Looking for a museum that appeals to kids and adults alike? Perhaps you long to tour the unusual? These museums offer entertainment in the form of vintage toys, an 8-foot tall Bigfoot, classic Pac Man, and all kinds of creepy crawlies. We think they bring new meaning to the term “edu-tainment,” and make great school vacation destinations. Here are our picks of some of the best kid-friendly museums in New England.
Barker Character, Comic & Cartoon Museum – Cheshire, CT
Herb and Gloria Barker’s cache of childhood nostalgia is one of the largest such collections in America. Old-time treasures such as Lone Ranger flashlight rings appeal to Baby Boomers, while the Pixar collectibles are a hit with the young set. Admission: $5 adults, $3 ages 3-12; free for ages 2 and under.
1188 Highland Ave. (Route 10). 203-699-3822; barkermuseum.com
The International Cryptozoology Museum – Portland, ME
An 8-foot-tall Bigfoot greets visitors at Loren Coleman’s museum. He’s a renowned expert in cryptozoology, the story of hidden animals, such as the Loch Ness Monster and the Abominable Snowman. Check Web site for details.
American Classic Arcade Museum – Laconia, NH
Asteroids? Check. Donkey Kong? Of course. Ms. Pac Man? You bet. They’re all here–more than 250 classic arcade games–at this one-of-a-kind museum dedicated to preserving the idea that you can still find an inordinate amount of pleasure for just a quarter.
Read more about the American Classic Arcade Museum.
579 Endicott St. North. 603-366-4377; classicarcademuseum.org
Harvard Museum of Natural History – Cambridge, MA
There’s something to enrapture visitors of all ages. Kids love the skeleton of the seagoing Kronosaurus dinosaur, millions of bugs, and stuffed lions, tigers, and bears. Parents marvel over the vitrine botanical specimens known as the Glass Flowers.
26 Oxford St., Cambridge, MA. 617-495-3045; hmnh.harvard.edu
Vermont Toy & Train Museum – Quechee, VT
This portal to childhood highlights hundreds of toys, arranged by decade, starting in the 1920s. You’re guaranteed to find something that sends you into spasms of Proustian nostalgia.
Quechee Gorge Village, Route 4. 802-295-1550; quecheegorge.com/vermont-toy-train.php