Families can spend the whole day learning and exploring at these world-class science museums located roughly within an hour distance from Northern Virginia.
Closer to Home
Children’s Science Center
Fair Oaks Mall: 11750 Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax
This science center in Fair Oaks Mall is not only a great place for kids to take a break from shopping, but it’s also an attraction in its own right. Order from the rotating menu of experiments at the Experiment Bar or construct and test out one of the engineering design challenges in the Tinker Shop. Kids can apply STEM concepts to real-world scenarios at the Inspiration Hub, and budding scientists under 5 can explore early-learning opportunities in the Discovery Zone. The Children’s Science Center is currently building a larger facility in Dulles set to open in 2020.
KID Museum at Davis Library
6400 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, MD
The KID Museum, a nonprofit partnership with the Montgomery County Public Libraries, is housed on the ground level of the Davis Library. Open exploration sessions feature rotating activities with themes such as robotics, engineering, computer coding, light and sound. The KID Museum also introduces kids to new STEM skills by facilitating a variety of one-hour workshop sessions. In the future, the museum hopes for a larger permanent home in Montgomery County.
Maryland Science Center
601 Light St., Baltimore, MD
One of the country’s premier science museums is just a short drive away in Baltimore. The Maryland Science Center features interactive science experiences that will entertain the whole family. Visitors can step into a prehistoric world and pretend to be a paleontologist in the Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit featuring 14 life-sized dinosaur models, dig pits and live lizards and toads. Little ones under 8 can get busy in the Kids Room, a special place dedicated to learning through play. Here, kids can splash in the large water display, send a message through a pneumatic tube on the ceiling, build structures out of various materials and explore an undersea world. At Your Body: The Inside Story, older children can take a trip inside the human body and lay on a bed of nails, walk through a beating heart chamber, listen to a symphony of digestion noises or dial up a germ on the telephone. Other museum highlights include the world-class Davis Planetarium and a five-story IMAX Theater that shows a variety programs throughout the day.
Science Museum of Virginia
2500 W. Broad St., Richmond
The Science Museum of Virginia is a great place of exploration for the whole family, from tots to teens. Favorites include the Idea Factory, a giant hands-on area devoted to physics, engineering and art, and Out of this World, which focuses on the Earth and beyond into the solar system. Families can compete against each other with tests of the body and mind in the Boost exhibit. Bring tots under 5 to Light Place for preschool science fun, or visit with creatures and watch live rats play basketball at the Live Animal Lab. Be sure to take in an astronomy presentation or watch a big-screen movie on the impressive high-definition screen in The Dome. Since the Science Museum of Virginia is located in the historic Broad Street train station, visitors can step outside to explore trains of yesteryear and visit the Aluminaut, the world’s first aluminum submarine. The museum contains many other interactive programs and rotating exhibits throughout the year.