Touch & Play Children’s Museums

by, November 2015

Children’s museums are an oasis of touch-and-play opportunities for kids and kids-at-heart!

Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
About 11-miles from Dulles International Airport

The recently opened Children’s Science Center Lab precedes The Children’s Science Center, set to open in 2020 in Loudoun County, which will offer interactive and hands-on exhibits, activities, and other programs focused on STEM. The Lab, located in Fair Oaks Mall, provides an educational and fun environment for families and kids of all ages via four interactive exploration centers. The Lab is well-staffed with eager and attentive employees ready to help, educate, and encourage.

Kids International Discovery Museum | Bethesda, MD
About 23-miles from Dulles International Airport

Kids International Discovery Museum at Davis Library in Bethesda, MD offers fun, interactive programs for elementary- and middle school-aged children. Featuring hands-on experiences that highlight science, technology, culture, engineering, art, and math, the Kids International Discovery Museum is a truly enjoyable educational experience! Drop-in for open-explore sessions, such as Interactive Light Painting, Building Outside the Box, and Sonic Electronics, or participate in facilitated workshops to learn new skills.

Q?rius? at National Museum of American History | Washington, DC
About 29-miles from Dulles International Airport

Designed with younger children mind, this interactive space is specifically for children 10 and under. Visitors can explore a variety of museum artifacts such as butterfly wings, rocks, or minerals using a microscope! Little ones can also examine a full-size replica of a human skeleton, try on traditional clothing from around the world, or search for plants and animals on the biodiversity wall! Q?rius?

Wegmans Wonderplace at the National Museum of American History | Washington, DC
About 32-miles from Dulles International Airport

Located within the National Museum of American History, Wegmans Wonderplace, specifically geared towards children 6 and under. Little learners will delight over the six spaces of the exhibit, each displaying unique artifacts from the museum’s extensive collection. The farm, kitchen (inspired by Julia Child’s), port, construction site, gallery, and Smithsonian Castle will each provide unique opportunities for children to engage in hands-on and play-based learning.

Be With Me: The Children’s Playseum | Chevy Chase, MD
About 24-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Children’s Playseum provides a unique learning and creating an experience for children of all ages. Books and activities are categorized into CityShop rooms, such as the bakery, the dress-up room, restaurants, grandma’s, shopping, farm, pet store, circus, and more. With over 24-theme CityShops between the two locations, there is unending fun for one low admission price! The Playseum also offers birthday party packages allowing children to explore the CityShops with their friends, read during a themed storytime, and have a birthday celebration in the bakery. Visit The Playseum’s website for special hours and membership opportunities.

Spark!Lab at National Museum of American History | Washington, DC
About 29-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Spark!Lab is where museum visitors between 6 and 12 become inventors! Children are invited to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent. Activities for children and families incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity. Spark!Lab activities are designed around themes that connect to Museum collections and exhibitions. Themes change on a regular basis ensuring that regular visitors have something new to explore! So join your friends daily from 10 am to 4 pm (closed Tuesdays) at the National Museum of American History to become science’s newest hero!

Rose Hill Manor Park & Children’s Museum | Frederick, MD
About 45-miles from Dulles International Airport

Rose Hill Manor Park and Children’s Museum presents the living heritage of the property known as Rose Hill from 1746 to 1950. Part of Frederick County Parks and Recreation, the property boasts a historic two-and-a-half story brick house, as well as several child-friendly museums. The Children’s Museum allows for collaborative play and teaches about colonial life while the Carriage Museum displays restored carriages and sleighs from the turn of the twentieth century. Lastly, the Farm Museum exhibits highlight farm living and agricultural trends in Frederick County. Tours are scheduled for these areas, as well as the ice house, log cabin, blacksmith shop, carriage collection, and two barns. The property also hosts birthday parties and other events set to a historical theme.

The Original Playhouse Children’s Museum | New Market, MD
About 50-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Original Playhouse Children’s Museum, intended for children ages 3-8, is the brainchild of a former Frederick County educator who sought to encourage learning through playful methods and by engaging all senses. The facility is split into two areas. Downstairs is dedicated to discovery and creativity, where children will become scientists in the Wonders of Water Room, or act as architects in the Engineerium. Upstairs is for dramatic play, with a Nature Nook and Young Readers’ Theater Room. Parents are strongly encouraged to let their children’s imaginations run free and join their children in The Original Playhouse’s-themed rooms to maximize the learning experience. The Original Playhouse has open hours, as well as special events and summer programs.

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum | Winchester, VA
About 52-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum moved to its new location in Winchester, VA in 2014 and it is still worth the drive! This kid-focused museum features 3-stories of exhibits, including an Encounter Zone, Action Zone, Explore Zone, and Sky Level. Each boasts loads of touch and play areas — with exhibits that encourage problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. Best of all, the kids don’t know they are learning — they just think they are having a great time!

Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

The Maryland Science Center is another must-visit for anyone in our region. This science-inspired museum encourages a lot of touching — perfect for children and families. The 170,000-square-foot space boasts many fun permanent exhibits like Newton’s Alley (a kinetic, hands-on exhibit powered by you), Cells: The Universe Inside Us (zoom into your own body to see the different cells that make up your heart, brain, and bones), Dinosaur Mysteries (walk under, over, and through a landscape filled with more than 1-dozen life-size dinosaurs, dig pits, and other areas of discovery), and much more!
About 61-miles from Dulles International Airport

Port Discovery Children’s Museum | Baltimore, MD
About 60-miles from Dulles International Airport

Port Discovery Children’s Museum, ranked one of Forbes 12 Best Children’s Museums in the US, offers three floors of interactive, educational exhibits and ever-changing programs for children from birth through age 10. Located in downtown Baltimore, MD, Port Discovery offers many permanent and traveling exhibits, many of which are themed around important topics and events. The majority of the Museum’s exhibits and programs are designed for children ages 2- through 10-years old. For children under 2, they recommend Tot Trails, their infant/toddler exhibit, and The Oasis. Port Discovery is also a stroller-friendly Museum with designated stroller parking areas throughout.

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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