Top 10 Family Museums
Photograph Courtesy of the Strong Museum
1. The Strong Museum, Rochester, NY
It's easy to see why the Strong made it to the top of our list, since the museum (which includes the National Museum of Play, the International Center for the History of Electronic Games, and the National Toy Hall of Fame) is all about that perennial goal of childhood: having fun. Among its treasures are a life-size pop-up book; an interactive exhibit exploring the history of video games; 15 years' worth of its Hall of Fame inductees (from the cardboard box to the Nintendo Game Boy); and more than 400,000 other toys, games, dolls, and playthings.
2. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Chicago, IL
What would you expect to find in the largest science center in the Western Hemisphere? How about a real World War II U-boat, a simulated tornado four stories high, a Boeing 727, a tour through a coal mine, a giant hamster wheel, and an Omnimax theater? They're all here, along with thousands of other hands-on exhibits, science demonstrations, and special events. No surprise, then, that one Michigan family said, "We could spend days there exploring all the sections."
3. Children's Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
Survey respondents called it "amazing," "mind-expanding," and "always changing," and that only begins to describe a museum with a mission to transform lives. It aims to do that through exhibits (many of them interactive) that excite, engage, and delight kids of all ages, including a steam-powered locomotive, an Indy race car, a towering water clock, rare fossils (including a mummified dinosaur), a climbable rock wall, a vintage carousel, a planetarium, live theater, and more.
4. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY
With more than 32 million specimens, 45 permanent exhibition halls, a planetarium, an Imax theater, and 145 years of scientific inquiry behind it, this Manhattan gem offers something for everyone at a fabulous location, just across the street from Central Park.
5. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC
It's the most visited museum in the country -- and for good reason. Located in the heart of the nation's capital, its collection includes 127 million-plus items: cultural artifacts, dinosaur skeletons, fossils, minerals, rocks, plants, animals, and much more. There's even a live butterfly pavilion and insect zoo.
6. The Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA
The passionately curious, inventive spirit of Benjamin Franklin is alive and well at this venerable science and technology museum, where interactive exhibits and playful hands-on activities inspire learning and discovery.
7. The Field Museum, Chicago, IL
Over a century after it was founded to house exhibits for the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, the Field remains dedicated to exploring, understanding, and celebrating the diversity and interdependence of life on Earth.
8. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC
Through interactive exhibits, flight simulators, a planetarium, an observatory, an IMAX theater, and a treasure trove of historic aircraft and spacecraft -- from the Wright brothers' first powered plane to the Apollo 11 Command Module -- the museum showcases the science and the creativity behind the human passion for flight.
9. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown, NY
The Hall of Fame, paying tribute to the more than 300 baseball greats who've been inducted here, is just one of the site's many attractions; all told, the museum features more than 40,000 artifacts, 3 million documents, and a quarter-million-plus photographs tracing the history of America's favorite pastime.
10. Please Touch Museum, Philadelphia, PA
Live theater, art activities, music and dance performances, seven exhibit (aka "play") zones, and an historic carousel are all part of the irresistible fun at this family destination aimed at children age 7 and under.