Smart des­ti­na­tions that make great fam­ily trips

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Travel - BY LYNN O’ROURKE HAYES Fam­i­lyTravel.com

Kids and their par­ents know it’s cool to be smart. Here are five places that will su­per­charge your fam­ily’s brain­power.

1. MU­SEUM OF SCIENCE AND IN­DUS­TRY, CHICAGO

En­cour­ag­ing cu­rios­ity and cel­e­brat­ing ques­tions, this is the place to see a Ger­man sub­ma­rine, un­der­stand how tor­na­dos and avalanches hap­pen and dis­cover the process be­hind Pixar’s pop­u­lar films and char­ac­ters.

Ex­plore the math­e­mat­i­cal pat­terns that sur­round us every day in the nat­u­ral world – from the del­i­cate nested spi­rals of a sun­flower’s seeds to the ridges of a ma­jes­tic moun­tain range in a com­pelling ex­hibit called Num­bers in Na­ture. Then make your way to the Whis­per­ing Gallery to un­der­stand how sound trav­els in dif­fer­ent en­vi­ron­ments. A the­ater and hands-on ex­hibits fur­ther en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence.

Con­tact:

www.msichicago.org

2. THE CHIL­DREN’S MU­SEUM OF IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS, IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS

With more than 472,900 feet of ex­hibit space on five floors and cov­er­ing 29 acres, this ex­tra­or­di­nary non­profit in­sti­tu­tion has been en­ter­tain­ing and ed­u­cat­ing fam­i­lies since 1925. Con­sid­ered the largest chil­dren’s mu­seum in the world, kids can learn about the day-to-day du­ties of as­tro­nauts and dis­cover how di­nosaurs lived in the Di­nosphere. Fam­i­lies are charmed by an his­toric carousel and in­spired by ex­hibits that ex­plain how plant science can help the world by clean­ing up oil spills and cul­ti­vat­ing healthy food.

Con­tact: www. chil­drens­mu­seum.org

3. EXPLORATORIUM, SAN FRAN­CISCO

More than 600 ex­hibits en­cour­age every mem­ber of the fam­ily to see the world dif­fer­ently. A sci­en­tific fun­house, the learn­ing lab en­cour­ages cre­ativ­ity and “tin­ker­ing” as a means of ex­pand­ing our per­cep­tions. Young chil­dren and tod­dlers are en­gaged by shadow, light, bub­bles and color as a means of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery. Kids can cre­ate a mar­ble ma­chine, dance with their own shadow, study plank­ton pop­u­la­tions, or check out an “up­side down world.”

Con­tact: www.exploratorium.edu

4. EX­PLORA CHIL­DREN’S MU­SEUM, AL­BU­QUERQUE, N.M.

How do you make a green chile pep­per ap­pear black? Find out dur­ing a visit to this fam­ily-friendly mu­seum that mixes art and science to spur cre­ativ­ity and dis­cov­ery within the worlds of physics, math, bi­ol­ogy and be­yond. In­ves­ti­gate the prop­er­ties of bub­bles as you blow, pop and float them in a ded­i­cated ex­hibit space. Kids can also use their own bod­ies to study the con­cepts of ra­tio and pro- por­tion in the Math Moves ex­hibit.

Con­tact: www.ex­plora.us

5. NA­TIONAL AQUAR­IUM, BAL­TI­MORE

Did you know that an oc­to­pus has a highly de­vel­oped brain and is a mas­ter of cam­ou­flage? Col­lect the de­tails be­fore you check out Black Tip Reef, a co­ral-filled ex­hibit repli­cat­ing Indo-Pa­cific un­der­wa­ter land­scapes. Learn about the wild ex­tremes of Aus­tralia in an award-win­ning im­mer­sive ex­hibit fea­tur­ing fresh­wa­ter crocodiles, tur­tles, fishes, snakes, lizards, free-fly­ing birds and fly­ing foxes.

The kids will love their visit with bot­tlenose dol­phins where they’ll also ob­serve train­ing, feed­ing and play­time with train­ers. Be­fore days’ end dis­cover the im­por­tance of jel­ly­fish, ob­serve sharks in an open tank and see more than 500 ex­otic species in an At­lantic Co­ral Reef Ex­hibit.

Con­tact: www.aqua.org

BRIAN SIRIMATUROS St. Louis Post-Dis­patch

The Chil­dren’s Mu­seum in In­di­anapo­lis, In­di­ana, of­fers the chance to sit un­der a ceil­ing of 1,600 Dale Chi­huly glass sculp­tures.

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