Fun for All at NC Children’s Museums
Find a museum near you to beat the summer heatBy Margaret Buranen
A visit to a children’s museum is a cool way to spend a hot summer day. North Carolina has some fine museums designed to spark learning, fun and amazement in kids of all ages, including those listed here. (See museums’ websites for information on admission prices, parking, café hours, directions and general policies.)
Discovery Place Nature
1658 Sterling Rd., Charlotte
Insect Alley, adjacent butterfly pavilion (live insects), Naturalist Lab with scopes for close-up specimen viewing, Creature Cavern, Paw Paw Nature Trail to explore. Fort Wild has logs, boulders and wheelbarrows so kids can build forts. For kids of all ages.
Discovery Place Science Center
301 N Tryon St., Charlotte
Science and technology exhibits for all ages. Great new exhibits on oceans and the human body. Rainforest with real plants, animals — and humidity of the tropics. Hands on labs, IMAX theater presentations.
Discovery Place Kids
105 Gilead Rd., Huntersville
Lots of hands-on exhibits and role play activities: vet’s clinic, full sized fire truck, race car and car repair shop and more. Best suited to kids age 8 and younger.
Discovery Place Kids
233 E. Washington St., Rockingham
Artists’ studio, water table and air tubes for learning basic science, treehouse. For kids age 8 and under.
Museum of Life and Science
433 W. Murray Ave., Durham
Located within an 84-acre park. Trail with life-sized dinosaur models; live animals include black bears, red wolves, lemurs; amazing butterfly conservatory; two-acre hideaway woods with treehouses; wind exhibit with model sailboats, and much more. For all ages.
Children’s Museum of Wilmington
116 Orange St., Wilmington
The climb-on pirate ship and cargo ship exhibit reflect Wilmington’s history as a port city. Separate toddler and baby tree house exhibit. Visitors activate engaging exhibits on the human body. Hands-on artists’ studio, grocery store, scientist’s lab. Best for younger kids.
Marbles Kids Museum
201 East Hargett St., Raleigh
Sprawling “around town” play area, money exhibit with large piggy bank, hands-on workshop and craft center, ice hockey-themed play area, and electric power station exhibits.
400 West Hanes Mill Rd., Winston-Salem
Outdoor environmental park with live animals and gardens, hands-on exhibits allow kids to build and create while learning science. Best for toddlers to age 10.
390 S Liberty St., Winston-Salem
Hands-on exhibits of folk (non-battery) toys demonstrating science, doughnut factory, theater prop shop, artists’ studio, climbing lobby. Best for toddlers to age 10.
Exploration Station Children’s Museum
210 E. 2nd St., Lumberton
Hands-on exhibits and play areas to develop creativity and interest in science and math. Best for infants to 5-year-olds.
Fascinate-U Children’s Museum
116 Green St., Fayetteville
Set up as a mini-city, hands-on exhibits allow kids to role play at the diner, TV station, farmers’ market and grocery store. Best for kids age 8 and younger.
Catawba Science Center
243 Third Ave. NE, Hickory
Salt and freshwater aquarium galleries, digital planetarium, treehouse of four seasons for kids under 5, hands-on exhibits demonstrate physics principles, nanotechnology, sustainable farming and more for older kids and young teens. Special butterfly habitat.
NC Museum of Natural Sciences
11 West Jones St., Raleigh
Interactive exhibits for all ages in nature research and nature exploration centers, living conservatory with plants and animals from a tropical forest. Website has links to branches at Whiteville, Prairie Ridge Ecostation, Greenville and Contentnea Creek.
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