Opened in late 2012, the new science museum is a must-see, not only for its stunning permanent exhibits and traveling shows but also for Thom Mayne’s groundbreaking sustainable building, which boasts a glass-enclosed staircase that cuts right through the structure. There is so much to see here that you might want to break it up into a couple of trips, but our favorite by far is the gems and minerals hall, which among other phenomena, includes an amazing five-foot geode. Plus, if you have little ones, the Children’s Museum alone is practically worth the day trip with all its requisite slides, crawl spaces, and sandpits.

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