15 More Places Every Kid Should See Before 15
First, we chose 15 places we thought every kid should see before 15. Then, we asked you to help come up with the list and your response was overwhelming. Did your favorite make the cut? Read on to find out.
Watching an actual volcano in action is a far cry from the baking soda science experiments kids do at school. At this Hawaiian park, visitors watch—at a safe distance—as hot lava spills into the Pacific, where it bursts into particles later pulverized by the waves into black sand. The park is home to two of the world's most active volcanoes, and rangers will bring you down into the lava tubes (subterranean caverns formed by hardened molten rock) and maybe even play you a tune on a ohe hano ihu, aka the Hawaiian nose flute. Says reader Angela: The surreal black landscape is "one of the few places in the world where your kids can stand on earth that is younger than they are." One Crater Rim Dr., 808/985-6000, nps.gov/havo. Park entrance fee is $10 per vehicle; bike or foot entrance starts at $5.
Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Our nation's civil rights history is chronicled at this Birmingham museum, which places the '50s and '60s in a context that today's children can understand. There are compelling artifacts on display to illustrate segregation such as a set of "colored" and "white" drinking fountains. The exhibits don't gloss over the tragedies of the civil rights' era, and include the story of four young girls killed in a bombing at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, right across the street from the museum. The galleries do include hopeful notes, including a video recording of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. 520 Sixteenth St. North, 205-328-9696, bcri.org. Adults, $12; kids, grades 4-12, $3.
Not all presidential museums are created equal. When the 40,000-square foot museum wing of this downtown Springfield complex opened in 2005, it instantly became America's most high-tech presidential landmark. Case in point: Go to the Holavision Theater to see Ghosts of the Library, a play where a hologram of our 16th president appears and disappears along with actors on the stage to recreate the founding of the library. Lower-tech exhibits include the Treasures Gallery, a room full of Lincoln artifacts including family photos as well as Abe's shaving mirror and one of his iconic stovepipe hats. Hands-on activities bring history to life; take a trip to Mrs. Lincoln's Attic to dress-up in period costume. 212 N. Sixth St., 800/610-2094, alplm.org.Adults, $12; kids 5-15, $6.
Even the most jaded teen will be wowed by the colossal busts of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln at this national park in the Black Hills of Keystone. The visitors' center has exhibits on the 14-year journey to complete the monument, which was finished in 1941 after 400 workers dynamite-blasted the granite peaks to carve the faces. There is also info on how the four great leaders depicted guided our nation through tricky times. Stay for sunset to sing the National Anthem at the lighting ceremony, and challenge your kids to count the number of different state license plates in the parking lot. While you are in the area, make time to see the Crazy Horse Memorial, another enormous cliff carving in the making about a half an hour southwest of Mount Rushmore. 13000 Highway 244, 605/574-2523, nps.gov/moru. Free; parking permit, $11.
New York, New York
Where else in the U.S. can you see an ancient Egyptian temple, a Ming Dynasty garden, and one of the world's largest collections of Vermeers all under one roof? The Met covers a 14-acre space in Central Park, yet this cavernous space is only large enough to show a sliver of its full collection of art and artifacts. The museum itself is constantly evolving, and the third and final phase of a decade-long refurbishment of the American Wing re-opened in January 2012. Children can easily learn about our nation's history from early colonial times through the Civil War and into the modern era via iconic paintings, including Emanuel Leutze's famed depiction of General George Washington crossing a near-frozen Delaware River during the Revolutionary War. 1000 Fifth Ave., 212/535-7710, metmuseum.org. Adults, suggested donation of $25.