Where To Go If It Rains (or It’s Too Darn Hot!)
Here’s a list of some of our favorite educational centers, museums, and indoor play areas
Editor’s note: Summer 2021 is looking far more promising than last year, but be aware that most places have new safety rules and protocols in place, from requiring masks while indoors to instituting capacity limits. We’ll post what information is available here, but it’s always best to check with the venue in advance before heading out. In many cases, reservations are either strongly recommended or required.
It’s raining, it’s pouring, and the kids are driving you crazy. But fear not, because there are plenty of places in New Hampshire where you can take your family, have some fun and retain your sanity. Here’s a list of some of our favorite educational centers, museums and indoor play areas. This list is also a great resource when you are looking for a place to stay cool during a heat wave!
Enfield Shaker Museum, Enfield
Spend the day at Shaker Village in Enfield and you will finally have an answer for the question: Who were the Shakers? Kids can watch skilled Shaker-style artisans demonstrate their crafts — from making brooms and basketry to building furniture — then try their hand at traditional children’s crafts.
Find more at shakermuseum.org.
Seacoast Science Center, Rye
At this popular hands-on learning center and museum, guests can get up close and personal with the fascinating creatures that live just outside our doors. Kids will love learning about whales and other marine mammals that live in the Gulf of Maine and about the work the Science Center does to protect them. Find more at seacoastsciencecenter.org.
Summer 2021: Advance tickets are strongly recommended (can be purchased online) and masks are required.
SEE Science Center, Manchester
SEE Science Center, located on Bedford Street in the city’s historic Millyard District, has two floors of hands-on science, with something to keep every kid busy, including touch-and-try exhibits on light, electricity, forces, momentum, sound and the SEE’s centerpiece, the LEGO Millyard Project. The impressive — and huge — LEGO-made diorama shows Manchester as it looked in 1900.
Find more at see-sciencecenter.org.
Spring/Summer 2021: SEE Science Center is currently open on weekends only, but will open daily (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) starting June 21. Celebrate the grand reopening with BubbleMania! from June 21-25. Tickets for BubbleMania! shows go on sale May 21. Learn more about new safety protocols (including scheduled deep cleanings) and how to make reservations here: safety information.
New Hampshire Telephone Museum, Warner
Hello? Have you heard about the New Hampshire Telephone Museum in Warner? The museum has more than 1,000 artifacts related to the history of telecommunications. You can take a guided or self-guided tour. In summer 2020, the special exhibit is all about railroad communications.
Find more at nhtelephonemuseum.org.
Summer 2021: Open for the season Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Masks are required.
NUThin’ But GOOD TIMES, Merrimack
Nuthin’ but good times! Is a huge indoor play space that caters to kids of all ages. Older kids can explore large indoor play equipment, complete with mazes, activities, tunnels, and slides; younger kids will love the soft-play structure. While the kids are tiring themselves out, parents can grab something to eat from the café, plug into the free Wi-Fi or read a book, and relax.
Find more at nuthinbutgoodtimes.com.
Summer 2021: Open for walk-ins, masks are required for ages over 5 when social distancing is not possible. Visit the website for more safety information.
NH Boat Museum, Wolfeboro
On display at the museum is an array of canoes, guide boats, sailboats and other water craft that have dotted the waters of the lakes region throughout the centuries.
Find more at nhbm.org.
Summer 2021: The museum will reopen May 29. Masks are required. Rides on the Millie B will be offered with new protocols in place.
Aviation Museum of New Hampshire, Londonderry
If planes are more your thing, you’ll find airplane models, photographs and memorabilia of Granite State’s history in the air at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire. The museum is housed in the original Art Deco terminal building built in 1937.
Find more at aviationmuseumofnh.org.
Summer 2021: Hours are Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday from 1-4 p.m. See the website for safety protocols, including a mask requirement.
SkyVenture New Hampshire, Nashua
If you really want to take flight, head over to SkyVenture for adrenaline-boosting activities. SkyVenture offers indoor skydiving, indoor surfing, and a rock climbing wall, just to name a few exhilarating things to do.
Find more at skyventurenh.com.
Summer 2021: Closed on Mondays, open on Tuesdays to take phone reservations at (603) 897-0002. Reservations are strongly recommended.
McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Concord
The Discovery Center, named for two New Hampshire natives — the late teacher Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard, the first American in space — has programs for all ages. The Discovery Center has innovative, interactive exhibits that delve into the worlds of astronomy, aviation, Earth and space sciences. New this year are items from the Mount Washington Observatory’s Discovery Center, which relocated about 80% of its exhibits to the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center when the observatory’s center closed last year. New attractions include the Shaky Shack, the replica of the 1930s-era observatory staff’s mountaintop cabin in which the highest human-observed surface wind speed on Earth was recorded in 1934. Also, the center recently upgraded the planetarium technology for even more star-studded shows.
Find more at starhop.com.
Block Party Social, Hooksett
Formerly, the Space Center, Block Party Social is a family entertainment center with video games, virtual reality games, rope climbing, laser tag and concessions. Insider tip: games are half price all day every Wednesday.
Find more at blockpartysocial.com
Summer 2021: Walk-ins are welcome, but visit the website for information on new safety measures.
Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, Dover
There is no shortage of things to do at the Children’s Museum of New Hampshire, from learning about aerodynamics at Build It. Fly It, where you can launch your craft from a 30-foot tower, to exploring caves and getting creative in the STEAM Innovation Lab.
View their schedule at childrens-museum.org.
Summer 2021: Hours are Wednesday-Sunday from 9-11:30 a.m. and Thursday-Saturday from 9-11:30 a.m. or 1-3:30 p.m. Reservations are required, as are masks for anyone over 2.
American Independence Museum, Exeter
Examine the unique history of Folsom Tavern, the place that taverns held in Colonial and revolutionary history, and the different experiences that people had in taverns. Learn more about summer camps and programs here.
Find more information at independencemuseum.org.
Summer 2021: Reserve your spot on a tour of the tavern on Thursdays from 10.m.-12 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Cheshire Children’s Museum, Keene
A place where children can learn while playing and explore at their own pace. Exhibits include highlights of the Monadnock Region, the New Hampshire Park, where you can ride over the musical bridge, Monadnock Munchkins, a safe, home-like environment separate from the rest of the museum for babies and toddlers and more. Learn more at cheshirechildrensmuseum.org.
Still closed, but check back for updates:
Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum, North Conway
For a rainy day (or hot weather!) escape, head to the Mount Washington Valley Children’s Museum in North Conway, where kids can put on puppet shows, play with trains, climb into a life-sized treehouse, explore outer space and more. The museum is in the heart of downtown, so you can walk to nearby restaurants and shops or even hop aboard the Conway Scenic Railroad.
View more information at mwvchildrensmuseum.org.