There is nothing like visiting the local museum or discovery center for an innovative, engaging, and inspiring day. Although there are many great local museums and discovery centers, there are a few standouts that truly stimulate children to learn through play. Here are some of our local favorites to take the whole family.
Museum of Arts and Sciences
One of our favorite local museums, and the largest local museum, is the Museum of Arts and Sciences. What makes this museum so special is the Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum, which offers a 9,300 square foot wing of hands on and interactive exhibits for children. The interactive exhibits take learning to a higher level providing a place where kids want to stay and play while learning along the way.
One of our favorite exhibits is the video light microscope. A perfect place to explore bugs in all their glory as you see the tiny creatures amplified on the LCD monitor. Best of all, this exhibit is much more mom-friendly than catching bugs at home.
The Velcro Ball Fall is a great way to explore and test gravity. Using their imagination they can align the different pipes and all the while trying not to let the ball fall. The exhibit is designed for little one’s to assemble their own roller coaster.
Is your little one musically inclined? Compose away at the the Laser Harp. Rather than strings, this harp’s chords are triggered by lasers. Your musical melody awaits. These are just a few of many of the kid-friendly exhibits that bring learning to life.
Our next stop is always a visit to see the Daytona Beach Mastadon. Nothing makes a person – child or adult – feel as insignificant as coming face to face with a prehistoric creature like the Mastodon. The Mastadon is far from the only interesting creature housed in this wing.
Quickly you learn that size isn’t everything, as the bug and insect exhibit show. Whether you are big as a Mastadon or small as a scorpion, there are many mysterious creatures in this world for your little one to discover.
Less hands-on, but just as intriguing, we love exploring the Root Family Museum complete with Coca-Cola memorabilia, massive teddy bear collection, and mid-century train cars.
Most children love teddy bears. So what isn’t to love about the extensive 800 teddy bear collection, which is also Florida’s largest collection of teddy bears, perfect to capture a toddler and adult audience.
The only thing better than big trucks and fire trucks are train cars. So as you exit the Coca-Cola Bottle memorabilia you are immediately immersed in a mid-century train station. Once again, you feel small as you see the giant train which at its time represented progress and helped pave our way into the future.
The Museum of Arts & Sciences is a great place to visit time and time again. Keep in mind that the first Tuesday of every month, free admission is offered to Volusia County residents.
Ormond Beach Environmental Discovery Center
The newest of all the education centers, this newly established state of the art discovery center is a great place to foster a love of nature with the hands-on nature displays, plants, and live animals.
The Ormond Beach Environmental Discovery Center features a large fish tank housing non-native fish, native fish, turtles, and a snake. Surrounding the fish tanks, there are many hands-on baskets filled with educational material for children to play with, each with a different theme. Two of our favorite baskets include the frog development themed basket and the bugs basket.
Wander outside the wrap around deck for a beautiful view of the lake. Take advantage of the view by getting a closer look of the wildlife by using one of the Environmental Discovery Center’s free binoculars. Before leaving, make sure to take note of the native plants and butterfly garden.
The Environmental Discovery Center offers many programs for kids young and old – starting at age 3 – and is free and open to the public. Still looking to get the willies out? Visit one of the parks nearby or walk one of the nature trails.
Reptile Discovery Center
This Reptile Discovery Center is an absolute treasure for the reptile lover but it is not for the weak-hearted. Don’t let its small size fool you. Inside the serpentarium, you will find yourself in the midst of the world’s most dangerous, venomous, and exotic snakes, including a 13 foot king cobra and 14 foot Burmese python. The Serpentarium features other snakes found all over the world, and is also where they do venom extractions. Onlookers delight in the unique experience of watching the snake handlers perform live venom extractions. No where else around will you find such a demonstration.
After you get enough of snakes, take a walk through the Discovery Trail, where you will come face to face with other wild creatures as you walk through the wooded nature trails. Along the way, you will see alligators, giant tortoises, lizards, and other reptiles sunning but enclosed in their natural habitat. Like we said, this place is not for the weak-hearted, but perfect for young reptile lovers, and future reptile lovers.
Marine Science Center
Worth every second of the leisurely drive to Ponce Inlet, the Marine Science Center is another one of our favorite and frequent activities. Whether it is touching the sting ray, looking at the eel, or watching the turtles, the Marine Science Center never disappoints. Other notable exhibits include the humpback whale skull, reef aquarium, and of course the turtle rehabilitation area.
Although popularly known for the turtle rehabilitation area, the Marine Science Center is more than a rehabilitation of turtles. It is a place that also helps to rehabilitate injured seabirds. The bird habitat is located right outside the center on the outdoor boardwalk which houses whatever birds are injured at the moment and preparing for their eventual release. This allows little ones to catch a glimpse of bird wildlife that normally cannot be seen. From the bald eagle to a pelican, seeing these birds close up captures the attention of a curious child.
For a truly unique experience, plan your visit during a turtle release event. There is something momentous and magical in watching a sea turtle return to its home.
We typically pair this adventure with a short park visit to Kay & Ayres Davies Lighthouse Park since it is a within a mile of the Marine Science Center. For a full park review, check out our park guide.
Ormond Beach Memorial Art Museum & Gardens
The Ormond Beach Memorial Art Museum & Gardens is a great place to visit in under an hour. The changing exhibits always ensure there is something new to see and make it an easy way to exposure your little one to various artists. As the exhibits change, so does the art project which is inspired by the current exhibit.
Although coloring on the walls at home is forbidden, here it is encouraged. The coloring wall is a favorite part of any trip to the Ormond Beach Memorial Art Musuem & Gardens.
No trip to the Ormond Memorial Museum of Art & Gardens is ever complete without a stroll through the beautiful and lush gardens. It is always such a treat to step off busy Granada Boulevard and immerse yourself into wildlife. Children love the many turtles in the ponds. If you are there when the gardener is feeding the turtles, you are in for a treat – as hundreds of turtles inhabit the main pond. Keep an eye for bunnies as a family of bunnies also calls the gardens home.
Looking for more family-friendly activities? Check out our Favorite Family Restaurant Guide.