Family outings to museums aren’t just a great way to learn about something new—they’re also a great way to have fun. From interacting with Elephant & Piggie to immersing yourself in Harry Potter’s Wizarding World, we found the best can’t-miss traveling museum exhibits from coast-to-coast. Read on to discover some nearby and some that are worth a drive.
WildKratts: Creature Power! & Ocean Adventures!
Fans of WildKratts will be thrilled to learn that there are not just one, but two exhibits based on the hit PBS series crisscrossing the country. Both exhibits are highly interactive and immerse children in the world of animals. Kids will learn about various habitats while trying to defeat a cast of nefarious villains. Catch them both to ensure you don't miss any WildKratts fun!
Locations: Lansing, MI, Atlanta, GA, Farmington, NM, Portsmouth, VA, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Jersey City, NJ & Midland, TX
No two visits to Wonderspaces are the same. Immersive and interactive exhibits at all the locations change throughout the year, so there is always a new artist to discover and something new to see. Most exhibits are family friendly, but signature cocktails are available for grown-ups!
Locations: Scottsdale, Philadelphia, San Diego & Austin
Curious George: Let's Get Curious
Kids are just as curious as Curious George! In this exhibit, kids will join the mischievous monkey in a variety of STEM activities, including planning a space adventure, using wind power to move different objects and using physics concepts while playing a round of mini-golf.
Locations: Brownville, TX, The Woodlands, TX, Kansas City, MO, Topeka, KS, Appleton, WI, Smyrna, TN & Naples, FL
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood a Grr-ific Exhibit
Fans of Daniel Tiger will love helping the cub solve problems, sort packages and make new friends at school in the Neighborhood. Children can also try their hand at playing musical instruments and leave a thank you note for someone special on the Thank You Tree.
Location: Rochester, NY & Pittsburgh, PA
Emotions at Play with Pixar's Insider Out
This interactive exhibit, like the beloved film, helps visitors of all ages understand the emotions of joy, sadness, anger, disgust and fear. Through hands-on and digital experiences, children will think about how an important memory makes them feel, how to recognize when someone is sad and how to use their imaginations to create their very own story.
Locations: Boston, Los Angles & Washington, DC
Rube Goldberg: The World of Hilarious Invention Exhibit
There is nothing quite like playing with a Rube Goldberg machine. This exhibit makes STEAM fun as visitors interact with 3-D, life-sized contraptions to see how engineering principals work in the real world.
Locations: Philadelphia, PA & Kalamazoo, MI
The Pigeon Comes to *Your City Here* A Mo Willems Exhibit
Several of Mo Willems' beloved characters make an appearance in this exhibit full of antics and opportunities to create art. Have a two-way conversation with Elephant and Piggie, find Knuffle Bunny in a spinning washing machine and toss hot dogs at The Pigeon. Plenty of opportunities for dress-up abounds, including finding the perfect clothing for a Naked Mole Rat and taking a wearable bus for a spin.
Locations: Pittsburgh, PA, Jersey City, NJ & Grand Rapids, MI
Very Eric Carle: A Very Hungry, Quiet, Lonely, Clumsy, Busy Exhibit
This exhibit takes visitors inside the pages of five of Eric Carle’s classic books: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly, The Very Clumsy Click Beetle and The Very Busy Spider. Young visitors can follow the path of the world's most famous caterpillar, weave a web and create their artwork inspired by the iconic artist.
Locations: Miami & Ft. Lauderdale, FL & Baltimore, MD
Go way, way back in time to walk among the dinosaurs. If you dare, put on a pair of VR goggles to become fully immersed in the Jurassic period. Then, marvel at a one-of-a-kind interactive prehistoric aquarium wall and test your knowledge of everything Dino at the Budding Experts station.
Locations: Seattle WA, Washington, DC & Los Angeles, CA
Artechouse is where art and technology collide. Each location features exhibits that go beyond a painting in a frame to showcase what is possible when creatives use innovative mediums and move beyond paint and clay. Shows change throughout the year. Most are highly interactive and need to be experienced to be appreciated. Even drinks served on-site feature VR technology.
Locations: Washington, DC, New York City, NY & Miami Beach, FL
Harry Potter: The Exhibition
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter comes to life in this new exhibition Muggles and witches alike can visit Harry's bedroom under the stairs, Hogwarts, the Forbidden Forrest and more. In this highly interactive visitors will practice Defense Against the Dark Arts, brew potions and use their wands to perform spells.
Location: Currently in Philadelphia, PA with more locations to come.
Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails
All aboard! Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails! is an interactive exhibit inspired by the popular children’s series now on Nick Jr. Playful learning experiences that feature engines and destinations from the show will engage children and their families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy. Visitors to the exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles like completing a train track using pieces with different levels of elevation. As children encounter new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.
Locations: Washington, DC, Danville, VA, St. Paul, MN, Wichita, KS & Bettendorf, IA
Immersive Frida Kahlo
Seeing Frida Kahlo's work and life displayed as larger-than-life might be the best way to experience her world of magical realism for yourself. The iconic artist combined parts of everyday life with the fantastical. This exhibit explores Khalo's influences alongside her famous paintings, so you will walk away with a deeper understanding of what inspired her to create.
Locations: Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, Dallas, TX, Denver, CO, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, Pittsburgh, PA, San Francisco, CA & Toronto
Now you don't need to travel to New York, Paris, Moscow or Barcelona to see some of Picasso's most stunning paintings. If you can make it to San Francisco or Atlanta, you can see some of the modern artist's famous works together and in an entirely different way. Although this exhibit does include a gallery wall to help familiarize visitors with some of Picasso's work, the real attraction is seeing the larger-than-life projections that cover nearly every inch of space. All of this is accompanied by musical selections that set the mood.
Locations: San Francisco, CA & Atlanta, GA
Even minimalists will love the maximalist, interactive exhibits at Meow Wolf's three locations. A completely immersive experience, walking into these large-scale displays is like being transported into a fantastical, fairy-tale world. These out-of-this-world displays are created by a collective of multi-media artists, so each site has different but equally thrilling themes.
Locations: Santa Fe, NM, Las Vegas, NV, & Denver, CO.
—Jaime Davis Smith
Featured image: Kristi Jan Hoover via the Mo Willems Exhibit