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Keep learning on your next family vacation

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes, FamilyTravel.com
Published: April 6, 2024, 5:28am

Kids and their parents know it’s cool to be smart. Here are five places that will supercharge your family’s brainpower.

  • Please Touch Museum (Philadelphia)

Their mission has been to become experts on play. As a result, the city’s children’s museum has crafted a reputation for programs that enrich the lives of young visitors by creating learning opportunities through play, thus laying the foundation for a lifetime of hands-on learning and cultural awareness.

Located in historic Memorial Hall, the museum aims to highlight the past, present and future through six interactive exhibit zones across 157,000 square feet. Four areas have been specifically designed for children three and younger.

In a current exhibit about food and family, kids can explore where food comes from and how we can share it within three interconnected zones: a shopping market, a hybrid home and industrial kitchen and a neighborhood festival area.

The Woodside Park Dentzel Carousel is popular with families. Originally built in 1908, it was recently restored and can be found in its own 9,000-square-foot glass pavilion on the east side of Memorial Hall.

For more: www.pleasetouchmuseum.org

  • The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis (Indiana)

With more than 472,900 square 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 get inspired by the powerful stories of other children including Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, Ryan White and Malala Yousafzai.

Now through Sept. 2, kids can experience the world of “Heroes in a Half-Shell” through Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secrets of the Sewer program. Young visitors can learn the importance of teamwork, dedication and how to overcome daily challenges along with lessons from Splinter and Raphael on work ethics while practicing how to overcome obstacles as part of a team. Expect an alley rope maze, puzzles in Donatello’s lab, and a pizza throwing game during Turtle time.

For more: www.childrensmuseum.org

  • Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix)

This unique museum enables families to see and experience more than 7,500 instruments from more than 200 countries and territories. 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 headsets 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.

For more: www.TheMim.org

  • The Alamo (San Antonio, Texas)

Founded in the 18th century by Roman Catholic missionaries, the Alamo is located in what is now downtown San Antonio. Each year, more than 2.5 million people visit to learn why it was suggested we “Remember the Alamo!” and how it shaped American history. Representing three centuries of history, families can learn the roles played by David Crockett, Sam Houston and James Bowie as they tour the complex where beautiful gardens provide a backdrop for the old mission and exhibits detailing the Texas revolution and the state’s colorful history.

For more: www.thealamo.org

  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center (Huntsville, Ala.)

Do you have what it takes to be a space explorer? Visit this other-worldly technology center to experience the Discovery Shuttle simulator, feel three times the force of gravity in the G-Force Accelerator and peruse one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia on display anywhere in the world.

For those who want to up their game and train like an astronaut, a visit to Space Camp may be a good fit. The internationally known program has been inspiring future explorers for more than 32 years and boasts more than 700,000 alumni. The camps offer space, aviation and robotics instruction for children ages 9 to 18 and adults of all ages.

For more: www.rocketcenter.com