Across the state of Wyoming there are a number of museums that are family-friendly. Not only do these museums all have hands-on features, but they also welcome kid exploration and learning.
National Historic Trails Interpretive Center – Casper
The National Historic Trails Interpretive Center is a free museum commemorating Native American history and early explorers. The exhibits in seven galleries are hands-on and help teach about the travel corridors of the Pony Express, Mormon hand carts, and the Oregon and California trails. It’s a great stop for a couple hours with kids to let them discover the rich Wyoming history.
We also think The Science Zone is worth stopping at for an affordable and fun place for kids to learn through science.
Museum of the American West – Lander
The Museum of the American West is open May – October and allows visitors to walk through original Lander buildings in the Pioneer village and Xeriscape garden. The museum also includes an outdoor performance area for Native American Dances.
Online the museum is also working on a homesteader database where you can search the names of people who homesteaded in Lander in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
We recommend stopping at the Lander Children’s Museum for a couple hours to let kids explore and play. Exhibits include a S.T.E.M. area, an art/drama area, a toddler room and a nature room.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center – Thermopolis
We can’t talk about the history of Wyoming without including a museum dedicated to Wyoming’s reptile claim-to-fame – the dinosaurs. The world-class facility has one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world, interesting for visitors of all ages.
There are dig site tours available four times daily in the summer months on a first-come, first-served basis. There is also an opportunity for kids aged 8-12 to do a full day kids-only dig (reservations required) for $100.
Wyoming State Museum – Cheyenne
The Wyoming State Museum is another free very hands-on museum that is a good stop with the family. While it is fairly small, it is full of Wyoming relics. It also has a special exhibit commemorating the National Park Service and it’s partnership in preserving wild spaces in Wyoming.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West – Cody
The Buffalo Bill Center in Cody is actually five museums in one and is known as the “Smithsonian of the West”. It is a museum you should plan on visiting for more than one day if you can manage it, but at least allow for a few hours.
The Buffalo Bill Museum gives a view into the world of Buffalo Bill and the Cody he loved. The Draper Natural History Museum showcases the natural beauty and animals of Yellowstone. The Whitney West Art Museum let’s visitors see the West through the artists who loved it. The Plains Indian Museum is an opportunity to explore the Plains Indian peoples. And, finally, the Cody Firearms Museum is a unique exploration of how firearms shaped the culture of the American West.
We also recommend visiting Old Trail Town during the summer months for a unique opportunity to walk through the original historic layout of Cody, Wyoming.
Laramie Plains Museum
The Laramie Plains Museum is located in the beautiful historic Ivinson Mansion and gives a glimpse into early Wyoming living. The Mansion itself was a Cathedral school for girls open until 1958, so shows a unique slice of western history. Now restored and full of Victorian charm, it’s worth spending a couple hours going through.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site
While Fort Laramie was originally established as a fur trading fort in 1834, it evolved into an expansive military post, pivotal in the west until it’s closure in 1890. The fort boasts 11 restored structures, cannon exhibits and an opportunity to get a glimpse into western culture through a self-guided tour.
National Bighorn Sheep Center – Dubois
For such a small town, the National Bighorn Sheep Center boasts quite a museum experience. The Whiskey Mountain Herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is one of the largest herds in the world and are remarkable animals. The museum helps visitors understand the sheep’s behavior and their habitat.
At the center guided and self-guided tours are available along with various programs for youth. They also have an extensive list of online educational resources organized by grade level.
National Museum of Wildlife Art – Jackson
The National Museum of Wildlife Art is Jackson’s gem and has fantastic features both inside and outside. Throughout the summer the museum offers outdoor live music, theater, yoga and a great walk along the ¾ mile trail that overlooks the National Elk Refuge.
Inside, the Children’s Discovery Gallery is a place to let kids safely explore. This area includes a hands-on artist’s studio, life-size diorama, animal costumes, a reading nook and puppet theater.
For kids we also recommend visiting the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum. However, note that the museum is currently in it’s temporary home which is a variety of small portable buildings.
Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting – Greybull
The outdoor Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting was started in 1987 to help preserve the history of aerial firefighting. While the museum is small with a handful of planes and a trailer with some information, it is a great place to make a quick stop as you’re driving by.
Museum of the Mountain Man – Pinedale
The Museum of the Mountain Man preserves the history of the Rocky Mountain fur trade which is a significant part of Wyoming’s history. The museum helps visitors understand the heritage of Wyoming settlers that came battling the harsh conditions of this remote land.