Not Just for Kids: Theme Parks and Museums We’re Obsessing Over

© Courtesy of Kengo Kuma and Associates, Cornelius Vöge, MASU planning
Not Just for Kids: Theme Parks and Museums We’re Obsessing Over

Courtesy of Kengo Kuma and Associates, Cornelius Vöge, MASU planning A rendering of H.C. Andersen’s House, set to open in Odense, Denmark, summer 2021.


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Several new kid-friendly museums, exhibits, and theme parks are slated to open globally in 2021, the kind of places adults might visit without children. Whimsy, joy, and playfulness don’t come with an age limit. Check this list of openings, which we will continue to update, and longer-running experiences we’re obsessed with—plus ways to extend a future trip beyond a day. 

Note that the CDC still doesn’t recommend nonessential travel; vaccinated travelers have a new set of rules to play by, though. 

Hans Christian Andersen’s House, Denmark

Opening summer 2021

“Fairy-tale” might be an overused travel adjective, but a new Hans Christian Andersen museum opening in Denmark this year really will deserve the description. H.C. Andersen’s House, in Odense on the island of Funen some two hours’ drive from Copenhagen, is set to showcase the life and work of the famous spinner of fantastical yarns (“The Snow Queen,” “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” to name a few). H.C. Andersen’s House will feature a children’s house and an underground museum set among gardens ripe for exploration. It all leads to the writer’s actual childhood home. Read the full story.

Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, London

Opening March 27, 2021

When a major exhibit dedicated to Alice in Wonderland opens at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London later this month, the immersive showcase will surely take viewers down a rabbit hole of inspiration and nostalgia. According to museum organizers, the exhibit will feature a large collection of Alice in Wonderland–related artifacts over the last 157 years, such as illustrations by Sir John Tenniel from the original novel, as well as early concept art from Walt Disney’s 1951 film. (Our guess is that Tim Burton’s 2010 big-screen interpretation will also get a nod.)

However, Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser won’t just focus on direct adaptations of the tale. Expanding on the award-winning Wonderland exhibit from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, the V&A presentation will push further, exploring the classic tale’s delightfully weird influence spanning visual art, fashion, music, dance, and photography. Read the full story.

Legoland New York, Goshen, NY

Opening 2021

The largest Legoland in the U.S. is set to open at some point in 2021, bringing seven themed lands and some 50 rides and attractions to Goshen, New York, in the Hudson Valley. It’ll feature a Knights Kingdom with a dragon-themed roller coaster, a Ninjago realm where kids can get their ninja on, plenty of places to exchange those minifigures, and all manner of other cubic fun. Hopefully it’ll also feature the shorter lines and brick-building centers that make the whimsical parks in California and Florida so much fun. 

Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Open Now

Santa Fe is a culture-vulture’s destination any year, whether you’re looking for intimate galleries, regional art museums, or a whole lot of Georgia O’Keeffe. The most toddler-friendly of all, though, is the Museum of International Folk Art on Museum Hill.

Now, you might be thinking that a museum full of ceramics and small children don’t quite mix—but there are more than 130,000 objects from 100+ countries, and many of them are tiny. The permanent exhibit Multiple Visions: A Common Bond features Alexander Girard’s collection of folk art—kids will love to look at pint-sized toreadors, the Indonesian shadow puppets, the colorful dolls and wooden figurines from diverse cultures. There’s a full day’s worth of exploring to do here, and the museum is officially open at 25 percent capacity.

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

Reopening March 27, 2021

First opened in 1843, Copenhagen’s storied amusement park Tivoli Gardens is said to have inspired Walt Disney during several trips before Disney opened Disneyland in California in 1955. Home to more than 26 rides ranging from the Star Flyer, which gives parkgoers bird’s-eye views of the city, to the winsome Music Carousel, the park’s smart Scandinavian design aesthetic and midcentury-modern stylings will delight kids and adults.

The grounds are compact and walkable, and the 38-room Nimb Hotel stands in the center of the action. Tivoli reopens for the season March 27, and to comply with Danish health and safety protocol, guests 15 years and older will be required to show documentation for a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours. Children up to 14 years old are not required to show a negative COVID-19-test. Guests need advance reservations to enter the park. 

Written by Sarah Buder, Tim Chester, Julia Cosgrove, and Laura Dannen Redman.

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