A World of Discovery: Hands-On Museum Fun

Blending education and fun, these museums offer hands-on, interactive exhibits curated for curious minds of all ages!

Listed in alphabetic order, discover somewhere new to visit today:

B&O Railroad Museum
Baltimore, MD

Explore the country’s oldest and most historic American railroad collection at the B&O Railroad Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate! Located on the museum’s Baltimore campus, this carefully selected location is regarded as the birthplace of the American Railroad. It features both full-size trains and model replicas, and visitors can explore authentic trains, see historic artifacts, and even enjoy a real train ride along the first commercial mile of track laid in America!


Chesapeake Children’s Museum
Annapolis, MD

Helping kids get closer to the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland history, the Chesapeake Children’s Museum is a great stop for fun and learning. Live animals, a docked boat, theatrical costumes, nature trails, and Underground Railroad trails are just some of the activities to keep your child busy while they learn about the local environment.


Children’s Science Center
Fairfax, VA

The Children’s Science Center, located in Fair Oaks Mall, invites visitors of all ages to enjoy STEM-focused fun! At a variety of centers and zones, as well as a hands-on experiment bar, kids will learn science, technology, engineering, and math concepts through touch, feel, and play!


Kid Museum
Bethesda, MD

Dedicated to the “Mind of a Maker,” the KID Museum at Bethesda Metro Center is an innovative learning space catering to present-day and future creators ages 4-14! The 28,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility integrates STEM through multiple collaborative experiences built for coding, robotics, engineering design, and hands-on learning. Encourage future generations of doers and makers through programs that foster community and connection.


Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum
Sterling, VA

Through various exhibits, hands-on activities, and seasonal events, the Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum highlights 250 years of Loudoun County’s agricultural heritage.


Maryland Science Center
Baltimore, MD

The Maryland Science Center is a must-visit — this STEM museum encourages plenty of hands-on exploration, perfect for children and families! Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy 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 (a landscape filled with more than one dozen life-size dinosaurs), and much more! Plus, don’t miss their planetarium (below), special events, and even an IMAX theatre!

For young kids, the museum also has a dedicated, gated room complete with a Chesapeake Bay-themed water play area! There’s even an area for kids under two, where infants and toddlers can crawl around squishy waterbeds, look at brightly colored books, and play with big soft blocks.


National Children’s Museum
Washington, DC

New to the DMV community, the National Children’s Museum sparks curiosity and ignites creativity in children up to age 12! This family destination boasts many touch-and-play activities, exhibits, and experiences centered around science, technology, engineering, art, and math.


National Museum of American History
Washington, DC

The National Museum of American History showcases the heritage of the United States, including politics, culture, science, and the military, to name a few topics.

The museum’s mission is the collection, care, study, and interpretation of objects that reflect the experience of the American people. This includes popular displays such as the original Star-Spangled Banner (1814), Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown (2013), to name a few.

Additionally, these fun destinations are located inside the National Museum of American History:

Draper SparkLab @ National Museum of American History
Draper SparkLab is where young museum visitors become inventors! Children and their families are invited to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent activities incorporating traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity.

Wegmans Wonderplace @ National Museum of American History
Located inside the National Museum of American History, Wegmans Wonderplace is a 1,700-square-foot interactive play space for children ages 0-6. Little learners will delight in exploring, touching, playing, and learning! Discover the collections and exhibits of this unique play space here.

National Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC

Open 364 days a year with free admission, the National Museum of Natural History, a Smithsonian institution, has a collection of over 126 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, and human remains/cultural artifacts! Dedicated to promoting the understanding of the natural world and our place in it, the museum’s collections tell the planet’s history and a record of human interaction with the environment and one another.

Additionally, this STEM destination is located inside the National Museum of Natural History:

Q?Rius (The Coralyn W. Whitney Science Education Center)
Q?rius (pronounced “curious”) is an interactive learning space inside the National Museum of Natural History that brings the museum’s unique assets — the science, researchers, and collections — out from behind the scenes. Visitors can use microscopes, handle some of the 6,000 collection objects, solve science puzzles, enjoy touchscreen activities, and even meet a scientist!

Port Discovery Children’s Museum
Baltimore, MD

Ranking among the top children’s museums in the United States by Parents Magazine and Forbes, Port Discovery offers 80,000 square feet of interactive, hands-on exhibits and activities designed for curious, active kids! Knowing children learn best through play, this special museum offers a variety of permanent and traveling exhibits packed with fun on its three floors.


Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum
Winchester, VA

Located in the heart of historic Winchester, VA, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum is worth the drive for Northern Virginia families! This kid-focused destination features 4-stories of exhibits, each boasting loads of touch-and-play areas that encourage problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. Best of all, the kids don’t know they’re learning — they just think they’re having a great time!


Disclaimer: Events/opportunities are curated from public sources and are subject to changes/cancelations that might not be reflected on DullesMoms.com.

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