If you’ve ever been to a museum with your child, you probably spent most of the time worrying about them destroying the 67 million-year-old T-Rex or wiping their hands on a masterpiece. Save The Met for a couple more years and enjoy family-friendly children’s museums instead.
Today’s children’s museums are more into “hands-on learning” and offer a space where kids actually want to spend time. Fun is always encouraged, imaginations can flow, and learning is a byproduct of playing.
We’re covering the top 5 children’s museums in the Austin area to engage young minds.
The Science Mill
One of the nation’s best science museums is just an hour outside of Austin in Johnson City. The Science Mill offers fun, interactive learning for all ages, with 50+ world-class interactive exhibits, games, a huge outdoor space, and even a 3D theatre. Kids will learn and explore the wonderful world of science through their cutting-edge technology-based exhibits. This children’s museum is all about igniting kid’s curiosity and inspiring them to question, understand, and appreciate the world around us. Their displays combine art, kinetic technology, AI, and computer gaming that capture children’s attention – even the adults are always fascinated!
This is a more hands-on kind of place, and you’ll never find how-to-guides or long instructions. It’s all about creating your own journey. But there are staff members (Explainers) on hand if anyone needs help.
Bonus* Kids can play in English or Spanish!
McKenna Children’s Museum
About an hour south of Austin sits the McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels. This fun, interactive children’s museum will take your little ones on a discovery tour of art, science, technology, culture, history, and health. The museum features a collection of educational exhibits designed to help little ones use all of their senses. Kids are transported into this magical hands-on atmosphere where their imaginations can run wild in a safe and secure space.
Exhibits include a Town Square, Hill Country Campgrounds, Lend-a-Hand Ranch, an Art Studio, the Kid’s Clinic, Aquarium, and so much more! Kids can see, touch, smell, and taste these simulated environments around them.
If you have a water baby on your hands, be sure to check out their outdoor water play area. Kids can splash and play while learning about the physical properties of water. If your kiddos are a bit too young to appreciate the characteristics of H2O, they’ll still have a blast splashing and splooshing!
The DoSeum is a San Antonio children’s museum that’s taking interactive education to whole new heights. They have three levels of jam-packed fun spread over 26,000 square feet of indoor exhibit space and an additional 39,000 square feet of outdoor play areas.
Kids can experience the joys of learning through interactive galleries connected to STEM, the arts, and literacy. The DoSeum has truly unique exhibits that you won’t find in your average children’s museums like the SEMMES Foundation Spy Academy. This exhibit helps teach kids digital literacy, how to stay safe online, and use digital platforms for communication and information. Kids can also practice programming robots and building makeshift aircrafts to see if they can fly.
If you have younger kiddos who aren’t quite ready to create their digital footprint, they’ll get a kick out of the Treehouse, Force Corse, and the Little Town, where they can do their grocery shopping, go to the post office and catch a flight at the Little Town Airport.
The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley
They have something for everyone here, no matter what your little one is into! This interactive children’s museum in Bryan, Texas, sees more than 36,000 visitors per year. Filled with hands-on exhibits like their Family Pet Center, kids can learn about a day in the life of a veterinarian. There’s also the HEB where they can go grocery shopping and learn about healthy eating, while having fun, of course.
The Children’s Museum of the Brazos Valley‘s latest addition to the fun is the Play Aggieland exhibit. This new space is designed to promote early childhood education and parental involvement in learning and play. Kids will have fun playing while strengthening their motor and cognitive skills – but that’s our little secret. They’ll just think it’s all fun and games!
This hands-on children’s museum is a favorite among little ones and parents, located in the heart of Austin. At Thinkery, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) are combined with plenty of fun and laughs. This place is HUGE, with 40,000 square feet of family-friendly indoor and outdoor activities for kids to learn through play, including a fantastic all-inclusive outdoor playground to let off a little extra steam.
They update their exhibits often to keep kiddos on their toes. Some fan-favorites include the hands-on water activity stations, the Light Lab exploring the impact of color, and the Fresh! Farmers’ Market, where kids can learn about healthy eating and food sources.
This Austin Museum commits to being an accessible space to all. One (more) stand out feature at Thinkery is the museum’s Sensory Friendly Hours, where they invite little learners with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or other special needs to explore without excessive stimuli.
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