Tracking Dinos

Didn’t get enough of Walking with Dinosaurs, the Jurassic Park-goes-to-Vegas extravaganza that recently showed at the Verizon Center in DC? If you missed it, you can still catch it Sept. 26-30 in Norfolk. See for more info.

But if your budding paleontologist wants more, more, more, here are some places we’ve been to that I can vouch for:
Dinosaurs Alive! 3D
Now through at least February 2008
Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD
Dinosaurs on an IMAX screen? Couldn’t get any better! But I haven’t seen the show, so I couldn’t tell you how much screen time is devoted to the computer-generated dinos vs. the narrator talking about great paleontological finds. You can purchase a ticket with admission to the center ($18.50 for adults, $14 for kids) or watch it after 5 p.m. for only $8. The center, which is a destination unto itself, features full-size dinosaur replicas on the first floor and interactive exhibits on the third. Don’t forget to stop in the gift shop, which has devoted an entire room to all things dinosaurific–dino shoes, dino slippers for infants to 6-year-olds, dino toys. Great place to shop for gifts for the dino lover in your family. Eat at home or pack a lunch, as the center’s cafe is being renovated to change out the windows. See previous posts about parking nearby.

Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Washington, DC
Interactive exhibits in the Hall of Paleobiology on the first floor. Free and open to the public daily except Christmas. Check out the Web site for info about dinos and dino research at the museum and around the world. Last time we were there, you could only get hot dogs from vendors outside or eat at the Atrium Cafe or Fossil Cafe, both of which had overpriced fast food. Street parking can be difficult on the weekends later in the day.

White Post, VA (west of Loudoun County, over the mountain as Loudouners say)
Never mind the kids, this is my favorite dinosaur attraction in the region so far. The place screams kitschy Americana but I love, love, love it! A shady forest trail winds around dozens of creatures including a giant King Kong in whose outstretched hand your kids can sit, a 20-foot king cobra, 70-foot octopus, and so much more. Be aware, though, that some younger kids can be put off by a few gory scenes of dinosaur fights and feeding off each other. Admission is something like $5 (it’s been a while), but you’ll probably end up spending more because the self-guided tour begins and ends in the well-stocked gift shop. No food allowed, but there’s a McDonald’s kitty corner from it at the intersection of Routes 277/340/522. Closed Jan. 1-Feb. 28. Easy parking.

The Museum of Culpeper History
Culpeper, VA
This small museum in the cool town of Culpeper offers a one-hour tour for adults or school groups about the dinosaurs that once lived in the area and left tracks nearby. Haven’t taken the tour, so can’t vouch for it but it would be a great little stop on a day tour of downtown Culpeper, which has great restaurants and shops. Admission is to the museum $3 for everyone over 18, kids are free.

Virginia Museum of Natural History

Martinsville, VA
Next Jan. 12, the museum celebrates its 2nd Annual Dino Day with music, games, food and fun activities. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for kids 3-18 years.


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