Category Archives: Travel

Top Children’s Museums in the United States

This summer, my wife and I are planning a short vacation with our preschooler. Unfortunately, we hit a snag: we could not agree on where we wanted to go. Ireland? Too far. Cape Breton? Too out of the way. Cleveland? Too boring. And so on. So, how did we resolve our dispute? Let the preschooler pick. Or rather, we decided to plan our trip based on fantastic Children’s Museums and see where the data took us.

There are lots of sites out there that provide recommendations but they do not all have the same list. To give us the best possible experience, I took the top eight lists that I could find of “Top 10” or “Top 25” museums and summed them up, looking for museums that everyone could agree were the best. Since I like to share, let me give you my results:

Best of the Best: 8 of 8

  • Boston Children’s Museum (Boston, MA)

Only one museum managed to be on all eight lists that I found: Boston Children’s Museum. And it is amazing! But unfortunately we are locals and have been there many times.

88%: 7 of 8

  • Port Discovery Children’s Museum (Baltimore, MD)
  • Strong Museum of Play (Rochester, NY)
  • Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Minnesota Children’s Museum (St. Paul, MN)

Of those, I have only been to Indianapolis so we have a lot of fun exploration in front of us for a few years!

The Middle List: 4 to 8 recommendations

  • Children’s Museum of Houston (Houston, TX) – 6 of 8
  • Children’s Museum of Denver (Denver, CO) – 5 of 8
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum (Brooklyn, NY) – 4 of 8

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum was fantastic so if that only gets 4 of 8 then you know that the others are even better.

Pretty Good Ones: 2 to 3 recommendations

  • Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, IL)
  • COSI (Columbus, OH)
  • Kohl Children’s Museum (Chicago, IL)
  • Madison Children’s Museum (Madison, WI)
  • Pittsburgh Children’s Museum (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • The Phoenix Children’s Museum (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Liberty Science Center (Jersey City, NJ)
  • Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)
  • Discovery Place (Charlotte, NC)
  • Discovery Center Museum (Rockford, IL)

I have already been to a few of these as well (MoSI, COSI, Pittsburgh, and the Discovery Place) and they were great too! After this, my analysis found a number more probably fantastic museums that were just recommended as a “top” one by one site or the other.

I hope you find this list helpful in planning your preschooler-focused vacation, it sure has helped me!