Best Science Museums in the USA

If you’re one of those folks who don’t think museums are fun, then you obviously haven’t been to any of these best American Science Museums. A visit to these will excite even the oldest kid at heart. From the unlimited possibilities available in outer space to the mysteries of the deep ocean, these science museums will tickle your mind and curiosities for years to come.

Best American Science Museums

The Franklin Institute and Academy of Natural Sciences (Philadelphia, PA)

Robots at the Franklin Institute. American Science Museums
Robots at the Franklin Institute

Are you a physics buff? Perhaps you’re wondering what the next big thing is in technology (hint: robotics and artificial intelligence.) Then stop by the Franklin Institute, one of the oldest science museums in the country located in the museum district in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. What makes it one of the best American science museums is the number of highly creative and uniquely interactive exhibits it offers in areas not usually featured in other museums. Make sure you stop by “Sport Challenge”, the section of the museum that explains the science behind sports, from surfing to tennis.

Address: 222 North 20th Street | Philadelphia, PA 19103

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The National Air and Space Museum (Washington, DC and Chantilly, VA)

Wright Flyer 1909 at the Wright Brother's Exhibit. American Science Museums
Wright Flyer 1909 at the Wright Brother’s Exhibit

The National Air and Space Museum is one of, if not the best American science museums. It’s also a very popular destination for those visiting and staying in Washington, D.C. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, it features and maintains the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft. So big in fact that it’s broken down into two locations. The more accessible one at the National Mall is home to the 1903 Wright Flyer and the lunar module that brought the first set of men to step on the moon. The other, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located next to Dulles International Airport, contains many of the museum’s larger artifacts including a retired Concorde plane, the Enola Gay and the space shuttle Discovery.

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC and 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, VA

Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Exploratorium (San Francisco, CA)

After Glow Exhibit at the Exploratorium. American Science Museums
After Glow Exhibit at the Exploratorium

A favorite among kids and those kids at heart, the Exploratorium in San Francisco is considered one of the best American science museums because of its unique concept of combining art and science in a number of interactive exhibits. Displays like those in the “Seeing and Listening” gallery or those in MIND will definitely make you scratch your head. If you only have a short amount of time though, don’t miss the Tactile Dome, an exhibit that will immerse you in total darkness with the intentions of heightening your other senses.

Address: Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St., San Francisco, CA

Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA)

Claude, the albino alligator at the California Academy of Science. American Science Museums
Claude, the albino alligator at the California Academy of Science

Tucked away in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is another one of the best American science museums. The 63-year old California Academy of Sciences focuses on the natural sciences with an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum all in one spot. Observe some 4,000 species floating around its giant aquarium. Also, the four-story Osher Rainforest is a must-see, with its unique flora and fauna, as is the Morrison Planetarium, which features some of the most impressive shows available.

Address: 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago, IL)

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. best American Science Museums
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Being the largest science museum on this side of the Atlantic certainly plays a factor in being one of the best American science museums. That’s why the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, with its interactive exhibits in every branch of science conceivable, made this list. Everything you can possibly be curious about, from physics of the pyramids in Egypt to the engineering and design of a German U-boat, is available to view at this museum. Visitors can easily take an entire day (or two) just to graze the highlights of this hall of science. With it’s mission set to “inspire the inventive genius in everyone,” you’ll definitely leave more informed than before and armed with more curiosities than you came in with.

Address: 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL

Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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