8 Places to Roar With the Dinosaurs!

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Come face to face with dinosaurs and watch your child's passion for prehistoric creatures ignite!

Does your child have a passion for dinosaurs? Encourage his love and fascination for these prehistoric creatures by taking him on a little trip through time. You can visit several places where he can see life-sized replica skeletons, life-like statues, hands-on activities and more. Something as simple as a walk-through will thrill him. Here’s a round-up of nearby places to check out, about four hours or less from Nashville in order of distance.

Please call to confirm dates and prices as those may change with the season.

Earth Experience: Middle Tennessee Museum of Natural History
816 Old Salem Road, Murfreesboro, TN 37129
615-605-1417
theearthexperience.org
34-minute drive from Nashville
This is the first natural history museum in Middle Tennessee and features displays from all over the world as well as a very large number of items from Tennessee. You can see a T-Rex replica and other dinosaurs, fossils, gems, minerals, rocks and archeological relics. Cost is $7 ages 12 and older, $3 ages 4 – 11, free ages 3 and younger. Hours are Thu – Sat 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Dinosaur World
711 Mammoth Cave Road, Cave City, KY 42127
270-773-4345
dinosaurworld.com/kentucky
One-and-a-half-hour drive from Nashville
Enjoy viewing hundreds of life-sized dinosaurs outside. There’s even a dino-themed playground. Head indoors where kids can enjoy hands-on activities like a fossil dig, dino gem excavation, and digging at the bone yard. Then, take a stroll through the indoor prehistoric museum featuring an assortment of real and cast prehistoric fossils. Cost is $12.75 ages 13 and older, $9.75 ages 3 – 12, free ages 2 and younger (admission plus excavation pass is $18.95 ages 13 and older, $16.95 ages 3 – 12). Hours are daily 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Discovery Park of America
830 Everett Blvd, Union City, TN 38261-7710
731-885-5455
discoveryparkofamerica.com
Three-hour drive from Nashville
Several large dinosaurs and a large illuminated projection globe are the focal points of the Natural History gallery. See a huge Apatosaurus, T-Rex as well as explore the Mesozoic Era with dinosaurs and more. Cost is $14.95 ages 13 and older, $11.95 ages 4 – 12, free ages 3 and younger. Hours are Tue – Sun 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Creation Museum
2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, KY 41080
800-721-2298
creationmuseum.org
Four-hour drive from Nashville
Encounter life-size sculptures of many varieties of dinosaurs from the little raptor to the big, scary T. rex. Learn all kinds of facts about these incredible creatures. Cost is $30 ages 13 and older, $16 ages 5 – 12, free ages 4 and younger. Hours are Mon – Sat 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun 12 – 6 p.m.

Gray Fossil Site & Museum
1212 Suncrest Drive, Gray, TN 37615
423-439-3659
gfsm.handsonmuseum.org
Four-hour drive from Nashville
Get up close and personal with an active Miocene-era fossil dig site where scientists have uncovered a saber tooth cat, alligator, tapir, rhinoceros, short-faced bear and a mastodon as well as hundreds of plants and other animals. The fossils at this site are said to be dating back 4.5 – 7 million years ago. Museum cost is $5 ages 3 and older, free ages 2 and younger (add $3 for dig site tours). Hours are Tue – Fri 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sun 1 – 5 p.m. (Mon 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. in the months of March, June, July and August only).

Backyard Terror’s Dinosaur Park
1065 Walnut Grove Road, Bluff City, TN 37618-4020
423-391-7017
thefunhouse.wixsite.com/dinosaurpark
Four-and-a-half-hour drive from Nashville
More than 40 life-sized prehistoric creatures line the trail for viewers to see and take pictures with. There is no admission charge, but they rely on donations to support the attraction. Hours are weekly from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. and dependent upon weather.

Traveling Exhibits

You can see all kinds of life-sized dinosaurs at a couple of traveling exhibits that frequent the Nashville area. Check out Discover the Dinosaurs UNLEASHED (discoverthedinosaurs.com) or Jurassic Quest (jurassicquest.com) to keep an eye out for when they’re coming back. The Nashville Zoo (nashvillezoo.org) plans to bring back DinoTrek in the next year or so, too!

A few more temporary exhibits nearby include:

Dinosaurs UpROAR Alive at Huntsville Botanical Garden
4747 Bob Wallace Ave., Huntsville, AL 35805
256-830-4447
hsvbg.org
Almost a two-hour drive from Nashville
Exhibit runs May 13 – Aug. 13
Discover museum-quality animatronic dinosaurs including Tyrannosaurus rex, Stegosaurus, Pteranodon and more. There’s also a fossil dig! Cost is $12 adults, $8 ages 3 – 18, free ages 2 and younger. Hours are Mon – Thu 9 a.m. – dusk, Fri/Sat 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Dinosaur Explore at Stone Mountain Park
1000 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Stone Mountain, GA 30083
stonemountainpark.com
Almost a two-hour drive from Nashville

Exhibit runs now through Dec. 31
Enjoy 14 species of prehistoric dinosaurs featuring more than 20 life-size dinosaurs with special effects allowing them to move and roar just like their ancient ancestors. Exhibit is included with the cost of an Adventure Pass ($26.95 online for ages 3 and older; at the door admission is $31.95 ages 12 and older, $26.95 ages 3 – 11). Hours vary and may change, so check the website’s calendar.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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