Traveling with kids: Miami Science Museum and Planetarium

Another trip in time back to the Miami Science Museum and Planetarium was on today’s agenda. This icon boasts laser shows which were the highlight of my teenage years – many Friday nights spent lying on the floor listening to Pink Floyd and watching the stars – in the air conditioning – with lasers too. Great stuff. Well, that is still something they do but as I was there as a parent rather than pothead, my interests were a wee bit more educational than recreational this time around.

The exhibits are far more hands-on than I recall. My memories are of a crusty, dark building with loads of indecipherable panels about science stuff. Nowadays, the museum is primarily various experiments with energy or motion or demonstrations of various principles (pulleys, catapults, etc). They were all well done and well explained. There was a cool Lego exhibit for kids to build cars which were then powered by solar energy. ‘Course my 4 year old just wanted to spend the afternoon doing legos…the dance floor to demonstrate energy was an original idea. Tip: avoid weekdays during summer camp because the exhibits tend to be overrun with bored kids – we spent our time trying to avoid the crowds but I am fairly sure at this was solely due to the summer campers.

The nice wildlife center has loads of critters from Florida: king snakes, eastern diamondback rattlers, rat snakes and the dreaded cotton mouth as well as pythons and boas in the snake department. Your skin crawls at the nasty spider collection complete with some menacing (and alarmingly enormous) scorpions (one of the reasons I have never been all that hot on camping!). There are also turtles and tortoises as well as some impressive birds of prey including a magnificent bald eagle and a golden eagle as well. The florida alligator and crocodile are side by side in adjacent pools which is cool by way of comparison. There is also a nice marine section with a ray petting area and some interesting information of mangrove formation and coral formation.

Overall, this visit was very much worth the $12 admission – another Miami must with the kids.
Oh, and the planetarium, well, we did get to see one show about planets which bored the shit out of my kid after about 3 minutes but which I enjoyed. One of the drawbacks to young kids: we missed the 2 pm laser show because it was already past lunch time and nap time was at risk.

Footnote: the museum will be moving from this fabled and gorgeous location in Coconut Grove across from Vizcaya to downtown Miami in 2014. The mockups of the new site do look nice but you’d be advised to rush over and see the current one before it ceases to exist because it is pretty unique.

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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