Heading to a planetarium to explore the wonders of space and the night sky is a great way to spend a cold or rainy day no matter where people are. These interesting astronomical theaters are much more than simply buildings, they transport visitors away from the hustle and bustle of cities into the far reaches of the universe to learn about planets, stars, meteors, black holes, and much more.
Planetariums also serve as educational and research centers, and many feature surprising architecture. Fortunately, there is no shortage of planetariums to visit in the United States.
1. Burke Baker Planetarium at The Houston Museum of Natural Science
The Burke Baker Planetarium at the Houston Museum of Natural Science first opened back in 1964 and has since presented a variety of astronomical programs to visitors from both the general public and school groups. The dome of the planetarium was also used for training NASA Space Shuttle astronauts on how to identify starfields. Home to a SkySkan Digital Sky projector, the most advanced of its kind in the world, the Burke Baker Planetarium offers the latest in technology, including a Digistar 6 system that helps guests discover the universe, navigate asteroids, roam on the surface of planets, and much more.
5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, Phone: 713-639-4629
2. Alexander Brest Planetarium, Museum of Science & History, Jacksonville
© Alexander Brest Planetarium, Museum of Science & History
The Bryan-Gooding Planetarium, which is one of the country’s largest single-lens planetariums, is located in the Alexander Brest Science Theater at the Museum of Science and History, or also known as MOSH, in Jacksonville, Florida. This expansive planetarium utilizes cutting edge planetarium technology to entertain guests of all ages and to bring the wondrous night sky to life. The Alexander Brest Planetarium presents several immersive productions focused around the dynamic planet of Earth, deep space exploration, and “the human experience” that connects it all. The live presentations hosted daily at the planetarium are presented by knowledgeable planetarium educators.
1025 Museum Cir, Jacksonville, FL 32207, Phone: 904-396-6674
3. Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum, Bradenton
© Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum
The Bishop Planetarium in Bradenton, Florida can be found at the South Florida Museum, providing guests with a state-of-the-art system that offers sharper, brighter images within its full-dome digital planetarium theater. The planetarium is also considered to be the “premier astronomy facility” along the west coast of Florida. Through latest-generation software and the Digistar 6 projection system, the Bishop Planetarium offers stunning views for guests and can update constantly as new astronomical wonders are discovered. This technology also allows for recreating a “dark sky natural environment” and live on-air events. Admission to the planetarium is included with admission to the museum.
201 10th St W, Bradenton, FL 34205, Phone: 941-746-4131
4. Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory, Golden Pond
Located in the town of Golden Pond in Kentucky, the Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory provides an array of educational and entertaining programs for guests of all ages with its digital projection system and a forty-foot dome theater. The surround-sound, 360-degree theater features temperature control and high-back, comfortable seats to provide comfort to visitors. The majority of the shows presented at the Golden Pond Planetarium are around forty minutes in length and are designed to recreate celestial effects as they explore subjects related to astronomy. Along with offering presentations, the planetarium also acts as an Educator Resource Center for NASA.
238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211, Phone: 270-924-2233
You are reading "25 Best Planetariums in the USA" & Fun trips close to me
5. Mark Smith Planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon
© Mark Smith Planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences
The Mark Smith Planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in the city of Macon, Georgia has been rebuilt and expanded to feature a full-dome, 44-foot, planetarium that is home to state-of-the-art digital technology. The planetarium is now home to one of the highest contrast, highest resolution, and brightest single projectors available, making the Mark Smith Planetarium one of the country’s finest planetariums.
4182 Forsyth Rd, Macon, GA 31210, Phone: 478-477-3232
6. Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco
The Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco, California presents a variety of planetarium shows for guests ages four and up, utilizing cutting-edge technology and scientific data that results in amazing visualizations of the theories, discoveries, and latest findings of the universe. Each galaxy or star encountered at the Morrison Planetarium precisely mirrors a counterpart in the real world. The 75-foot dome is situated at the California Academy of Sciences and is one of the world’s largest all-digital planetariums, as well as one of the world’s most accurate digital Universes. Showpasses for the planetarium are included with the cost of admission.
55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, Phone: 415-379-8000
7. Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium
© Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium
The Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium in the town of Homewood, Alabama offers guests a unique chance to explore the universe. The goal of the planetarium is to bring visitors knowledge about science and space through an engaging and interactive way, aiming to make science fun. Public presentations are offered at the Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium on a scheduled basis about an array of topics related to astronomy, providing interactive, live, family-friendly shows. Admission to these shows are typically free and available on a first-come, first-serve basis, unless otherwise noted. Private presentations at the Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium are also possible.
800 Lakeshore Dr, Homewood, AL 35229, Phone: 205-726-4139
8. Planetariums Near Me: W. A. Gayle Planetarium
© W. A. Gayle Planetarium
The W. A. Gayle Planetarium in Montgomery, Alabama is the premier astronomy education facility in the region and a multimedia theater for digital art performances, live music, lectures, and films. Operated by the Troy University, the planetarium embodies a motto of educating the “mind to think, the body to act, and the heart to feel.” The auditorium of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium was specifically designed for simulating the natural night sky and projects images of stars, planets, the moon, and several other celestial objects across its fifty-foot dome. Realistic and natural scenes are created to inspire and immerse guests during shows.
1010 Forest Ave, Montgomery, AL 36106, Phone: 334-625-4799
9. Dorrance Planetarium at the Arizona Science Center, Phoenix
Located in Phoenix, the Dorrance Planetarium at the Arizona Science Center is one of the nation’s most technologically advanced and largest planetariums. Since it opened in 1997, the planetarium has welcomed over two millions visitors to its unique shows and events. The Dorrance Planetarium features a NanoSeam design and its dome is the first of its kind in the world at a museum or science center. One of the most unique shows the planetarium presents is Art 360, an immersive, 360-degree cinema and art experience showcasing interesting artistic images combined with sound that’s only heard in the full-dome planetarium.
600 E Washington St, Phoenix, AZ 85004, Phone: 602-716-2000
10. Planetariums Near Me: Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland
© Chabot Space and Science Center
The Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California consists of a planetarium, telescopes, exhibits, and much more within the scenic Redwoods Regional Park. The center’s Ask Jeeves Planetarium uses three different visualization systems to transport guests on an exploration of both the planet Earth and the universe beyond. The fiber-optic Zeiss Universarium star projector, which is one of just four in the country, allows visitors to see the night sky without the glare from city lights by revealing a deep-field, precise night sky featuring as many as six thousand celestial objects. The Digital Sky system transports audiences to the galaxy beyond.
10000 Skyline Blvd, Oakland, CA 94619, Phone: 510-336-7300
11. The Discovery Museum, Science and Space Center, Sacramento
Formerly known as the Powerhouse Science Center, the Discovery Museum, Science and Space Center now goes by the name of SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity, or MOSAC. This science museum and space center in Sacramento, California houses the Challenger Learning Center, as well as the only public planetarium in the city. The planetarium shows guests the basics of space travel, along with a view of the night sky and an opportunity to touch a real meteorite. There is also a wildlife pond, nature trails, and an animal discovery room at the SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity.
3615 Auburn Blvd, Sacramento, CA 95821, Phone: 916-674-5000
12. Holt Planetarium, Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley
© Holt Planetarium, Lawrence Hall of Science
The Holt Planetarium at the University of California Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science has welcomed more than 50 million people to explore the night sky through a variety of programs. The planetarium also serves as a “proving ground” for the university’s Planetarium Activities for Student Success project that develops and tests audience participation programs for planetariums throughout the world. The all-digital projection system of the Holt Planetarium allows for full-dome video, displaying video clips, images, and other types of visuals anywhere across the dome. Audiences of up to 50 people can watch shows in the comfort of a reclined-back seat.
Centennial Dr, Berkeley, CA 94720, Phone: 510-642-5132
13. Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder
© Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder
Located on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Fiske Planetarium and Science Center is a place where people can attend concerts at intergalactic venues, take in the view of a night sky with millions of stars, walk along the sun’s surface, and more. The planetarium first opened in 1975 and provides an “out-of-this-world experience” for anyone visiting through its knowledgeable staff, constantly evolving exhibits, and state-of-the-art technology. With a dome basting 65 feet in diameter, the Fiske Planetarium is the largest planetarium anywhere between the cities of Los Angeles and Chicago, seating up to 206 people.
2414 Regent Dr, Boulder, CO 80309, Phone: 303-492-5002
14. Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport, Mystic
© Quality Stock Arts/stock.adobe.com
The Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport offers a variety of planetarium activities free of extra charge to the public, as they are included with the admission to the museum. Located in the town of Mystic, Connecticut, the planetarium shows a series of full-dome movies, providing an immersive experience for audiences. These movies are about special topics related to astronomy and last between twenty-five and thirty minutes in length. The dynamic staff of the Treworgy Planetarium guide guests on a memorable journey of constellations, planets, and more throughout the expansive reaches of the galaxy.
75 Greenmanville Ave, Mystic, CT 06355, Phone: 860-572-0711
You are reading "25 Best Planetariums in the USA" & Weekend Getaways
15. The Challenger Learning Center, Tallahassee
© The Challenger Learning Center
The Challenger Learning Center is a planetarium and digital dome theater in downtown Tallahassee, Florida. The high definition, fifty-foot theater can accommodate up to 128 guests and features state-of-the-art projectors and a surround sound system, which the planetarium uses to provide both entertaining and educational programs for people of all ages. In addition to fascinating shows put on at the planetarium and dome theater, the Challenger Learning Center includes an IMAX 3D theater that shows both Hollywood films and documentaries and a space mission simulator. Camps, demonstrations, and hands-on learning labs are offered by the center as well.
200 S Duval St, Tallahassee, FL 32301, Phone: 850-645-7796
16. Adler Planetarium in Chicago
© Leonid Andronov/stock.adobe.com
The Adler Planetarium in the busy city of Chicago has the claim to fame of being the first planetarium in the United States. Founded by Max Adler in 1930, the planetarium has become a recognized leader for public engagement. More than simply a museum, the building serves as a community, classroom, and laboratory for exploring the vast reaches of the Universe. More than 550,000 people visit the Adler Planetarium every year to experience the live planetarium shows in one of the three different full-sized theaters, world-class collections, “minds-on” and hands-on STEM education programs, and interactive exhibitions.
1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
17. Planetariums Near Me: Tellus Planetarium at Tellus
© Tellus Planetarium at Tellus
The Bentley Planetarium at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia welcomes people of all ages to take a seat and relax as they take an incredible journey through the stars and the galaxy with the help of the planetarium’s state-of-the-art projector. Located just off of Interstate 75, the museum aims to ignite a passion in visitors for science and open their minds through its four main galleries of My Big Backyard, Science in Motion, The Fossil Gallery, and The Weinman Mineral Gallery, as well as its state-of-the-art telescope in the observatory, and the digital, 120-seat planetarium.
100 Tellus Dr, Cartersville, GA 30120, Phone: 770-606-5700
18. Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles
© Gabriel Cassan/stock.adobe.com
The Griffith Observatory can be found in the sprawling Griffith Park of Los Angeles, California. One of the country’s largest municipal parks, the park encompasses over 4,200 acres. The observatory itself opened in 1935 and has since become one of the city’s cultural icons. Situated on Mount Hollywood’s southern slope, the Griffith Observatory also offers amazing views of Los Angeles, from the downtown area to the Pacific Ocean. One of the most popular attractions in Southern California, the observatory is made up of the Samuel Oschin Planetarium, Gottlieb Transit Corridor, Zeiss Telescope, and the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon.
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, Phone: 213-473-0800
19. Sanford Museum and Planetarium, Cherokee, Iowa
© Sanford Museum and Planetarium
The Sanford Museum and Planetarium in the city of Cherokee, Iowa features a variety of activities and exhibits about an array of subjects, including astronomy, history, paleontology, natural history, geology, art, and archaeology. Public programs are offered at the planetarium and museum on Sundays and Wednesdays and cover topics in three subject areas: astronomy, human anatomy, and layered Earth. The astronomy programs at the Sanford Planetarium offer a way for audiences to explore the night sky, planets, the galaxy, and more, while the Layered Earth program provides a look at different aspects of Earth and its layers.
117 E Willow St, Cherokee, IA 51012, Phone: 712-225-3922
20. Justice Planetarium at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson
© Justice Planetarium at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
Located in Hutchinson, the Justice Planetarium at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center is a digital, dual projector, state-of-the art experience designed to delight the senses and expand the mind. The planetarium’s Night Sky Live show takes place every day at both 1:00pm and 4:00pm and takes audiences on a trip through the night’s star-filled sky of every season during the live, engaging production. This show aims to show guests how the night sky changes during the year and why seasons exist. The Cosmosphere is also home to a United States space artfact collection and Russian space artifacts.
1100 N Plum St, Hutchinson, KS 67501, Phone: 800-397-0330
21. Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, Baton Rouge
© Irene W. Pennington Planetarium
The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium is one of Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s star attractions and is home to a domed sixty-foot theater, one of the nation’s most most sophisticated multimedia presentation venues. The theater at the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium presents sky shows and digital movies using the latest in sound and visual technology available. At the planetarium, guests can travel the Milky Way galaxy and beyond, explore the solar system, and learn about current celestial events and the seasonal night sky during interactive presentations and featured shows for people of all ages using the fulldome, 4k digital projection system.
100 River Rd South, Baton Rouge, LA 70802, Phone: 225-344-5272
22. Hayden Planetarium in New York City
The Hayden Planetarium of New York City can be found in the middle of the Rose Center for Earth and Space. A sphere measuring 87 feet in diameter seems to float within a glass cube in the heart of the center with the upper half constituting the Hayden Planetarium, serving as an ongoing beacon for astrophysical education. The spacious Space Theater uses a 3D, scientifically accurate map of the universe called the Digital Universe Atlas, maintained by visualization experts and scientists, as the basis for its Space Shows, displaying a hyperrealistic views of galaxies, star clusters, planets, and more.
200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024, Phone: 212-769-5100
23. Francis Malcolm Science Center Planetarium at Easton, Maine
© Francis Malcolm Science Center Planetarium at Easton
The Francis Malcolm Science Center in Easton, Maine offers unique education experiences in astronomy, nature, and science free of charge for school-age children. Able to accommodate up to forty people, the planetarium’s theater provides a unique and comfortable venue for learning about astronomy and other space-related science topics. The planetarium at the Francis Malcolm Science Center also presents digital all-sky, family-friendly programs in the evening on a seasonal basis, investigating a variety of astronomy-related topics, and If the weather permits, guests can study the moon, planets, and stars after the program at the Science Center’s deck.
776 Houlton Rd, Easton, ME 04740, Phone: 207-488-5451
24. Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore
© Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center
The Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore features a rooftop observatory, an IMAX theater, and three levels of interactive, hands-on exhibits. The Davis Planetarium offers an array of multimedia presentation, while full-length documentaries can be seen in the 5-story IMAX theater. The Maryland Science Center is also home to numerous exhibits for visitors to explore, such as the Dinosaur Mysteries exhibit, featuring interactive paleontology activities and full-size dinosaurs. Other exhibits at the center include Life Beyond Earth, Power Up, SpaceLink. There’s also a Kids Room and The Shed offers guests an opportunity to design and create different projects.
601 Light St, Baltimore, MD 21230, Phone: 410-685-5225
The 25 Best Planetariums in the USA & Fun things to do near me today:
- 1. Burke Baker Planetarium at The Houston Museum of Natural Science
- 2. Alexander Brest Planetarium, Museum of Science & History, Jacksonville
- 3. Bishop Planetarium, South Florida Museum, Bradenton
- 4. Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory, Golden Pond
- 5. Mark Smith Planetarium at the Museum of Arts and Sciences, Macon
- 6. Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco
- 7. Boyd E. Christenberry Planetarium
- 8. Planetariums Near Me: W. A. Gayle Planetarium
- 9. Dorrance Planetarium at the Arizona Science Center, Phoenix
- 10. Planetariums Near Me: Chabot Space and Science Center, Oakland
- 11. The Discovery Museum, Science and Space Center, Sacramento
- 12. Holt Planetarium, Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley
- 13. Fiske Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder
- 14. Treworgy Planetarium at Mystic Seaport, Mystic
- 15. The Challenger Learning Center, Tallahassee
- 16. Adler Planetarium in Chicago
- 17. Planetariums Near Me: Tellus Planetarium at Tellus
- 18. Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles
- 19. Sanford Museum and Planetarium, Cherokee, Iowa
- 20. Justice Planetarium at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Hutchinson
- 21. Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, Baton Rouge
- 22. Hayden Planetarium in New York City
- 23. Francis Malcolm Science Center Planetarium at Easton, Maine
- 24. Davis Planetarium at the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore