As part of a summer series, T+L is highlighting amazing lesser-known attractions found in the United States. Next up: a hands-on science museum in Milwaukee.
You won’t find many stern "Don't Touch" signs at Milwaukee’s Discovery World. This is a museum where you’re supposed to touch everything, from gears and pulleys to guitar strings. Sandwiched between Lake Michigan and downtown Milwaukee, Discovery World invites visitors—especially children—to explore interactive exhibits about science, engineering, technology, and design.
What to do at Discovery World if you're a first-time visitor? Start at the fresh and salt water touch tanks in the Reiman Aquarium, where you'll see (and feel) aquatic creatures such as starfish and bamboo sharks. There's even a blind stingray. Wash your hands before visiting the Milwaukee Muscle exhibit, where visitors can work a miniature excavator and learn about the principles of hydraulics. Another highlight is the Distant Mirror exhibit, which features a mummy CT scanner just like the ones used by archeologists. Real-life digs and historical sites nearby can also be seen through an archeology periscope.
Visitors may also want to climb aboard a replica of a Great Lakes schooner (like the 18th-century wreck at the bottom of Lake Ontario) or make music with xylophone-like benches. But Discovery World is more than just a standard science museum. Locals love the range of kid-friendly lab spaces and summer camps. Open on weekends and free with admission, for example, is the Kohl’s Design It! Lab, where kids learn all about the process of conceiving (and creating) 3D projects with unusual tools like vacuum formers and laser cutters.
Discovery World is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $18 for adults, $14 for children ages 3 through 17, and free for kids under three. Seniors, college students and military personnel receive discounts with ID.