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More children’s play area rather than a stuffy old museum, NEMO is the number one place to hit with kids if it’s a rainy day. This accessible, hands-on, interactive science center is housed in a magnificent, pale green, ship-shaped building designed by Renzo Piano in 1997. Its aim is to introduce science and technology to kids in an understandable and interesting form. It’s a great experience for children 7 or older, but even ages 4 to 6 can go through a “Shadow World” especially designed for expanding young minds. Through games, experiments, and demonstrations, kids learn how chain reactions work, search for ETs, blow a soap bubble large enough to stand inside, and much more fun stuff. There’s a lab for supervised experiments, displays on harnessing green energies, and even simple explanations of Big Bang. Some of the displays on the higher floors are aimed at teenagers and raise the thorny issue of sex; there’s always lots of adolescent snickering around the old-fashioned peep shows.

NEMO’s broad, stepped, and sloping roof is an attraction in itself; a place to hang out, have a beer or catch the sun in summer, and take in the views. At the top, you are 30m (100 ft.) above the IJ waterway and have sweeping views over the Old Harbor and Eastern Dock, plus the fast-changing new architectural horizon around the River IJ. Snacks are served in Café DEK5, which has a grand outdoor terrace, and modest menus in Café Renzo Piano.