Best Museums in America That Every Child Should Visit

If traveling is in the future for your family, consider making some plans around these incredible institutions.

Nothing says family adventure like a road trip with the kids in your new 2021 Ford Explorer. While you’re at it, why not make a stop at one of the best museums in America that are also tops in the family-friendly department?

There’s no shortage of amazing museums to visit here in Michigan, but there’s even more to be discovered throughout the United States. Our museum experts – Sue Troia, manager of gallery teaching at the Detroit Institute of Arts and Chris Hemler, former manager of education and learning programs at The Henry Ford – have shared some of the must-see attractions for kids at local museums here.

But what if you’re looking to take a longer-distance trip soon and want to spend some time visiting a new museum?

Consider a stop at one of these museums when you’re planning your next out-of-state adventure with your family. Have another museum you think is great? Add it in the comments section below!

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

  • Address: 3000 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Phone: 317-334-4000

Five floors of hands-on activities, a planetarium, NASA exhibits, a giant glass-blowing exhibit and more. “The sheer scale of it is incredible,” Hemler, the former manager of education and learning programs at The Henry Ford, told us last year. “It’s a really, really cool museum for kids and for families.”

Minneapolis Institute of Arts 

  • Address: 2400 Third Ave. South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Phone: 888-642-2787

This museum offers great family programming, says Troia, manager of gallery teaching at the Detroit Institute of Arts Admission is free and it even features a Family Center where parents can drop in with their kids to read books, play or just let out some energy.

Museum of Science

  • Address: 1 Science Park, Boston, Massachusetts
  • Phone: 617-589-0417

The museum features a Hall of Human Life with more than 70 interactive components, a To the Moon exhibit with full-size models of the Apollo and Mercury capsules, a planetarium, butterfly garden and more.

Museum of Science and Industry

  • Address: 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois
  • Phone: 773-684-1414

Visitors of the Museum of Science and Industry Chicago get to see some pretty cool attractions including a German U-boat, the Apollo 8 spacecraft, flight and ride simulators, the Numbers in Nature: A Mirror Maze exhibit and more.

New York Hall of Science

  • Address: 47-01 111th St., Corona, New York
  • Phone: 718-699-0005

In addition to boasting 450 permanent exhibits, the museum offers free daily demonstrations including sessions on flight and chemistry and even a cow’s eye dissection.

The Exploratorium

  • Address: Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street), San Francisco, California
  • Phone: 415-528-4444

Tons of hands-on activities for kids but also fascinating for adults. “The Exploratorium has that diverse range of activities that I found more engaging as a parent so that was a lot of fun,” Hemler said.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

  • Address: 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Missouri
  • Phone: 816-751-1278

The museum has a youth studio, offers preschool story time and provides free hands-on activities every weekend. “It’s a terrific place to go for families,” Troia says.

The Smithsonian Institution

  • Address: Multiple locations in Washington, DC
  • Phone: 202-633-1000

The Smithsonian is a must-do museum trip for many families. It’s the world’s largest museum and research complex and includes 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park.

This post was originally published in 2015 and has been updated for 2016.


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