10 Ways to Explore the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, N.H.

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The McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire is a science museum and planetarium that honors the life’s work and legacy of the first American in space and Derry, New Hampshire native, Alan Shepard, and Concord High School social studies teacher and the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. Opened as a stand alone planetarium and memorial to Christa McAuliffe in 1990, the center added Alan Shepard to its honorees, and then expanded to include a full science museum in 2009. The  45,000 square foot center one of the most popular attractions in the capital city of Concord, New Hampshire, just hour north of Boston. There are dozens of interactive STEM exhibits that will engage the whole family. 

Travel Tips:

  • The center is open from 10:30-4pm in peak summer season and on weekends and holiday Mondays and school vacation weeks throughout the year; check here for updates on hours and admission fees. The museum does participate in the Association of Science- Technology Centers’ reciprocity program
  • Plenty of free parking in front of the center.
  • Restrooms are located on the first and second floor; a coat room is available on the first floor.
  • There is a large gift shop to the right of the admission desk, and a small Countdown Cafe to the left of the admission desk. Check here for a good dining guide to downtown Concord.
  • The Center is handicap accessible via an elevator.
  • Check here for the daily Planetarium show schedule; most shows run 25-30 minutes.
  • Plan on 90 minutes to explore the exhibits, more time to include a Planetarium show.

10 Ways to Explore the McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center

  1. Walk under the wing of a XF8U-2 Crusade Jet, used by both the US Navy and Marines in the 1950s.
  2. Learn about the personalities and habits of many species of fish in the Virtual Fish Tank.
  3. Highlight the extremes of weather on each continent.
  4. See an enlarged infrared version of yourself.
  5. Sit inside a replica of the upper forward fuselage of the orbiter “Discovery” and practice controlling and steering it. 
  6. Check out the 1939 vintage rowboat made by Alan Shepard.
  7. Smell the harvested fruits and vegetables grown in the hydroponic vertical garden towers.
  8. Touch a tornado and watch it reform around your hand.
  9. Sit inside a Kitfox Airplane.
  10. Shoot the air cannon at a large target wall and try to fit your mark.

Bonuses: There is a designated toddler play area on the second floor, and an outdoor playground out front for younger kids to enjoy. 

Another bonus: Head to nearby Blossom Hill Cemetery and pay your respects at Christa McAuliffe’s grave. 

Looking for other adventures in the Concord area? Check out our posts featuring the Pierce Manse and Canterbury Shaker Village in nearby Canterbury. And follow along on our adventures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter

Disclosure: Our family was given a media pass to explore the Center; all opinions expressed are my own. 

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  1. For a smaller museum, it seems like it has very well-rounded exhibitions! Definitely have to add this to my NH itinerary

  2. This museum and planetarium is an awesome way to honor the legacy of Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard. Love all the hands-on interactive exhibits and the top things to do at The McAuliffe Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, New Hampshire. Fun and educational venue!

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