Set aside a full day to explore the Science Museum of Minnesota, where visitors can marvel at the Mississippi River from a towboat’s pilothouse, gawk at the world’s largest triceratops, wander a primeval swamp and power a light bulb by pedaling a bike.
Have a kid who steadfastly ignores “cover your mouth” admonishments? A sneeze display that sprays water in your face might prove mighty convincing. The Human Body Gallery also lets you examine your cheek cells, learn how vision works and see how the body heals. The Collections Gallery showcases the best of the museum’s 1.75 million artifacts (look for the Egyptian mummy and the Hmong house). And be sure to take the musical stairs down to the lower level; each step triggers different tones, like a giant xylophone. Some of the coolest exhibits around can be found in the hands-on Experiment Gallery, where families can trigger a tornado, watch wind sculpt sand dunes, and study the effect of rocky ledges on the power of waves in a 32-foot tank.
Summer visitors get to wander into the Big Back Yard for a prairie maze, outdoor art and nine holes of mini golf. If it’s cold outside, kick back beneath the domed Omnitheater to enjoy a nine-story screen that immerses audiences in storms, ocean depths or outer space. Admission is $10 to $13 for museum access; $8 to $9 for Omnitheater shows; and $26 for $34 to hit the museum, Omnitheater and traveling exhibits.