Yes, unless you live in Jersey City, the idea of visiting the Liberty Science Center in Liberty State Park might sound kind of far afield or intimidating. But we’re here to tell you: no matter where you’re coming from, it’s so worth it—especially on a rainy day, a super hot day, or a day when the kids are off from school. You can legit spend the entire day at the Liberty Science Center and not get to everything (it’s that vast and rich). And, perhaps stating the obvious, your kids will also be soaking up some scientific principles along the way. Check out our guide to doing the Liberty Science Center with kids!

photo: LSC via Yelp

 

LSC: The Basics

Located in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, the Liberty Science Center is world-class, welcoming more than 750,000 visitors each year to its massive 300,000-square-foot facility. The Center is home to interactive exhibits for kids of all ages, along with tons of live shows, experiments, and experiences that show scientific principles in action.

Insider Tip: Thinking of heading there soon? Take a look at the ticketing options, which include basic admission (entrance to all of the museum’s permanent exhibits), as well as add-ons such as a premium visiting exhibit, a show in one of the Center’s several theaters, or both. Not only will reviewing these choices help you plan your day, it’s also the time to buy your tickets online of at all possible. Lines for tickets can be long, and with tickets in hand you can save time and dive right in to the science fun.

The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes; photo: LSC

 

Special Exhibits

The Liberty Science Center hosts visiting exhibits throughout the year, often featuring one for older kids, and one for the pre-K set.

On view now for the big kids is the interactive puzzle adventure (pictured above), The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes. Visitors are transported to Holmes’ London and the early days of forensic science. Along the way, they solve puzzles, find clues, and crack the case!

The Lion Guard, photo: LSC

For younger visitors, there’s The Lion Guard, inspired by the Disney Jr. series of the same name. In this exhibit, kids learn about the African savanna and the animals that live there, protect the “Circle of Life”, learn about teamwork, and train in the Lion Guard’s secret lair. The exhibition also includes the “Little Lion Guard,” an area where younger kids can engage in activities of exploration, creativity, and skill building.

photo: Mimi O’Connor

LSC’s Greatest Hits

As mentioned, there are many, many areas and exhibits to explore at the Liberty Science Center, and each family will have its favorites. That said, there are some real crowd-pleasers that you shouldn’t (and kind of cant’) miss.

photo: Mimi O’Connor

The Infinity Climber

An icon of the LSC, the Infinity Climber is the world’s first suspended climbing play space of its kind. Hovering 35 feet above the floor, this mesh-enclosed structure can handle up to 50 adults and children at once, and there’s no one way to navigate it—you’re encourage to “pick your own path.”

The Touch Tunnel

Another big favorite, the Touch Tunnel is a pitch-black, 80-foot tunnel you navigate using all your senses but sight. Those on the outside get to watch you feel your way through via closed circuit television captured by special cameras. (Note: the lines can get long for this; if you want to do it, line up when you get there.)

photo: LSC

Eat and Be Eaten

A mini zoo filled with curious creatures, this exhibit is home to more than 100 fascinating animal species including naked mole rats (pictured), the critically endangered cotton-top tamarin monkeys, and leaf-cutter ants. 

photo: Jason P. via Yelp 

Skyscraper!

For builder types, this exhibit exploring the engineering and impact of skyscrapers includes the chance to put on a harness and walk a beam 18 feet in the air, and to feel the strength of hurricane-force winds via the Curtain Wall Test, used to measure buildings’ resilience.

Block Party; photo: Mimi O’Connor

Other Highlights

 

Block Party

That’s really just the beginning. You’ll also find Block Party, a large area that invites building with pieces big and small. The blue foam blocks of an Imagination Playground can be used to create structures, and for little kids, lots of wood blocks provide the same opportunity in the same space.

Microbes Rule!; photo: LSC

Microbes Rule! 

The new Microbes Rule! is a colorful, glowing gallery of microbial art made by microbiologists, synthetic biologists, and artists using cutting-edge scientific techniques.

Dream Machine; photo: Mimi O’Connor

Dream Machine

The Dream Machine debuted at New York’s Panorama Festival in 2017, and is described as an “interactive, sensory adventure.” Visitors use this other-worldly instrument’s bicycle pumps to produce combinations of colors, sounds, and scents – some pleasant, some unpleasant. Different stations provide the opportunity to explore a complex range of human emotions, including happiness, disgust, shame, and hope.

I Explore; photo: Mimi O’Connor

I Explore

I Explore is a great spot for the youngest of museum-goers. Kids can watch scarves zip through an air maze, launch balls into a maze and guide them through using cranks, play the Rock Xylophone with rubber mallets, and make a colorful glowing light picture at the light wall, a la Light Bright.

photo: Jason P. via Yelp

Wonder Why

Take part in hands-on experiments in this area. Climb a fossil-studded rock wall to experience friction; test reaction times; make six-foot-wide soap bubbles; check out some mind-bending optical illusions, and even make a mini movie!

photo: Mimi O’Connor

Pixel Art

Visitors can step up to this this colorful, illuminated exhibit and turn any of the 952 pixel dials to change its color and make mesmerizing patterns and pictures!

Energy Quest; photo: Mimi O’Connor

Energy Quest

Explore different sources of energy like water, oil, the sun—and even legs, when you power a blender while riding a bike!

Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium; photo: Liberty Science Center 

So Many Shows

 

Theaters big and small with options for all
Not only is there a lot to do at the Liberty Science Center, there’s so much to see, in one of the museum’s four theaters. The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, is a sight to behold on its own. Shows here include Wonders of the Night Sky, a live exploration of space and the planets, One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure, and a feature dedicated to black holes.

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The LSC Giant Dome Theater features family-friendly laser shows (set to pop music) and films, while the Joseph D. Williams 3D Science Theater, screens 3D films (now showing Pandas and Oceans: Our Blue Planet, as well as The Nikola Tesla Lightning Show. (Note: the Lightning Show is free, but you must request a ticket at the box office to get in.)

Finally, the Weston Family Lab for Earth and Space Exploration features a six-foot glowing planet Earth on which the month’s volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunami, and hurricanes are shown.

photo: Maggie P. via Yelp 

Good to Know

Eating

As mentioned, you’ll probably spend a full day here. At some point, you’ll have to eat. There is a cafeteria on site (“Cafe Skylines”), with both grab and go snacks and bites and more substantial prepared foods. Choices include custom pizzas, sandwiches, and even a salad bar as well as kid’s meals; vegetarian and gluten-free options are also available. LSC offers plenty of seating in the large Governors Hall.

photo: LSC via Yelp

Getting There

You’ve got a few options on how you get to the Liberty Science Center. (See full directions here.)

You can drive. Parking is available for a $7.00 fee.

You can take the train. Take the PATH to Pavonia/Newport or Exchange Place station and transfer to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

Alternatively, you can take the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Liberty State Park station and follow signs to the sidewalk directly under the NJ Turnpike overpass. Note: validate your ticket before entering the train.

Or you can hop a ferry at the World Financial Center to Liberty State Park and make the 20 minute walk to the Center. (Check the ferry schedules as they do change.)

 

Closed on Mondays
Tickets: $23.75/adults; $19.75/kids 2 -12
Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd.
Liberty State Park
201-200-1000
Online: lsc.org

—Mimi O’Connor

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