Driving up to Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, my whole family was excited and intrigued by the unique building with a concrete sphere attached to it. Yet walking inside the 300,000 square-foot museum was even more impressive—our eyes were immediately drawn to the enormous expanding sphere in the air, complete with a scissor-like connector known as the Hoberman Sphere, a centerpiece of the museum since it opened in 1992. With 12 museum exhibition halls, 110 species of animals, hurricane-and-tornado-force wind simulators, and the Western Hemisphere’s biggest planetarium—Liberty Science Center is an interactive museum that makes science and physics fun. We were able to be paleontologists, learn about the force of the wind, play with a bright giant light, and climb into the first suspended play space in the world. It’s no wonder this intriguing place is not only on our list of must-see museums but also on our list of top aquariums and zoos in NJ. Read on for more about our visit, what my kids learned while there (me too), and why heading to Liberty Science Center for a day trip is a must. (feature photo taken at Liberty Science Center)
From the Hudson River to the Woolly Mammoth, Liberty Science Center has it all
There are four floors of exhibits at Liberty Science Center, so we had to map out the best way to conquer the vast space and things to do. At first, we gravitated toward the Pixel Art wall, a giant wall made of 952-pixel dials. My kids were instantly mesmerized by it, and the best part was that each dial contained more than 1,000 possible color combinations (allowing you to “turn on” the different colors). Next, we learned about the importance of the Hudson River at Our Hudson Home, where we saw fish and turtles and moved sediment in a model of the Hudson River. We couldn’t resist stepping outside on the exhibit deck to get the most fantastic view of Liberty State Park and New York City. As we made our way back in, we stopped at Making Mammoths, where we learned about genetics, and then wandered into Microbes Rule! where we were fascinated by the world of microbes and took in the sights of the glowing gallery of microbe art. We also didn’t want to miss the 80 foot Touch Tunnel where we felt our way through a tunnel totally in the dark.
Climbing to new heights at LSC in Jersey City
When you look down from the fourth floor at Liberty Science Center, you will see a web suspended over the floor full of little climbers. This is the infamous Infinity Climber, and there are multiple paths to take over the nineteen miles of hand-threaded wire that runs through the museum’s center. This was one of my kids’ favorite stops at the Liberty Science Center, and with the climbing and planning skills, it was a win-win—they got some energy out and had to think about how to map out their next move. After, we made our way into the Dream Machine, a musical sensory experience, and then into Wonder Why, which housed a challenging rock wall, a wind tunnel, and a liquid table that would spin and create unique designs. It was the perfect spot for mom and dad to take a break while the kids could walk around and explore.
Walking on the wild side
Naked mole rats, cotton-top tamarin monkeys, and even a rose-hair tarantula are must-see animals at Liberty Science Center. Did you know that there are over 100 animal species at the center? The cotton-top tamarin monkeys were so fun to watch, and it was pretty amazing to see the rose-hair tarantula at the Wild About Animals exhibition. There were even hermit crabs climbing ladders in the Hermit Crab Playground and a chinchilla enjoying a dust bath in the Chinchilla Castle. During our stop at Our Hudson Home exhibit, we learned about the Hudson River as a means of travel and commerce, a source of food, and a place to play. Within the display are aquariums featuring native plants, fish, and animals to the Hudson River, which piqued my kids’ interest since, up until now, most aquariums we’ve been to have focused on the ocean.
Digging the views at Liberty Science Center
Let your kiddos become a paleontologist and discover fossils at Liberty Science Center’s new, permanent outdoor exhibition—Dino Dig Adventure! This was a great place to spread out and get some fresh air as the kids brushed away sand to uncover fossils from seven different dinosaur species while we took in amazing views of the NYC skyline. They moved around trying to discover new fossils at three other dig pits covered in over 60 tons of sand under a giant canopy inspired by the shape of an Ankylosaurus. This spot is a must-see for all ages if you need a slight change of scenery mixed with some dinosaur fun.
Wander around Wobbly World inside LSC
Littles will love the entire Liberty Science Center, but at Wobbly World, they’ll find their groove. Kids 5 and under can explore balance, motion, and cause and effect in this slightly off-kilter wonderland. Don’t miss the Body Mobile, a part carousel, part Calder-style mobile powered by play, coming to life as they move. Other exhibits include testing their balance at Balancescape, building with oversized Balance Blocks, or sorting, stacking, and balancing at the Scales and Stacking Station. The bright, airy play exhibit is so much fun that your kiddos won’t even realize that they are learning.
Fuel up during your visit
We built up quite an appetite exploring Liberty Science Center and found some excellent choices to fuel up. First, there is the Galaxy Grab & Go, where you can grab a quick snack or drink, and it’s open until the museum shuts down. It offers a variety of drinks and snacks like yogurt parfaits, applesauce, and salads. If you want a sit-down meal, head to the Cosmic Cafe, Liberty Science Center’s food hall, with everything from house-made pizza to chicken to hot and cold sandwiches. Both places satisfied everyone, from adults to kids, and we were happy we had so many choices.
See it before it’s gone—Special Exhibits at Liberty Science Center.
Any Thomas & Friends fans in your family? From now until September 4, 2023, you can immerse yourself in the beloved television series Thomas & Friends: Explore The Rails, where your kids can learn, play and solve problems with counting objects, comparing sizes, and learning colors. This special exhibit is an incredible experience for kids to learn essential engineering concepts and science ideas through play. The Thomas & Friends exhibit is included with general admission. Also, don’t miss The Building 2023, created by renowned Argentine conceptual artist Leandro Erlich. This arts meets science exhibit will be on display all summer in 2023.
Don’t miss the biggest planetarium in America
Liberty Science Center boasts the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere with 88 million pixels and a lighting system that can produce over 281 trillion colors—that alone will let you know that you are in for quite a show. The Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium is a must-see when you visit the Liberty Science Center, and the super comfy chairs will make you want to stay even longer. We visited the planetarium toward the end because I found it very relaxing (the chairs are fantastic after a long day of exploring), and I thought it was a perfect high note to a fun-filled day. The 89-foot full-dome gave us a fantastic glimpse into space as we watched Wonders of the Night Sky, and we all learned so much as the view changed from Jersey City to outer space. It was surely a memorable way to end the day. My kids asked when we could go back, which I count as a huge success for a museum day trip.
The Pixel Art wall at LSC is so much fun, and each dial has over 1,000 color choices.
What to know before you go
The Liberty Science Center has a total of four floors that are connected by stairs and elevators. We started on the fourth floor and then headed to the lobby to end our day, but you can begin anywhere to explore the permanent and temporary exhibits. There are bathrooms on every floor and a nursing room for mothers on the second floor. The building is ADA-compliant and stroller friendly, so don’t hesitate to bring the little ones.
Because Liberty Science Center has in-house food venues, no outside food or drinks are allowed. It is strongly recommended that you buy tickets online—tickets are $24.99 for ages 2-12 and $29.99 for adults. The planetarium shows are available as an add-on to your general admission ticket. Click here for ticket information and learn more about becoming a Liberty Science Center member with many perks, like free single-use passes for planetarium shows. The planetarium and some exhibits are an extra fee.
There is a daily schedule available where you can plan out your day with shows on your must-see list. A gift shop on the first floor has lots of fun science toys like Astronaut ice cream and NASA merchandise. Stop by the parking kiosk in the main lobby outside the gift shop if you would rather pay before getting into your car. Liberty Science Center also has activities for homeschooled children, a scout program, and camp-ins.
The Liberty Science Center
222 Jersey City Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07305
Check out Liberty Science Center’s website, Facebook, and Instagram
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