Not all museums – including children’s museums – are created equal, especially when it comes to toddler-approved entertainment. But these museums are guaranteed to please your littlest set with hands-on exhibits that foster creativity, education, and just plain fun.
The Please Touch Museum
It’s all in the name at this longtime favorite in Philadelphia. Kids are encouraged to get their hands on everything, from dressing up for the Mad Hatter’s Tea to pretend-driving their way around the city in a car, trolley or bus. The museum has three special Toddler Zones for little ones, too.
We don’t know who loves The DoSeum more — toddlers or their parents! There’s something for everyone at this interactive museum in San Antonio. Especially fun for toddlers is Little Town, with a pint-sized airport, grocery store, veterinary clinic and the ever-important food truck. The Sensations Studio is not to be missed, either.
It’s okay to color on the walls at the Crayola Experience! Coloring is just one of the many hands-on activities at this museum, where youngsters can play with a giant multi-colored peg board (think Lite Brite) in Toddler Town or run around and draw on the Color Playground. The Crayola Experience started in Easton, Pennsylvania, and now has locations in Orlando, Minneapolis (Mall of America) and in 2018, Plano, Texas.
The Strong National Museum of Play
Aquariums, a dance lab and a miniature supermarket are just a few of the toddler-friendly offerings at The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. We also love the Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road exhibit, where kids can design a quilt at Mama Bear’s Quilt Workshop or serve lunch at the Bear Family Restaurant.
Center for Puppetry Arts
Kermit and Miss Piggy are just a few of the famous puppets you’ll find at the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta. The true highlight, however, is watching a live puppet show! Upcoming shows in the Family Series include “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “The Wizard of Oz.” Visit on the first Tuesday of every month for Toddler Tuesdays, when little ones can take part in games, story time and other activities between 10 and 11:30 a.m.
Audobon Butterfly Garden and Insectorium
Kids can get up close and personal with creepy, crawly insects at the Audobon Butterfly Garden in New Orleans — so personal, in fact, that adventurous youngsters and their parents can even eat the bugs (cricket cookies, anyone?!). The butterfly garden is the best part — walk through a room filled with beautiful butterflies! Tip: Buy combined admission to the Audobon Zoo, Audobon Aquarium and Audobon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Did you know the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest children’s museum in the world? Plan to spend your time at the Dinosphere, where kids can dig for fossils, and All Aboard, where they can get on a real train car or play on the train tables. We’re betting the historic Carousel of Wishes and Dreams will be everyone’s favorite, though.
Kohl Children’s Museum
More than a dozen exhibits — including rotating exhibits — are featured at the Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, Illinois, right outside of Chicago. Toddlers love the Baby Nursery, where they can play nurse or doctor, and Cooperation Station, where they can press, push and pull to make music, propel balls and more. Currently running is Chagall for Children, an exhibit with 14 multi-sensory stations.