While no summer break is complete without plenty of beach days, pool fun, and boardwalk thrills, it’s also filled with countless refrains of “I’m bored” and too much screen time. Plan ahead for a day trip to any of these 7 regional destinations that prove you can actually do culture without forgoing fun.
Toms River, NJ
Escape the season’s pesky mosquitoes and head to this “bugseum,” featuring thousands of exotic—and contained—insects from around the world. Creatively named exhibits like the creepy cavern, caterpillar café, and WBUG radio are thoughtfully designed to educate and entertain visitors from 2 to 92. If your kids think bugs are beautiful, this will be a day well-spent.
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission: $8 (children under 2 are free)
Photo Credits: Insectropolis
New York Hall of Science
School’s out for summer, but your STEM-savvy children will love the future-focused, imagination-based learning opportunities at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). Founded at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair, this distinctive museum boasts 450 exhibits, workshops, activities, and demonstrations to fascinate the half a million visitors who come through the doors each year. In addition to their many exhibits, there’s a science playground, rocket park mini golf course, and 3D theater presentations, so you can pick the pace and engage your kids the way they learn best.
Open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: $13 for children ages 2-17, $16 for adults 18 and up
Photo Credits: NYSCI
Cooper Hewitt: A Smithsonian Design Museum
New York, NY
You don’t have to drive to DC to experience the excellence (and free admission) of a Smithsonian museum: Cooper Hewitt is located between 5th and Madison Avenues and is open seven days a week. For your design-inclined teens, Cooper Hewitt has exhibits on jewelry, fashion, architecture, film, interior and industrial design, the creative process, and so much more. Indulge in the eye candy and brain food this sophisticated museum offers, and dig deeper with their interactive “Pen,” which allows you to virtually collect and save objects from the galleries, then transfer them to interactive tables for further exploration.
Open weekdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: free for visitors 18 and under, $7-$18 for students, adults, and seniors.
Photo Credits: Cooper Hewitt Museum Press Image Gallery
WheatonArts and Cultural Center
Home to the Museum of American Glass and the Creative Glass Center of America, immerse your family in creativity at this southern New Jersey destination, with free family art workshops, outdoor chalk boards, creation stations, metal smith classes, glassblowing demonstrations, and more—all things art appealing to all ages!
Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: $7-10 for students, adults, and seniors, children under 5 are free
Photo Credits: WheatonArts.org
MOFAD (Museum of Food and Drink)
Maybe a love of bugs, STEM, or glassblowing isn’t on your kids’ radar. If not, dive into the universally-appealing culture of food and drink at MOFAD—the Museum of Food and Drink—in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s not yet a full-scale museum, but all your five senses will enjoy this exhibit design studio, well on its way to drawing visitors from all over the world fascinated by the art, science, and culture of food.
Open Friday to Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission: Free for children 5 and under, $7-$14 for youth, students, and adults
Photo Credits: All photos in the Dropbox folder are of MOFAD’s current exhibit, CHOW: Making the Chinese American Restaurant. Credit photos to Megan Swann, except for the one titled, “CREDIT Museum of Food and Drink.”
Florham Park, NJ
This New Jersey children’s museum is designed with your family’s youngest members— preschoolers and elementary-aged ones—in mind. The 20-years-running facility in Florham Park features 16,000 square feet of imagination-stirring learning through play (in a safe environment)—be it on monster trucks and aboard pirate ships, in the music room or at the slot car races.
Open Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: $9.95 for children, $10.95 for adults
Photo courtesy of ImagineThatMuseum.com
The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum
Facing a few rainy days in the forecast? Set out for New England to see a brand new (bilingual) museum dedicated to one of literature’s most beloved and extraordinary figures, Theodor Seuss Geisel, which opens on Saturday, June 3rd in his hometown of Springfield. Need to nurture a love of literacy in your littlest family members? Visit the Readingville exhibition, featuring a closer look at Seuss’s most famous works, or enjoy the 3,200-square-foot hands-on exhibit spanning the first floor, where your kids can play rhyming games, make up stories, and experiment with new sounds and vocabulary. The second floor holds interesting personal memorabilia, like Geisel’s zany hats and bowties collection, and rare family photos and home videos.
Part of the Springfield Museums, open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission ranges from free to $20 for children, students, adults, and seniors
Photo courtesy of Springfield Museums.org