From the arts to military history to hands-on science exploration, central Arkansas is full of fun and educational museums the whole family can enjoy. Here are 23 in the central Arkansas area to visit.

Arkansas Railroad Museum

1700 Port Road, Pine Bluff

Admission: Free

Housed in an old machine shop for the Cotton Belt Railroad, this museum impresses with a restored Steam Locomotive 819 — the last steam engine built in the Cotton Belt Shops. The museum features multiple diesel engines, three cabooses, a snow plow, passenger car, model train sets and more.

Arkansas Alligator Farm & Petting Zoo

847 Whittington Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Adults $9, children (12 & under) $7

See more than 200 alligators and many other animals, including lions and monkeys and learn about them in the museum. Watch alligator feedings from May to October on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at noon.

Arkansas Arts Center

501 E. 9th St., Little Rock

Admission: Free

The Arkansas Arts Center is an art museum and active center for the visual and performing arts. The museum features a world-class international collection of art, live children's theatre productions, art classes, lectures, films, family programs, shopping and dining.

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

120 Riverfront Park Drive, North Little Rock

Admission: Adults $7.50, children (5-12) $5

Visitors experience the sights, sounds, and smells of submarine service when they step aboard the historic submarine USS Razorback (SS-394). The museum also features exhibits on four other Naval vessels and a collection on the history of the Arkansas River.

Baum Gallery at the University of Central Arkansas

201 Donaghey Avenue, Conway

Admission: Free

The Baum Gallery is an educational art museum for UCA students, faculty and staff and the central Arkansas community. The gallery develops exhibitions and events that invite interaction and encourage dialogue about visual art: the creators, studio process, history, criticism, curation, and cultural contexts.

ESSE Purse Museum

1510 Main St., Little Rock

Admission: Adults $10, children (7-18) $8

ESSE’s permanent exhibit honors and celebrates the progression of the 20th-century American womanthrough the lens of her handbag and the contents within. Learn through the collection and artful display of this material culture and photography.

Faulkner County Museum

805 Locust St., Conway

Admission: Free

Housed in the historic 1896 County Jail on Faulkner County Courthouse grounds, this museum preserves the history of Conway and Faulkner County. The focus is on the range of environmental conditions and how inhabitants adapted to changes. Exhibits include historic and modern crafts, equipment, photographs and more. 

The Galaxy Connection Museum

626 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: $8

This one-of-a-kind museum features the owner's personal collection of toys, props and life size characters from Star Wars and Superheroes. Guests are welcome to take photos and interact with many of the props & exhibits. There's even a fun dress up area.

The Gangster Museum of America

510 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Adults $15, children (8-12) $6

Take yourself back to the days of the '20s, '30s and '40s when mineral water, gambling, bootlegging, and other extreme pleasures brought visitors from all over the world to Hot Springs. The Gangster Museum of America is an historic and entertaining account of how some of the most notorious criminals in America co-existed with the quaint population of this little valley town in the mountains of central Arkansas.

Heifer Village

1 World Ave., Little Rock

Admission: Free

Explore a rich and stimulating mix of galleries, hands-on exhibits, videos and activities that focus on global issues. There's also a café and urban farm with pigs, goats and other barnyard animals to visit.

Historic Arkansas Museum

200 E. 3rd St., Little Rock

Admission: Adults $2.50, children (under 18) $1

Historic Arkansas Museum is a historic site museum of Arkansas's frontier days. Five pre-Civil War houses, on their original block, are restored to antebellum appearances, so you can learn about life before the Civil War in Arkansas. 

Hot Springs National Park Visitor Center and Museum

369 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Free

Visitors can discover bathhouses and hot springs through group tours. Reservations for a guided tour should be made at least three weeks in advance. The visitor center is located in the former Fordyce Bathhouse.

Jacksonville Guitar Museum

1105 Burman Drive, Jacksonville

Admission: Free

The owner's personal collection of vintage guitars is on display and includes vintage Martin, Gibson and Fender guitars and amps as well as many unusual guitars, including cowboy guitars.

Jacksonville Museum of Military History

100 Veterans Circle, Jacksonville

Admission: Adults $3, children (under 18) $1

The museum focuses on local and regional military history from the Civil War Era to current day engagements. The museum covers all major wars and includes a theater area, interactive displays, memorabilia and a gift shop.

Josephine Tussaud Wax Museum

250 Central Ave., Hot Springs

Admission: Adults $10, children (3-12) $7

Check out wax sculptures of famous politicians, entertainers and historical figures.

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

503 E. 9th St., Little Rock

Admission: Free

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History was created to interpret Arkansas' military heritage from its territorial period to the present. Exhibits feature artifacts, photographs, weapons, documents, uniforms and other military items.

Mid-America Science Museum

500 Mid-America Blvd., Hot Springs

Admission: Adults $10, children (3-12) $8

Mid-America Science Museum is Arkansas' largest hands-on science center with more than 100 engaging, hands-on exhibits that explore the wonders of energy, matter, life and perception.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

501 W. 9th St., Little Rock

Admission: Free

The mission of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is to preserve, interpret and celebrate African American history and culture in Arkansas. Beyond just exhibits, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center provides lesson plans and outreach programs for students and teachers. 

Musuem of Black Arkansans

1208 Louisiana St., Little Rock

The Museum of Black Arkansans and Performing Arts has exhibits on prominent Black Arkansans and the African-American experience. Tours are available by reservation.

Museum of Discovery

500 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: Adults $10, children (12 and under) $8

The Museum of Discovery is Arkansas’s premier science and technology center, whose mission is to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math in a dynamic, interactive environment. 

Old State House Museum

300 W. Markham St., Little Rock

Admission: Free

The Old State House Museum is the original state capitol of Arkansas. Since 1833, when construction began, the building and its grounds have witnessed many of the most important events in Arkansas history. 

Plantation Agriculture Museum

4815 US-165, Scott

Admission: Free; guided tours: Adults $4, children $3

This museum was originally constructed in 1912 and was renovated in 1989. The exhibits and programs cover Arkansas history from 1836 through World War II, when agricultural practices rapidly became mechanized and tractors, mechanized cotton pickers, and modern chemicals forever replaced the old system of plantation agriculture and small farms.

Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center

602 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock

Admission: Free

The center focuses on the wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities that Arkansas' fish and wildlife resources provide. Exhibits highlight the role of fish and wildlife management. Check the online events calendar for alligator and fish feeding times as well as storytimes and other special happenings.