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Faygo
12-12-2011, 10:44 PM
I'd like to know where the great museum towns and cities for families are. (I'm specifically looking for places that are a reasonable vacation driving distance from Michigan, but please list any place that you know of since I am sure it will help others, too).

Thanks!

inmom
12-13-2011, 12:02 AM
Chicago - Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute, Field Museum (Sue the T-rex), Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium. There are also tons of smaller attractions--Modern Art Museum, Chicago Architecture Society (in the Sante Fe building across the street from the Art Institute...FREE), Chicago Cultural Center ( few blocks north of Art Institute), Navy Pier, Hancock Building, Sears Tower, Millenium Park, Grant Park. Robie House (Frank Lloyd Wright).

If you were staying overnight, you can save on hotel and stay in NW Indiana. We're about a 45-60 minute drive into the city; we're located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. You can also take the South Shore train in from NW Indiana.

inmom
12-13-2011, 12:03 AM
Not within driving distance of Michigan, but one of the great museum towns, is Washington DC. All of the Smithsonian museums, of course--all free!

Faygo
12-13-2011, 06:28 AM
Oh it's within driving distance...we took the boys to 'The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear' last year, lol ;) We went to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, but there are so many others that we'd like to go to the next time we visit.


Not within driving distance of Michigan, but one of the great museum towns, is Washington DC. All of the Smithsonian museums, of course--all free!

Faygo
12-13-2011, 06:30 AM
Thank you! We've been to Chicago, be we've only been to Shedd and the Children's Museum. So many others to go to, thanks for this list and the tip about staying in Indiana!



Chicago - Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute, Field Museum (Sue the T-rex), Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium. There are also tons of smaller attractions--Modern Art Museum, Chicago Architecture Society (in the Sante Fe building across the street from the Art Institute...FREE), Chicago Cultural Center ( few blocks north of Art Institute), Navy Pier, Hancock Building, Sears Tower, Millenium Park, Grant Park. Robie House (Frank Lloyd Wright).

If you were staying overnight, you can save on hotel and stay in NW Indiana. We're about a 45-60 minute drive into the city; we're located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan. You can also take the South Shore train in from NW Indiana.

Faygo
12-13-2011, 06:33 AM
Have you been to Cahokia Mounds? I really want to go here: http://cahokiamounds.org/

hockeymom
12-13-2011, 07:40 AM
Columbus, Ohio. Easy driving distance.

COSI (http://www.cosi.org/): fantastic, hands on science center

Columbus Zoo and Aquarium (http://www.colszoo.org/): founded by Jack Hannah. Amazing. Don't miss the polar bears and the manatees. Wild Lights in December is super fun and beautiful.

Franklin Park Conservatory (http://www.fpconservatory.org/): gorgeous, especially lovely in the winter when you want to go somewhere tropical with butterflies fluttering all about and real bananas hanging from the trees

Columbus Museum of Art (http://www.columbusmuseum.org/)

Galleries galore, especially in the Short North (http://www.shortnorth.org/)

The Ohio State University (http://www.osu.edu/visitors/museums.php): if your kids are interested, they probably have it

Wexner Center for the Arts (http://www.wexarts.org/): all things modern art

Ohio Historical Center (http://ohsweb.ohiohistory.org/index.shtml): this is a gem

A little further afield in Dayton: The National Museum of the USAF (http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/)

baker
12-13-2011, 10:50 AM
It is not close to you at all, but Columbia, SC was a great homeschool field trip for us (kids 6 & 8). They have a children's "experience" museum called EdVenture and the SC state museum is fantastic. There is also a zoo, though we did not go. I had to drag my kids out of EdVenture after about 4 hours - all kinds of hands-on things for them to do.

farrarwilliams
12-13-2011, 11:41 AM
Well, clearly it's DC. Our museums are free. :)

hreneeh
12-13-2011, 01:24 PM
Well, clearly it's DC. Our museums are free. :)
Well most of them anyway. I really liked the Newseum, which is FAR from free but it was very interactive. I haven't been to the Nat Geo one either. So far we mostly just do the free ones over and over.

Faygo
12-13-2011, 01:58 PM
Thanks, hockeymom, baker, farrar and hreneeh :)

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
12-13-2011, 02:07 PM
Okay, I'll put a plug in for Boston, even though it would take a couple long days of driving to get here:

Museum of Science
Museum of Fine Arts
Institute of Contemporary Art
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Peabody Museum of Archaeology
MIT Museum
New England Aquarium
Children's Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
JFK Library and Museum

Those are just the big ones in Boston or Cambridge that I can think of off the top of my head. There are smaller museums for many of the historic monuments, like Paul Revere's house, the USS Constitution, etc. Outside of Boston, you could add the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, the Concord Museum, and the fabulous Peabody Essex Museum (in Salem, where you will also find more cheesy witchcraft/supernatural "museums" than you can shake a stick at). Further out in Western Massachusetts are museums dedicated to Norman Rockwell and Eric Carle, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCa).

Oh, and whale watches, the Freedom Trail, Walden Pond, Lexington & Concord, Harvard Square, and on and on and on! :)

Cafdog
12-13-2011, 04:28 PM
Boy, am I envying you East-Coasters right now. DD is studying Colonial History, and I am dying to visit the great museums and historical sites in DC, Boston, Williamsburg, etc. California has many advantages, but not in this history unit! LOL

coloradoalice
12-13-2011, 06:53 PM
Well, clearly it's DC. Our museums are free. :)


I agree. You could spend a good long time there and never pay for admission, there's just so much to see that's free.

Pilgrim
12-13-2011, 08:50 PM
DW and the kids were out in Indiana and Michigan a few months ago where they visited lots of Amish and other museums -- near Sheboygan, I think?

Theresa Holland Ryder
12-13-2011, 11:36 PM
For people on the west side of the country, I've got to put a vote in for Phoenix. The Heard museum is mind boggling, and Phoenix is totally stuffed with giant zoos and wildlife parks.

Epiphany
12-16-2011, 09:06 AM
Indianapolis has a super children's museum. I grew up going there and take my son now when we go to visit the folks. Every other children's museum I have been to has paled in comparison.

hockeymom
12-16-2011, 10:42 AM
Indianapolis has a good zoo, too (or at least it was several years ago).

inmom
12-16-2011, 12:34 PM
Indianapolis has a super children's museum. I grew up going there and take my son now when we go to visit the folks. Every other children's museum I have been to has paled in comparison.

I agree...the Children's Museum in Indy is the best one we've been to. Also in Indianapolis are:

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art www.eiteljorg.org
Indiana Historical Society www.indianahistory.org
Indiana State Museum www.indianamuseum.org

I believe these three are all within walking distance of the capital building along the canal--very pretty most of the year. We visited them the week my kids were pages for our local state senator.

If you go to Indianpolis, you HAVE to spend some time at Conner Prairie on the NE side of the city, in Fishers. (www.connerprairie.org) From their website:

The north side suburb of Fishers is home to the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, based around the historic William Conner House. Through first-person, in-character narratives, costumed staff recreate life in 19th-century Indiana, engaging visitors in common activities of the 1800s.

The park was recently named one of the top five museums in the nation when it received the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries that make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental and social contributions.

As your family travels through an Indian camp, a pioneer village, a Victorian farm and other destinations, you'll experience the thrills of time travel. One of the park's newest attractions is the 1859 Balloon Voyage, a tethered balloon that simulates the nation's first airmail flight by raising visitors 350 feet in the air and offering an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. Recently opened is the 1863 Civil War Journey: A Raid on Indiana.

They also offer homeschool days. We sent several years ago. The them was "Corn: From Field to Table." The kids helped the workers pick corn in the field and tent the stalks, bring it in a horse-drawn wagon to the barn, shuck the corn, grind the corn, then make cornmeal, fed some to the hens, gathered eggs, then got the eat the cornbread made from the meal and eggs.

lakshmi
12-17-2011, 03:35 PM
It is not close to you at all, but Columbia, SC was a great homeschool field trip for us (kids 6 & 8). They have a children's "experience" museum called EdVenture and the SC state museum is fantastic. There is also a zoo, though we did not go. I had to drag my kids out of EdVenture after about 4 hours - all kinds of hands-on things for them to do.

Good to know!


Well, clearly it's DC. Our museums are free. :)

But it sucks to go during the season .... seems like it was wall to wall khaki shorts and golf shirts. i.e. vacationing midwesterners....


Indianapolis has a super children's museum. I grew up going there and take my son now when we go to visit the folks. Every other children's museum I have been to has paled in comparison.

Yes, and if you get really crazy and ask for a tour of the collections they might just do it! And they have a ton of stuff that isn't on display.

And I'd go to San Francisco any time I got a chance.

Faygo
12-18-2011, 06:23 AM
Thanks! And we love the Children's Museum in Indy, too. We took our older son twice, but need to take the younger one now. My husband works in Kokomo sometimes and so we got to know the area a little bit.


I agree...the Children's Museum in Indy is the best one we've been to. Also in Indianapolis are:

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians & Western Art www.eiteljorg.org
Indiana Historical Society www.indianahistory.org
Indiana State Museum www.indianamuseum.org

I believe these three are all within walking distance of the capital building along the canal--very pretty most of the year. We visited them the week my kids were pages for our local state senator.

If you go to Indianpolis, you HAVE to spend some time at Conner Prairie on the NE side of the city, in Fishers. (www.connerprairie.org) From their website:

The north side suburb of Fishers is home to the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, based around the historic William Conner House. Through first-person, in-character narratives, costumed staff recreate life in 19th-century Indiana, engaging visitors in common activities of the 1800s.

The park was recently named one of the top five museums in the nation when it received the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation's highest honor for museums and libraries that make extraordinary civic, educational, economic, environmental and social contributions.

As your family travels through an Indian camp, a pioneer village, a Victorian farm and other destinations, you'll experience the thrills of time travel. One of the park's newest attractions is the 1859 Balloon Voyage, a tethered balloon that simulates the nation's first airmail flight by raising visitors 350 feet in the air and offering an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. Recently opened is the 1863 Civil War Journey: A Raid on Indiana.

They also offer homeschool days. We sent several years ago. The them was "Corn: From Field to Table." The kids helped the workers pick corn in the field and tent the stalks, bring it in a horse-drawn wagon to the barn, shuck the corn, grind the corn, then make cornmeal, fed some to the hens, gathered eggs, then got the eat the cornbread made from the meal and eggs.

kcanders
12-20-2011, 11:52 PM
Since you asked about Cahokia Mounds...We go to Cahokia Mounds about once a year. The kids have a good time. It is really amazing to realize what a huge civilization used to be there. There are quite a few other things in the St. Louis area to see as well. The St. Louis zoo www.stlzoo.org , city museum http://www.citymuseum.org/site/ , Science Center http://www.slsc.org/ , the Magic House http://www.magichouse.org/ , botanical gardens http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/ , there are also an art museum and history museum near the zoo.

Faygo
12-21-2011, 07:12 AM
Thanks so much, your list for St. Louis is very helpful! I really do want to see Cahokia Mounds!


Since you asked about Cahokia Mounds...We go to Cahokia Mounds about once a year. The kids have a good time. It is really amazing to realize what a huge civilization used to be there. There are quite a few other things in the St. Louis area to see as well. The St. Louis zoo www.stlzoo.org , city museum http://www.citymuseum.org/site/ , Science Center http://www.slsc.org/ , the Magic House http://www.magichouse.org/ , botanical gardens http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/ , there are also an art museum and history museum near the zoo.

swirlgirl
12-26-2011, 11:45 PM
Milwaukee has Discovery World (http://www.discoveryworld.org/), the Milwaukee Art Museum (http://www.mam.org/)and the Betty Brinn Children's Museum (http://www.bbcmkids.org/) which are located very close to each other. We've been to the first two and they're great.

Also, if you don't have one, look into the passport program for free or reduced admissions.

rumbledolly
12-28-2011, 08:22 PM
Okay, I'll put a plug in for Boston, even though it would take a couple long days of driving to get here:

Museum of Science
Museum of Fine Arts
Institute of Contemporary Art
Harvard Museum of Natural History
Peabody Museum of Archaeology
MIT Museum
New England Aquarium
Children's Museum
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
JFK Library and Museum

Those are just the big ones in Boston or Cambridge that I can think of off the top of my head. There are smaller museums for many of the historic monuments, like Paul Revere's house, the USS Constitution, etc. Outside of Boston, you could add the Larz Anderson Auto Museum, the Concord Museum, and the fabulous Peabody Essex Museum (in Salem, where you will also find more cheesy witchcraft/supernatural "museums" than you can shake a stick at). Further out in Western Massachusetts are museums dedicated to Norman Rockwell and Eric Carle, as well as the Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCa).

Oh, and whale watches, the Freedom Trail, Walden Pond, Lexington & Concord, Harvard Square, and on and on and on! :)

Hands down Boston! Like DC most of the "stuff" is close together and the T or commuter rail can take you most any place.

Just drive fast!