Don’t miss: Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street? details the four-decade-long journey of Sesame Street, the iconic children’s television show.

Meet the various characters that made the show extremely popular with children and adults alike, and learn about letters, numbers, and diversity along the way.

Essential Information
Address: One Manhattan Square Dr, Rochester, NY | 585-263-2700
Hours: Mon-Thu 10am-5pm; Fri-Sat 10am-8pm; Sun 12pm-5pm
Cost: Museum Only: $16 per head for adults; Museum and Butterfly Garden: $21 per head for adults; discounts available for infants
Membership available? Yes
Website: Strong Museum Of Play

4. Children’s Museum of Houston

Known as: A popular, multi-awarded children’s museum

The Children’s Museum of Houston hosts 14 exhibits aiming to teach children about science, art, environmental science, engineering, culture, and many other subjects. Other activities inspire children to exercise their bodies as well as their minds.

Children's Museum of Houston

Check out Power Science Lab, Matter Factory, Kids’ Hall, EcoStation, Constructioneering, Heart and Seoul, SECRET Spy Game, and the three-story PowerPlay.

They also have Tot Spot, a space for toddlers to explore and learn at their own pace in a space where everything is with their reach and within their eye level.

Don’t miss: Kidtropolis, a mini-city with nine businesses and over two dozen job opportunities that kids can role-play: doing jobs to earn money and then deciding to spend that money on either items or experiences.

Participating in a simulated economy gives children a glimpse of how the real-life economy works and lets them have fun while “working” then “spending” their money.

Essential Information
Address: 1500 Binz St, Houston, TX | 713-522-1138
Hours: Tue–Wed 10am–6pm; Thu 10 am–8pm; Fri–Sat 10am–6pm; Sun 12pm–6pm; Mon closed
Cost: $12 per head for adults; discounts available for infants and seniors, as well as military and their families; additional $7 for entrance to SECRET Spy Game
Membership available? Yes
Website: Children’s Museum Houston

Note: Texas, and Houston in particular, has plenty of museums you can visit. Here’s a list of the best museums in Texas.

5. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Known as: A multi-awarded, LEED silver-certified museum housed in a historic Beaux-Arts building

From its origins as a traveling museum, into a children’s museum housed in what used to be the Allegheny Post Office, it’s now an 80,000-square-foot museum including the nearby building that used to be the Buhl Planetarium.

Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

Photo Credit: Paul Sableman

Check out various exhibits such as WaterPlay, MAKESHOP, Attic, Kindness Gallery, Studio, Backyard, Garage, and many more.

Toddlers can play to their heart’s content at the Nursery, while kids 10 and older can have hands-on art and science in the MuseumLab right next door.

Don’t miss: Fred Rogers & Us, a tribute to the Pittsburgh icon. You can find various items from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood scattered throughout the various exhibits.

Original puppets such as Daniel Striped Tiger and Mister Rogers’ Sneakers are in MuseumLab, Mister Rogers’ Sweater is in MAKESHOP, and photographs of Fred Rogers displayed throughout the museum.

Essential Information
Address: 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square, Pittsburgh, PA | 412-322-5058
Hours: Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
Cost: $18 per head for adults; discounts available for children, seniors, and military
Membership available? Yes
Website: Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

6. Please Touch Museum

Known as: A fully interactive museum that allows kids free rein in all the exhibits

Another Pennsylvania entry, the Please Touch Museum encourages kids to do exactly what they’ve always been told NOT to do: touch everything!

Assemble and drive cars in Roadside Attractions, float a boat and pump water through pipes in River Adventures, launch rockets in the Rocket Room, and build your own structures in Imagination Playground.

Please Touch Museum

Photo Credit: Jim, the Photographer

Toddlers can safely play in the Fairytale Garden, and ride the 100-year-old Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel before you go.

Don’t miss: Wonderland allows children to feel like Alice: navigate a hedge maze, wind through a hall of mirrors, and play croquet with flamingos and hedgehogs. Just don’t yell “off with her head” and scare the youngsters!

Essential Information
Address: 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA | 215-581-3181
Hours: Mon–Tue, 9am–5pm; Wed, 10am–5pm; Thu–Sat, 9am–5pm; Sun 11am–5pm
Cost: $19.95 per head for adults; discounts available for children below $1, military, fire fighters, and police officers; $3 per head for the Carousel
Membership available? Yes
Website: Please Touch Museum

7. Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Known as: One of six “Good to Grow Museums” awarded by the Association of Children’s Museums

The Port Discovery Children’s Museum aims to teach children about various topics such as plant and animal farming, art, water dynamics, performing arts, and motor skills.

Check out their exhibits Here We Grow, Studio Workshop, Wonders of Water, PD Presents, Kick It Up, and SkyClimber, with many more exhibits.

Toddlers and small children can do their thing in the Tot Trails and enjoy stories and puzzles in The Oasis.

Don’t miss: Adventure Expeditions allows children to go back in time to 1920s Egypt and learn their history. Explore the pharaoh’s tomb, solve puzzles and hieroglyphics, and cross the Nile River.

Essential Information
Address: 35 Market Place, Baltimore, MD | 410-727-8120
Hours: Mon 10am–5pm; Tue-Fri 10am–4pm; Sat 10am–5pm; Sun 12pm–5pm;
Cost: $17.95 per head for everyone over age 1; discounts available for military
Membership available? Yes
Website: Port Discovery Children’s Museum

8. Kohl Children’s Museum

Known as: A 100% ADA-compliant, LEED silver-certified museum that aims to teach diversity and acceptance

The Kohl Children’s Museum features 17 exhibits teaching a variety of interesting topics, such as art, diversity, water dynamics, music, clean energy, medicine, and many more.

Visit the following exhibits: Adventures In Art, All About Me, WaterWorks, Ravinia Festival Music Makers, Powered by Nature, Baby Nursery, Pet Vet, and many more.

Don’t miss: The Whole Foods Market takes roleplaying to the next level. Kids can be farmers, harvesters, shoppers, grocery workers, bakers, cashiers, and even florists for a day.

Essential Information
Address: 2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview, IL | 847-832-6600
Hours: Mon 9:30am–1pm; Tue–Sat 9:30am–5pm; Sun 12pm–5pm; Members Only: Mon–Sat 8:30am–9:30am
Cost: $14 per head for adults; discounts available for seniors and military; free for infants
Membership available? Yes
Website: Kohl Children’s Museum

9. Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Known as: The only children’s museum in Atlanta and the largest children’s museum in the state of Georgia

The Children’s Museum of Atlanta aims to educate children on arts, culture and geography, engineering, health and nutrition, literacy, science and technology, social and emotional wellness, and mathematics through play.

The museum is divided into six permanent interactive learning zones: Fundamentally Food, Gateway to the World, Leaping into Learning, Let Your Creativity Flow, Step Up to Science, and Tools For Solutions.

Don’t miss: Tools For Solutions allow children to build their own structures, figure out how to move balls using simple machines, and connect pipes and wires to construct their own house.

Essential Information
Address: 275 Centennial Olympic Park Dr NW, Atlanta, GA | 404-659-5437
Hours: Mon–Tue 10am–4pm; Wed closed; Thu–Fri 10am–4pm; Sat–Sun 10am–5pm;
Cost: Varies depending on the day and whether you purchase online or on-site; ranges from $13.95 to $18.95 for everyone 1 year old and above. Check out their pricing page to know exactly how much you can expect to pay.
Membership available? Yes
Website: Children’s Museum of Atlanta

Note: There are many more things to do in Atlanta, so if you’re planning to visit this children’s museum, make sure to check out these things to do in Atlanta.

10. Madison Children’s Museum

Known as: A LEED gold-certified children’s museum with a focus on Wisconsin: its environment, as well as animals, plants, and products unique to Wisconsin

The Madison Children’s Museum aims to provide an interactive, imaginative learning environment that educates children on arts and crafts, problem-solving, simple machines, plant and animal farming, as well as architecture.

Madison Children's Museum

Photo Credit: Richie Diesterheft

Check out the Art Studio, Possible-opolis™, Rooftop Ramble, Urb Garden, and many more.

Don’t miss: From Coops to Cathedrals allows you to experiment, tinker, and play in renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s childhood bedroom, farm, and architecture studio.

Essential Information
Address: 100 N. Hamilton Street, Madison, WI | 608-256-6445
Hours: Labor Day to Memorial Day: Tue–Sun 9:30am–5pm; Mon closed; Day after Memorial Day to Labor Day: Mon–Sun 9:30am–5pm
Cost: $9 for everyone 1 year old and above; free for infants; discounts available for seniors
Membership available? Yes
Website: Madison Children’s Museum

Final Thoughts

Before you run off and plan your trip to one of the best children’s museums above, here are some tips to make your trip convenient and enjoyable for everyone.

1. Make sure to bring a change of clothes for everyone, even you.

A lot of the best children’s museums have at least one exhibit where kids are allowed to play with water.

If not, they are guaranteed to crawl, walk, and run around, or even roll around in the dirt.

Being ready with a change of clothes is so worth the hassle.

2. If you live near one, spring for the membership.

Museum memberships normally last for a year and pay themselves off in two or three visits. If you plan to visit a nearby children’s museum more than once, being a member can save you serious money, especially if the museum offers family packages.

3. Subscribe to newsletters.

Some museums hold flash sales for admission tickets or membership passes, or hold special events such as Family Free Day, where families can come in for free.

Museums normally announce them to their subscribers first.

Hopefully, these tips and this list of the best children’s museums help you plan your next educational trip for your kids.

Other Destinations For Kids

If these children’s museum aren’t accessible to you, or your kids like other adventures better, check out our other lists: