Museums, while popular tourist attractions, get a bad wrap for being stuffy and buttoned up. An important piece to understanding a local culture through the artistic, cultural, historical, and scientific objects on display, here are some museums that are accessible to guests of all ages for a more hands-on education.
NEMO – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Amsterdam may be well known for its decidedly adult attractions, but there’s plenty to do here with children in tow. The NEMO Science Museum is, without a doubt, the best family-friendly museum in this eclectic city. Its boat-like appearance dominates the skyline, and its array of unique and interactive exhibits is sure to keep kids of all ages happily occupied. From the ball factory on the museum’s second floor to the children’s play area on the building’s Upper Deck, the NEMO is a natural choice for families who are staying in Amsterdam.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum – London, England
After hitting serious historic and cultural sites like the British Museum and Westminster Abbey, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum is sure to be a very welcome breath of fresh air for the whole family. This world-renowned wax museum now has branches throughout the world, but this London location was its first. Wax statues of famous people from throughout history – along with contemporary celebrities and other luminaries – are what make this attraction so intensely popular. The work is so well done that sculptures take on a nearly life-like appearance, making for great photo opportunities and other kinds of fun. From Princes William and Harry to Albert Einstein, Morgan Freeman and Jennifer Lopez, every family member will find someone they adore and admire.
Deutsches Museum – Munich, Germany
As the largest technology and science museum in the world, Munich’s Deutsches Museum is not to be missed. Electricity exhibits that produce authentic-looking lightning and a huge array of interactive exhibits and attractions will keep kids of all ages busy and happy for hours on end. As you explore this cavernous museum and its more than 18,000 exhibits, you’ll find small touches that will charm and occupy the children in your group, making a visit here very stress-free. A kid-friendly self-guided tour called the Inventors’ Trail is another fine way for the younger set to explore and learn in this first-rate museum.
Cite des Sciences et de l’Industrie – Paris, France
There’s so much to see and do in Paris that fitting it all in can be a real challenge. As the largest science museum in all of Europe, though, the Cite des Science et de l’Industrie is not to be missed. Special attractions and exhibits are offered for children ranging from ages 2 to 7 and from 5 to 12, and hands-on is the name of the game for the vast majority of them. Kids can learn how to write a few words in Chinese, play in a children’s play area, experiment with water, immerse themselves in astronomy, view ant colonies up close and even present the news on a real teleprompter. Without question, the Cite des Science et de l’Industrie is one of the most impressive family-friendly museums in all of Europe. Due to its sheer size – and the massive range of activities and attractions for kids – plan on spending the better part of a day there.
The Toy Museum – Prague, Czech Republic
Prague is a lovely old city to explore as a family, but the vast majority of its attractions aren’t necessarily designed with children in mind. One major exception to that rule is the delightful Toy Museum, which revolves around the history of toys and is sure to be a welcome change of pace for every member of the family. Examples of toys from throughout history are on display here, from the playthings of the Ancient Greeks all the way through to the toys your own children play with all the time.
Explora – Rome, Italy
As exciting as Rome may be for adults, it is a little less thrilling for young kids, who aren’t old enough to appreciate the amazing ancient architecture and historic artifacts that abound in the Eternal City. Explora is a wonderful place to take some time out for the little ones. Geared toward kids ages 12 and under, it boasts a soft play area for toddlers and babies, along with exhibits on nutrition and health and even a mini gas station and supermarket that kids of all ages will get kicks out of.