The Museum: A Great Way to Get Kids Thinking on Vacation

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September 14, 2011

I’m a mom of two curious boys who love to travel. And, as if they aren’t enough a handful, I’ve got a third on the way!

My sons get bored with movies, games and even sandy beaches before I can think of what to do with them next. The only way I can hold their interest is by giving them a challenge. They hate to give up on something, admit defeat, wave the white flag.

I discovered a great trick to keep them busy, especially on vacation. My solution: museums.

The Children’s Museum | Indianapolis, IN

I know what you’re thinking: Indianapolis? For Vacation?

I thought that too–until I got there. Indianapolis has one of the biggest and best children’s museums in the world, making it an awesome spot for family vacations, especially if you’ve got curious kids.

The museum features a mix of traveling and permanent exhibits. When we went, my boys absolutely loved the Dinosphere, an educational and comprehensive view of dinosaurs’ reign on earth; Scienceworks, an interactive perspective on plant life, engineering, animal habits, nutrition and basic water principles; and Take Me There: Egypt, featuring markets, Nile River Eco Tours, an interactive map, monetary exchange and clothing.

Plus, there’s also a lot more to do in Indy, for both kids and adults. We had no trouble filling an entire week with fun vacation activities.

The Museum of Science and Industry | Chicago, IL

Chicago is always a great place to visit. Between the shops, museums and outdoor parks, there’s enough to keep the whole family busy.

My boys were enthralled by the infamous bean sculpture– and then 5 minutes later they were ready to move on.

We spent the better part of a day at the The Museum of Science and Industry, which is located right off of Lake Shore drive.

They absolutely loved the science storms exhibit. My oldest son is obsessed with weather and has been asking me about lighting, thunder and tornadoes since he was old enough to speak. Being less than thunderstorm savvy, I didn’t know the answers, but this exhibit answered all of his questions, plus some.

My younger son especially loved “You! The Experience”, an exhibit focused on helping kids understand the unique experience of human life. Even I learned something new!

The Smithsonian | Washington, D.C.

Ok, this one is huge. I’ve been four times and I’ve still only seen about half of what the entire museum has to offer. My kids have only been once, and I knew that we had to focus their first visit to a specific area. The entire Smithsonian is a lot to take in, especially for small kids.

I suggest doing a little research ahead of time to find out which parts of the Smithsonian are the best bet for kids. My boys loved The Wonder of Light: Touch and Learn, Eternal Life in Ancient Egypt and America on the Move.

The Smithsonian also has really awesome timely events, like a Chilean miners exhibit to help younger kids understand globally relevant issues.

Enhance Learning

Museums are a great way for kids to learn something new and reinforce what they’ve learned in school. Vacation doesn’t mean that kids have to turn off their brains and in fact, should be just the opposite: an opportunity for growth, exploration and unlimited fun!

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