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Visit these Florida museums to make your kids smarter

Tourists may flock to Florida for our beautiful beaches and fun theme parks, but we know there’s so much more to do than that! We have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to state parks, museums and educational opportunities, and summer is the perfect time to take advantage. The trick is to remember that they’re there, and then make the commitment to go exploring.

Museums in particular offer a different kind of experience from the classroom, where specific lessons must be taught each day. At a museum, your child can linger on what’s most interesting, giving them an opportunity to identify and explore their own interests. Also, many museums create exhibits that encourage touching, smelling or moving to get the full experience, pulling in all of your child’s senses to facilitate learning.

According to data collected by the U.S. Department of Education, children who spent time at museums, historical sites, state parks, the zoo and even the beach had significantly higher academic achievement scores than those who did not.

Florida also has an incredible system of state parks, where you can see freshwater springs, beaches, wild forests, prairies, and many of the state’s most interesting cultural landmarks. For added fun, you can purchase a passport book and collect stamps at different parks around the state.

Did you know that several Florida museums participate in the Association of Science-Technology Centers “Travel Passport Program”? By purchasing a family membership to one —  say, the Great Explorations Children’s Museum in Tampa or The Discovery Center in Ocala — you can gain free or discounted admission to other participating museums around the state, and even the entire nation!

Allow us to issue you the most fun summer challenge ever: Aim to take the kids to one state park, one art museum, one history museum and one “other” — maybe a children’s museum, a zoo, an airplane or maritime museum, or something even more unique. You may find these near your home, or you can make a short day trip out of it. If you need ideas to get started, consider this brief list of fantastic stops below.

North Florida

  • National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola
  • Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee
  • State Capitol complex
  • Historic St. Augustine, including Castillo de San Marcos

Central Florida

  • Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville
  • Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
  • Orlando Science Center
  • NASA Kennedy Space Center, Titusville

South Florida

  • Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota
  • Bass Museum of Art, Miami
  • Museum Of Discovery & Science, Fort Lauderdale
  • South Florida Science Museum, West Palm Beach

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