Welcome back to Have Geeklets, Will Travel, a summer travel series that will help you think up cool travel plans that will appeal to both kids and adults. From geocaching expeditions in your backyard to factory tours in far-flung states, we’ll be providing ideas all summer long to get you out of your house and on the road for great adventures.
Last week, we renewed our science center membership. It’s one of our favorite day trips: to conduct experiments in Newton’s Alley and watch a planetarium show or two (our current favorite is We Are Aliens) and dig for dinosaur bones. It’s one of those day trips that has an element of familiarity built into it: we know our way around the museum and have scouted out good restaurants in the area. But it’s also a day trip that changes every single visit. This last time, the curators were running an Egg-bot. The time before that, we got to examine a turtle. The traveling exhibits change, special events dot the calendar, and we sometimes bring friends along to boot.
Parents magazine rounded up the 10 best science centers in the country for kids. Personally, I think the best ones are simply those that engage a multitude of age levels — from toddler to adult — and keep the learning hands-on. They count COSI in Ohio, the Exploratorium in California, and the Museum of Science in Massachusetts amongst the winners.
You may be lucky enough to live in the same city as a stellar science center, but, for everyone else, consider building a vacation around science. With 25 centers on the Parents magazine list including their runner-ups, there are plenty of centers near and far to choose from, all with other activities in the area to make the travel worth it.
Admission to any science center can be pricey. Consider purchasing a membership because they not only pay out after two or three visits, but there is reciprocity between 300 science centers throughout the world with the ASTC passport program. We not only visit our local science center many times throughout the year, but we also drop in for visits to other science centers when we’re traveling. That membership card is like always having a rainy day activity in your back pocket.
So go plan your next trip — whether it’s a day trip or a longer family excursion to a new city — around science. And tell us about your favorite science centers.