We love visiting the Science Mill in Johnson City. It’s a good size for all 3 of my kids to love it and not get overwhelmed. There’s plenty to do inside, and just when you think you’ve seen it all- there’s a whole world to explore outside as well! This makes such a sweet little day trip from Austin. If you’re looking for somewhere fun to take the kids that’s only about an hour away- try the Science Mill!
Hours & Admission
The hours change depending on the time of year. Winter hours are Wednesday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday noon – 4 p.m. (CLOSED MONDAYS AND TUESDAYS, BUT OPEN SOME MONDAY HOLIDAYS!) Check this link to see the current hours of operation and updated information.
Admission is $9-11 (babies 2 and under are free). You can buy tickets online or at the front desk.
The Lady Bird Lane Café is open Wednesday – Saturday from 10:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and serves lunch foods.
You can also bring your own food and eat it at the picnic tables in the Science & Art Park and indoors in the dining area near the movie theater. No food or drinks allowed in other parts of the museum.
Restaurants and food trucks are also open in downtown Johnson City, with curbside, outdoor and drive-thru options. We came on a Sunday when the café was closed, so we ended up driving over to Fat Boy Burgers to eat and it was delicious.
We first went to the Science Mill in 2017 for their January Snow Day. My kids were a little young for most of the exhibits at the time (they were 4 and 7), but they still enjoyed it and had a blast playing in the snow. We came back for Austin Museum Day in 2022 and they enjoyed it so much more. They were 12, 10, and 4 this time around. I think this museum is really best for older kids, ages 5-12.
When you first arrive, you can create your own little badge that you scan at the other exhibits. This was so much fun that it was hard getting my boys to actually step away from here and check out all the other actual exhibits in the museum!
My boys loved this projector over real sand exhibit. You can build mountains, rivers, etc. while playing with light and shadows and sand.
Virtual Body Table
A cool touch-screen display of the body.
Romanesco Broccoli is the inspiration behind this fascinating exhibit. The broccoli takes the form of a fractal – a complex geometrical shape that looks the same at every scale factor.
You can control the beam of white light running through the cord from above.
Deep Sea Robotics
My youngest especially loved this exhibit. It’s a remote controlled deep-sea diving drone with a camera attached so you can see from the drone’s point of view on the monitor.
Jurassic Flight 4D
This was my 10 year old’s favorite exhibit. You wear a VR headset and lay down on your tummy for a flying experience through the dinosaur ages.
We got to see the 3D movie Tornado Alley while we were at the museum. Showtimes are throughout the day and are posted at the front desk when you arrive.
Colossal Robotic Hand
I think my favorite exhibit was this giant hand you can control. I loved watching the fingers move!
This giant 12-piece, 48-sided puzzle can become one of three worlds (coral reef, outer space, and prehistoric times).
Incredible Ball Machine
This maze of ball tubes and loops is fascinating. It was another exhibit that I couldn’t pull them away from.
Babies & Toddlers
This section is supposed to be for babies, but since no one was around while we were there, my youngest had fun playing over here.
How Long We Stayed
We were there are almost 3 hours, and still didn’t get to see everything. We only left because the kids were getting hungry, but we could have come back and spent 3 more hours here!