Children's museums can be great experiences for children — and adults — of all ages. A place where education and fun go together, visits to museums that are appropriate for children can help inspire youngsters to explore, apply what they have learned at home or in school, and experience textbook education first-hand.

Prepare ahead of time for your visit by following these tips.

1. Check Out the Museum's Website, If Available

Sites should contain rules for visitors, costs, and shows that may be running at the museum's theater, and hours/days of operation. By reading through the information, parents can prepare ahead of time and not be faced with surprises. If in doubt about the site's accuracy, call and double-check prices and hours. Be sure to also find out about discounts for:

  • large groups
  • very young children (toddlers)
  • students
  • local workers and their families
  • off-season visits

If the museum does not have a website, call and ask for a brochure and information about upcoming attractions to be mailed to your house.

2. Get a Map of the Museum's Layout

If you have children of different ages, this can help decide approximately how much time you have to spend in each area, or plan for additional adult help so your kids can have as much fun, and as much education, as possible. Find out if there is a toddler area for very young children, and what it contains, as well as what exhibits and attractions are appropriate for different age groups.

3. Go Over Museum Etiquette With Your Children Ahead of Time

Children's museums are places where touching, experimenting, and even loud voices are generally allowed and encouraged. However, make sure your children understand the rules of taking turns, waiting in line, and staying with adults. Practice these deliberately in the couple of days leading up to your visit.

4. Help Educate Your Children on the Museum's Current Theme

Children's museums generally have consistent activities for different age groups, but also often provide a changing theme. Seasonal or temporary attractions may cover topics such as health and fitness, science and exploration, music and art, aviation and transportation, and weather and nature. By helping children learn a little about these topics ahead of time, they will better remember new things they learn on their museum trip.

  • Check out and read through library books related to the topic.
  • If your children are in school, search in their textbooks for the appropriate topic, or ask teachers if they have resources they can loan.
  • Talk about the theme or attraction and see what your child knows, and what questions he may have. If your child is old enough, have him write down some questions or things he wants to know.

5. Find Out the Rules About Food and Beverages

A visit to a children's museum may take a good chunk of the day. Are you allowed to bring food and drinks for children? If not, is there a place to purchase food? Make sure you know the answers to these questions before showing up.

6. If Your Child Has a Special Need, Determine If the Exhibits Are Fully Accessible

They should be, but it is wise to check it out. If needed, ask the museum director if you can walk through and determine if the attractions and activities will allow your child to be fully engaged in each area.

At the Association of Children's Museums website, you can locate museums in your area, or for a trip you may be planning.

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