Children love to learn and museums are great places to gain knowledge. Of course, we not talking about old and stuffy ‘do-not-touch’ museums here. Nowadays there are awesome museums especially for kids! Here they can play, touch and interact with the exhibitions. Hands-on learning! It’s interesting to see that more and more traditional museums are also offering programs for kids. Our little world traveler loves museum’s (mom’s influence, I’m sure ;-)). So I thought it would be cool to create an overview of the best museums for kids all over the world.
Since we haven’t been everywhere (yet!) we teamed up with international top family travel bloggers and asked them about their favorite museum for kids. The result is this fantastic overview with 22 of the best kids museums worldwide.
Do you have any tips for great kids museums that should be on this list? I know there are a lot more and I’d love to add as many as possible. So, if you know of any cool museums for kids, let us know!
- 1 Children’s museums in Europe
- 1.1 Kinderboekenmuseum (Children’s Book Museum) – The Hague, Netherlands
- 1.2 Veiligheidsmuseum PIT / Security Museum PIT – Almere, The Netherlands
- 1.3 Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano – Milan, Italy
- 1.4 CosmoCaixa – Barcelona, Spain
- 1.5 Riverside museum – Glasgow, UK
- 1.6 Budapest History Museum – Budapest, Hungary
- 1.7 National Museum of Scotland – Edinburgh, UK
- 1.8 National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) – Copenhagen, Denmark
- 1.9 Children’s Museum in Palazzo Vecchio – Florence, Italy
- 1.10 Natural History Museum – London, UK
- 2 Children’s museums in Asia
- 3 Children’s museums in the USA
- 4 Children’s Museums in South America
- 5 Children’s Museums in Australia
- 6 More awesome kids museums?
Children’s museums in Europe
Kinderboekenmuseum (Children’s Book Museum) – The Hague, Netherlands
This fun and interactive children’s museum is dedicated to children’s books. With lots of color and lots of things to do and touch this is the perfect museum for kids from a very young age. For kids 0-6 there are two permanent exhibitions: ABC with the Animals (ABC met de dieren mee) and I am Frog (Ik ben Kikker). The Frog exhibition is bilingual in Dutch and English. The Kinderboekenmuseum is a fun place for kids to meet all their favorite book characters, from The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Elmer the Patchwork Elephant. For kids 7+ there is an exhibition called Papiria. Very appropriately, the museum is housed in the National Library of The Hague, right next to The Hague Central Station. It’s very easy to reach by public transport.
Recommended by FlipFlopGlobetrotters. Check out the full review of the Children’s Book Museum in The Hague
Veiligheidsmuseum PIT / Security Museum PIT – Almere, The Netherlands
National Security Museum PIT tells you all about the Dutch emergency services. Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy seeing all the emergency vehicles, from fire trucks to police motorcycles. There’s a dress up area (for grown ups too!) at the entrance so it feels even more real. The museum has quite a collection You can enter some of the vehicles to see what they look like on the inside, including all the original accessories. Other objects are just to look at. This is clearly indicated. Older kids can learn a lot by checking out the interactive parts of the museum. All over the museum there are video screens with firemen, policemen and emergency first aid responders telling about their work. Most of the information is in Dutch, but it’s possible to do an audio tour of the museum in English.
Recommended by FlipFlopGlobetrotters. Check out our top 10 favorite kids’ museums in The Netherlands
Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano – Milan, Italy
This massive museum at the edge of Indro Montanelli Public Gardens in central Milan is quite impressive. It houses a huge collection of preserved animals, minerals, fossils and skeletons. Of course, our son most enjoyed the section with the dinosaurs, especially the enormous dinosaur skeletons. Everything in the museum is labeled, but unfortunately it’s all in Italian. We discovered later we could have used Google Translate even offline for translations. Just point your phone at the text and it will automatically translate. This would have been very useful. The new exhibition about earth quakes was bilingual, so I assume new additions to this lovely museum will aimed more towards tourists too. It’s a very affordable museum. Entrance fee is €5 for adults and kids up till 18 have free access.
Recommended by FlipFlopGlobetrotters. Check out more things to do in Milan Italy with kids
CosmoCaixa – Barcelona, Spain
CosmoCaixa Barcelona is a science museum located in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Formerly known as the Science Museum of Barcelona, it closed for renovations in 1998 and reopened in 2004 under its current name bigger and better. The museum features a variety of exhibitions, permanent and temporary, that showcase the environment, nature, science, and space. CosmoCaixa also has a planetarium and exhibitions devoted to interaction such as touch and play for small children, a bookstore, gift shop, library, teaching center and cafe.
Entry to the Museum is free for students under 18. Adults too can enjoy at the Museum with an entry ticket of 4 euros.
The grounds are decorated beautifully with views looking all the way out to the mediterranean sea. Cosmo Caixa is very modern and interactive. Kids can touch and explore almost everything. It’s also very interesting. We saw a human brain as well as the brain of different animals. Live Octopus and different species of fish and an entire exhibition where they recreated an Amazonian river ecosystem with different species of water animals. The kids will love it, and so will the adults.
Recommended by Amy from My Kids In Tow. Read the full review of the CosmoCaixa Science Museum
Riverside museum – Glasgow, UK
Are your kids into Herbie, Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang or Lightning McQueen? If so, make sure you add Glasgow’s Riverside Museum to your itinerary. It’s a wonderful family friendly museum that houses a wide array of vehicles including cars, bikes, motorbikes, trams, carriages, buses, steam engines and more. Not only does the museum feature every conceivable mode of transport, it also provides an insight into Victorian day Glasgow. Old street scenes have been recreated complete with horse and carriage as well as shop access. Our highlights were dressing up in the Edwardian photography studio and having a giggle at the ‘No Spitting’ sign in the subway. After your kids have finished hopping on and off old buses and trams, head for a visit round the Tall Ship that is moored behind the museum. Best of all, like most of Glasgow’s museums, it’s free of charge and makes for a great inexpensive family outing.
Recommended by Gillian from The Little Den. Check out this 2-day Glasgow with kids itinerary
Budapest History Museum – Budapest, Hungary
The medieval Royal Castle of Buda and the Buda Castle district in Budapest, Hungary host a number of museums which are interesting for kids too. Admission to the Castle itself is free but there is entrance fee to the museums (History Museum, Military History Museum, Pharmacy Museum) and the Hungarian National Gallery. However you can visit the museums free of charge with the Budapest Card. We particularly enjoyed the Budapest History Museum, which is located in the southern wing of Buda Castle. The exhibitions focus on the history of the 2000 years of Buda and Pest (aka Budapest). A great collection of photos, books, tapestry, clothes, carving tools and graphics demonstrates the life in the city throughout he years. Details and information can be found of each period of the Buda Castle on the touch-screen displays available.
Recommended by Thassia from Family Off Duty
National Museum of Scotland – Edinburgh, UK
The National Museum of Scotland is a great place to visit with kids. You will find this free museum in Edinburgh. Large parts of the museum have been curated with children in mind. In the Natural World areas children can explore the animal kingdom, outer space, restless earth and more, through interactive displays. The Imagine section is well suited to toddlers and preschoolers with puzzles and distorting mirrors. Programming a robot, producing electricity in a hamster wheel and driving a racing car are all possible within the 3 floors of the Science and Technology section. The tower on the side of the building has a large exhibition of Scotland throughout at the ages. The National Museum of Scotland is huge, download the free app or pick up one of the family trails brochures, to make the most of your visit.
Recommended by Kaylie from Happiness Travels Here. Check out this 1-day Edinburgh with kids itinerary
National Museum of Denmark (Nationalmuseet) – Copenhagen, Denmark
Inside this museum is a dedicated Children’s museum, brilliantly designed for imaginative play and hands-on discovery. It’s a wonderfully creative space where your little ones are encouraged to touch, interact and even climb over the exhibits. Don a knight’s helmet and clamber on board a Viking ship, sit in a 1920s classroom for some drawing or colouring, investigate ‘Grandma’s Wardrobe’ and dress up in old frocks or a sailor suit, or make dinner from plastic banquet food in the medieval kitchen after riding your huge plastic horse home. There’s easily enough to keep your little ones entertained for a good few hours. Plus, entry is free!
Recommended by Jenny from Travelynn Family. Read more about Copenhagen with young kids
Children’s Museum in Palazzo Vecchio – Florence, Italy
For over 10 years, the icon of Florence, the Palazzo Vecchio (or Palace of the Signoria) is home to the palace of Cosimo I and, in part, the Children’s Museum in the Monumental Quarter.
There is no dominance in the latest technologies, but the fascination of the story comes alive between animated stories, child-friendly theaters, ateliers, role-playing games and secret paths in the company of court characters (including birds and bats).
For the younger (3-10 years old) several playgrounds are organized, showing the magnificent halls of the palace and revealing the life of the court. And if the guides seem to have been released directly from the ‘500 and are wearing vintage garments, magic is assured.
The prince’s niece tells the children about the customs of the Medici family and Duchess Eleonora of Toledo personally answers all the questions of the little guests.
Recommended by Enzo from Inguaribile Viaggiatore
Natural History Museum – London, UK
The Natural History Museum in London is the perfect place to take children. It is full to the brim with objects that kids will love from dinosaurs, animals and volcanoes to name but a few. Downstairs in the basement is the investigate gallery where children can have hands on fun! A sure way to create a life-long love of museums and a perfect museum memory.
Recommended by Leona from Wandermust Family
Children’s museums in Asia
Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) – Tokyo, Japan
Miraikan – The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, Japan is such a fun place to take kids to get a glimpse of what our rapidly approaching future looks like.
This highlight of this hands-on museum is the range of different robots on display, from small prototypes up to fully functioning droid-like humans that make you do a double take they are so life-like! There’s fabulous explanations of the role of robots in society and lots of ethical questions that make great discussion points. Along with robots, there’s lots of information on genetics and the impacts of climate change, all pitched at children and families. Our kids also loved wandering through a replica of the International Space Station! Information is presented in English and Japanese and it’s a great way to spend a few hours.
Recommended by Kylie from Our Overseas Adventures. Check out this 3-day itinerary for Tokyo with kids
Odaiba Trick Art Museum – Tokyo, Japan
Odaiba Trick Art Museum in Odaiba (Tokyo region in Japan) is full of illusion art. It’s small, but it was just a lot of fun! The kids enjoyed thoroughly the pretend experiences of being ninjas, taking photos upside down, been eaten by sharks and vampires, piggy backing polar bear cubs, feeding penguins and giraffes, and becoming bigger than dad. There’s a part of Japanese ghost myths where we learned a great deal about the culture. It was great fun and an amazing place to learn about shadows, points of view, reflections, and tricks. It’s a great spot to spend 1~2 hours!
Recommended by Thais from World Trip Diaries. Read the full review of the Tokyo Trick Art Museum
The Mind Museum – Manilla, Philippines
The Mind Museum is the Philippines’ first ever science museum. It’s worth one billion Philippine peso and it’s the the country’s premier educational facility that is home to over 250 interactive exhibits, planetarium, 3D theater shows & science demonstrations. Designed to combat the boredom of visiting kids, this museum is equipped with all the amenities to make the learning part more fun. As a matter of fact, it offers sleepovers and night camps as well. Kids can experience lights out as they explore the galleries after hours with fun activities and challenges. They can choose to sleep underneath the starry sky of the Universe Gallery or under the watchful eye of Stan, the museum’s resident T. Rex. For the adventurous, they can join an overnight stargazing camp where they will sleep under millions of stars and wake up to see the traces of planets or a meteor shower.
Recommended by Maria from Travel with Maria
Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technical Museum – Bangalore, India
A fantastic hands-on science museum with lots of buttons to press, wheels to turn, levers to pull and a dinosaur (a Spinosaurus to be exact, with a rather realistic roar!) My boys particularly enjoy playing with the huge marble run that takes up the whole ceiling space in the Engineering gallery, turning wheels to raise the balls up in the air. But it’s the Science for Children gallery that keep them entertained no end. There’s a pin wall to make impressions of body parts, a big air jet requiring precision accuracy to keep a giant ball airborne, an air-piano, distorting mirrors and lots more weird and whacky things to play with to get those little minds asking questions. Entry is just Rs40 (50p) and it’s right next to Cubbon Park, a great spot to head afterwards to run free, climb trees and play with sticks, right in the city centre.
Recommended by Jenny from Travelynn Family. Read more about Bangalore with kids
Children’s museums in the USA
Science Museum of Minnesota – Minneapolis
My kids have been to a lot of museums, a lot of times reluctantly, but their absolute favorite is the Science Museum of Minnesota in Minneapolis. This museum is great for kids of all ages. It however is especially good if you have children that are a bit too old for traditional children’s museums but love the hands on aspect of learning. There are dozens of exhibits, as well as a show with science experiments every half hour. Our favorite activity was the Cell Lab where the boys performed real science skills like extracting DNA from wheat germ. For older kids there are even more complex activities. We spent 5 hours here and my kids still ask to go back.
Recommended by Amanda from MarocMama. Read the full review of the Science Museum of Minnesota
The Museum of the Rockies – Bozeman, Montana
The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana is full of wonder for dinosaur lovers young and old! The museum holds the largest collection of dinosaur remains in the United States and the largest T-Rex Skull ever discovered. This is a major stop on Montana’s Dinosaur Trail. Kids will love seeing the many reconstructions of life in the age of dinosaurs and exploring the Tinsley house, a living history cabin over 100 years old where they can play with period toys, spin wool and pump water.
Recommended by Vanessa from Wanderlust Crew
Discovery Children’s Museum – Las Vegas, Nevada
Recommended by Carole from Travels with Carole. Check out more things to do in Las Vegas
The Exploratorium – San Francisco, California
This hands-on laboratory will encourage kids to see science as fun. The Exploratorium is divided into six galleries, each focused on a different area of exploration, but with a combined theme of learning about the world through science, art, and human experience. Our favorite exhibits included a hurricane maker, spiral drawing creator that you could take home the end result from, and plenty of light play. Be sure to set aside an entire day when visiting the Exploratorium and be prepared to tinker, explore and marvel at how the world works. It’s just as much fun for adults as it is for the kids!
Recommended by Christine from Adventure, Baby. Check out more things to do in San Francisco with kids
Pretend City Children’s Museum – Irvine, California
I first heard of Pretend City Children’s Museum during my daughter’s field trip and I was completely amazed. The museum looks like a real city inside, complete with 17 interactive exhibits. As the kids run a play through this interconnected pretend city, they learn many aspects of a functioning town. For agriculture, kids can pick pretend produce in the farm and then see how they arrive at the pretend grocery store. Kids learn about infrastructure by building their own creations in the construction zone as well as maritime work at the dock. They even have to clean the beach before they can play. It is really fun to explore the roles of community helpers by playing at the police station, fire house, and medical offices. There are pretend homes to play in and even a community theater where kids can put on costumes and put on a play.
Recommended by Amanda from HotMamaTravel
Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the perfect destination for families of all ages. The Museum is HUGE! In fact, it’s actually the world’s largest children’s museum which means that you will need to allow for several hours to really explore all that it has to offer. You will want to start at the top floor of the museum and then work your way down to the bottom. The museum does a fantastic job of creating opportunities for kids to learn with hands-on exhibits that encourage play and also helps them to explore art, science, and other cultures in a presentation that appeals to them.
Recommended by Nedra from Adventure Mom. Check out the full review of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Children’s Museums in South America
Museo de Ciencia e Tecnologia – Santiago, Chile
We were at the Quinta Normal Park in Santiago. It was summer and really hot. We saw a building and realized it was a museum, so we entered. I’m so glad we did! It was the Museum of Science and Technology. The entrance fee was quite cheap, and it was just great! It’s a rather small museum, but it’s highly interactive, with fun experiences for kids of all ages, and even the grown-ups had fun. We spent around 3 hours there and it was fun all the way. The kids, especially the little one, enjoyed being able to touch and move everything, and we were relieved to be able to let her.
Recommended by Thais from World Trip Diaries. Read more about Santiago with kids
Children’s Museums in Australia
The Melbourne Museum – Melbourne
The Melbourne Museum is a great place to visit with the kids as there are things for kids of all ages. The post-modernist building will capture their attention straight away. My kids loved the Dinosaur Walk exhibit with giant fossils suspended from the ceiling and interactive displays. The rotating exhibits are often styled as laboratories for kids to be learning hands on. For younger children, there is a fantastic Children’s Gallery (0-5 years old) for hands-on exploration and discovery. The outdoor garden space is perfect for excavating dinosaur fossils and enjoying a picnic lunch. The Museum also features an IMAX theatre with educational and engaging films made real.
Recommended by Dawn from 5 Lost Together. Check out more things to in Melbourne with kids
Questacon – Canberra
When it comes to exploring museums with kids, Questacon in Canberra, Australia tops our list with every single exhibition offering a hands-on opportunity. Opened way back in 1988, Questacon tops the itineraries of most family visitors to Australia’s Capital Territory offering the promise of hours of fun (and learning!). With eight interactive galleries altogether containing over 200 hands-on exhibits, you’ll never get bored here!
Suited to all ages, Questacon basic premise is to introduce kids to a wide range of science and technology, and through hands-on activities, help them to develop an understanding of an array of concepts which will continue their love of science into adulthood. Suitable for toddlers right through to teens (and even adults), you’ll find different exhibits become favorites depending on your kid’s age group. My 9 and 11-year-old love the earthquake simulator and the free fall slide.
Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre – is open daily from 9.00 am to 5.00 pm although it is closed on Christmas Day.
Recommended by Leah from Kid Bucket List. Check out the full review of Questacon Science and Technology Centre
More awesome kids museums?
What great children’s museums have you visited? Let us know and I’ll gladly add them to the list! If you want to be included, just send us a message at info [at] flipflopglobetrotters.com.