Top 24 Best Science Museums in the US

Last Updated on October 05, 2023 by Nikki Jain

The best vacation memories aren’t necessarily made when doing nothing or visiting amusement parks. For your next family vacation, why not take an educational approach? There’s so much to see and learn all across the United States!

One of the best ways to integrate fun and learn into travel is by stopping at science museums. Just about every major city in the United States has a science museum of some kind. Here are the best science museums in the U.S! Visiting one of these destinations this year? Plan a science day. You’ll have a blast at any of these science museums!

Best Science Museums in the US

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1: Museum of Science, Boston

Museum of Science, Boston
Wikimedia/Boston Museum of Science

If you find yourself searching for a science museum near me, then you are sure to find the Museum of Science at the top of most lists. So, what is it that makes Boston's Museum of Science so exceptional?

First, it has over 700 interactive exhibits and all sorts of live presentations at its Charles Hayden Planetarium and is the only IMAX screen with a dome in New England. Another great bonus with this one is the fact that the education and fun don't have to stop when you leave the site.

The Museum of Science has all sorts of digital experiences for the whole family to continue learning with podcasts, virtual projects, and activities. The MoS is undoubtedly one of the best science museums in the US! Not only does it have fantastic displays on just about every branch of science, but it even has its very own indoor zoo. You can come to see over 100 rescue animals that call the Museum of Science home.

Address: 1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Boston

2: Exploratorium, San Francisco

Exploratorium, San Francisco

One of the best science museums in the US is the Exploratorium, located at Pier 15 in San Francisco, California. Founded by Dr. Frank Oppenheimer, a renowned particle physicist, in 1969, the Exploratorium is no ordinary science museum.

Dr. Oppenheimer founded the Exploratorium because he was concerned about the lack of scientific knowledge in the general public. Thus, the museum is all about education, discovery, and engagement. You'll find yourself just as enthralled by the incredible exhibits this spot has to offer to the children.

Plus, if you're a frequenter of the Exploratorium, you may wish to become a member or donor, as the galleries allow exclusive access to all sorts of exhibits on Sundays. Avoid the crowds and see all the Exploratorium offers from 10 am to noon every Sunday.

Address: Pier 15 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in San Francisco

3: National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.

National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
Flickr/Pedro Szekely

You’ve probably seen this D.C. science museum in Night at the Museum 2. However, there’s a lot more to this Smithsonian treasure than the few exhibits featured in the film. This is one of the world’s most-visited museums, and for good reason.

It contains important pieces of aerospace history, including the Wright brothers’ plane and parts of Apollo 11. And yes, you can see the Tuskegee Airmen in the museum—but we can’t promise their statues will come alive and start talking to you.

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560

Also Read: Top 10 Space and Aviation Museums in the USA

4: Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

This scientific collection is housed in a gorgeous Romanesque building in the Windy City. The Museum of Science and Industry contains a wide range of fascinating scientific items, including German U-boats, trains, a genetics exhibit, and much more. Be sure to visit the FarmTech exhibit, which shows how modern farmers ply their trade in a technology-driven world. This museum is an essential Chicago experience.

Address: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Chicago

5: COSI: The Center of Science and Industry, Columbus

COSI: The Center of Science and Industry, Columbus

This incredible Ohio museum has over 300 exhibits. You could spend all day here and never see everything on display. There’s a lot to do! Visit the Ocean exhibit to learn about both the natural and technological side of our planet’s water system. Or, head to Space to tour a replica space station and learn how space exploration works.

There’s even a Gadgets area, where you can play with mechanic elements to learn how they function. See all of this and much more! It’s little wonder that COSI is considered one of the best science museums in the US for families.

Address: 333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

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6: California Science Center, Los Angeles

California Science Center, Los Angeles
Flickr/Sam Howzit

California is home to not just one, but two of the best science museums in the U.S. Not to be outdone by San Francisco, Los Angeles features the California Science Center (or, as locals like to spell it, ScienCenter) in Exposition Park. This is a massive hands-on science museum! It has a wide variety of permanent exhibits, including Ecosystems, Creative World (including architecture, energy, and more), World of Life, and Air and Space. This is a great place for both kids and adults to spend an afternoon.

Address: 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037

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7: Franklin Institute, Philadelphia

Franklin Institute, Philadelphia
Facebook/The Franklin Institute

This institution serves as both a research facility and a family-friendly museum experience. Naturally, as Philadelphia’s top science attraction, it is named after the city’s most famously inventive resident: Benjamin Franklin. Of course, it has a display of Franklin’s discovery of electricity, in addition to its other exhibitions.

Other favorite exhibits include the Giant Heart, an aviation display, and even a sports zone. Although this museum appeals to a modern audience, it is actually one of the oldest science museums in the United States! It was founded nearly 200 years ago, in 1824.

Address: 222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

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Also Read: Top Attractions & Things To Do in Philadelphia

8: Science Museum of Minnesota, St Paul

Science Museum of Minnesota, St Paul
Facebook/Science Museum of Minnesota

This Minnesota Science Museum has been educating northerners for over a hundred years. This museum has a wide variety of displays. Little ones will certainly be fascinated by the dinosaur exhibit, including Fafnir the triceratops skeleton.

Among other exhibits, the museum also features the Mississippi River Gallery, which offers a local take on the river and nearby national park. The most innovative display in the museum is an exhibit called RACE: Are We So Different? This part of the museum explores the cultural, historical, and biological components of race and discusses social issues.

Address: 120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102

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Also Read: Best Children's Museums in the USA

9: Discovery Place Science, Charlotte

Discovery Place Science, Charlotte

Next time you’re in North Carolina, be sure to make a trip to Discover Place Science Center. This is a super-fun, kid-friendly, fantastic place to spend a day. Besides the main building, there are three additional branches of this museum. The first is Discovery Place Nature, which includes a butterfly pavilion, live animals, and interactive exhibits.

The second is Discovery Place Kids, which offers a learn-through-play experience. The third is Discovery Place Education Studio, which offers professional development to educators. If you ever get bored by the many exhibits and programs at Discovery Place, you can always take a trip to the in-house IMAX Dome Theater!

Address: 301 N Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202

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10: Arkansas Museum of Discovery, Little Rock

Arkansas Museum of Discovery, Little Rock
Facebook/Museum of Discovery

This STEM-focused museum in Little Rock is a fantastic science museum in the USA for families to explore. If you want science, technology, engineering, and math to excite your kids, this is the place to go.

You’ll be able to interact with all the displays in this museum, from foam architecture to ball mazes and physical activities. Your kids will have so much fun, they won’t even know they are learning! Or, better yet, they’ll discover that learning can actually be a whole lot of fun. Don’t miss this when you visit Little Rock.

Address: 500 President Clinton Ave #150, Little Rock, AR 72201

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11: Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff

Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff

Lowell Observatory was founded in 1894, making it one of the oldest science museums in the US. Located about a 2-minute drive from the historic downtown area of Flagstaff, Arizona, and approximately an hour’s drive from the breathtaking Grand Canyon, the Lowell Observatory is a must-see destination on any Arizona adventure.

As the name suggests, this museum is primarily based on all things astronomy. Jump from telescope to telescope to see various constellations and take in the truly vast universe in which we exist.

Additionally, if you're looking for a fascinating night out with coworkers and/or friends or an educational birthday party for your kid, then be sure to check out the Lowell Observatory Premium Access offerings. With private, personalized star exploration experiences, this is an event you'll never forget.

Address: 1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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12: Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City

Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma City
Dreamstime/Chon Kit Leong

This essential stop, if you’re tooling around Oklahoma, is essential because of its diverse range of exhibitions. From the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame to the Kirkpatrick Planetarium, you’ll find yourself lost in a never-ending world of wonder.

Hands-on experiments for children are just one of the best perks of the Science Museum Oklahoma. If your child is fascinated by science and wants to engage with it, we highly recommend signing up for one of these fantastic demonstrations.

Choose from day courses to summer camps with names such as Forces and Fire, Journey Through the Cosmos, Forward to the Moon, and Tinkering Activities. You can even choose the right difficulty level for your child's age, so you know they are learning at the perfect level.

Address: 2020 Remington Pl, Oklahoma City, OK 73111

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13: Explora, Albuquerque

Explora, Albuquerque

Explora takes some of the core principles of science, such as gravity, water, light and shadow, math, and electricity, and creates interactive and engaging activities with them. If you find your child struggling to connect with scientific subjects, bringing them to Explora could truly change their way of seeing things.

By making these concepts into fun activities, your child can excitedly explore topics that they may otherwise consider boring in a standard classroom. Plan your visit using Explora’s incredibly helpful exhibits guide or simply follow your feet and explore as you go.

Address: 1701 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Albuquerque

14: Science City, Kansas City

Science City, Kansas City

Another of the best science centers in the US can be found in good old Missouri. Science City, located at the heart of Kansas City (Union Station, in fact), is home to a world of discovery for the whole family. With 120 hands-on displays, you can learn through experience.

Science City is firmly against the "don't touch" mindset, ensuring that every visitor has an opportunity to touch, feel, hear, smell and taste the incredible creations science has to offer. On the Upper level, you can go from learning all about the intricacies of the brain to climbing into a magnificent tree house.

You can step right up to various demonstrations and displays and then head down to the lower level and learn about genetics in the "Unlock the Code" game. Needless to say, there are endless possibilities at Science City.

Address: Union Station, 30 W Pershing Rd, Kansas City, MO 64108

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Kansas City

15: Liberty Science Center, Jersey City

Liberty Science Center, Jersey City

Liberty Science Center is known for many things. One is that when it first opened in 1993, it was one of the biggest science museums in the US, with the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere and, therefore, the fourth largest in the world.

Though it has since been surpassed in size, it still has endless magic to offer. What extraordinary exhibit is on currently, you may ask? Imagine this: you can experience what life was like living in a first-century Roman Town as their Pompeii: the immortal city exhibit.

Discover the historic city before it was engulfed by volcanic ash. Explore some of the most recent original artifacts from the ruins, and be sure to experience the interactive mechanical devices and multimedia offerings that truly make any visitor feel as though the town has come to life.

Address: 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305

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16: California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco

It's no wonder we have featured more than one San Francisco science center on this list of the best science museums in the US, as San Fran has a rich history of scientific discovery. The California Academy of Sciences is both a research institute and a natural history museum.

In fact, it is one of the world's largest museums of natural history, with more than 46 million specimens. These species hail from all over the world and can be found in the science center’s aquarium, planetarium, or even its artificial rainforest.

Excitement at the California Academy of Sciences goes beyond the lectures, interactive exhibits, and live animals and extends to a real-life “night at the museum”. You can buy tickets for the whole family to sleep over at the museum and experience the following:

  • Overnight stay in an exhibit area
  • Rainforest access until 8 pm
  • Planetarium showings
  • Late-night snack and early-morning breakfast
  • Overnight parking in Music Concourse Garage
  • Next-day admission to the Academy

If you’re looking for a great way to spend your child’s birthday or simply an amazing experience for family bonding, a sleepover at the museum could do the trick.

Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

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17: Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich

Montshire Museum of Science, Norwich

Moving back on up to the Northern part of the country, we have the Montshire Museum of Science located in Norwich, Vermont. This hands-on science museum made this list of the best science centers in the US for many reasons. Firstly, this one sets itself apart because of its outdoor offerings.

As the museum sits on 110 acres of wildlife just off the Connecticut River, it allows for the exploration of mile-long nature trails where you can learn about all sorts of species "in the field". Nature, technology, astronomy, and the physical sciences are all woven into fascinating lectures, exciting exhibits, and hands-on learning experiences.

Plus, there are water exhibits at the Science Park in the warmer months. This museum's philosophy is grounded in learning from real-world stimuli, so pack your hiking shoes and begin exploring.

Address: 1 Montshire Rd, Norwich, VT 05055

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18: Maryland Science Center, Baltimore

Maryland Science Center, Baltimore

Maryland Science Center is considered one of the most fun science museums in the USA. Why did you ask? Well, the Maryland Science Center is brimming with interactive educational experiences.

Its exhibits flow through three building levels and deal with a vast array of topics such as astronomy, paleontology, physics and, our favorite, the inner and outer workings of the human body. Jump from the Davis Planetarium to the IMAX theatre and onto the rooftop observatory overlooking Inner Harbor.

If you’re worried about what your very little one will do while your pre-teens are learning about Isaac Newton’s discoveries, have no fear. There’s a great Kids' Room where your younger ones will stay entertained with some water play while the older ones are exploring.

Address: 601 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230

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Also Read: Top Baltimore Attractions You Must Visit

19: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland
Dreamstime/Victoria Ditkovsky

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the most interesting science museums in the US for seemingly endless reasons but let’s touch on a few key ones for now.

First of all, OMSI is all about curiosity.

It will answer all your science-related questions while at the same time sparking all sorts of new ones.

Dive into life on a real submarine, watch experiments in the chemistry lab and finish the day off with a delicious bite at the Empirical Café or on the riverfront at Theory Restaurant, where you can indulge in some locally sourced goodness.

Another reason OMSI has made the list is its great day camps and incredibly unique classes.

Forensic science, LEGO® robots, and exotic pets are all possibilities at the OMSI camps and classes for kids.

Address: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Portland

20: Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis

Saint Louis Science Center, Saint Louis

First founded in 1963, the Saint Louis Science Center offers some excellent exhibitions.

Currently, the "Special Exhibition" is entitled "Becoming Jane".

It is an engaging and interactive exhibition that walks visitors through the profound life and discoveries of Dr. Jane Goodall and our closest relatives, chimpanzees.

Perhaps, the best part of this exhibit is the fact that the experience is narrated by a hologram of Dr. Goodall herself.

This exhibit indicates the quality of the other experiences you will discover at the St. Louis Science Center in Saint Louis.

Address: 5050 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in St. Louis, Missouri

21: New York Hall of Science, Queens

New York Hall of Science, Queens

Though not the biggest science museum in the US, the New York Hall of Science is a world-renowned hub for researchers, developers, and educators.

It takes pride in nurturing the lives of young scientists with initiatives such as its Alan J. Friedman Center for the Development of Young Scientists, which has helped children pursue education and careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) for over 30 years.

Additionally, its 3D Theatre, thrilling exhibitions, and unique spots for film and photo shoots are well worth a visit.

Address: 47-01 111th St, Queens, NY 11368

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22: Discovery World, Milwaukee

Discovery World, Milwaukee

As with the New York Hall of Science (previous), Milwaukee’s Discovery World is devoted to helping the next generation of scientists achieve their goals and contribute to our understanding of the world in which we live.

To do so, Discovery World has all sorts of experiences that make science extremely engaging and fun for everyone.

Discovery World's exhibitions are incredibly unique, from the Clean Air Trek, which deals with battery technology and low-carbon vehicles, to Les Paul's House of Sound, where you can view and listen to the artist's unbelievable collection of guitars.

Address: 500 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Milwaukee

23: Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami

Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, Miami

Philip and Patricia Frost's Museum of Science makes our list for all sorts of reasons, but perhaps the most are its dealings with marine science.

Because of its ideal location (right on the water), this museum has aquatic life in its backyard.

You can start your experience by exploring fish and marine life of all shapes and sizes and then move along to the relevant and important exhibition of conservation science.

This museum’s three-level aquarium truly is a masterpiece of living science.

Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Miami

24: Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas

Perot Museum of Nature & Science, Dallas

Finally, we highly recommend the Perot Museum of Nature & Science located in none other than Dallas, Texas.

This spot has relevant, exciting, and one-of-a-kind shows, presentations, and exhibitions.

From November 2022 to September 2023, it has a "Science Behind Pixar" exhibit which takes visitors on a journey through the science behind various Pixar classics.

If you're curious about the animation behind Mike Wazowski in Monsters Inc., look no further than Perot.

Address: 2201 N Field St, Dallas, TX 75201

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Also Read: Top Tourist Attractions in Dallas

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