Everyone’s heard tales of parents who blend pureed veggies into their kids’ cookies. I leave the cauliflower alone, but I love the vacation equivalent: sneaking a culture fix into an otherwise child-focused trip.
While not every museum is suited for families, I’ve rounded up a few favorites, old and new, that add an easy educational upgrade to some of the world’s most popular winter destinations.
> Ski: Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, Colorado (USA)
The long-awaited Shigeru Ban revamp of the Aspen Art Museum was unveiled in August 2014, ushering in a sleek new era for the circa 1979 institution. The contemporary collection features internationally renowned artists that appeal to art-aware parents, while a range of children’s programs keeps everyone from tykes to teens engaged. Try the Design Your Own Lift Ticket workshop where children are invited to respond to the art commissioned for the season’s real ski passes.
> Adventure: Glaciarium, Patagonia (Argentina)
Hit this museum to give kids a scientific introduction to the real-life glaciers they’ll be seeing in Patagonia. The modern building, which mimics an ice field’s craggy towers, opened in 2011 and also offers 3-D movies and an ice bar in addition to the models of the area’s glaciers.
Worth noting: the museum is in the town of El Calafate, not far from the airport, whereas most of the great lodges are out in the countryside. The best way to visit is when you’re headed from the airport to your lodge so you don’t have to make the drive back in later.
> Beach: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, Miami, Florida (USA)
Miami boasts a formidable art scene, with the design-driven city hosting Art Basel every December and a host of galleries and private collections creating a museum scene that rivals more iconic culture capitals. But most families rarely explore beyond the sands of South Beach.
On your next visit, reserve a morning to experience the Vizcaya complex. Kids will love wandering the rooms of this landmark mansion and exploring its lush gardens overlooking Biscayne Bay. Hide-and-seek in this Florida fantasy land has never been better.
> Urban: Niterói Contemporary Art Museum (MAC), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
- Nat Geo Expeditions
A museum that looks like a UFO? Yes, please. The flying saucer architecture and city views (the museum is located in the city of Niterói, directly across the bay from Rio) alone make this museum worth visiting, but the colorful collection of contemporary art will be equally fascinating for younger visitors, if not the top works of interest for adults. Hungry after soaking up all that culture? The café is a good option for lunch.