Are you looking for the triple-threat of kid activities? Something that is fun, creative, and educational… all at the same time.

A quality children’s museum definitely fits the bill! Kids can explore, learn, touch, create and just have an all-out good time. What’s not to like?

We set out to research children’s museums across the country, and pretty quickly we noticed some trends. The same few museums kept cropping up in the “best-of” lists of blogs, travel sites, and magazines. We knew we were on to something!

We analyzed the findings, and put together our Top Ten List of Best Children’s Museums that scored high marks amongst parents, teachers, and kids alike.

If you live near any of these cities, or plan on visiting one anytime soon, be sure to set aside a day to visit one of these fun learning spaces. You and your kids will be happy that you did!!

1. Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)

Did you know this is the largest children’s museum in the world? The massive facility is 472,900 square-feet and sits on 29 acres. That’s a lot of space to explore!

Exhibits here are all about hands-on learning, like the famous Dinosphere that contains a working paleontology lab and lets the kids dig for bones like an archeologist.

Kids can also try out rock climbing, boat racing, hula-hooping, searching for frogs in a pond, and so much more!

Insider Tips: There is a food court on site so you can break for lunch. Be sure to watch out for the museum’s resident experts who regularly give free informative talks throughout the museum. The space is so large, you may want to plan a two day visit to be sure you have time to take it all in.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

 

2. Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia, PA)

The name says it all. In this space kids are invited to come and play. The museum is divided into six themed interactive exhibit zones that are totally hands on.

Kids can explore a miniature philly-like neighborhood. There is also a Flight Fantasy room for wanna-be NASA scientists, exhibits on the rainforest (with conga drums and a canoe), airplanes, cars, and a historical train station.

Kids can even take a trip down the rabbit hole and have tea with Alice and the Mad Hatter in the Alice in Wonderland exhibit.

Insider Tips: Don’t forget to take a ride on the historic 1908 carousel before you leave, the ticket costs extra, but it’s well worth it. There’s a Playhouse Theater inside the museum that puts on shows (typically 25 minutes each).

The museum is located in Philadelphia’s largest park, Fairmount. Be sure to check out the playgrounds, trails, horseback riding and zoo also housed within the park’s 9,200 acres.

Please Touch Museum

Please Touch Museum

 

3. The Strong National Museum of Play (Rochester, NY) 

This museum located in New York’s finger-lakes region, is 100% focused on the power of play, utilizing play methods as a tool to explore culture and history. The space also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame (fun!) and the International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

It’s the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, and games under one roof! There are also licensed exhibits from Sesame Street, the Berenstein Bears, Monopoly, and the Wizard of Oz.

Insider Tips: Be sure to check out the indoor butterfly garden (the only one in New York) and the popular comic book exhibit that explores super powers.

The Strong National Museum of Play

 

4. Children’s Museum of Denver (Denver, CO)

This museum is laid out a little bit differently than most, it is divided into 13 “Playscapes” that appeal to different ages and interests.

There is a “Center For the Young Child” where infants through age 4 can crawl through storybook landscapes.

Then there are areas for older kids and wanna-be engineers to build structures, vehicles, and even planes using tools and blueprints.

Other Playscapes focus on arts & crafts, rockets & space, a fire station and an animal themed space for aspiring veterinarians.

Insider Tips: There are party rooms for visitors that want to throw a birthday party at the museum. Onsite parking is free, and you can bring your own food and drinks inside (but you can’t eat in the gallery spaces). There is a small cafe for grabbing snacks.

Children’s Museum of Denver

 

5. Minnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul, MN)

This museum is all about immersive experiences. It has a giant anthill kids can enter and an area for toddlers called Habitot, where little ones can run or crawl through four of Minnesota’s distinct natural habitats.

The “Broken? Fix It!” exhibit teaches kids how to fix broken electronics, cars, etc. with simple tools. It’s a great way to learn problem-solving skills!

Insider Tips: The museum hosts dozens of special events throughout the year, so be sure to check their website to see if something is happening when you visit.

There is no food or drink allowed inside any exhibits, but there are fast-food restaurants located just over the skywalk where you can grab a quick kiddie meal for lunch.

Minnesota Children’s Museum

Minnesota Children’s Museum

 

6. Boston Children’s Museum (Boston, MA)

This is the second-oldest children’s museum in America. It is also certified as a “green” museum.

Permanent exhibitions include an authentic two-story Japanese house, the Construction Zone (your kids can get on a Bobcat or walk on high beam girders), and Johnny’s Workbench area with hardware and tools. There is also a three-story climbing sculpture for kids to climb.

Insider Tips: The museum is easily accessible via public transportation. There is a special play zone for kids age 3 and under and a Countdown to Kindergarten room where preschoolers can get a taste of what a real classroom will feel like.

Be sure to check out the giant Hood Milk Bottle landmark, just outside the museum entrance, it’s quite famous.

Boston Children’s Museum

 

7. Children’s Museum of Houston (Houston, TX)

Step into this museum and you step into a kid’s world, literally. Kidtropolis is a huge pretend city where kids are in charge; it has a bank, city hall, news center, vet’s office and more.

The museum also has several outdoor exhibits including Eco Station, Weather Station, and the Watery Flow Station. With over 90,000 square feet of interactive activity space, the kids can spend a full day exploring.

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Insider Tips: There is a separate Tot Spot area for children 3 and under. The Cafe serves kid-friendly food at reasonable prices, and the museum hosts free family nights every Thursday between 5-8pm.

Children’s Museum Of Houston

 

8. The Madison Children’s Museum (Madison, WI)

This museum is dedicated to bringing inspiration, challenge and enlightenment to children of all ages through interactive learning and play.

You can check out a 175-year old log cabin, a city built just for kids, an urban garden and more. Plus, new exhibits and programs are being presented all the time, so be sure to check the website for what’s happening when you visit.

Insider Tips: The museum is close to capital square, so families can dine out at a number of restaurants close to the museum.

Be sure to take a walk down the museum sidewalk, artwork pops up through the windows for a unique experience every time you walk by.

The Madison Children’s Museum

 

9. The Port Discovery Children’s Museum (Baltimore, MD)

This museum’s exhibits are heavily thematic. You can travel back in time to 1920’s Egypt and search for a lost tomb, there is a soccer and games stadium, a farm exhibit where kids can learn to milk a cow and brush the tail of an actual horse, and Miss Perception’s Mystery House (always a good time).

If your little ones need to burn off some steam they can hit up KidWorks, a three-story urban tree house that includes tunnels, zip lines, slides, and a footbridge.

Insider Tips: On Wonderful Wednesdays, kids under age 6 are treated to a morning of age-appropriate activities focusing on music, literacy, and early learning.

If you have extra time, consider a side trip to the B&O (Baltimore and Ohio) Railroad Museum nearby where kids can get in some quality train time.

The Port Discovery Children’s Museum

Port Discovery Children’s Museum

 

10. Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)

This famous museum has more than 600 hands-on exhibits covering art, science, and human perception.

This museum’s diverse program offerings means there is something here for everyone; light and sound tinkering, bubble making, solar x-rays, and learning the recipe for rock candy are just a few examples.

Insider Tips: The food at this museum goes waaaay beyond normal museum fare so be sure to stop by the SeaGlass restaurant for bay views and some serious dining. California state public school teachers are admitted for free.

Exploratorium