The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, located in downtown Dallas, Texas, has to be one of the largest museums we have ever visited- and definitely one of the most fun science centers we have explored! The building is equivalent in size to a 14 story building! Plan on spending the better portion of a full day exploring this 180,000+ square foot museum filled with five floors of exhibits, although could spend days here and still not see everything. Start at the top and work your way down the floors and through 11 exhibition halls.
Traveling with Kids:
Definitely bring the stroller. There are glass walled elevators (cool views!) and escalators to bring you to the various floors.
Restrooms are located on every floor and I was pleased to see nursing rooms throughout the museum.
The Perot Museum is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers and has reciprocity privileges if you are a participating member. The museum is also part of the CityPass Dallas ticket. Free passes offered to military personnel and Texas teachers- check here for more information. The museum offers a great membership program with lots of perks, including member only hours. Check here for details on memberships.
There is a large parking garage located under Woodall Rodgers Freeway with a crosswalk connected to the museum. It cost $10 to park for the day. Check here for more information.
There is a gift shop and café located on the main level with admissions. The café sells the usual concessions, but with an emphasis on locally grown food. You can also bring your own food and picnic at one of the tables located both inside and outdoors. The only food or drink allowed inside the museum is bottled water.
There are 11 different permanent exhibit halls. Here are some of our favorite exhibits from each floor:
4th Floor and Mezzanine:
Hall of Birds has hands on experiences like creating your own virtual bird, pretending to fly like a bird on a simulator, and using utensils to try and grasp food like a bird.
Dinosaur fun awaits you in the Life Then and Now exhibit with many touch screens, quizzes, and virtual contests. There are cool exhibits on the Ice Age in Dallas and Ocean Life in Dallas.
Future astronauts will definitely want to spend time in the Expanding the Universe Hall, filled with touch screens, projectors, a timeline of the creation of planet Earth, and plenty of physics lessons on gravity.
An eight minute film loop with 3D animation gives you the feeling for what it’s like to journey through the solar system.
Gem & Mineral Hall showcased a five foot geode with shimmering purple crystals (this was my daughter's favorite thing in the entire museum!) Take turns trying to open the vault. There are also gems from five of the six continents on display.
Dynamic Earth Hall has an earthquake simulator, giving you the experience of what it would feel like to shake during an earthquake. Practice your meteorologist skills as you forecast weather on screen.
Ride the Barrett Shale and go far underground to explore the Earth’s crust. Note: you’ll sit inside a capsule with about 25 seats for the simulation. The capsule is dimly lit and your individual seat with vibrate, shake and rotate frequently. There are no seatbelts. There are also occasional loud noises. I would not recommend this for young children. My 8 and 10 year old children loved it.
Discover Life Hall and engineering hall has tons of interactive stations. Use your senses to learn about the different ecoregions of Texas (definitely climb under the Pineywoods diorama) and how pollution could lead to the extinction of some species.
You could spend the better part of a morning in the Being Human Hall. We especially liked the Bio Lab where you can explore DNA under a microscope, work on your balance, create a “selfie” using wires and a mirror, research the biographies of local Nobel Prize winners, and sing a song as a visualizer projects your voice on a screen using images in various colors, shapes, and sizes.
Engineering and Innovation Hall houses the Robot Arena with opportunities to race robots through mazes, engineer personalized skyscrapers, and create a maze of train tracks.
Walk down the musical stairs and create your own song a la the movie Big.
The Moody Children’s Museum is the spot to be for the five and under crowd. There’s a replica Dallas cityscape to climb, a farmer’s market, art lab, campground, and an outdoors sandbox.
Sports Hall has tons of athletic challenges where you can compare your form to professional athletes and then play back your performance and see the differences, test your reaction times, and race against Olympian runners and superfast animals. This was my son’s favorite exhibit- we had to drag him out of here!
The rotating exhibit Art of the Brick opens on February 23rd. It’ll feature famous art work like the Mona Lisa, replicated ONLY using legos. It’s sure to be a huge hit. Check here for more information.
Be sure to leave a few minutes before you enter or leave the museum to explore the outdoor plaza, which includes the Musical Forest and the Leap Frog Forest (who doesn’t love climbing on top of a giant frog?!)
If you’re looking for more family fun in Dallas, take a twenty minute ride to Arlington, Texas and tour the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. Read about our adventures here.
Full disclosure: My family was given a media pass to visit the museum. All opinions expressed are my own.