Museums for kids who love dinosaurs

Most kids go through a dinosaur phase, and who could blame them? The mysterious creatures come in so many shapes and sizes that there’s an endless amount of detail to study. Here are five great ways to take kids to learn more about dinosaurs beyond just checking out the skeletons on display in the museum’s collection.

1. Field Museum (Chicago)

Sue, the world’s largest, best-preserved, and most complete T-Rex anchors the Field Museum’s excellent collection, and on Friday nights you can have a slumber party with Sue. Family workshops, the chance to explore the collection without the crowds, and other fun activities will wear you and your kids out before you finally spread out you sleeping bags and dream about dinosaurs.

2. La Brea Tarpits and Page Museum (Los Angeles)

Asphalt seeps up from the ground in and around the Hancock Park neighborhood of LA; the effect creates an oozing (and admittedly stinky) sludge that has entrapped animals since before the ice age. Today the area is set aside so that scientists can excavate dinosaur bones and other, smaller fossils. Tour the pits, and then escape inside where you’ll see scientists at work and learn what they do with the fossils they find.

3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tucson)

Even toddlers will appreciate the chance to try their hand at paleontology at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Armed with safety goggles, brushes and other tools, they’ll spend longer than you’d ever imagine trying to uncover (fake) fossils hidden in a large sand pit. There’s plenty of info on hand for older kids to learn more about what they’re seeing, including info about the fossil evidence that led to the discovery and identification of the Sonorasaurus in this area.

4. Wyoming Dinosaur Center (Thermopolis, Wyoming)

The “Dig for a Day” program at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center offers an opportunity for families to join a real dig team in the Wind River Canyon for a day. A morning orientation will fill you in on everything you need to know about the tools and techniques you will be using on site, and lunch is provided. 307-864-2997

5. Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh)

Wear your favorite Dino costume and bring your appetite for Breakfast with Dinosaurs, a special program that runs before the museum’s normal opening hours. After breakfast, kids have the opportunity to touch real fossils and fossil casts and to learn about dinosaur tracking by using plastic dinosaurs to create imprints in wet clay.

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