One of our family’s favorite day trips to take is a trip to the Museum of Life and Science located in Durham, NC. The museum and all of its attractions take up about 84 acres. Included in your admission cost is an indoor science center, a huge playground, a train caboose, a petting zoo, a butterfly house and insectarium, a dinosaur trail, a woodland habitat and wetland site, and several other outdoor exhibits. There is a wonderful restaurant on the campus and there are also tickets available to purchase for extra for a train ride around the grounds.
My 5 year old, Grayson, loves to see everything the museum has to offer, but he has his three favorites. These top three can absolutely never be skipped when we visit, and considering he is our resident kid “expert,” I will focus on them in this post.
His top choice for what a kid must do when he goes to the Museum of Life and Science is the Dinosaur Trail. The museum’s website says, “On the Museum of Life and Science's Dinosaur Trail, you are entering a world of late Cretaceous, North American dinosaurs.” My son just says “they are super huge and really cool especially the one you can climb on!” The start of the outdoor trail has a Parasaurolophus on which the kids can touch and climb, but the rest are on display only. It is a short loop, but it is packed with loads of cool dinos! There is an Albertosauras, a relative of a T. Rex, and what my son calls “the long necker,” an Alamosaurus (which, by the way, is an impressive 65 feet long). The trail comes to an end at a great fossil dig. The kids can pick up a shovel and dig for fossils that have been trucked in from a site in North Carolina that used to be an ocean floor. Some of the fossils are more than 5 million years old. It’s quite awesome.
Grayson ranks the “Into the Mist” Exhibit in the Catch the Wind area of the museum grounds as the 2nd best thing to see and experience on a visit. I think it is because it feels like either walking on the moon or visiting Bilbo Baggins in The Shire. It is really a unique experience. Be warned, the kids can get very, very wet. A lot of families wear their bathing suits and water shoes to play here and change afterwards. In addition to the mist, the Catch the Wind area has a sailboat pond in which the kids can sail remote controlled boats, an area to jump on bungee trampolines (for an extra cost, I think), and more. We have been to this museum many times, and we never skip visiting the Catch the Wind area. It is really so much fun!
Finally, Grayson says that the Science Center itself is his 3rd favorite stop on our visits to the museum. It is the main building, and it has the gift shop, the ticket counter for admission and train rides, and many exhibits. Grayson loves to don an astronaut suit and sit inside the Apollo Space Capsule. There is also a neat meteorology area where visitors can watch a tornado form and touch it. After, Grayson has pretended to blast off to space and create natural disasters, he likes to sit and build with the massive collection of blocks they have. For the younger children, the science center also has a wonderful play area called Play to Learn with things to climb and build. Truly, a family could spend hours inside and never make it out to see the rest of the attractions.
If you decide to take the trip to Durham, make sure you plan for the whole day. Honestly. My family and I have been a dozen or more times, and we have never seen and done everything there is to do in one day. To us, that’s ok. It makes every time a new adventure!
The Museum of Life and Science is open 10:00am-5:00pm Monday- Saturday and 12:00pm-5:00pm on Sundays. They are open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. Check the website for admission cost and any changes to hours. http://lifeandscience.org/
This post and the accompanying pictures were submitted by Amy Schenck, a Greensboro mom of two.
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