Ever wondered what it feels like to ride in a spaceship, or stand next to a full-size Tyrannosaurus Rex? Thanks to our country's incredible museums, science centers and other STEM outlets, you can find out! Whether you're soaring high above the skyscrapers in New York City or hiking through the swampy lowlands of Southern Mississippi, there's a unique learning opportunity anywhere you go. From coast to coast, discover the best STEM adventures in every state, including your own.
Home to one of the most famous space camps in the country, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center is a staple in Huntsville’s ever-expanding technology hub. The spaceflight museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and boasts a collection of more than 1,500 space artifacts, including America’s first satellite.
The Anchorage Museum Discovery Center is a fully immersive STEM experience for all ages. Plus, it’s home to one of the only Spark!Labs outside of the Washington, D.C. area. The interactive lab teaches visitors about the critical thinking behind inventions through games, experiments and more.
The Biosphere 2 is a 3-acre laboratory that helps researchers better understand the Earth and its living systems. It’s owned and operated by the University of Arizona and is far more than just a research lab. Students, policymakers and visitors have the opportunity to tour the Tucson facility and expand their knowledge around science developments that are shaping our planet’s future.
Founded in 1927, the Museum of Discovery is one of the oldest museums in Arkansas. The facility is primarily focused on creating interest around STEM fields, and has also been featured on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Whether you’re experimenting with tools in the Tinkering Studio or learning about the human body in the Amazing You Gallery, there’s an opportunity to learn something new around every corner.
Among many high-profile tech companies in Silicon Valley, you’ll find Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. Known as Googleplex, the campus is home to some of the most innovative tech products and was designed to foster collaboration and creativity. Plus, the company offers some luxurious employee benefits, including nap pods, a gym and massage rooms.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a must-visit site in Colorado. It offers educational exhibits around space, gems and minerals, the prehistoric era and more. The museum is best known for its interactive wildlife dioramas, where visitors can immerse themselves into a variety of ecosystems from around the world. Visitors can also experience virtual reality technology first hand in the VR Arcade.
The Discovery Museum encourages and promotes a lifetime passion for STEM learning. Guests have the opportunity to experience simulated space missions, learn how to harness energy and explore exhibits modeled around nanoscale science, space artifacts and the laws of physics. Whether you have spare time during your visit or are just eager to learn more, head to the planetarium for a 30-minute starry sky simulation.
Located in Wilmington, the Museum of Business History and Technology houses a unique collection of inventions to demonstrate how technology has transformed our society. The exhibits are broken up into themes, such as words, numbers and information processing. Visitors can learn more about the telephone and typewriter in the Words Gallery, head to the Numbers Gallery to see the first cash register and sit in a sample office from the early 1900s.
Home to the Miami Dolphins, the renovated Hard Rock Stadium is one of the most advanced athletic arenas in the country. Improvements include a protective canopy, as well as a new LED system and fiber optic system. And after researching turf varieties for two years, the grounds crew chose a genetically modified turf that will withstand wear and tear throughout the football season. Worth about $425 million, the stadium is truly both an athlete’s and a fan’s dream.
The Mercedes-Benz Stadium is another NFL location that made our top list. Home to the Atlanta Falcons, the stadium ensures that fans will make the most of their experience with access to an all-fiber optic network. Their updated bandwidth allows for up to 71,000 fans to stream video at the same time without any slow down. Plus, other new stadium additions include LED lighting, a 4K pinch-and-zoom replay and a 360-degree video board.
The Hawaii Science and Technology Museum is a non-profit located in Hilo. It's focused on bringing STEM education to all of Hawaii. From science camps and math tutoring to robotics competitions and research support, the organization works to inspire future innovators and encourage communities to see that STEM education is a worthwhile investment.
The Discovery Center of Idaho is the only hands-on science museum in the state. It offers 150 different exhibits that spark STEM learning and invite visitors to interact with science simulations. From the bubble wall exhibit to the dune machine, guests get the chance to explore topics like physics, water conservation, hydraulics and more.
Located in the heart of Chicago, the Museum of Science and Industry is one of the largest science museums in the world. It’s home to more than 35,000 artifacts and offers facilitated exhibits, hands-on lab experiences, overnight events and more. When you plan your visit, be sure to head to The Science Behind Pixar exhibit, where guests get a behind-the-scenes view of Pixar’s most popular films and characters. Other must-see attractions include a mirror maze, a U-505 Submarine and a baby chick hatchery.
The Wonderlab is located in Bloomington and contains more than 65 interactive exhibits. Here you will find everything from artificially made bubbles, interactive ecosystems and even an aquarium exhibit where visitors can get up close and personal with deep sea creatures that inhabit our coral reefs.
Located in downtown Des Moines, the Science Center of Iowa was founded as one of the first interactive science centers in the world. You might be surprised to know the science center also houses a preschool that uses its exhibits and resources in the curriculum. Both visitors and students have access to exhibits that showcase science subjects like meteorology, space and energy.
The Hutchinson-based Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center started as one of the first public planetariums in the U.S. Now, it contains classrooms for school programs, a multi-level space exhibit and one of the first IMAX theaters. Guests can explore artifacts from a number of space exploration efforts, including the Apollo 13, Sputnik I and Gemini spacesuits.
If you’re visiting Louisville, the Kentucky Science Center is a must-visit destination to add to your itinerary. Head to The World Around Us section to spelunk in a cave and step into the shoes of a meteorologist, or enter The World We Create area to learn about nanoscience or build your own flying machine. After, you can unwind at the 3D digital theater to watch one of many Earth documentary options.
Encouraging discovery and fostering the pursuit of knowledge are two missions of the Louisiana Art and Science Museum. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, the museum has exhibits focused around Ancient Egypt, the solar system and space exploration. Although most of the exhibits are related to science, a few new additions are related to food. Learn more about the evolution of space food or the story behind food in art and photography.
The Northern Maine Museum of Science is part of the University of Maine at Presque Isle and includes displays around mathematics, biology, agriculture and more. Among the three floors, guests will be able to observe displays of coral reefs, fossils, DNA double helix and infinity mirrors. The exhibits are located in Folsom Hall, so guests have the freedom to explore the halls during open campus hours.
Located in the heart of Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center is jampacked with innovative exhibits that’ll spark your sense of discovery and innovation. Its multi-floor layout includes everything from a walk-in beating heart chamber to a tornado vortex simulator. Also, the science center reaches more than 80,000 participants annually through its Traveling Science Program.
Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has produced some of the brightest STEM scholars in the world. The school has contributed to the discovery and improvement of many inventions, including the synthesis of penicillin and vitamin A, the Human Genome Project, the electronic spreadsheet, magnetic core memory, GPS and much more. Learn about the school’s most exciting breakthroughs at the MIT Museum, admire the campus architecture or get your zen on at the library’s weekly meditation sessions.
Inspiring curiosity and encouraging STEM exploration, the Michigan Science Center offers “more than you can see and do in a week.” Tour the galaxy, discover the importance of good nutrition and fitness, walk the 80-foot-long Mini Mac Bridge or ask staff members all your wildest science questions at Explainer Stations.
The Science Museum of Minnesota has been inspiring and improving lives since its founding in 1907. Featuring five permanent galleries, 10 acres of outdoor exhibits and 370,000 square feet of space and rotating exhibits covering everything from LEGOs to mental health, the museum offers an abundance of authentic learning opportunities. FUN FACT: In the second season of Stranger Things, one of the main characters, Dustin, was seen wearing a Science Museum of Minnesota hoodie (see the museum’s reaction here).
Serving as both a museum and the official visitor center for NASA’s Stennis Space Center, the INFINITY Science Center is dedicated to promoting STEM learning (and making it fun). With over 50 years of NASA history on display in the 72,000-square-foot facility, the center strives to provide excellent Earth and Space Sciences education to all its guests. Catch a live presentation, take a simulator ride or even hike through the swamps and lowland forests of South Mississippi on the Biome Boardwalk.
The Saint Louis Science Center seeks to "make science fun through informal, interactive learning experiences." With over 700 exhibits, an OMNIMAX Theater and a planetarium, the fun can be found everywhere! The center was originally founded by Academy of Science of St. Louis, the first scientific organization west of the Mississippi River. It now provides learning opportunities for visitors of all ages, and best of all, general admission is free!
Recognized as one of the world’s finest research and history museums, the Museum of the Rockies is a division of Montana State University and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. The museum is best known for its extensive collection of dinosaur fossils; it even hosts a full-scale T-Rex skeleton!
With a With a mission to preserve history and inspire learning, the Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum displays airplanes of the past, along with other unique aerospace artifacts. By utilizing modern-day technology, their researchers work to renovate and restore aircrafts to their former glory. The museum also features an exhibit dedicated to spacecraft history, in which visitors can admire crafts such as the Apollo Boilerplate and the Project Vela Satellite.
The National Atomic Testing Museum highlights the 70-year history of America’s nuclear weapons testing program. Featuring a wide range of rare artifacts, the institution’s collection includes real nuclear reactors, a piece of the Berlin Wall and even two pieces of the World Trade Center. One of the most unique exhibits is the museum’s Ground Zero Theater, where guests can experience a simulated version of an above-ground nuclear test.
If you’re obsessed with retro video games, this is your paradise. The American Classic Arcade Museum (ACAM) strives to preserve and promote the history of coin-operated arcade games. From Asteroids to Centipede and Pac-Man to Pong, the ACAM has it all. The Boston Globe once dubbed it the "largest repository of out-of-circulation video games in the known world." Get your tokens ready, because visitors get to play!
Established in 2008, Meow Wolf is an art collective composed of nearly 200 uniquely talented artists. Unlike a traditional art gallery, the collective combines different art forms with virtual and augmented reality, live performance and music. The result is an interactive, immersive experience that provides visitors with a complete sensory experience. After captivating audiences in Santa Fe for the past decade, the collective will be expanding their immersive experiences to Denver and Las Vegas by 2020.
The One World Observatory is located in the heart of Manhattan, at the top of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors can access the observatory via the building’s special SkyPod Elevators, which climb to the 102nd story in just 47 seconds. After arriving in the observatory, guests can view the incredible New York skyline, chat with a Tour Ambassador about all things NYC or walk across the Sky Portal (a 14-foot circular glass disc that displays the streets 100 floors below).
The mission of Discovery Place is to "inspire curious thinkers to discover the wonders of science, technology and nature." A leader in STEM education in the Carolinas, the hands-on museum provides a variety of interactive experiences, inspiring visitors of all ages to engage in lifelong learning. Featuring an IMAX® Dome Theatre, an indoor rainforest and even various adult-specific programs (such as Science on the Rocks), Discovery Place makes every visitor feel like a top-notch scientist.
You won’t find any "No Touching" signs here. In 1994, Gateway to Science became the first and only hands-on science center in North Dakota. In the years since, the museum has continued to use interactive experiences to promote education, innovation, knowledge and community. Whether you’re interested in nanotechnology, light and color, electricity or robotics, you can learn more through the museum’s wide range of science exhibits. From standing inside the Human Kaleidoscope to strolling through the annual Environmental Festival, guests have plenty of activities to choose from.
Named America’s No. 1 science center for families by Parents Magazine, the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is a 320,000-square-foot research facility in downtown Columbus. Visitors can stargaze in Ohio’s largest planetarium, get up close with nature in the National Geographic Giant Screen theater or take a fully immersive rocket ride to space in the COSI Motion Simulator. Younger scientists can play safely in the COSI little kidspace®, and mature scientists can enjoy COSI After Dark light shows, drinks and more.
Since its founding in 1958, Science Museum Oklahoma has grown into a 350,000-square-foot center for history, art and science. Featuring an origami exhibit dubbed a "must-see" by USA TODAY, a mysteriously artistic fungal exhibit created in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Natural Products Discovery Group, an Oceanarium and much more, the discoveries are endless at Science Museum Oklahoma.
Ever been inside a real submarine? At the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), guests can climb aboard the USS Blueback, the US Navy’s last non-nuclear, fast-attack submarine. With 5 halls featuring 200 interactive exhibits, including the largest planetarium in the Pacific Northwest and 8 hands-on labs, OMSI has something for everyone.
Founded in honor of America’s first scientist, Benjamin Franklin, the Franklin Institute strives to keep its namesake proud by promoting the study of science. The institute offers varying daily programs, ranging anywhere from live shows to dissections to 3D printing! With escape rooms, a tech studio and of course, a Ben Franklin Memorial, the Franklin Institute offers a variety of activities for scientists of all ages.
The New England Wireless and Steam Museum preserves the incredible engineering feats accomplished throughout American history. With a focus on electrical and mechanical engineering, the museum hosts an immense collection of engineering artifacts, from radio transmitters to power generators. Fans of the museum enjoy its annual Yankee Steam-Up, "New England’s Oldest Engine Show"!
Located along the banks of the Congaree River, the South Carolina State Museum is the "primary storyteller of the history of South Carolina." The museum’s exhibits are categorized into four main disciplines: South Carolina art, natural history, science and technology and cultural history. For guests who crave a fully immersive experience, the Dr. Rev. Solomon Jackson 4D Theater is fully equipped to bring history to life. With water sprayers, air blasters, leg ticklers, scents, snow, bubble and smoke effects, vibrating seats and more, you’ll be transported back in time without ever leaving your seat.
Nestled on the edge of Black Hills National Forest, the South Dakota Air and Space Museum highlights some of the greatest people, creations and events of aerospace history. Visitors can browse the museum’s 30+ vintage military aircraft, the military missile collection or check out the names of America’s top aviation pioneers in the Aviation Hall of Fame.
From astronomy to physics, earth science to sound, the Adventure Science Center features more than 175 hands-on exhibits on a wide range of science and technology topics. Get a stunning view of the Nashville skyline, stand inside a larger- than-life guitar or take a stroll through the Galactic Gardens. Visitors can even pilot their own virtual jet aircraft (complete with spins, dives and spirals) in the museum’s BLUE MAX thrill ride.
One of Houston’s top attractions, the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors, a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA, Space Center Houston is your launching point to the final frontier (space). Browse the world’s largest collection of moon rocks and lunar samples, eat lunch with an astronaut, take a VIP behind- the-scenes tour of Level 9 and check out some of the most exclusive space program artifacts in the world.
After hosting the Salt Lake 2002 Olympic Winter Games, Utah Olympic Park continues to serve as an Official U.S. Olympic Training Site and a fun-filled outlet for all winter sports fans. The park’s visitor activities include ziplining, bobsledding, guided facility tours and much more. Stay on the lookout for their alpine slide, coming soon!
With more than 150 exhibits onsite, the Montshire Museum of Science covers everything from ecology to technology. The 100-acre facility includes many outdoor exhibits, such as a Musical Fence, Wind Wall and a woodland garden full of native New England plants. Fun fact: The name Montshire derives from the names of the communities which the museum serves: Vermont and New HampSHIRE.
Virginia Tech (officially Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) is known for more than just its world-class education; the campus is also home to many exceptional outdoor exhibits and museums. Visitors can wander through the lush greenery of the Hahn Horticulture Garden, soak in the history of Smithfield Plantation or learn about the 13,000 minerals featured in the Museum of Geosciences.
Apple fans beware: There are lots of exciting things to do at the Microsoft Visitor Center! Learn about the history of Microsoft, explore the future of artificial intelligence (AI), build a new world with Minecraft or even update your profile pic in the LinkedIn photo booth! Plus, you can stop by the center’s store to pick up one-of-a-kind Microsoft products.
The Museum of Radio and Technology is dedicated to highlighting the history and technological evolution of radios and broadcasting. From an early 1900s crystal radio to a WWII Japanese transceiver, visitors can explore the advancement of one of the world’s most widely used pieces of technology. Turning back time will feel as easy as turning up the volume!
Founded as a collaborative space in 2010, Sector 67 invites gadget-loving tinkerers to share in the exploration of various technologies, including 3D printing, woodworking, metalworking and laser cutting. The collective has actually become so popular that the leaders have chosen to move it into a larger space! Be sure to check their website and social media for news on upcoming openings, classes and tours.
The Nicolaysen Art Museum & Discovery Center (commonly referred to as the NIC) is a contemporary art museum and center for creativity. Of the nation’s estimated 17,500 museums, the NIC is one of roughly 779 which are accredited by the American Association of Museums, signifying excellence within the museum community. With a variety of permanent collections, temporary exhibits, events and educational opportunities, guests won’t have a hard time getting those creative juices flowing!
Located in the Liberty Science Center, the Infinity Climber is "the world’s first suspended climbing play space of its kind." Hanging 35 feet above the library floor, the unique structure can hold up to 50 people at once, but don’t worry—the structure is encased in 19 miles of hand-threaded wire mesh to keep climbers from falling. Designed by Luckey Climbers, the structure’s pathways deviate and merge to display the concept of relativism within a given space; in other words, differential calculus!