|Family Travel Files Ezine Family Vacations Resource
|US: Great Lakes, Best Places to Vacation with Dinosaurs.
To add extra value to any family vacation with young children one of the easiest things to do is find a few dinosaurs. Don’t let the big words scare you, just share in learning and fun.
Here’s the scoop. Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus Allosaurus are common words for any seven-year-old who is fixated on dinosaurs. So be prepared, big words will be part of any dinosaur encounter. From fossils and ancient footprints to digs and interactive exhibits, dinosaurs remain popular with everyone. Gargantuan skeletons evoke a boisterous WOW! while animatronic encounters can be exciting and scary. I have assembled a short list of the best places in the Mid Atlantic to create and share your own dinosaur adventure.
Illinois: Chicago, Visit the home of SUE.
The Field Museum of Natural History is the home of the largest, most complete, and best preserved T. rex on the planet. The story of SUE and the world in which she lived is enchanting. She is not alone. See skeletons of Brachiosaurus, Albertosaurus, Lambeosaurus, and Apatosaurus plus mastodons, mammoths, saber-toothed cats, ground sloths and other prehistoric animals. Keeping things real, The McDonald’s Fossil Preparation Laboratory enable visitors to observe Field Museum staff preparing fossils from all over the world. Bonus points:
The Museum’s Dino Zone contains hands-on dinosaur-themed interpretive stations and offers the chance to practice the science of paleontology examining touchable dinosaur teeth, claws, and bones. Wait for it!
Adopt a T.rex and keep the adventuring going with oodles of extra benefits. (1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60605. (312) 922-9410 or Chicago Field Museum
Indiana: Jeffersonville, Dig for Devonian fossils.
Even though you won’t find gigantic articulated skeletons at Falls of the Ohio State Park, the fossil beds are some of the oldest in the world. Most of the fossils on view date from more than 350 million years ago. The interpretive center above the fossil beds explains the whole story. The best time to view the most fossils is from August through October when the river is at its lowest and most of the 220-acre fossil bed is accessible. Bonus points:
Behind the interpretive center are several dig piles accessible to visitors. In addition to minerals it is possible to find an assortment of fossils including shells of brachiopods, snails, clams, trilobites, crinoid stems, crinoid bodies, corals, and trace fossils. Wait for it!
Meriwether Lewis met William Clark at the Falls of the Ohio in 1803. (Falls of the Ohio State Park 201 West Riverside Dr. Clarksville, IN 47129. Jeffersonville, IN 47131. (812) 280-9970 or www.fallsoftheohio.org
Minnesota: St. Paul, Pretend to be a dinosaur.
The Science Museum's Triceratops is the largest complete Triceratops specimen on display in the world. Also on view Allosaurus, Camptosaurus, the ever popular Stegosaurus, and the most remarkable skeleton of an adult Diplodocus. Real fossils and interactive exhibits address the topics of climate change and evolution. Exceptional fossilized specimens include numerous trilobites, petrified tree trunk, 30 million-year-old insects caught in amber, and 240-million-year-old spider tracks. Perhaps the most fun ever is the chance to operate a giant set of Tyrannosaurus rex jaws and simulate its frightening bite or piecing fossil fragments together to make a Champsosaurus - a crocodile-like reptile. Bonus points:
The website hosts a unique series of videos relating to dig sites and discoveries and offers links to great dinosaurs activities for families to share at home. Wait for it!
A very rare juvenile Diplodocus skull may be viewed in the Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery. (120 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, Minnesota 55102. (612) 221-9444, 221-9488 or www.smm.org/visit/dinosaurs
Minneapolis: Shakopee, See Dinosaurs Alive!
Valleyfair is the place to step back in time to the “Age of the Dinosaurs” an immersive Mesozoic experience. The location features more than 30 life-sized, hand-crafted animatronics, interactive consoles, in a lush setting. Other key scenes depicting behaviors and diversity include an attack by a pack of Deinonychus on a lone Tenontosaurus, and an adult and sub-adult Tyrannosaurus rex stalking a Triceratops. Bonus points:
Valleyfair is the perfect destination for the entire family with over 75 amazing rides and attractions, including Planet Snoopy and Soak City Waterpark. (Valleyfair One Valleyfair Drive Shakopee, MN 55379. Dinosaurs Alive! Valleyfair
Ohio: Canton, Make your ow dino discoveries.
At the McKinely Museum of History there are ways to enjoy physics, astronomy meteorology, ecology, and paleontology. “Discovery World” gallery at the museum features a collection of dinosaur exhibits including a fully animated robotic model of an Allosaurus and a dig-site representation which helps put the work paleontologists and archeologists do into perspective. (800 McKinley Monument Drive NW, Canton, OH 44708. (330) 455-7043 or www.mckinleymuseum.org/science
Ohio: Cleveland, Meet Steggie and see Lucy.
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is home to a 21-foot-long, full-sized replica of a Triceratops - a remnant of the Late Cretaceous period, from 68 million to 65 million years ago as well as Dunkleosteus and a Haplocanthosaurus plus the only specimen of Nanotyrannus lancensis, a small tyrannosaur. This museum also offers opportunities for kids to dig dinosaurs, discover nature, and sleepovers called Museum Camp-ins. Wait for it!
This is also the home of the partial skeleton of 3.2-million-year-old human (Australopithecus afarensis), known as “Lucy”. (1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. (216) 231-4600 or www.cmnh.org
Researched and compiled by Nancy Nelson-Duac, FTF Editor. Images provided by Chicago Field Museum of Natural History and Brookfield Zoo. Copyright 2013.