The hugely popular children's destination hits the sweet spot between fun and learning, with tons of hands-on activities packed into a colorful, 90,000 square-foot facility designed by noted architect Robert Venturi. "Invention Convention" prompts kids to build all sorts of gizmos using magnets, gears, batteries, and Legos; they can even learn the building blocks of robotics. The Dragons and Fairies exhibits examines Vietnamese culture through five interactive fairytales. "PowerPlay" challenges kids physically with a 40-foot climbing tower. "Got Gas?" is a new exhibit where tykes can shoot rockets or make their own windmills. For little ones younger than 3, "TotSpot" finds creative ways to encourage their emerging motor skills. Thursday nights are a big hit; from 5pm to 8pm, all families get in free. For beleaguered parents, this place is truly a godsend.
- Garth Mueller