Which local museums to explore this winter

Escape the cold and get cultured at these kid-friendly New England museums

Lila Cole plays a tune on a wall-to-wall Music Matrix at the Children’s Museum of NH.
(Photo courtesy of Kate Brindley Photography)

Winter’s chill has set in and you feel like you’ve visited every indoor play gym within a 50-mile radius. Looking for someplace new to take the kids? Make your way to a museum. Throughout New England, museums, both large and small, go out of their way to provide family-friendly programming and fun activities all winter long. Check out this sampling of some regional favorites for kids.

New Hampshire museums to visit

Currier Museum of Art
150 Ash Street in Manchester, NH

The state’s premier destination for art lovers, Manchester’s Currier Museum, also serves as a welcoming winter hot spot for families. Besides browsing one the best art collections in New England, the museum hosts Creative Studio Saturday, an opportunity for families to take part in hands-on learning about a certain artist or type of art, and a monthly story time for children ages 3-5 with added art activity. These programs are included for free with regular museum admission. Throughout the winter months, the Currier also has art classes for older children, teens and adults.

Bonus: Did you know that the Currier Museum offers free general admission for NH residents before noon every second Saturday of the month?

SEE Science Center
200 Bedford Street in Manchester, NH

If you prefer science museums, then visit the SEE Science Museum, located in Manchester’s Mill complex. The foul weather magnet for kids offers hands-on exhibits covering everything from forces, light, and sound to electricity, simple machines and more. Don’t miss the permanent LEGO installation with a scaled Manchester millyard that consists of more than 3 million LEGO bricks.  In addition to the permanent LEGO exhibit, don’t miss the brand-new BiologYou exhibit. Families will love to watch as coordinated lights introduce the amazing structure of our human code. Visitors share laughs when they discover that they share 30% of their DNA with a worm! Using the Cell Explorer, visitors find that DNA is in every one of their cells. From DNA to cells to tissues, visitors learn how their secret code allows their bodies to make everything they need.

Bonus: Also new is the Cooking and Chemistry exhibit that helps kids understand the science of foods with a hands on play kitchen and kid-friendly science lab.

Aviation Museum of New Hampshire
27 Navigator Road in Londonderry, NH

Conveniently located right off the runway of the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, this museum includes a flight simulator and informative exhibits about New Hampshire natives who made their mark in the world aviation. The museum runs education programs and special exhibits, movie nights and story times throughout the year. One other reason to stop by? The close-up view of airplanes as they land and take off is one that you won’t soon forget.

Children’s Museum of New Hampshire
6 Washington Street in Dover, NH
(603) 742-2002

The venerable Children’s Museum of NH in Dover is the best-known children’s museum in the state, and for good reason. With two floors of interactive fun and hands-on learning, including a separate play area for younger visitors and frequent special presentations and activities, this museum has enough going on to make for an all-day winter escape. The Children’s Museum has also spent a great deal of effort incorporating STEM and STEAM programs into their daily lineup.

Cheshire Children’s Museum
149 Emerald Street in Keene, NH

If you haven’t made your way to the Cheshire Children’s Museum in Keene, then you should absolutely put it on your winter to-do list. Conveniently located in the Colony Mill Marketplace, the museum is filled with those “real life” exhibits – including a grocery store, dentist’s office, radio station and vet clinic – that keep kids occupied for hours with hands-on fun.

Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum
2936 White Mountain Highway in North Conway, NH

This North Conway museum invites kids to put on puppet shows, dress-up in the drama center, play with trains, climb into a life-size tree house, explore outer space, and more. This museum is geared toward the 7 and under crowd and focuses on imaginative play.
Bonus: the museum is in the heart of North Conway’s charming downtown, making it easy to walk to nearby restaurants and shops.

The New England Ski Museum
135 Tramway Drive in Franconia, NH

When you’re done hitting the slopes, then make sure you take a few moments and visit the New England Ski Museum, located at the foot of Cannon Mountain in Franconia. This museum is free to visit and offers a very interesting look at the history of skiing in the Granite State. And, perhaps it’s the buzz surrounding the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, but we know you’ll love stopping in to check out five of Bode Miller’s Olympic medals on display.

Bonus: The New England Ski Museum has expanded its operation to a second location at 2628 White Mountain Highway in North Conway.

Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm
58 Cleveland Hill Road in Tamworth, NH

At this museum, families can get a glimpse into the important contributions once made by country doctors, as well as New Hampshire’s agricultural and rural past, and highlight ways you can learn from these histories. From historic handcrafts to hearth-side cooking and from farm chores to super-cute animals, there’s something for all ages here. The Remick Museum also boasts some wonderful monthly and seasonal events, making it the perfect year-round museum.
Bonus: Celebrate all things ice at the museum’s 16th Annual Ice Harvest & Winter Carnival, taking place on February 22, 2020.

Massachusetts museums to visit

222 Harrington Way in Worcester, MA

Taking a trip south of the border? Head to Worcester for a visit to an innovative indoor-out museum and science center. Interactive animal and science exhibits, planetarium shows, and outdoor nature learning trails make this a fun place to visit no matter what the weather. Special toddler and preschooler activities and story times take place every Wednesday.

Boston Children’s Museum
308 Congress Street in Boston, MA

Your family could probably spend a full day at the Boston Children’s Museum learning and exploring the three floors of hands-on fun. There are exhibits for all ages, including the littlest ones, that will stimulate the senses and pique their curiosities. There are also special programs that happen throughout the week, including: Music & Movement on Wednesdays and Sundays. A trip to Boston could get a little expensive, so keep an eye out for discounts on tickets through your local library or take advantage of TJX Fridays (tickets are $1 per person on Fridays from 5-9 p.m.)

Vermont museums to visit

Billings Farm and Museum
69 Old River Road in Woodstock, VT

What happens on a traditional rural New England farm in wintertime? Find out with a visit to the Billings Farm and Museum (open weekends and school vacation weeks throughout the winter and daily starting in April). There is much to see and learn here, but a highlight for kids is a chance to visit the cows, work horses, sheep, and chickens peacefully passing the winter months in the farm’s spacious barn. There’s also a children’s story time and sleigh rides when weather permits.

Montshire Museum of Science
One Montshire Road in Norwich, VT

The Montshire Museum of Science is a hands-on museum, spanning across 100 acres, that boasts more than 140 exhibits relating to the natural and physical sciences, ecology, and technology. Families will love the aquarium area, the science of bubbles, making music with different instruments and exploring the outdoor trail areas.

Maine museums to visit

International Cryptozoology Museum
4 Thompson’s Point Road, #106 in Portland, ME

For something completely different on the kid-friendly museum scene, head to the International Cryptozoology Museum, the only museum in the world dedicated to showcasing hidden or unknown animals, including yetis, Bigfoot, lake monsters and sea serpents. An eight-foot-tall Bigfoot greets visitors and exhibits examine the evidence for why these creatures might really exist. Bottom line: this is the kind of place that can make even the most jaded of teens put down their phones.

Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine
142 Free Street in Portland, ME

Three floors of fun and imaginative fun await your family at this popular Portland museum. Kids will love the indoor playscape, farmers market, fire truck, lobster boat and toddler park. Additional exhibits include an indoor look at nature as well as a touch tank.

Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer and author of New England Hiking (Moon Outdoor). A longtime resident of Nashua, she and her family now split their time along the New Hampshire and Maine seacoast.

Categories: Winter Guide