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
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.
711 Mammoth Cave Road, Cave City, KY 42127
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
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. (they are open Memorial Day, Labor Day and the Fourth of July).
2800 Bullittsburg Church Road, Petersburg, KY 41080
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 $35 ages 18 and older, $25 ages 13 - 17, $15 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
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 $10 ages 4 and older, free ages 3 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
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.
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.