13 Best Natural History Museums in the U.S. for Kids


Taking kids to the best natural history museums has so many benefits! They can explore all sorts of cool topics, like science, history, and biology, by checking out real artifacts and specimens. Plus, they can talk about what they see, which solidifies their understanding of what they’re learning in school. Going to your local museum is a great bonding experience as a family, and it helps them appreciate the world and its history even more. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Looking for a way to teach your kids about the world around them in a fun way? You’ll love this selection of the best natural history museums in the US, recommended by GoWhee parents and guaranteed to be a good time for kids of all ages.

Tips on how to visit the best natural history museum in the US without kids being bored ?

  • If your kids show interest in things like dinosaurs and geology. Then make sure to target museums with special exhibits matching their interest at the moment. This is called “child-led” education.
  • A museum that is designed for kids will always ones making education fun and playful. To keep younger visitors interested throughout, find a museum with some interactive exhibits like a planetarium, maybe a specimens’ discovery lab, or nature and science hands-on permanent exhibits.
  • One hit list for all natural history museums is a dinosaur hall. Some of the best museums offer real-size dinosaurs with is always guaranteed to impress.
  • Download the GoWhee App to get a glimpse of the best natural history museums in the U.S., their permanent exhibits, and amenities geared toward kids, and read reviews on all kid-friendly places, directly from parents.
Elephant Specimen in Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C
Elephant Specimen in Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C

13 Best Natural History Museums in the U.S. for Kids

Best Natural History Museums in the US – East Coast

1. Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, PA

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of the best in the United States, featuring exhibits from the past and present alike. From the botanical wonders of the world to the rich and complex history of Native Americans, there’s a little something for everyone here. If you’d like to visit, you can book a ticket here.

Key Information: Child admission costs $12, while adult admission costs $20.

Good To Know: If you book the museum tickets online for a times lot after 3 PM, you can get them half-off!

2. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C

The Smithsonian National Museum in D.C is one of the most renowned natural history museums because it has it all, from the classic dinosaur exhibit to real, 2000-year-old Egyptian mummies. While you’re there, you can also pay a visit to the national mall, so it’s the perfect tourist hub and a great learning opportunity for your kiddos! Best of all, admission is completely free and no reservations or tickets are necessary, so you can even visit on a whim!

Key Information: The museum is open every day from 10:00 AM-5:30 PM.

Good To Know: There’s enough shopping and dining to plan an entire day around this Smithsonian institution.


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3. The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA

The Academy of Natural Sciences is focused on the natural history of animals, with plenty of dinosaur exhibits and The Big Dig, a fully simulated excavation. Needless to say, it’s perfect for the budding archaeologists in your family, so we strongly recommend it. 

Key Information: Child tickets are $23 and adult tickets are $27, but museum members get in for free.

Good To Know: The Big Dig is only open on weekends, and tickets tend to go fast.

4.American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY

As the world’s largest natural history museum, and located in the heart of New York City, the American Museum of Natural History is home to various unique exhibits and specimens that’ll keep your kids engaged. Some of our favorites are the iconic human origin halls, where artifacts from ancient human history can be found, and the Hayden Sphere, a one-of-a-kind planetarium experience.

Key Information: Museum Tickets must be purchased online in advance, and cost $16 for children and $28 for adults.

Good To Know: The human origin halls represent a variety of cultures, helping your kid to get a more complete, nuanced understanding of human history.

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5. Harvard Museum of Natural History in Cambridge, MA

Harvard Museum boasts a rich history in and of itself and has natural history exhibits and displays to show for it. Adults will love to look at the beautiful and rare glass flowers, while kids will love looking at the diverse fossil and mineral displays. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area! 

Key Information: Children can get tickets for $10, and adults can for $15.

Good To Know: A ticket also gets you admission to the Harvard Museum and the nearby Peabody Museum!

Best Natural History Museums In The US – Midwest and South

6. Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, IL

The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago was founded after the World’s Columbian Exposition to preserve the 1893 festival’s diverse cultural atmosphere. Some of the most popular attractions include Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex, the world’s largest dinosaur specimen known, and a number of exhibits to display and tell the story of Native American culture.

Key Information: Museum Tickets come in different tiers that provide a richer experience, with the cheapest being $29 and the most expensive being $42, but children can receive a discount.

Good To Know: For a truly unique experience, you and your kiddos can stay at the natural history museum overnight!

7. University of Alaska Museum of the North in Fairbanks, AK

This museum gives visitors a glance at Alaska’s rich natural history, especially its fossils and aquatic life. There’s a wide range of science-based and nature activities available such as interactive games, animated movies, and even recordings of actual archeological digs. No matter how your kids learn best, they’ll have a blast here!

Key Information: Children under 4 get in for free, kids from 5-12 get in for $9, and anyone 13 or over gets in for $16. 

Good To Know: Tickets to any of the museum’s movies have to be purchased separately and cost $5 each.

8. Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, Minnesota

This museum features everything from science and math to history and social studies, so your family will never run out of things to do. Your kids will be able to learn about fascinating topics such as the solar system and experimental design, while adults will enjoy insightful exhibits on the culture and the arts. Be sure to book tickets in advance! 

Key Information: General admission is $20 for kids and $30 for adults.

Good To Know: Tickets to the Omnitheater are sold separately at a flat rate of $10.

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9. Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, TX

This museum is perfect for families who are interested in the quirks and curiosities of humanity. Some of the most popular parts to visit are the ancient Egyptian hall, the rock and mineral display great for geology fans, and of course, the iconic curio collection. The natural science museum recommends you go through each exhibit slowly so you and your family can fully appreciate it.

Key Information: Tickets are $16 for kids and $25 for adults.

Good To Know: Masks are only required in certain areas of the museum, but are strongly recommended throughout.

10. Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT

Last but not least, the Museum of the Rockies focuses on the landscape of the surrounding area, its fossil record, its inhabitants, and its natural phenomena. With fun and interactive exhibits available, it’ll keep you and your kids entertained throughout your visit while also providing a unique perspective on the world around you. Needless to say, it’s a great way to spend the day next time you’re in the area.

Key Information: Children 5 and under are allowed in for free in this natural history museum. Tickets for kids from 5-17 are $12, and adult tickets are $18.

Good To Know: The Explore Yellowstone exhibit is specifically designed for small children, so pay it a visit!

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Best Natural History Museums In The US – West Coast

11. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County in Los Angeles, CA

Located in Los Angeles County, this museum brings an even blend of archaeology, paleontology, and modern nature to you and your family. Visit a fossil lab to learn about the dawn of time or take a walk through one of the outdoor gardens to appreciate nature in today’s era. Either way, it’ll be a blast! 

Key Information: Museum Admission is $7 for children and $15 for adults.

Good To Know: Tickets to the Dinosaur Encounters show can be purchased separately for $6 each.

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12. Denver Museum of Nature & Science in Denver, CO

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is a top family destination and for good reason. It appeals to just about every interest you and your family could have, from the ancient dinosaurs to modern health science. Tickets are in high demand, so book yours ASAP! 

Key Information: Museum of Nature & Science tickets cost $18 for children and $23 for adults.

Good To Know: Tickets must be purchased in advance for this museum, and a times lot for your visit must be reserved.

13. La Brea Tar Pits & Museum in Los Angeles, CA

Located in the heart of LA, the La Brea Tar Pits are a fresh and exciting take on the standard natural history museum. There’s a heavy focus on paleontology, especially ice-age research, with the opportunity to view a live excavation site and paleontology lab. It’s the perfect place for any young dinosaur fossils enthusiasts in your family!

Key Information: Museum Admission is $12 for children and $15 for adults.

Good To Know: Tickets to films and live shows are sold separately for $6 each.

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