Kids and their parents know it’s cool to be smart.
Here are five places that will supercharge your family’s brainpower.
1. Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
Encouraging curiosity and celebrating questions, this is the place to see a German submarine, understand how tornados and avalanches happen and discover the process behind Pixar’s popular films and characters.
Explore the mathematical patterns that surround us every day in the natural world—from the delicate nested spirals of a sunflower’s seeds to the ridges of a majestic mountain range in a compelling exhibit called Numbers in Nature. Then make your way to the Whispering Gallery to understand how sound travels in different environments. A theatre and hands-on exhibits further enhance the experience.
2. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Indianapolis, IN.
With more than 472,900 feet of exhibit space on five floors and covering 29 acres, this extraordinary nonprofit institution has been entertaining and educating families since 1925. Considered the largest children’s museum in the world, kids can learn about the day to day duties of astronauts and discover how dinosaurs lived in the Dinosphere. Families are charmed by an historic carousel and inspired by exhibits that explain how plant science can help the world by cleaning up oil spills and cultivating healthy food.
3. Exploratorium. San Francisco, CA.More than 600 exhibits encourage every member of the family to see the world differently. A scientific funhouse, the learning lab encourages creativity and “tinkering” as a means of expanding our perceptions. Young children and toddlers are engaged by shadow, light, bubbles and color as a means of exploration and discovery. Kids can create a marble machine, dance with their own shadow, study plankton populations, or check out an “upside down world”.
4. Explora Children’s Museum. Albuquerque, NM.
How do you make a green chile pepper appear black? Find out during a visit to this family-friendly museum that mixes art and science to spur creativity and discovery within the worlds of physics, math, biology and beyond. Investigate the properties of bubbles as you blow, pop and float them in a dedicated exhibit space. Kids can also use their own bodies to study the concepts of ratio and proportion in the Math Moves exhibit.
5. National Aquarium. Baltimore, MD.
Did you know that an octopus has a highly developed brain and is a master of camouflage? Collect the details before you check out Black Tip Reef, a coral filled exhibit replicating Indo-Pacific underwater landscapes. Learn about the wild extremes of Australia in an award-winning immersive exhibit featuring freshwater crocodiles, turtles, fishes, snakes, lizards, free-flying birds, and flying foxes. The kids will love their visit with bottlenose dolphins where they’ll also observe training, feeding and playtime with trainers. Before days’ end discover the importance of jellyfish, observe sharks in an open tank and see more than 500 exotic species in an Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit.
As a child I loved to curl up with a good story. I still do. A good book can transport us to magical places and encourage exploration.
Here are five places with stories to tell and the characters that bring them to life:
1 A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, Winnipeg, Manitoba.
A century ago, a Canadian soldier launched a literary legacy when he adopted a black bear cub and named it after his hometown of Winnipeg. The soldier took the cub across the pond and eventually donated it to the London Zoo, where Winnie became the inspiration for the well-loved character. Today, Winnipeg’s Pavilion Gallery Museum houses a permanent collection of Winnie the Pooh artifacts and memorabilia, including a painting by the book’s original illustrator.
2 Louisa May Alcott, Concord, Mass.
I can recall staying up all night reading Little Women. Today we can visit the home of this novelist who crafted a compelling story around the relationships within her own family. You’ll take a guided tour and get a glimpse into how the Marche family lived in the home known as Orchard House. Many of the family’s treasures remain in the well-preserved structure, including family china and photographs. You’ll find out why the Alcotts kept daily diaries and visit Louisa’s bedroom where the shelf desk, upon which she wrote Little Women, still remains.
3 Zane Grey’s America.
Best-selling novelist and avid angler Zane Grey created robust stories detailing the life and culture of the American West. Through titles like Call of the Canyon, Riders of the Purple Sage and The Thundering Herd, Grey’s tales of frontier character and romance inspired many to explore new country. His books involve every state west of the Missouri River except North Dakota. Visit his birthplace in Zanesville, Ohio, a town founded by his mother’s ancestors. You can also visit a replica of his Arizona cabin (the original burned in a 1990 wildfire), which served as his home base while exploring and writing.
Contact: zgws.org; rimcountrymuseums.com/zane_grey_cabin.htm;
4 Where the Wild Things Are.
My boys loved this book!
Why not use this creative tome as the centerpiece of a wild and wonderful weekend with the kids? Read Maurice Sendak’s book, then visit your local zoo or wildlife park, or walk through a nearby forest and discuss the adventures of young Max, the main character. Top off the weekend by streaming the Spike Jonze movie of the same name. The whole family will enjoy the mix of real actors, computer animation and live puppeteering, the combination of which brings the story to life. Let the wild rumpus begin! Contact: Netflix.com.
5 Jack London, Glen Ellen, Calif.
Channel the adventuresome spirit of one of the planet’s most inspired writers as you explore more than 26 miles of hiking, horseback and cycling trails across 1,400 acres in the stunning Sonoma Valley. Visit the stone barn and the home where London wrote his page-turners. The author of Call of the Wild and White Fang was laid to rest on this landscape that nurtured his creativity and drive. It is is now a National Historic Landmark.
Do you have a favorite literary location?
Kids and their parents know it’s cool to be smart.
Here are five places that will supercharge your family’s brainpower.
Exploratorium. San Francisco, CA.
More than 600 exhibits housed on 3.3 acres will encourage every member of the family to see the world differently. The 40-year-old, 21st century learning lab encourages creativity and “tinkering” as a means of expanding our perceptions. Young children and toddlers are engaged by shadow, light, bubbles and color as a means of exploration and discovery. Kids can create a marble machine, study plankton populations, or check out an “upside down world” at a new location on Pier 15.
Contact: (415) 528-4444; www.exploratorium.edu
The Living Planet Aquarium. Draper, UT.
This home to underwater adventure was created by a marine biology major turned biochemist, who was inspired to share the mysteries of the seas with children in his land-locked home state of Utah, The popular Living Planet Aquarium will reboot in a new and expanded location in December. When the doors reopen, kids can learn all about sharks, rays, seahorses, piranha and Gentoo penguins in an interactive environment.
Contact: 801-355-FISH (3474); www.TheLivingPlanet.com
Explora Children’s Museum. Albuquerque, NM.
How do you make a green chile pepper appear black? Find out during a visit to this family-friendly museum that mixes art and science to spur creativity and discovery within the worlds of physics, math, biology and beyond. Kids can also use their own bodies to study the concepts of ratio and proportion in the Math Moves exhibit.
Contact: (505) 224-8300; www.explora.us
The Dalí Museum. St. Petersburg, FLA
Plan a family visit to the 66,450-square-foot permanent home of the most comprehensive collection of Salvador Dali’s works in the world. Enjoy the priceless collection of masterpieces, paintings, photographs, watercolors and books. Younger children will enjoy the “Dillydally with Dali” program offered daily, which includes puzzles, games, story hour and creative expression. Be there on the first Saturday of the month, for Breakfast With Dali, a morning that includes a junior-focused tour, followed by a buffet breakfast. Beginning in January, 2014, the museum will host an expansive exhibit of the work of Andy Warhol. Children under five are admitted free.
Contact: 1-800-442-DALI (3254); www.TheDali.org; www.VisitStPeteClearwater.com
National Aquarium. Baltimore, MD.
Did you know that an octopus has a highly developed brain and is a master of camouflage? Collect the details before you check out Black Tip Reef, a coral filled exhibit replicating Indo-Pacific underwater landscapes. The kids will love their visit with bottlenose dolphins where they’ll also observe training, feeding and playtime with trainers. Before days’ end discover the importance of jellyfish, observe sharks in an open tank and see more than 500 exotic species in an Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit.
Contact: 410-576-3800; Aqua.org.
While students find intellectual challenge in the formal classroom, here are five places where families can expand their knowledge through experience:
Denver Museum of Science & Nature. Denver, CO.
Through film, lectures, demonstrations and hands-on activity, your family will learn about ancient Egyptian civilization through clues scientists share from their mummy research. Tap into the latest information about our universe and our place in it through a Space Odyssey exhibit. Gain a greater understanding of Native American cultures. Plus, discover how precious gems are recovered from mines and the role they play in various cultures. All this, plus a permanent discovery zone where hands -on fun provides interactive educational opportunities for the youngest explorers. Contact: 303-322-7009; www.dmns.org.
Musical Instrument Museum. Phoenix, AZ.
This unique museum enables families to see and experience more than 3000 instruments and artifacts from around the world. Live performances, family-friendly festivals and a wide array of lectures and classes are available. Check out the Steinway piano on which John Lennon composed “Imagine” as well as the instruments of Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and George Benson. Wireless head-sets allow guests to see and hear exhibits throughout the museum. Kids will enjoy the Experience Gallery where they can touch, play and hear instruments from far away cultures. Contact: (480) 478-6000; www.TheMim.org.
The Alamo. San Antonio, TX.
Located in downtown San Antonio, more than 2.5 million people visit each year to learn why it was suggested we “Remember the Alamo!”. Representing three centuries of history, families can learn the roles played by David Crockett, Sam Houston and James Bowie as they tour the 4.2 acre complex where beautiful gardens provide a backdrop for the old mission and exhibits detailing the Texas revolution and the state’s colorful history. Admission is free. Contact: 1-866-769-8419; thealamo.org
Glaciers and Climate Change.
Trek to Alaska, our largest state, but at number 49 among the last to join the union. Here you can team up with one of many companies that will introduce you to the mysteries of glaciers and how our changing climate is affecting them and the surrounding areas. Tours offer the opportunity to dog sled, hike, and ice climb all while learning about regional geology and geography and its importance to the rest of the world. Contact: www.flyk2.com; travelAlaska.com.
Monterey Bay Aquarium. Monterey, CA.
Founded in 1984, this world-renowned organization’s mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s oceans. Through a variety of interactive activities and exhibits designed for young children and families, your crew will learn about the delicate balance that exists in our seas today. The youngest visitors will be drawn to the 40-foot-long touch pool for an up close look at curious creatures like sea stars, urchins, kelp crabs and abalones. Contact: (831) 648-4800; www.MonterayBayAquarium.org