Monday, August 4, 2014

Dinosaur State Park: A Walk Back in Time

If you have any mini paleontologists in your group, you should add a trip to Dinosaur State Park on your list of things to do.

Located in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Dinosaur State Park has a combination of walking trails and a domed museum (the Arboretum).  The museum was built on top of the 1966 discovery of over 200 dinosaur footprints during a construction dig.  This in itself was pretty amazing; but what really blew my mind was that these prints are 200 Million years old.  Try wrapping your head around that.
There is a small walk through exhibit where you can see the footprints as well as a few dinosaurs and information about the Connecticut River Valley.  There is a Discovery Room that houses center-like tables where children can create bookmarks, pretend play with dinosaur puppets, or become geologists by examining rocks and fossils.
The entrance fee to the museum is minimal: $2- 12 and under; $6- 13 and up. Included in the fee is access to short films and demonstrations.  The day we visited, the staff brought out a large Skink which the boys were allowed to pet at the end of the presentation.  There were short movies about the park during which I learned quite a bit, as well as some other presentations about dinosaurs.  Make sure to ask for the Scavenger Hunt Bingo sheet.  I love it when museums do this.  It helps to engage the kiddos into looking at things a little more deeply during the trip. When they finished, the boys each got to pick a small prize.
T Rex Footprint Cast
The 2 miles of labeled walking trails are free as well as the parking.  There are picnic tables available to enjoy an outdoor snack.
Therapod Footprint
FYI for your trip:
Exhibits are open Tuesdays through Sunday  9-4:30, except Major Holidays.  As much of the activities are outside, be mindful of the weather.
Many parts of the trails are not stroller friendly, so consider throwing the little ones in a Baby Bjorn.  Bring bug spray.  Some of the areas are quite swampy and this IS Connecticut; make sure to do a tick check after walking the trails.

There is also a casting activity you can participate in IF YOU BRING YOUR OWN 15 POUNDS of plaster of paris.

It took about an hour and a half for us to travel back in time.  I share this because we only stayed about an hour and half to do the walking trails and dome activities.  So we spend double the time in the car than we did doing something.  All fine and dandy, but I think that I would have made the stop in conjunction with another activity in the area to make the drive worth while.

Overall, if you are in the area, it is well worth the drive as a single activity day.  But if you are over an hour, consider locating a few more things to do like the Connecticut Science Center, The Dinosaur Place, or the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History (all of which are a part of the Connecticut Dino Trail).

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