The Kentucky Science Center is a standout feature of downtown's museum row with its bright, eccentric façade calling both children and adults to explore the many cool activities within. The museum is packed with exhibits and interactive displays for kids of all ages, and this keeps it at the top of our list of favorite family outings.
For toddlers in particular, the ground floor of the museum houses the most enjoyable and age-appropriate finds, in particular the Center's KidZone, an enclosed area designed especially for children ages 7 and under.
This unique spot boasts hands-on, climbable transportation replicas, including a rocket ship, city bus, ambulance and airplane. A series of carpeted tunnels and steps encourages exploration that ends with the discovery of a gentle slide.
Children who prefer quieter activities will find rotating exhibits in the Science Depot workshops connected to the KidZone, replete with markers, crayons, paint, microscopes, magnifying glasses, boxes of sand and beads for textile play and a range of other interesting supplies for creating science experiments.
Sand pouring in the Science Depot workshop.
There's also a construction zone for tiny builders and even a dedicated crawl and play space for the Science Center's very youngest visitors, with a maximum age limit so that curious infants can roam freely without being underfoot their more energetic and mobile toddler peers.
The area's prized pièce de résistance, though, is Splash!, a water-activity center featuring a fountain and dam, a pool of water with hoses and spouts, a dry ice waterfall, a wall of intricately networked pipes, and a duel-lane boat-racing station. Plastic smocks are available to keep water explorers dry-ish, and a cache of boats, colorful tubes and water-powered chutes, spouts and wheels help familiarize kids with water energy, conversion, displacement, measurement, phases of condensation and engineering.
Hands-on water play at the Splash! exhibit.
General admission to the Science Center (for exhibits only) costs $13 per adult and $11 per child under 12. Kids under 2 are admitted free. For $85, year-long family memberships are available, and I can't hype that deal enough. For us, membership paid for itself in around 6 visits, and we knocked those out in less than 2 months. Consider the Center for summer camps, monthly parent-child playdates, and birthday parties.
727 West Main Street, Louisville
Sunday – Thursday: 9:30 to 5
Friday – Saturday: 9:30 to 9
*Photo Credit: Kirsten Clodfelter