Road Trip! 20+ Science Museums, Planetariums & Aquariums in MA

Dinosaur bones in museum_picture by Adam-Mathieu

If you are looking for fun, family-friendly STEM activities, look no further than the 20+ science museums, science centers, planetariums, and aquariums in Massachusetts. Visiting a science museum is always a great way to get kids involved in science and technology and it’s also a wonderful way to spend quality time together as a family. Some museums even offer special programming and summer camps just for children. 

Have fun browsing this list of unique, entertaining, and educational attractions to find the perfect one that piques your interest. In addition to many well-known places, like the Museum of Science and the New England Aquarium, there may be some you haven’t heard of that will be well worth exploring. Next time you are looking for a STEM activity, consider one of these gems!

Dinosaur bones in museum_picture by Adam-Mathieu

Children’s Museums

Boston Children’s Museum (Boston) hosts the Tech Kitchen every Saturday. Discover your inner inventor in the STEAM making space, the Tech Kitchen. Through both staff-led workshops and visits from local tech innovators, the Tech Kitchen provides a facilitated space for children to experiment with tools and technology. 

Children’s Museum Easton (Easton) promotes lifelong learning through hands-on play and exploration. The Museum has three floors of interactive hands-on exhibits. Blast off into space, make discoveries in the STEAM Lab, create in the MakerSpace and so much more.

Discovery Museum (Acton) is a hands-on museum that blends science, nature, and play, inspiring families to explore and learn together. The museum is open for extended hours, with free admission, on the first Friday night of the month during the school year, and every Friday night during the summer. Read about BostonTechMom’s experience at the museum.

Science Museums and Centers

Berkshire Museum (Pittsfield) offers exhibitions, activities, and attractions for families, children, and visitors of all ages, featuring art, history, and natural science.

Cape Cod Museum of Natural History (Brewster) has exhibits about the flora and fauna of Cape Cod, including exhibits on whales, archaeology, indigenous birds, bird banding, and coastal change, and several aquaria holding different species of crustaceans, mollusks, fish, frogs, turtles, and snakes. There are also special children’s programs and activities, including school vacation and summer camps.

Chatham Marconi Maritime Center (North Chatham) offers interactive exhibits tracing the story of wireless communication in Chatham plus school-year STEM programs and summer science courses for children.

Ecotarium (Worcester) is a museum of science and nature featuring interactive exhibits, live animal habitats, exciting shows in the digital planetarium, daily Science Discovery programs, hikes through forest and meadow nature trails, outdoor imaginative play, and a train ride around the 45+ acre campus (seasonal).

Harvard Museum of Natural History (Cambridge) includes galleries showcasing dinosaurs, mammals, meteorites, birds, rare minerals, gemstones, and more. The museum also offers lectures, classes, and programs for learners of all ages, from school children to adults. 

Maria Mitchell Natural Science Museum (Nantucket) is a cross between a classic natural history museum, a zoo, and a science center. It is a great place to learn about the plants, animals, and birds of Nantucket. 

MIT Museum (Cambridge) is a public place inside MIT where you can find innovation, invention, and ideas that have changed the world. The Museum presents regular programs, events, and festivals, including guided gallery tours, demonstrations by MIT faculty and students, workshops in its educational classroom, hands-on activities in its Idea Hub, and the annual Cambridge Science Festival.

Museum of Science (Boston) has over 700 interactive exhibits, daily presentations, live animals, and hands-on activities. There is something to pique the curiosity of every little (and big!) scientist at this iconic museum. The Museum of Science is also a great place to visit when you have out-of-town guests—it’s ranked as one of the top 10 science museums in the US by National Geographic. 

Russell Museum (Boston) is devoted to medical history, showcasing Massachusetts General Hospital’s long-standing commitment to innovation. The nearly 8,000-square-foot facility hosts exhibits and programs on medical topics such as the evolution of health care, laboratory and clinical research, and patient and family support. Admission is free.

South Shore Natural Science Center (Norwell) is dedicated to educating the public about the natural and cultural environments of the South Shore. In addition, the Science Center is home to the EcoZone—an interactive museum featuring live native animals, owl exhibits, a Children’s Garden, and six interpretive trails. 

Springfield Science Museum (Springfield) houses permanent collections of natural science, anthropology, and physical science. The Science Museum’s Seymour Planetarium features the historic Korkosz Starball, now the oldest operating star-projector in the United States.

Planetariums

Alden Digital Planetarium (Worcester) at the Ecotarium uses images from NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope to create a three-dimensional solar system projected onto a 40-foot dome.

Bassett Planetarium (Amherst) is open September-June, free of charge, to educational groups of 10 or more, by appointment only

Blake Planetarium (Plymouth) is a state-of-the-art facility that immerses its audience with video and sound and provides regular programs to the public. 

Charles Hayden Planetarium (Boston) at the Museum of Science offers a broad range of space science and music shows in the most technologically advanced digital theater in New England.

Framingham State University Planetarium (Framingham) offers programs for K-12 school groups as well as the general public. Free planetarium programs for the public are offered monthly; presentations typically address a central theme and may feature a full-dome film, special guest speakers, and more.

Seymour Planetarium (Springfield) at the Springfield Science Museum is home to the oldest operating planetarium in the United States. 

Aquariums

Maria Mitchell Aquarium (Nantucket) displays local Nantucket species and is an excellent place to learn about the amazing sea life around the island. Displays are always changing and range from crabs and shellfish to fish and eels. 

New England Aquarium (Boston) welcomes visitors from around the world and is a major public education resource in New England. The Aquarium offers a variety of fun and educational programs and activities for young children, families, and teens studying marine science.

Woods Hole Science Aquarium (Woods Hole) is a small, public aquarium that displays approximately 140 species of marine animals found in Northeast and Middle Atlantic waters. Admission is free, but donations are gladly accepted.

Tips for Planning Your Visit

As you plan your visit, here are some tips that can help you find special events and save money too!

  1. Many science museums offer events and temporary exhibits. Sign up to be on their email list so that you can be notified when special events are on the horizon. 
  2. Save money by checking to see if your local library offers museum passes at discounted rates. 
  3. Consider purchasing an annual membership if you think you might visit a few times. Memberships usually pay for themselves in the first few visits.
  4. Many museums offer free or discounted admission on certain days and times. Visit websites to find details.

Traveling outside of Massachusetts?

If you are traveling outside of Massachusetts, visit the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and Go Astronomy to find science centers, aquariums, and planetariums throughout the country. 

Finally, mark your calendar for Museum Day, an annual tradition hosted by Smithsonian magazine every September. Participating museums and cultural institutions across the country provide free entry to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket.

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