Saint Louis Art Museum
Why we’ve always visited It’s hard to resist free admission to a jewel that resides within a work of art: a 1904 Beaux Arts building, which is the only one remaining from the St. Louis World’s Fair. You could easily fill a day looking at Sumerian statues from 2500 B.C., tapestries from 14th-century China and photographs by surrealist Man Ray.
Why we can’t wait to go back Last summer, the $160 million concrete-and-glass East Building opened to showcase modern art. Works from the likes of Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Anne Truitt fill 21 spacious galleries. And through the floor-to-ceiling windows, visitors get a glimpse of Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone Sea, a field of limestone arches echoing both ancient Rome’s aqueducts and St. Louis’ landmark Arch. (314) 721-0072; slam.org 
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Why we’ve always visited The world’s biggest kids’ museum has no peer when it comes to teaching through play. Kids marvel at the Chihuly glass tower, grow quiet at the trials of Anne Frank and jump at the growling animals in Dinosphere—and that doesn’t even include their fascination with the shipwreck in Treasures of the Earth.
Why we can’t wait to go back The new Curious Scientific Investigators: Flight Adventures reveals the physics of flight with the input of NASA scientist David Wolf. Kids can even build model planes to test in an airflow chamber! Opening in May 2014, the permanent Take Me There: China will explore modern-day life, and a temporary exhibit of China’s terra-cotta warriors will examine the past. (317) 334-3322; childrensmuseum.org 
Detroit Historical Museum
Why we’ve always visited To know where a city is going, it helps to know where it has been—that’s especially true for Detroit right now. The museum is a standard-issue field trip for elementary kids; they learn about the Underground Railroad and walk down a cobblestone Main Street in the Streets of Old Detroit.
Why we can’t wait to go back In November 2012, a grand reopening unveiled new interactive exhibits (and improved old ones). Visitors can now create a custom-flavor soda in the new Gallery of Innovation, watch a car on an assembly line in America’s Motor City and shop in Kresge Five and Dime on the Streets of Old Detroit. (313) 833-1805; detroithistorical.org