Each summer parents have the “joy” of keeping the kids entertained while they’re out of school. Ideally, we’d like to keep them learning throughout the summer break. But we all know if you tell kids it’s time for a lesson you’re likely to be meet with opposition. Who says learning can’t be fun? Here are some of my favorite family museums around the world, covering subjects from science to history to chocolate making. The kids will never suspect they are actually learning along the way.
In Colonial Williamsburg, the entire town is a museum. Walk through history along the streets and mingle with 18th century residents to hear their stories. Impromptu solicitations for military support of the American Revolution, cobblers working on the latest shoe fashions—from the 1800’s—and demonstrations of traditional chocolate making at the American Heritage Chocolate experience will leave you wondering if you’re still in the 21st century.
New York City served as the gateway to America for millions of immigrants and the city’s Lower East Side became the new home of many of these families. The Lower East Side Tenement National Historic Site is a five-story brick tenement building that was home to an estimated 7,000 people from over 20 nations between 1863 and 1935. Built in 1863, the building initially had no indoor plumbing, no heat or air conditioning and extremely cramped living conditions. However, this is the place numerous families worked tirelessly to build a new life in America. Their struggles to provide for their families, maintain their traditions and religious customs and adapt to the customs of a new world are immortalized in the guided tours provided by the museum.
With the extreme popularity of the movie, Frozen, it’s easy to convince the kids to visit Norway. Introduce them to the history of this geographically blessed country at the Sverresborg Trøndelag Folk Museum in Trondheim. At the heart of this open-air museum are the ruins of King Sverre’s castle, which date as far back as 1183.
A collection of over 80 historical buildings provide a glimpse into old time city and country life. Situated around the ruins of the castle and overlooking the Trondheimfjord, the rural department showcases a Sami collection, the Haltdalen stave church, and an old school. There’s also a collection of farmsteads and maritime houses to explore. In the old town, wooden houses formerly located in downtown Trondheim represent the cityscape from the 18th century to the present. Houses include a shoemaker’s workshop, post office, a dentist office and a general store where you can buy sweet treats.
When a museum is aboard an aircraft carrier it becomes an adventure. Climb aboard the Intrepid in New York for an abundance of family-friendly interactive activities and programs to peak the kids’ curiosity about science and history.
Located on the hangar deck, the Exploreum is a fully interactive exhibit space where the kids (and you) are encouraged to climb in an actual Bell 47 helicopter, navigate through an interactive submarine and steer the wings of an airplane.
The new 4D Experience brings to life true stories of Intrepid aviators through an eight-minute film. Using 4D technology and state-of-the-art computer graphics, this never-before-seen historical footage immerses you in stories of courage and heroism.
Chocolate has its own place in history and at the York Chocolate Story you and the kids can explore the story of this beloved confection. While most British cities were built by steel, wool or coal, York built its fame and fortune on chocolate. Discover the stories behind the greatest names in chocolate and learn the art of the chocolatier through a guided tour and interactive exploration at York’s Chocolate Story. Of course, there’s also the bonus of chocolate samples. Did you know that York produces over 6 million KitKat bars daily? That’s a lesson no one will oppose.
What are your favorite family museums?
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Terri Marshall is a New York City based freelance writer whose work includes travel, spirits, and all things chocolate. Terri's work appears in several publications. She has been a featured guest on Peter Greenberg's Worldwide Travel radio program and Denver's KZKO Radio Morning Express show. Terri will not hesitate to go to the source for great chocolate - even if that means hiking through the jungle and picking cacao pods herself.
Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the United States, Europe, and into Central and South America. Favorite adventures include reindeer driving in Norway and fishing for piranhas in the Amazon jungle of Peru. You can keep up with Terri's adventures on her website www.TrippingwithTerri.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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