Hands-on Learning and Discovery in Pennsylvania

From life-sized longhouses to weightlessness simulators similar to those used by NASA, Pennsylvania offers many attractions that make learning and discovery fun for Happy Travelers of all ages. Pursue your happiness and experience learning outside of the classroom by visiting the state’s interactive and hands-on destinations designed to engage little learners through history, science, art and technology. 

Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh and its Countryside

Located in Pittsburgh's historic North Side, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh offers interactive exhibits for the young tinkerer, artist and more. In the Garage, children can roll up their sleeves and investigate many things that drive, fly and roll. Get behind the wheel or fill up the gas tank on a real SmartforTwo car. Children can also learn how to measure height, distance, mass and time using traditional (and not-so-traditional) tools and units with the Measurement Rules exhibit. They will never want to leave as they discover how tall they are compared to a stack of pennies and the size of their foot!

Franklin Institute - Philadelphia and the Countryside

Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, The Franklin Institute is one of America’s oldest and premier centers of science education and development in the country. Think about your thoughts at the Franklin Institute's biggest exhibition, Your Brain. Explore the brain at the cellular level, learn how it controls your body and cognitive functions, and consider the field of neuroethics as the discoveries in brain science rapidly advance. Visitors can also explore the all new virtual reality (VR) experience at the Franklin Institute. At the most comprehensive VR experience ever launched in a museum, tech newbies and gurus alike can immerse themselves into a whole new world through spectacular films and state-of-the-art technology.

expERIEnce Children's Museum - Pennsylvania’s Great Lakes Region

For more than 20 years, expERIEnce Children's Museum in Erie has been providing an educational, creative and interactive environment where learning and fun go hand in hand. Children can discover the History, Mystery and Magic of Magnets exhibit, featuring six interactive stations demonstrating the power of magnets. New daily educational programs filled with exploration and learning are available to tiny tots (children 6-24 months) and parents.

Da Vinci Science Center - Lehigh Valley

Want to feel what it’s like to be in a hurricane? The Da Vinci Science Center welcomes guests to climb inside The Hurricane Simulator, a tube in which visitors stand and experience wind forces accelerating up to 78 miles per hour – the minimum speed of a Category 1 hurricane! The hands-on learning opportunities continue at the PPL Electric Utilities E-Power House exhibit, where children can use bicycle pedal power to ignite side-by-side light bulbs, and at the Built Like a Mack Truck exhibit, visitors are challenged to build the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly truck and drive it through realistic work scenarios. This summer, scare yourself silly with Goosebumps and explore the science of fear through the Faces of Emotion, the Fear Lab and the Fear Challenge Course. 

Please Touch Museum® - Philadelphia and the Countryside

Home to 11 interactive exhibit zones, the Please Touch Museum® is the perfect place for families with children to learn and discover. River Adventures takes guests on a journey down the river to explore science, nature and weather, and in the Wonderland exhibit, children can weave through a circular maze and enjoy a nice break in the Tea Party. The must-see Hamilton Hall features a 40-foot replica of the Statue of Liberty's arm and torch created out of toys, games and other objects assembled by local artist Leo Sewell. Don’t forget to take advantage of Please Touch Museum® First Wednesdays. On the first Wednesday of every month, visitors who arrive between 4 – 7 p.m. receive a discounted admission of $2 per person. Experience the joys of reading this summer with Storyland, a trip through classic books like “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom,” “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” and “The Tale of Peter Rabbit.”

Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts - Dutch Country Roads

From a giant four-story cinema screen to three floors of imaginative, engaging exhibits, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts is guaranteed to delight the whole family. The center is composed of three main venues – Sunoco Performance Theater, Select Medical Digital Cinema and Harsco Science Center. The Whitaker Center presents Dinosaur Discovery, its marquee summer exhibit beginning in June. The exhibit will feature life-size animatronic dinosaurs that roar, fight, feed and protect their young, allowing guests to experience the reptiles with a completely new perspective.

The Children’s Museum - Valleys of the Susquehanna

With exhibits that bring out the imagination in every child and the child in every visitor, The Children’s Museum in Bloomsburg offers interactive and hands-on educational experiences for all. Create your own piece of ancient culture as you make an Egyptian collar and animal mummy in the Egypt exhibit, crawl underground to see animal houses in the Animal Architects exhibit, and explore the Eastern Woodlands Longhouse interactive display to see how Native Americans lived in the region.

State Museum of Pennsylvania - Dutch Country Roads

With four floors of interactive exhibits and activities representing Pennsylvania's story from Earth's beginning to today, the State Museum of Pennsylvania is a great place to keep growing minds engaged. Favorites include the Planetarium, where astronomy and the latest discoveries in space science are explained through multi-media – and Curiosity Connection, the museum's hands-on learning center.

No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum - Upstate PA

Located at the foot of the Pocono Mountains, the No. 9 Coal Mine & Museum is the world’s oldest continuously operated anthracite coal mine. Visitors are invited to discover the area’s rich history as they travel 1,600 feet into the mountainside by train to experience the life of a coal miner firsthand. Along the journey, guests will see the underground mule-way, miner’s hospital and the 900-foot deep original elevator shaft that once hauled loaded coal cars to the surface. 

Carnegie Science Center - Pittsburgh and its Countryside

The Carnegie Science Center educates and inspires visitors through interactive experiences in science and technology. Favorite attractions include the Buhl Planetarium, which features shows that transport guests to the farthest regions of the cosmos or dazzles the senses with laser productions, and the Miniature Railroad & Village, a legendary exhibit that brings to life the history of western Pennsylvania. The center’s newest exhibit is BodyWorks, an in-depth look into the blood, brains, bones and guts that make humans unique. 

North Museum of History and Science - Dutch Country Roads

Since 1953, the North Museum of History and Science has been fulfilling its mission of inspiring curiosity, discovery and a lifelong appreciation of nature and science. Visitors to this museum will find themselves fascinated by the diverse collections and exhibits available. Guests can enjoy the birds and fossils in the Cabinet Museum, as well as the collections of Native American artifacts and fossils. In addition, North Museum is the first museum in the world to have a Spitz cove-mounted SciDome XD Touch system, which will allow guests to fully immerse themselves in astronomy, earth sciences and meteorology. 

Johnstown Children's Museum - The Alleghenies

Located in the Heritage Discovery Center, the Johnstown Children's Museum encourages children to learn about Johnstown's geography, history and culture through fun and interactive exhibits. Families are sure to enjoy The Water Room, where they can learn about rain in mountains and valleys, as well as acid rain and dam-building. During the visit, take a walk out onto the rooftop terraces for a spectacular view of Cambria County and learn about the growth cycle of Pennsylvania’s native plants.