Past Picks: The 10 Best Children's Museums

6. Brooklyn Children's Museum

  • Features a new 1,700-square-foot Totally Tots area, where little ones can enjoy adventures in the Baby Patch, Sand Spot, and Peek-A-Boutique.
  • Holds nearly 27,000 cultural and natural history objects, including dinosaur footprints, shadow puppets from Indonesia, and meteors.
  • Operates a greenhouse, where kids can don an apron and use a magnifying glass to see how plants grow and dig for worms in a compost bin.
  • Schedules plays, concerts, and many other performances during the summer months in its rooftop theater.
  • Offers the award-winning Museum Team program, which allows children as young as 7 to visit the museum unaccompanied by an adult and participate in artist and science residency programs, peer tutoring, and other educational activities.
  • Best for ages: 2 to 12

Founded in 1899, the Brooklyn Children's Museum -- the world's oldest -- is still keeping pace with its much younger (and flashier) counterparts. The key: charm. You enter the building, located underground in the side of a hill, through an authentic 1905 New York City trolley kiosk. Then you pass through the "People Tube," which connects the four exhibit floors -- and opens kids to a world of wonderful opportunities.

In the "Together in the City" exhibit, for instance, kids can make a pizza, produce a movie, and sing a rap song; in "Animal Outpost," they can pet rabbits, frogs, and even snakes. Over in the "Music Mix" center, children can play a wide variety of instruments such as South American steel tom-toms, Asian steel drums, and African xylophones. The bottom line: "We want kids to experience the real thing, rather than a picture in a textbook," says Carol Enseki, president.

  • Contact: 718-735-4400; www.brooklynkids.org. Suggested entrance fee: $4 per child and adult.

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