Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum

This post is part of my Destinations series, that reviews science museums and children’s museums around the country.

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum is an excellent children’s science museum with lots of engaging hands-on learning while playing experiences.

Some of their exhibits, as shown in the pictures:

  • a health exhibit specifically focusing on dental health downstairs and “all about you” upstairs which was a fun exploration of how we hear sound, how our bodies move and more
  • a google earth experience where you could zoom in on all sorts of places around the world and see it on screens surrounding you – we zoomed in on Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where you could see their (blurry) cars in the driveway, and on my son’s middle school.
  • a great water play area, with pipes to build, magnetic fishing poles and fish, an Archimedes screw, a ball elevator, and more
  • STEAM Park had: pulley play, a wind tube, rockets to launch, a large spiro-graph and some bridge building challenges
  • Preschool Play area was huge with a big ball transporter, climbers and more
  • a Light and Optics room (with the blue blocks area outside)
  • there was also a historic general store

In our experience, many things that call themselves children’s museums are aimed primarily at children age 3 – 8, with a set-aside area for toddlers. They often are no longer appealing to kids over 10. Many things that call themselves science museums are primarily for elementary age kids who come on school field trips, and may not be well suited to preschoolers and toddlers. Hands On actually straddled that full range, and had plenty to appeal to toddlers to middle schoolers. It’s also bigger than most children’s museums. We spent 3.5 hours here and there was plenty to keep us engaged.

They do not have a cafe, just a couple vending machines and a couple tables to eat at. We had a fabulous brunch (nutella pancakes! grains bowl!) at Stray Hen cafe, just .3 miles away just before going to the museum.

This museum is also affiliated with Leslie Science and Nature Center. We were at the museum so long that we missed out on visiting the Critter House there (that has frogs, turtles, snakes and more) but we did see the Raptor enclosures, hiked the trails and played on the Nature Playscape.

Read about these other area museums: Air Zoo in Portage, MI, COSI in Columbus, the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the Michigan Science Center in Detroit. Or other science museums across the country. (See a map of some here:



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