Hands-On and Interactive Museums for Family Fun

Kids, by nature, look with their hands. I always tease my kids by telling them that when they were much younger they were part shark as they all explored any new object with their mouths. So, the surge in interactive museums with invitations to touch exhibits is truly welcomed.

please touch museum

The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia is a favorite and one of the first institutions to be kid-friendly by welcoming interaction. Here, you can create a rocket, ride a carousel that was originally crafted in 1908 and refurbished to delight families in a 9,000 square-foot glass pavilion or play a giant piano with your feet. (Just like in the film ‘Big.’) You and your kids will love the Childlife Collections which features thousands of toys that range from 1945 to today. Everyone will have a “I remember playing with that!” moment. You can also take in a show at the live theater or play in water and be a captain.

San Francisco is home to the Exploratorium which recently went through a makeover. This museum has a focus on science, and just like The Please Touch Museum, it engages your family with interaction. It was located a the Palace of Fine Arts, but moved to Pier 15 on the bay. In April of 2013, the new doors were opened and guests enjoyed nearly three times the space of the old location! The gem of the improvements is the Bay Observatory where you can enjoy 6,000 square feet of breathtaking views of the city and water. A map you can touch and interact with shows you about the geology, weather and water facts. The giant mirrors are another draw that brings a new life and experience to those old circus mirrors you find in fun-houses. Even better, an interactive Pac-Man exhibit awaits!


If you are in Texas, check out the Children’s Museum of Houston. The Inventors Workshop is a popular draw thanks to Guides leading kids through different themed challenges. Kidtropolois is another favorite among visitors. There, children can run their very own scaled city by running for political office, be a weatherman on tv, passing city ordinances or shopping. From there, you can indulge your creative side in the art school or challenge your kids’ climbing ability in a 3 story climbing structure.

Boston’s Children’s Museum is now 100 years old, but still remains fresh and engaging. You will find actual musical chairs with unique abilities, a center where kids build and destroy city structures and stage for the performers in the family. Launching a golf ball off a ski jump is another way to keep everyone’s mind and body bodies moving. The option to crawl under a turtle tank to get a belly-eye view of resident reptiles will be a hit with those animal lovers.

dino digLets not forget those in middle of our great country! Chicago is home to a children’s museum that sits in the heart of Navy Pier. Several floors filled with interactions beg you to come play and learn. There really is something for everyone here. Babies, toddlers, preschoolers are not forgotten. Pritzker Playspace is designed specifically for the younger crowd. Kids can dig up bones in a Dinosaur Expedition,drive a realistic fire truck and an interactive system of pulleys, pumps, and pipes showcasing the wonders of water is also available along with gear to keep kids dry in the wet fun. End it all with by scaling three stories of ship-shape rigging—from cargo hold to crow’s nest.

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Cara is the jack of all trades. She started in fashion, but found her true passion in writing. After mixing the two into a fabulous cocktail of freelance writing about all things style, she started a family. Her 3 kids keep her Prada pumps moving as they explore the world one adventure at a time.

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22 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. MK January 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm - Reply

    These museums all sound great!

  2. BusyBee January 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Hands on learning is great. In san diego we have the fleet space museum. It was so fantastic when I was a kid

  3. DD January 13, 2014 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    See museums can be fun!

  4. Nikki January 13, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Great to see they are making museums more fun for children!

  5. Jody January 13, 2014 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    These hands on museums are great ideas!

  6. Jen January 14, 2014 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Love all of these as ideas for places to visit!

  7. Pamela January 14, 2014 at 4:33 am - Reply

    Would love to check out these places!

  8. DD January 14, 2014 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    I will have to show this to my family and see what they think!

  9. Jen January 15, 2014 at 1:28 am - Reply

    ha. I reckon my kids are part shark too!

  10. Makeherup January 15, 2014 at 2:19 am - Reply

    Portland has a great children’s museum!

  11. Janelle January 15, 2014 at 5:40 am - Reply

    The please touch museum sounds perfect for kids

  12. Allie January 15, 2014 at 5:45 am - Reply

    It looks like this stuff really works!

  13. Danity Donnaly January 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    Those are great ideas!

  14. DD January 17, 2014 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Kids love museums if they have fun activities for them to do.

  15. DD January 19, 2014 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    Hands on museums, the best!

  16. MHU January 19, 2014 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    This looks great!

  17. Erin January 24, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Wow that place looks really cool!

  18. DD January 26, 2014 at 12:16 pm - Reply

    I always get bored at museums.

  19. Tina Ashburn February 2, 2014 at 4:11 pm - Reply

    This is my kind of museum. I grew up on Denver and we visited museums often, but we couldn’t touch anything! I’d love to visit this museum!

  20. Corinne February 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    I’m definitely bookmarking this so that when we vacation I’ll remember to add these museums into our itinerary if we visit any of these cities. I love when education is fun for the kids.

  21. Karen February 27, 2014 at 1:01 am - Reply

    So much better for the kids than say Don’t touch all day.

  22. DD March 3, 2014 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    Anything hands on works for me! My kids want to touch everything anyways.

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