Unique American Museums Your Kids Will Actually Like

UFO Museum, Roswell


Chances are you’ve dragged your family to a museum or two on vacations past. If the traditional stuffy art galleries and historic houses have failed to inspire, consider heading off the beaten path the next time you have the kids in tow to one of these unique American collections.

Bad Art in Boston

Instilling a love of beauty in young minds isn’t a simple task; but the restrained, hands-off nature of most art galleries don’t exactly scream kid-friendly. Take a day to turn art appreciation on its ear and browse the abysmal collection at The Museum of Bad Art in Boston. MOBA is the only museum of its kind in the world, bringing together crudely formed portraits, unlikely landscapes, and more incompetent expressions on canvas. An afternoon with these poorly rendered paintings will inject just the right amount of humor to get your kids thinking about what makes bad art bad, and by contrast, what makes good art good.

UFOs in Roswell

American history is filled with great stories – some of them true, like Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, and some of them myths, like George Washington and the cherry tree. But perhaps America’s favorite national legend is the conspiracy theory of Roswell, a tale of extraterrestrial life and the United States government’s desire to cover it all up. Today, Roswell, New Mexico is home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center, an unusual museum documenting the legendary 1947 sighting and other rumored UFO incidents. There’s no better place to indulge your children’s imagination and start a conversation on the facts of space exploration.

UFO museum in Roswell, New Mexico
UFO Museum in Roswell © Jay Jones

Espionage in Washington D.C.

Firefighter, doctor, secret agent. There’s no shortage of fantasy jobs kids will mimic during playtime. Earn some parenting brownie points by helping the fantasy come alive at the International Spy Museum in Washington D.C. This is the largest collection of espionage artifacts in the world and, best of all, it offers a fully immersive experience for aspiring spies of all ages. Adopt your own cover identity and head straight to spy school where you’ll examine over 200 gadgets and weapons while learning the stories of spycraft and testing your skills of observation, analysis, surveillance, and disguise at interactive stations. Once you think you’re ready for the real deal, head out to the field with the museum’s Spy in the City program, a GPS guided tour of the District.

International Spy Museum in Washington D.C.

Oz in Kansas

Little is more enchanting than the Wonderful World of Oz. From L. Frank Baum’s original book to Judy Garland belting out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in the 1939 classic to modern reimaginings like The Wiz and Wicked, the timeless story of Dorothy and her friends captivates audiences of all ages. Should you find yourself on that quintessential American family vacation, the road trip, schedule a stop in Wamego, Kansas for the official Oz Museum. Young cinephiles will love exploring over 2,000 artifacts from the last century of Oz history, including illustrations from the first edition of Baum’s 1900 book, hand jeweled ruby slippers designed for the original movie’s 50th anniversary, and props from the Broadway musical Wicked.

Oz museum_exhibits
Oz Museum © Ryan Bolger