While most tourists come to the Sunshine State to get away from the snow and indulge in the beautiful sandy beaches, there’s actually more to Florida than just our infinite sunny days. With endless history, some of the best-kept secrets are the spots that many seem to skip over altogether. So next time the clouds open up and the rain starts falling, escape the present and enjoy the past with some of the best Florida museums that the state had to offer.
Before visiting any museums, call to check museum hours as they might have changed due to COVID-19.
1. LIGHTNER MUSEUM
In 1947, Otto Lightner purchased what used to be the Alcazar Hotel and transformed it into a living, breathing space for his eclectic and diverse collection of artwork, antiques and collections that once belonged to millionaires. Lightner makes it fun to get the kids involved and offers a scavenger hunt that gets them up close and personal with everything from shrunken heads to human hair art.
Adults $15, Children (12-17) $8, Under 11 Free
2. MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & HISTORY
The Museum of Science & History, otherwise known as MOSH, aims to bring the community an atmosphere where learning is fun. With everything from a planetarium to an exhibit on the science of energy, MOSH sheds light on an innovative way to understand the unknown for all ages.
Adults $15, Children (3-12) $12, Under 2 Free
3. SOUTH FLORIDA SCIENCE CENTER AND AQUARIUM
West Palm Beach
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium provides visitors with an engaging experience thanks to its approach of making science education so hands on. Exhibits such as Nano give visitors the opportunity to build models while the Aquariums of the Atlantic offer daily touch tank demonstrations and live feedings.
Adults $17.95, Children (3-12) $13.95
4. FLORIDA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
As Florida’s official state natural history museum, the Florida Museum of Natural History is constantly expanding with one-of-a-kind exhibits not seen anywhere else. While there you can choose to get up close and personal at a butterfly release in the Butterfly Rainforest, encourage your child’s curiosity inside the discovery room or come face to face with shark jaws ranging in height from 2–9 feet.
General Admission: Free; Butterfly Rainforest: Adults $14, Children (3-17) $7
5. MUSEUM OF DISCOVERY & SCIENCE
Ever find yourself wanting to hang out with bats, pet iguanas or take a simulated trip to Mars? The Museum of Discovery & Science gives you the opportunity to do all of these in the same day with exhibits to satisfy the whole family.
Currently closed due to COVID-19
6. JOHN & MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART
Situated in Sarasota, The Ringling combines unique performances, special events and artistic exhibitions to give insight into John and Mable Ringling’s quest to find European art and spectacular circus acts. Exhibits include paintings, acrobatic acts, sculptures and decorative arts from around the world. The Ringling also offers art making classes and story time just for the little ones!
Adults $25, Children (6-17) $5, 5 and under Free
7. MORIKAMI MUSEUM & JAPANESE GARDENS
With 16 acres of picnic areas, strolling paths and serene surroundings, the Morikami Museum is one of Palm Beach County’s most treasured cultural attractions because of its ability to intertwine a beautiful connection between Japan and South Florida. Morikami also offers month-by-month programs that encourage the whole family to enjoy Japanese culture.
Adults $15, Children (6-17) $9, 5 and under Free
8. DON GARLITS MUSEUM OF DRAG RACING
Have a little one (or maybe even a hubby) who loves fast and shiny things? With over 300 cars, the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing houses one of the largest collections of Fords in the state. The museum opened in 1984 and since has become home to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame.
Adults $20, Teenagers (Ages 13-18) $15, Children (Ages 5-12) $10
9. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
The Museum of Contemporary Art looks to combine a mixture of programs such as live jazz concerts, creative classes for teens and children, and lectures to ensure that the community always has access to the best of contemporary art and its historical influences. Artists such as Gianni Versace, Pablo Cano and Salvador Dali have all had work displayed at the museum, as well as local emerging artists looking to get their foot in the door.
Adults $10, Students & Seniors $3
Currently closed due to COVID-19
10. SALVADOR DALI MUSEUM
Founded with the works collected by Reynolds and Eleanor Morse, the Dali Museum brings together a collection of over 2,100 breathtaking pieces that include 96 oil paintings, original drawings, photos and of course that famous portrait of Abraham Lincoln that makes you look twice. The Dali’s calendar of events showcases daily story times and creative activities to engage and educate children while at the museum.
Adults $25, Students (13-17) $18, Children (6-12) $10, 5 and younger Free
11. TALLAHASSEE MUSEUM
Established in 1957, the Tallahassee Museum intertwines North Florida’s history, nature and wildlife through exhibits, special events and more. The Tallahassee Museum offers about 30 permanent exhibits and a wide range of opportunities to see native animals, such as the Florida panther or the red wolf, in their natural settings. The museum also offers zip-lining courses designed for the whole family.
Adults $12, Children (4-15) $9, 3 and under Free
12. FANTASY OF FLIGHT
Take a stroll through one of the world’s largest private collections of vintage aircrafts and go back to the days of Orville and Wilbur Wright. The magnificent thing about these planes is that they don’t collect dust, but instead catch air because they are flown daily. You can even snag a seat on a real biplane for a scenic tour over Central Florida for a cost of $70.
Adults $12, Children (6-12) $8
13. KEY WEST SHIPWRECK MUSEUM
Set sail into 1856 and experience Key West during the time of some of the most dangerous wrecks and recoveries to date. Kids of all ages will enjoy the costume-clad actors, films and artifacts that tell the story of a time when “wreck ashore!” was yelled every time a new wreck was spotted.
Adults $16.11, Children $9.66, 3 and under Free
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