Salt Lake City, Utah has a number of museums that do a good job of combining learning with fun, and doing it well but I have three favorite family-friendly museums.
The museum is located on the University of Utah campus outside of Salt Lake City. It is well worth the drive. The building is massive and easily visible from all over the valley, sitting high on atop the mountain. The architecture is gorgeous. The museum’s enormous paned windows showcase a breath-taking view of the Salt Lake Valley and the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains.
You enter into a 60-foot high center area called The Canyon, which is the centerpiece of the Museum’s interior. Then travel 500 million years back in time as you flow seamlessly upward through five levels of exhibits to the present day. There are 10 permanent galleries and you could easily spend 2-3 hours just wandering around taking in the exhibits.
The museum is a great place for adults and kids of all ages. There are enough child-oriented exhibits to keep them entertained but the museum is also enjoyable for adults. Every exhibit had multiple interaction activities for kids and adults. The dinosaur replicas are quite impressive in scale and detail. We also liked that much of the museum is dedicated to Utah’s astounding natural wonders and native cultures that define the state.
The museum has a gift shop and a café. The Museum Café’s atmosphere is friendly and the views are breathtaking. It serves a selection of breakfast, lunch and bakery items highlighting Utah¹s own local bakeries and fresh ingredients from local vendors.
Think science museum for junior high school students and above. Exhibits explore the connections between science, technology, art and design.
If you want to entertain a child and maybe sneak in a little education, this is definitely the place. The first thing that will catch your eye as you walk in is a huge white web-like mass that looks like a sea creature. It’s actually a network of fiber optic cables that act “alive” as they react to your touch with light and movement.
There are dozens of exhibits about science, man’s creativity, math, geometry, color and design, film making, animation, and water. They are all pretty interesting, especially the animation and film making labs.
They have a nice gift shop and a snack bar.
There are two stories of fun, interactive activities, ideal for tweens and under. Everything is kid-size and made to be touched and played with and it’s always lots of fun. From the beehive ball play area to the medical helicopter patio, there’s plenty of ways for your kids to play, interact, discover, and learn. The little ones spent over an hour at the beehive ball area, collecting balls from the pit, balancing them on an air column, or placing them into a tube that shoots the balls way up to the ceiling. The lower floor is full of imaginative play spaces for aspiring cowboys, grocers, homemakers and construction workers. There’s a pretend supermarket, water tables, a crane area that the kids can operate, a pretend stable, a car mechanic area.
On the 2nd level, there are a bunch of interactive toy stations, art/craft areas, a place to test out your paper air plane, a foam block building area, a hurricane tunnel machine, and there’s an outside patio with a medical helicopter! This floor is more fun for older kids who want to conduct a science experiment, put on a play, or anchor the evening news. The helicopter out on the terrace is also very popular,
This museum will be most interesting for toddlers and preschoolers and least interesting for kids over the age of 12. One of the best things about Discovery Gateway is its convenient location in the Gateway Mall. You exit through the gift shop. For $1 they will validate your parking ticket. It’s good for three hours of free parking.
Museums have changed since I was a child. They used to be places where everything was meant to be looked at, but not touched. Today, museums are great places to find hands-on exhibits that make learning fun. On you next visit to Salt Lake City why don’t you and your family spend some time in one or all three of these museums.
What are some of your favorite museums for children that are both fun and educational? Let me know in the comments section below.