School is out but that doesn’t mean that learning and exploring has to end. If you are looking for some staycation ideas or vacation ideas, here is a list of New England museums that your kids will enjoy, including recommendations from some of my fellow New England bloggers. Visiting a museum is a great way to prepare kids for bigger, more adventurous trips in the future (see my tips for raising a good traveler!) and are perfect for rainy summer days or when you just need a break from the heat. Which one is your favorite?
Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center — The Mashantucket Pequot Museum follows the history of the region and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation over the past 18,000 years. This museum is fascinating and no expense was spared to illustrate this history, but a real highlight is the 22,000 sq. ft. model of a 16th century tribal village. Gilda from Evan and Lauren’s Cool Blog seemed to enjoy this museum as much as we did on our visit. The museum is located is 110 Pequot Trail in Mashantucket, CT, open Wednesday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm, admission is $20 for adults, $12 for youth ages 6-17.
Mystic Seaport — Mystic Seaport is a maritime museum and replica 19th century fishing village. Kids love the hands on exhibits and living history demonstrations from blacksmiths, shopkeepers, and ship smiths. You can also climb on the historic vessels and even take a horse and carriage ride or get out on the water with a boat ride. Mystic Seaport is located at 75 Greenmanville Ave. in Mystic, open daily 9 am to 5 pm, tickets are $25 for adults and $16 for youth ages 6-17 (library passes are available.)
Children’s Museum and Theater of Maine — This museum offers so much to entertain the kids including a mini planetarium, rock wall, water play area, a fire station, a mini Whole Foods, and even a toddler area. Jessica from 30SomethingMotherRunner spent five hours here with her kids. The Children’s Museum is located at 142 Free Street in Portland, ME, open daily 10 am – 5pm, admission is $10 per person ages 18 mos. +.
Portland Art Museum — Jessica from 30SomethingMotherRunner found that the Portland Art Museum’s small size makes it a perfect choice to test out an art museum with kids. The museum features works from Rose Marasco, Maine’s most prolific living photographer, as well as American, European, and contemporary art. The museum has a creative space and offers a number of programs for families. The Portland Art Museum is located at 7 Congress Square in Portland, ME, open daily 10 am – 5 pm, Fridays until 9 pm, tickets are $12 for adults and $6 for youth ages 13-17.
Battleship Cove — While not your traditional museum, Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA teaches about history by letting you climb on and explore three authentic battleships that saw action in World War II, the USS Massachusetts, USS Joseph Kennedy Jr. and the USS Lionfish. You can also explore exhibits about Pearl Harbor, women in service, D-Day and more. Nicky from Playing it all the Way recommends a visit to Battleship Cove for students studying WWII, history buffs, or just those that like to get hands on with exhibits — especially the big guns! Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water Street, Fall River, MA, open 9 am – 5pm in the summer, tickets are $17.00 for adults and $10.50 for children 6-12 (also check your library for passes.)
Berkshire Museum — If you are in the Berkshires, the Berkshire Museum is a great place to spend an hour or two with kids. Downstairs they have a small aquarium, while on the main level you can explore the history and ecosystem of the area with a small natural history museum and the Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, which tells the tale of many local inventors and entrepreneurs. When we visited there was also a very cool temporary exhibit the “Immortal Present: Art and East Asia,” which had a combination of ancient and modern Asian art. The Berkshire Museum is located at 39 South Street in Pittsfield, MA, open Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 5pm and Sundays noon to 5 pm, admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children ages 3-17.
Boston Children’s Museum — The Boston Children’s Museum is one of the best that I’ve been to and Jodi from Family Vacation Magazine agrees. There are so many different areas to explore — a three-story New Balance climbing structure, the always enthralling Japanese house, a the fun bubbles area, construction zone, and so much more. The Boston Children’s Museum is located at 308 Congress Street in Boston, MA, open daily 10 am – 5pm, Fridays until 9 pm, tickets are $14 per person ages 1+.
Boston Museum of Science — We’ve been the Boston Museum of Science many times, including for a couple of sleepover “Nights at the Museum” and there is always so much to explore. There is an IMAX theater, planetarium, dinosaurs, butterfly garden and exhibits about the human body, electricity, physics, and even a section for very young children. The Boston Museum of Science is located at 1 Science Park in Boston, MA, open Saturday-Thursday 9 am to 7 pm in the summer, Friday 9 am to 9pm, tickets are $23.00 for adults and $20.00 for children ages 3 to 11.
The Discovery Museums — The Discovery Museums on the South Shore are really two museums for one price — the Science Discovery Museum and the Children’s Discovery Museum. The Children’s Museum is for younger kids, with each room dedicated to exploring a different science concept through a theme. The Science Museum on the other hand is very hands on, with a woodworking shop, sound lab, nano science exhibit and so much more. Robin from Masshole Mommy’s kids loved designing elaborate ball runs and pathways. The Discovery Museums are located at 177 Main Street, Acton, MA, open Tuesday – Sunday 9 am – 4:30 pm (The Children’s Discovery Museum), Tuesday – Friday 1pm – 4:30pm (The Science Discovery Museum) and Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 4:30 pm, admission is $11.50 per person ages 1+.
EcoTarium — The EcoTarium in Worcester is an indoor-outdoor museum covering science and nature with a planetarium, outdoor nature exhibits, and animals from otters to chinchillas. When my husband and daughter went, they loved the outdoor treetop canopy walkways and ziplines. Crystal from FunThingstodoinCentralMass loved the “Wild Music” exhibit. The EcoTarium is located at 222 Harrington Way in Worcester, MA, open Tuesday – Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sundays 12 pm – 5pm, tickets are $14.00 for adults and $10.00 for children ages 2-18.
Harvard Art Museums — The Harvard Art Museums reopened last fall after a long renovation and the results from architect Renzo Piano, who designed the Centre Pompidou in Paris, is as beautiful as the masterpieces they hold. If you want a fun way to explore, check out the scavenger hunt put together by Jolanta from Casual Travelers. The Harvard Art Museums are located at 32 Quincy St in Cambridge, MA, open daily from 10 am – 5pm, admission is $15 for adults and free for youth under 18.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum — The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is located walking distance to the Museum of Fine Arts, but is much smaller. It has much to interest kids in its architecture, from a beautiful courtyard to a medieval tapestry room. What might excite the kids the most is the story of the art heist at the museum and seeing the empty spaces where the paintings used to be. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is located at 25 Evans Way in Boston, open Wednesday – Monday from 11 am – 5 pm (9pm on Thursdays), admission is $15 for adults and free for kids under 18 and anyone named Isabella.
Museum of Fine Arts — The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is one of my daughter’s favorite art museums. We love checking out the Egyptian and Asian art collections, as well as the European masters. Jolanta from the Casual Travelers offers some tips for families visiting the MFA. The Museum of Fine Arts is located at 465 Huntington Ave. in Boston, MA, open Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10 am – 4:45 pm and Wednesday-Friday 10 am – 9:45 pm, tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for youth ages 7-17 (or free after 3pm during the week, weekends or school holidays.)
Nantucket Whaling Museum — Jodi from Family Vacation Magazine found the Nantucket Whaling Museum to be kid friendly with dress up clothes and a skeleton of a giant sperm whale. Families can also pick up a guidebook that follows Puritan children through a journey around the museum. The Whaling Museum is located at 13 Broad St in Nantucket, open daily 10 am – 5 pm in the summer, tickets are $20 for adults and $5 for youth ages 6-17.
Peabody Essex Museum — The Peabody Essex Museum is a nice addition to a day trip to Salem. It is a beautiful building with a strong collection of nautical and Chinese art. Our favorite was the temporary “Branching Out: Trees as Art” exhibit. The Peabody Essex Museum is located at 161 Essex Street in Salem, open Tuesday – Sunday 10 am – 5 pm, admission is $18 for adults and kids 16 and under are free.
South Shore Natural Science Center — The South Shore Natural Science Center in Norwell features a large EcoZone Museum with an interactive exhibit featuring the ecosystems of Southeast Massachusetts. When Robin from Masshole Mommy visited with her family, her boys loved watching the 20 live turtles and frogs that live in the manmade ponds. This science center is a great place to explore local creatures and ecosystems. The South Shore Natural Science Center is located at 48 Jacobs Lane, Norwell, MA, open Monday – Saturday 9 am – 5 pm and 11 am – 4 pm on Sundays, admission is $7.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 2-15.
New Hampshire Museums
Currier Museum of Art — The Currier Museum of Art features American and European art, both classic and modern, with works from artists such as Claude Monet, Andrew Wyeth, Pablo Picasso, and John Singleton Copley. Jolanta from Casual Travelers has great photos of many of the works that can be found at the museum. The Currier Museum is located at 150 Ash Street in Manchester, NH, open Sunday, Monday, Wednesday-Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m, tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for youth 13-17.
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center — I just learned about the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center recently or we definitely would have visited on our last trip to Concord. This museum honors Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and Christa McAuliffe, NASA’s Teacher in Space, but offers much more. There is a planetarium, observatory, and other space-related exhibits. Like Gilda from Evan and Lauren’s Cool Blog, my daughter loves space and would be enthralled by this museum. The McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center is located at 2 Institute Drive in Concord, NH, open 10:30 am – 4 pm in the summer, admission is $10.00 for adults and $7.00 for children ages 3-12.
The Mt. Washington Valley (MWV) Children’s Museum – The MWV Children’s Museum is a great stop on a rainy or quiet day when you are in the area visiting North Conway or the White Mountains. Robin from Masshole Mommy recommends it for ages 0-9, as young kids can put on a puppet show, climb through castles and tractors, build in the Lego room, cook in a pizza kitchen, climb through a tree house and so much more. The MWV Children’s Museum is located at 2936 White Mountain Highway, North Conway, NH, open 10 am – 3pm Thursday-Monday, $7.50 per person ages 1+.
Rhode Island Museums
Providence Children’s Museum — Unlike other children’s museums that cater to the pre-school set, the newly renovated Providence Children’s Museum has something to offer kids up to about 10 or 11, especially the outdoor climbing structure. My daughter always loved the Water Ways area (newly updated) and Robin from Masshole Mommy’s sons loved building with blocks, tubes, and shapes. The Providence Children’s Museum is located at 100 South Street in Providence, RI, open 9 am – 6 pm Tuesday – Sunday, $9.00 per person ages 1+, free one Friday per month and library passes are available.
Rhode Island School of Design Museum — The RISD Museum surprised me with the depth and breadth of its collection, from Monets to modern art to textile exhibits to Ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art. A kid favorite is the giant buddha in the Asian art section. The RISD Museum is located at 20 North Main Street in Providence, open Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm, tickets are $12 for adults and $3 for youth ages 5-18.
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center — ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center helps kids explore the ecology, culture, history and opportunities in the Lake Champlain areas with over 100 hands on exhibits. With over 60 species of fish, amphibians, and reptiles, kids can also enjoy live animal feedings and exploration. Dana from FindandGoSeek has many tips from families visiting ECHO. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is located at 1 College Street in Burlington, VT, open daily 10 am – 5 pm, tickets are $13.50 for adults and $10.50 for children ages 3-17.
Montshire Museum of Science — The Montshire Museum of Science is great for younger kids with hands on exhibits like earth and astronomy, weather, native plants, creatures, and sound and hearing. Jodi from Family Travel Magazine’s kids especially enjoyed the outdoor water exhibits. Montshire Museum is located at 1 Montshire Rd in Norwich, VT, open daily 10 am to 5 pm, tickets are $14 for adults and $11 for children ages 2-17.
Shelburne Museum — When I was a kid we went to Vermont for every vacation to visit my grandmother. We would then take day trips around the state and I remember the Shelburne Museum as a collection of various farm buildings. Today, it has over 150,000 works of art across 38 buildings, including historic houses and buildings like a blacksmith shop, jail, and schoolhouse. Dana from FindandGoSeek enjoys bringing visiting families to explore the museum’s many structures including the circus building, steam ship and train cars. The Shelburne Museum is located at 6000 Shelburne Rd in Shelburne, VT, open daily in the summer from 10 am to 5 pm, tickets are $24 for adults, $14 for youth ages 13-17, and $12 for children ages 5-12.
Do you have a favorite museum? Leave your recommendations for New England museums and a blog post if you have one in the comments below.
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