No hushed voices or hands in your pockets here. Let's play!
Psst. Hey, moms: Want to avoid the kiddos' "I'm bored" sighs that seem inevitable? Here's the secret.
Pennsylvania children's museums. Eleven Pennsylvania museums are dedicated to tickling imaginations and inspiring active play for the younger set.
Named one of the "10 Best Children's Museums" by Parents magazine, the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh engages even the tiniest of tots with special activities for infants and toddlers. Children are free to tinker in the MakeShop, where they can build birdhouses, sew a stuffed animal, and take apart small appliances. (Maybe Junior can help you fix that broken toaster once you get home.) A multimedia studio, garage, and water zone are a few of the other exhibits, but a tried-and-tru favorite is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley. Yes, that friendliest of neighbors was from Pittsburgh.
Many museums are lined with rope barriers and "Do Not Touch" warnings, but it's exactly the opposite at Philadelphia's Please Touch Museum, also designated by Parents magazine as one of the "10 Best Children's Museums." Housed in historic Memorial Hall, which was built for the nation's 1876 Centennial Celebration, the museum thrills children with exhibits scaled just to them: Alice's topsy-turvy Wonderland, a tropical rainforest, a mini-supermarket, a real bus, a life-size Statue of Liberty torch and arm made of toys, and much more. Don't miss the sparkling, refurbished Dentzel Carousel.
At Johnstown Children's Museum, tykes explore the city's history and culture as they walk the runway in 18th-century fashions, mix a Johnstown soundtrack in the Mix-Master Studio, and ride The Inclimber to explore a coal mine. Head to the Overlook Garden, on the rooftop terraces of the Heritage Discovery Center, for some fresh air and a peek at Pennsylvania plant displays.
Little ones may not yet be able to spell "aerodynamics" (admittedly, that's a tricky one for adults too!), but they can begin to understand the principles of air and direction as they play in the Aerodynamics exhibit at expERIEnce Children's Museum in Erie. That is, if they ever make it there with the many other displays, including a lordton Model Train and bubble machine, vying for their attention.
The science and folklore of weather comes alive with fun interactive exhibits, theater, and a gift shop in a historic building at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center. A new interactive exhibit called "Pull Up Clouds" will be expected to debut in March 2020. Be ready when storms hit with their new weather emergency readiness interactive display!
One of Chester County’s favorite family attractions is the American Helicopter Museum. Kids can climb aboard helicopters of all kinds for a truly unique hands-on experience in a safe family environment. For a special treat, schedule a family helicopter ride for a birds-eye-view of the beautiful Brandywine Valley countryside.
Discover the magic of color at Crayola Experience, Crayola’s premier, one-of-a-kind family attraction! Dozens of hands-on, creative activities, and a full day of fun awaits families with just a short drive away from Philadelphia and New York City. Bigger, brighter and bolder than ever, the colorful adventures of Crayola Experience help kids and adults alike explore art and technology, express their creativity and experience color in a whole new way.
The Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown provides a fun day for families, with children ages 12 and under, who value having playful, enjoyable, memorable and enriching experiences together. The Center’s active, hands-on exhibits make science fun, interesting, creative and exciting for kids. Exhibits include a dark tunnel maze, a KEVA plank design studio, colored shadows wall, a water table, animation station, marine tank, and windy hurricane simulator.
The Greene County Historical Society is a Regional History Museum housed at the site of the Counties former Poor Farm. It is the historical society’s mission to provide educational activities for people of all ages with a special emphasis on hands-on activities to engage and educate children. Many exhibits are geared towards children, which include dollhouse displays, Victorian games, themed rooms for children’s use, and Native American exhibits and activities which present children with the opportunity to study and handle artifacts and understand their uses.
The John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove is one of Montco's best destinations to experience art, nature and family friendly fun. The museum offers patrons a chance to view the artwork of John James Audubon, the artist and author of the critically acclaimed Birds of North America. A recent series of renovations now allows visitors to explore the life stages of a bird with interactive exhibits and opportunities to play. Observe beautiful works of art, listen to authentic sounds of a variety of birds, and experience how it feels to spread your wings and fly down the slide!
Elk Country Visitor Center recently debuted their new story in the 4D movie theater. Your kids will feel like they are "inside the herd" as they experience the sights, sounds, and smells of Pennsylvania's Elk Country. Stop in and experience the new graphics and video footage!
After a full day of play - and, don't tell the kids, but a day of learning too - at one of these museums, you won't hear, "I'm bored." But you'll likely hear, "I'm beat." Oh, and probably a "Thanks, Mom!" too.
For more inspiration about Pennsylvania’s museums, check out the visitPA website. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram to stay up-to-date on even more great ideas and places to visit around our state. Don't forget to never miss an update and sign up for our monthly Happy Thoughts e-newsletter.