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Top museums in the country for families

Kori Ellis is an editor and writer based in San Antonio, TX, where she lives with her husband and four children. At SheKnows, she writes about parenting, fashion, beauty and other lifestyle topics. Additionally, Kori has been published i...

Best U.S. museums

When vacationing, add a little culture to your trip by visiting some of the nation's best museums. From children's museums for toddlers to art museums for teens, we've compiled a list of some of the top museums in the country for families.

Smithsonian

1Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

If you don't have time to visit more than one museum in Washington, D.C., make it the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Children of all ages enjoy the life-size replicas of famous aircraft and the real-life memorabilia from outer space. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History in D.C. is also terrific for families. Kids can learn about the history of music, sports and much more.

2Metropolitan Museum of Art

At first, you might not think that the Met is for kids, but they offer plenty of exhibits, displays and activities that are geared toward young children, tweens and teens. Family programs, workshops and events are offered year-round at this New York City museum. The Met also offers a Children's Reading Room in the Nolen Library, family audio guides, programs for children with disabilities and family-friendly restaurants. Older kids love the Drop-in Drawing, where they are encouraged to draw with inspiration from original works of art (materials provided).

3Art Institute of Chicago

This Art Institute of Chicago features a variety of family programs and events held in their Ryan Education Center. The highlight of this part of the museum is the Vitale Family Room. This room feature original artwork, puzzles, blocks, books, interactive stories and games, and other hands-on activities. Take the Lions Trail Family Tour of the museum. This audio tour is geared toward kids ages 5 to ten. The fun and informative tour is available in English or Spanish and features 32 stops.

4The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

If you're looking for a fantastic children's museum, you can't go wrong with The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. This children's museum features a life-size replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a 55-ton steam engine, a 1927 working carousel, a 130-seat planetarium and plenty of hands-on activities. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis offers 365,000 square feet of gallery space -- so it might take a couple days to see it all.

5Boston Children's Museum

If you have toddlers and preschoolers, you can't miss the Boston Children's Museum. This facility has a 4,500-square-foot PlaySpace area, an operahouse stage where kids can perform, an extensive doll and dollhouse collection, and even a rock-climbing wall for preschoolers. While many other children's museums are geared toward older kids, this Boston museum is a fantastic destination for younger kids to learn and play.

When planning your trip, visit each museum's website to find out more about current exhibits and free admission days.

Check out these other top cultural vacation destinations for families >>

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