From the moment you walk through its doors, the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, captures your kids' attention and doesn't let go.
Where else can you play a stringless harp, cheer for basketball-playing rats (our team won!), ride a unicycle across a high wire, navigate a submarine, fly into space and learn how all kinds of gadgets work by actually taking them apart? And all in less than three hours.
This spacious, easy-to-navigate museum is a parents' dream come true. The kids are too busy exploring to whine or complain about anything. Leaving, though, is a problem because even if you visit every exhibit, they'll want to visit them all again before you go.
Through Sept. 7, COSI will feature its newest exhibit, "Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science," where kids can see real human and animal mummies and families can visit a re-created tomb.
COSI is not far from downtown, where you'll find plenty of great restaurants and nice hotels to make this a weekend trip your kids won't soon forget-especially if your rats win at basketball.
333 W. Broad St., Columbus, OH
• Download a suggested itinerary for your kids' ages at www.cosi.org/visitors/plan-your-visit/itinerary/ to make the most of your visit.
• Wear closed-toe shoes (not Crocs) if you plan to ride the unicycle. Size restrictions do apply.
• Be prepared for kids to get wet in the ocean area (parents, too) where Poseidon oversees a water playground too appealing to resist, with shooting water cannons, fountains and sprayers.
• Spring for the value pass, which includes admission, live shows and Extreme Screen movie ($19.75 for adults, $14.75 for kids 2-12.) It's the best value.
• It's a relatively easy five-hour, 45-minute drive to Columbus from downtown Chicago, but be aware that, through November, construction on Interstate 65 in Northwest Indiana is causing major delays.