Past Picks: The 10 Best Children's Museums

3. The Children's Museum, Boston

  • Created the award-winning "Arthur's World" exhibit, where kids can role-play, read, or write in the character's favorite settings, like the Read Family Kitchen.
  • Has a stage like one in an opera house, where visitors 2 to 6 can perform.
  • Operates The Minnow, a life-size lobster boat that lets kids dress up as sailors.
  • Teaches children about Japanese culture in a two-story silk merchant's home.
  • Features an extensive doll and dollhouse collection.
  • Best for ages: 2 to 8

One of the few museums with many activities for toddlers and preschoolers -- there's a special version of the facility's rock-climbing wall just for 3- to 5-year-olds, a treehouse with hidden pathways, and a red car with a radio that plays Elmo's version of the Beatles' hit, "Baby, You Can Drive My Car" -- The Children's Museum, Boston (CMB) makes sure its youngest visitors enjoy their trip as much as their older siblings do.

Most of the activities for younger kids, including infants, are found in the museum's 4,500-square-foot PlaySpace area, which the museum recently redesigned based on the latest research in early childhood education. A new feature: a Messy Sensory Station where toddlers can dig "treasure" such as balls out of shaving cream. "The kids don't realize this, but by using plastic scrapers and other tools to find the treasure, they're developing the fine-motor skills that allow them to grip a pencil and start writing," says PlaySpace coordinator Tim Ireland.

  • Contact: 617-426-8855; www.BostonKids.org. Entrance fee: $9 for adults, $7 for children (2-15).

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