1. Exploratorium, San Francisco
More than 600 exhibits collected on 3.3 acres will encourage every member of the family to see the world differently. The 40-year-old, 21st-century learning lab encourages creativity and tinkering as a means of expanding our perceptions.
Young children and toddlers are engaged by shadow, light, bubbles and color to aid exploration and discovery. Kids can create a marble machine, study plankton populations or check out an “upside down world” at a new location on Pier 15.
Contact: 415-528-4444; exploratorium.edu.
2. The Living Planet Aquarium, Draper, Utah
This home to underwater adventure was created by a marine biology major turned biochemist who was inspired to share the mysteries of the seas with children in his landlocked home state of Utah.
The popular Living Planet Aquarium will reboot in a new and expanded location in December. When the doors reopen, kids can learn all about sharks, sea horses, piranha and Gentoo penguins in an interactive environment.
Contact: 1-801-355-3474; thelivingplanet.com.
3. Explora museum, Albuquerque
How do you make a green chile pepper appear black? Find out during a visit to this family-friendly museum that mixes art and science to spur creativity and discovery within the worlds of physics, math, biology and beyond. Kids can also use their own bodies to study the concepts of ratio and proportion in Explora’s Math Moves exhibit.
Contact: 224-8300; explora.us.
4. The Dalí Museum, St. Petersburg, Fla
Plan a family visit to the 66,450-square-foot permanent home of the most comprehensive collection of Salvador Dalí’s works in the world. Enjoy the priceless collection of masterpieces, paintings, photographs, watercolors and books.
Younger children will enjoy the “Dillydally with Dalí” program offered daily, which includes puzzles, games, story hour and creative expression. Be there on the first Saturday of the month for “Breakfast With Dalí,” a morning that includes a junior-focused tour, followed by a buffet breakfast.
Beginning in January, the museum will host an expansive exhibit of the work of Andy Warhol. Children under 5 are admitted free.
5. National Aquarium, Baltimore
Did you know that an octopus has a highly developed brain and is a master of camouflage? Collect the details before you check out Black Tip Reef, a coral-filled exhibit replicating Indo-Pacific underwater landscapes.
The kids will love their visit with bottlenose dolphins, where they’ll also observe training, feeding and playtime with trainers. Before day’s end, discover the importance of jellyfish, observe sharks in an open tank and see more than 500 exotic species in an Atlantic Coral Reef Exhibit.
Contact: 410-576-3800; aqua.org.