World-class traveling exhibits – on everything from prehistoric cave paintings to Mayan civilization – have always been a big part of the attraction at this stellar museum, the most popular in Texas. The permanent collection is no less impressive, with massive dinosaur skeletons (the curator advised on Jurassic Park), mummies from ancient Egypt, rare gems (like a 2000-carat blue topaz) and interactive exhibits on the earth's biosphere.
Kids love the hands-on learning in the chemistry, energy and other science exhibits. In addition to the IMAX theater, there are planetarium shows and a giant glass butterfly conservatory where you can frolic amidst colorful insects. Special exhibits, films, shows and the butterfly house add an additional $8 to $12 per ticket.