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|USA: Southeast, Tracking Dinosaurs on Vacation.
Dino fanatics of all ages found their interest in the magnificent prehistoric reptiles rekindled with the ABC Mega Series of Dinotopia, based one of my favorite childhood books. Luckily nearly everyone in North America is within a short drive of ancient “lizards” and mammals.
From still active dig sites to cool hallways in which immense skeletons loom, to fascinating exhibits which display the most recent theories on lifestyle this list sums them all up. Coast to coast, from sunny California to Connecticut, the U.S. offers dinosaur lovers and their families a chance to get up close and personal with natural history. Only what we believe to be the best is featured on this list. Of course if you’ve visited a fantastic dinosaur site, let me know and I will add it. Have a great time tracking dinosaurs.
Tennessee: Pigeon Forge, Walk amongst dinosaurs.
Unlike other dinosaur museums, the Dinosaur Walk Museum in Pigeon Forge allows families to walkthrough one of the world’s largest collections of life-size dinosaur sculptures, from a two-story high Tyrannosaurus Rex to a 12-inch tall Microraptor. Giant sea lizards, flying reptiles, bones, skulls and ancient skeletons complete this one of a kind collection. Carefully designed and created by "paleoartists" there is a sense of Jurassic Park within the complex. This is not a thrill-based attraction with loud surprises and eerie sound effects to traumatize the unsuspecting. There are sound effects and the wall murals of forests, volcanoes and canyons. It's truly an easy paced entertaining place that is ideal for young children going through the dinosaur stage of learning. At the end of the “walk” is a movie theatre showing high definition education films which will bring dinosaurs to life on the screen. Children of all ages will enjoy the dinosaur fossil dig and dinosaur movies. Bonus points:
Directly in back of the actual museum is an antique store with awesome yet affordable fossils, rocks and petrified wood. (106 Showplace Blvd., Pigeon Forge 37863. 1(865) 428-4003 or www.dinowalk.com
Kentucky: Big Bone Lick State Park.
This state park was once a salty, sticky swamp where prehistoric mammals such as – giant mastodons, wooly mammoths, and ground sloths met their death. Their fossils were discovered and placed on display, for everyone to see. Scientists recognize this place as the Birthplace of American Vertebrate Paleontology. You can reserve a campsite at the Big Bone Lick State Park to explore for longer than a day. (3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091. Union. 1 (859) 384-3522, www.parks.ky.gov/stateparks/bb/index.htm
Louisiana: Audubon Nature Institute - Pathways to the Past.
A natural history museum on the grounds of the Audubon Institute, Pathways to the Past, is devoted completely to exploring the dinosaur/bird connection. The museum was designed for young people, but is fascinating for all ages. Bonus points:
Numerous attractions are found at Audubon such as; a zoo, a golf course, an aquarium, an IMAX, and much more. (P.O. Box 4327, New Orleans, LA 70178. New Orleans. 1 (504) 861-2537, www.auduboninstitute.org
North Carolina: Natural Science Museum.
In addition to a “Dinosaur Gallery” as well as a room full of fossil exhibits, a petting zoo, and a planetarium there are also dozens of other fine elements for families to explore. The World's first dinosaur ever discovered with fossilized heart is on display. The fossilized heart is on display in the museum's new $71-million building, which opened April 7, 2000. The Fossil Lab allows visitors to the museum to interact with the paleontologists as they work on restoring skeletons. (11 W. Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601. Greensboro. 1 (919) 733-7450, www.naturalsciences.org
Florida: Florida Museum of Natural History.
This is one of the top ten paleontological museums in the United States. Rather than dinosaurs, the extensive collection has a focus on early mammals and marine animal fossils. This museum also features exhibits on the flora and fauna of North Florida, and exhibits on the people and environments of Florida. Virtual exhibits on St. Augustine: America’s Oldest City, The Aucilla River Prehistory Project, and Fossil Horses in Cyberspace, as well as others are available on the museum’s Website. Bonus points: They have a program called “Pony Express” that is designed to promote the scientific study of fossil horses. They sponsor fossil digs several times a year at a site, Thomas Farm locality in north Florida, known to be 18-million years old. The Thomas Farm digs are open to persons over the age of 15 (minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Once a year they conduct a family day-dig. (SW 34th Street and Hull Road, PO Box 112710, Gainesville, FL 32611. 1(352) 846-2000. 1(352) 846-2000 (Dickenson Hall), 1(352) 392-1721, www.flmnh.ufl.edu
Researched and compiled by Travel Communications. Copyright 2008.