As make-overs go, this £17m, three-year revamp of one of the city's most beloved landmarks is a real stunner. Once inside the curious hybrid of 1960s concrete and neo-classical architecture, a gleaming 23m high atrium reveals glimpses into three specially created Zones covering four levels.
As you navigate the glass and steel walkways, keep an eye on the equally grand-scale Window on Our World gallery where iconic objects from each Zone - including a 6m long Edmontosaurus dinosaur skeleton - further fuel the imagination.
Then spend the day exploring those History, Art and Nature Zones, where a bona fide Egyptian mummy, dazzling collection of Spanish Armada gold and Peter the Polar Bear (don't worry, it's stuffed) are among the myriad of unmissable attractions.
The Gallery of Applied Art is said to house the best collection of its kind in the world outside London's V&A; don't miss the particularly beautiful display of Belleek pottery. Children are positively encouraged to get up close and interactive with exhibits in the Discovery areas. And everyone can discover their own treasures at the gift shop and enjoy lunch in the ground floor restaurant overlooking Botanic Gardens.
Find the museum a mere 15min walk from the city centre or via Metro bus 8. Disabled or payable on-street parking only.