“Spring Break” typically conjures images of poolside lounging, trips to the coast, and good, old-fashioned relaxation away from school and work. We’re all about embracing the warm weather! This Spring Break, why not mix sun with STEM and give your kids a vacation to remember, marked by exploration, wonder, and fun?
We’ve rounded up some of the nation’s hottest STEM destinations for Spring Break. Not only are these attractions awe-inspiring in and of themselves–they’re also situated in major cities with something for everyone. Whether you’re in the market for a local day-trip or you’re ready to hop on a plane for a long-distance adventure, we’ve got you covered.
Top Spring Break STEM Destinations for 2016
Cost: Starts at $24.95 per person
About: Located in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park, the California Academy of Sciences is a dream-come-true for biology lovers of all ages! This institution is the only place in the world that houses a natural history museum, a planetarium, and an aquarium (with over 40,000 specimens). With its emphasis on exploration, explanation, and sustainability, this unique academy will leave you inspired, amazed, and filled with new-found knowledge this Spring Break.
Other Nearby Attractions: de Young Museum, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Conservatory of Flowers, University of San Francisco, UC San Francisco, Exploratorium, downtown San Francisco, Asian Art Museum, Children’s Creativity Museum, Fisherman’s Wharf
Cost: Starts at $9 per person
About: The MoMath Museum was created in 2009 as a result of the closing of the Goudreau Museum, a small math museum on Long Island. Today, the MoMath has far exceeded the scope of the Goudreau, bring in tens of thousands of visitors each year. Notable accomplishments include opening Manhattan’s only hands-on science center, developing the well-known Math Midway exhibition, leading math tours across the U.S., creating the largest public outdoor demonstration of the Pythagorean Theorem ever, and much more. It’s the perfect day-trip for the aspiring mathematician in your family!
Other Nearby Attractions: Carnegie Hall, Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island, Central Park, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Times Square, 42nd Street, Rockefeller Center, MoMA, Grand Central Terminal, Yankee Stadium
Cost: Click here for pricing information
About: The Grand Canyon Skywalk is an exhilarating feat of engineering. Picture standing on a platform made of glass with the rim of the Grand Canyon 70 feet behind you and the other side of it 3 miles before you. When you look down, you see 2,000 feet of air between you and the bottom of the world-famous canyon. It’s breathtaking–to say the least–and completely surreal. The structure consists of a U-shaped cantilevered glass walk and is strong enough to handle winds of up to 100mph. Astronaut Buzz Aldrin lead the first walkers across the Skywalk in 2007. This Spring Break, you and your family can follow in his footsteps and marvel at this one-of-a-kind juxtaposition of geology and human engineering.
Other Nearby Attractions: Grand Canyon Caverns, Eagle Point, Guano Point
Cost: Starts at $19 per person
About: The Tech Museum, also called “The Tech,” is a hands-on technology and science center located in the heart of downtown San Jose. The 132,000-square-foot structure houses an IMAX dome at one end and encompasses hundreds of original and custom exhibits. Themes range from clean energy to biotechnology, and popular permanent exhibits include Genetics: Technology with a Twist, Earthquake Platform, and Jet Pack Simulator. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope is the focal point of the space exploration area. Every year, new traveling exhibitions are incorporated. Bring your family to this Silicon Valley landmark and discover how various technologies affect our everyday lives!
Other Nearby Attractions: Downtown San Jose, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Rose Garden, Intel Museum, Great America, Mission Santa Clara de Asis, Happy Hollow Park & Zoo, Japantown, San Jose Museum of Art, Santana Row, Winchester Mystery House
Cost: Starts at $19.95 per person
About: Get inspired by the wonder and mystery of space at Space Center Houston! The facility is owned and operated by nonprofit “Manned Space Flight Education Foundation” and features an extensive education program, a museum of incredible space artifacts and exhibits, unique attractions, and opportunities to tour nearby Johnson Space Center. Space Center Houston was recently called the “the big draw” by USA Today and hosts guests from around the world with peak attendance on weekends, holidays, and in the summer. Beat the summer rush and visit during Spring Break!
Other Nearby Attractions: Houston Museum of Natural Science, Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, Houston Museum District, Houston Zoo, Downtown Aquarium, Minute Maid Park, Astrodome, Williams Tower
Cost: Starts at $28 per person
About: MagiQuest is the “world’s largest live-action game” and is ideal for fans of Harry Potter and all things mystical! Players choose their Magi name and get their own casting wand to take home. The wands interact with special video screens and sets, while storing information and game progress for future visits. During quests, players can enchant objects, interact with a variety of magical and mysterious fairies, wizards, goblins, and dragons, earn spells and skills in order to complete each adventure, and work toward to becoming masters. With over 45 quests to venture through, you might consider coming stopping by again in the summer!
Other Nearby Attractions: Dollywood, Titanic Museum, Chasing Rainbows Museum, Pigeon Forge Mill
Cost: Starts at $15.95 per person
About: Formerly known as “the Franklin Institute,” this facility is famous worldwide for its larger-than-life, walk-through heart. The heart is so large, in fact, that it’s the right size for a 220-foot tall person–someone as big as the Statue of Liberty! Your family will also enjoy exploring a host of newer exhibits, notably Lost Egypt, Batman V Superman, The Science Behind Pixar, and others. Additionally, don’t miss Foucault’s Pendulum (a four-story tall replica of the 1851 experiment demonstrating Earth’s daily rotation around its axis), the Ben Franklin Memorial, the planetarium, and the IMAX theater.
Other Nearby Attractions: The Academy of Natural Sciences, Mutter Museum, Independence National Historical Park, Liberty Bell, Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Independence Hall, Philadelphia Zoo
Cost: Starts at $12 per person
About: Discovery World + Technology Center spans 120,000 square feet and is located in the heart of bustling Milwaukee. The facility includes interactive science, technology, and freshwater exhibits, experiential labs, theaters, TV and audio studios, as well as multiple aquariums teeming with a variety of aquatic life. In the Techno Jungle, visitors can operate the Metasys building automation system, “test-drive” an electric car, and lie on a bed of nails. In the Hive 3D Environment, walk through a virtual environment that responds to your actions. Don’t miss this, Midwesterners!
Other Nearby Attractions: Milwaukee County Zoo, Harley-Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, Pier Wisconsin, Mitchell Park Horticultural Museum, Bay Beach Amusement Park
Cost: Starts at $11.95 per person
About: In 2009, The Carnegie Science Center launched roboworld, the world’s foremost, permanent robotics exhibition! Today, the exhibit occupies 6,000 square feet and is divided into three areas that feature robots either sensing, thinking, or acting. When you arrive, you’re welcomed by Andy, a life-size RoboThespian who can be programmed to behave using a touch screen. Throughout the rest of the exhibit, you’ll discover other technologies like sonar range finders, radar and “lidar,” thermal imaging, medical bots, and robot mapping. Virtually every exhibit has an interactive component, so you and your loved ones will be pros in no time when it comes to communicating with robots!
Other Nearby Attractions: Carnegie Museum of Art, The Andy Warhol Museum, Mount Washington, National Aviary, Strip District
Cost: Starts at $16.95 per person
About: The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is one of many educational gems nestled in San Diego’s gorgeous Balboa Park. In addition to housing over 100 hands-on, all-ages science exhibits, it is also home to Southern California’s one and only IMAX theater. Lose yourself in giant-screen films and breathtaking planetarium shows and experience eight galleries of fun, interactive exhibits. Enjoy lunch at on-site Galileo’s Café and purchase fun, educational souvenirs in the North Star Science Store.
Other Nearby Attractions: Balboa Park, San Diego Air & Space Museum, SeaWorld, Embarcadero, Star of India, Beaches, San Diego Zoo, USS Midway Museum, irch Aquarium, Seaport Village, Maritime Museum of San Diego, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Mission San Diego de Alcalá
Cost: Starts at $24.95 per person
About: Got an aspiring Marine Biologist in the family? Consider heading to the Key Largo area for a guided snorkeling or scuba expedition that’s fun and educational for both kids and adults! Founded in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park of its kind in the U.S. It encompasses roughly 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds, and swamplands and serves a prime destination for underwater recreational activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving. With its wide variety of tropical vegetation, shore birds, and stunning marine life, its an ideal destination for families looking to gain some sunshine and biological knowledge this Spring Break.
Other Nearby Attractions: Dolphin Cove, Everglades National Park
Cost: Starts at $12 per person (free for children age 12 and under)
About: Located in Mountain View, a region of world-famous Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum is a sight to behold for programmers, engineers, and other lovers of tech. The museum tells the history of computing with over 1,100 artifacts including the very first computers from the 1940’s and 1950’s, a replica of the Babbage Engine (the first automatic computing machine from the 1800’s), IBM Watson, the original Jeopardy! stage set, and so much more. Gather your family and go back in time this Spring Break!
Other Nearby Attractions: NASA Ames Visitor Center, Google Android Lawn Statues, Moffett Field Historical Society Museum, Mariposa Park, Mountain View Farmers Market, TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, The Pear Avenue Theatre, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Rengstorff House, Permenente Creek, Stevens Creek Trail
Have additional recommendations for Spring Break STEM trips? Tell us in the comments!