Past Picks: The 10 Best Children's Museums

4. (tie) Port Discovery, Baltimore

  • Features KidWorks, a three-story treehouse where children can crawl through tunnels, cross a narrow rope bridge, and play in a room full of balls.
  • Teaches kids to make a papier m?ch? balloon that resembles the museum's HiFlyer hot air balloon.
  • Hands out PD Kid Club communicators, wireless devices that make the exhibits even more interactive.
  • Houses Exploration Center, a library branch with over 3,000 books, Internet access, and sing-alongs.
  • Best for ages: 6 to 12

One of the nation's newest children's museums, Port Discovery aims to bring kids' dreams to life. In some exhibits -- like the new HiFlyer hot air balloon, which gives children a 15-minute ride above the city's family-friendly Inner Harbor area -- the message is quite subtle. "The HiFlyer is a metaphor for children reaching for the stars," says Alan Leberknight, chief executive officer. More obvious examples include the R&D DreamLab (kids can construct any project) and The Dream Squad (characters inspire kids to make their wishes come true).

Contact: 410-727-8120; www.portdiscovery.org. Entrance fee: $11 for adults, $8.50 for kids.

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