10+ Midwest Museums for Families
The United States is filled with great museums. Did you know that just in the midwest there are over a dozen amazing museums? Whenever our family sets out on a traveling adventure I love to see what types of museums are in the area. Museums are a great place to play and learn about the area you are visiting. Many offer interactive exhibits which make it a great museum experience for all ages. Many of these museums belong to the Association of Midwest Museums which helps museum professionals keep museums up-to-date and top-notch.
Planning a trip? I have gathered some personal favorite midwest museums for families.
African American Museum of Iowa
55 12th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The African American Museum of Iowa is the only statewide museum devoted to preserving African American history and culture. It provides many hands-on activities for all ages and is a great place to visit to educate and begin discussions. Currently, The museum building is currently closed for an ongoing renovation project. Learn more about the project here.
Des Moines Children’s Museum
1551 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines, Iowa
The Des Moines Children’s Museum was created a few years ago by two moms as a traveling exhibit. They now are located at the bottom of Valley West Mall in the Des Moines, Iowa area. This children’s museum may not be your usual children’s museum you may visit, but it provides tons of hands-on fun for your little ones.
The Durham Museum
801 S 10th St, Omaha, Nebraska
Not many know about this hidden museum gem located in Omaha, Nebraska. The Durham Museum was known in years past as Omaha’s Union Station and is now filled with trains and history. There is never a dull moment at The Durham Museum and it is filled with tons of things to see and do including trains, Omaha history, and fun exhibits that are always changing. You will want to make multiple visits to stay up to day with current exhibits.
The Family Museum
2900 Learning Campus Drive, Bettendorf, Iowa
The Family Museum located in the Quad Cities is a fun place to run, explore and use your imagination. The entire place reminds me of a small town that includes a grocery store, a veterinarian’s office, a pizza parlor, a house, a shoe shop, and more. They have a fun outdoor play area too!
The Gateway Arch
11 N 4th St Gateway Arch National Park, Saint Louis, Missouri
This National Historic Landmark is a must-see attraction for all ages. Many may think that it is just a ride to the top of a beautifully built arch to view St. Louis, Missouri, but there is so much more. You can easily spend half a day running through the green space, walking through the interactive museum, riding on a riverboat cruise, and riding to the top of the Gateway Arch.
Iowa Children’s Museum
1451 Coral Ridge Ave, Coralville, Iowa
The Iowa Children’s Museum is located in the Iowa City, Iowa area. If you are road-tripping and need a place to stop, they are located right off the interstate. Burn off some steam and play! They offer painting, a fun grocery store, a city, a doctor’s office, plane simulations, and so much more.
Living History Farms
12234 Douglas Ave, Urbandale, Iowa
Living History Farms is truly a unique and educational experience. It is basically a museum outdoors! It is an interactive outdoor history museum that educates, entertains, and connects people of all ages to Midwestern rural life experiences. You will see animals, and blacksmiths, visit the old general store, and much more.
Midwest Museum of American Art
429 S Main Street, Elkhart, Indiana
If you love art this is a great museum for families to check out! The Midwest Museum of American Art is a showcase of 19th through 21st-century American Art and a chance for all to learn the story of American Art. The MMAA permanent collection includes over 6,000 pieces of work with about 900 displayed during the year.
Mill City Museum
704 2nd St S, Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Mill City Museum is a great way to learn some Twin Cities’ history while visiting. The museum is packed with history for adults, but they offered a ton of hands-on activities for the kids. The kids enjoyed a couple of hours of using their imaginations, playing, and exploring the Mills City Museum.
National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
1400 Inspiration Pl SW, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
The city of Cedar Rapids is home to many Bohemian, Moravian, and Slovak immigrants and their descendants. We spent a great time exploring and learning. I was very impressed with all of the hands-on, fun exhibits the museum had to offer. It was a great way to educate ourselves on Czech and Slovak heritage.
National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium
350 E 3rd St, Dubuque, Iowa
The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium is huge and offers so much education and hands-on activities for the kids. The kids can easily spend the entire day playing and exploring. I recommend packing lunch and staying the entire day! The Mississippi River Museum is broken into two parts. We started our exploration on the East side of the museum which had the aquarium full of beautiful fish, stingrays that the kids could pet, and the 4D movie theater.
Omaha Children’s Museum
500 S 20th St, Omaha, Nebraska
We have been to the Omaha Children’s Museum tons of times since it is so close to home. They have great shows, and hands-on exhibits, and are regularly changing their exhibits too. Bonus there is a fun train and carousel on the upper level to ride on while you are visiting. Make sure you plan a trip during one of their many special events.
Pella Historical Society and Museums
728 Washington St, Pella, Iowa
The Pella Historical Society and Museums is great for all ages. When you pay admission you can pick up a fun scavenger hunt for the kids which keeps them intrigued during the whole experience. My children’s favorite part of the tour was the ‘Puppet Theatre’. It was a fun place for the kids to play and use their imaginations. You can also take a tour of the top of the windmill and learn how flour is made.
Science City at Union Station
30 West Pershing Road Kansas City, Missouri
The Science City at Union Station may technically be considered a science center, but it reminds me more of a children’s museum. When you enter the main part of Science City, well, it is like you have entered a little city indoors! It is filled with hands-on exhibits, a tree house, a maker space, a place to build, bubbles, a playground, and much more. There is a huge outdoor area to play in too.
St. Louis City Museum
750 N 16th St, St Louis, Missouri
This by far has been one of our favorite museums we have ever visited. Your kids will go nonstop and crash quickly afterward. My daughter fell asleep as she was being carried out. You will be amazed by all of the exhibits and the hard work that was put into creating this space.