Sure, going downtown to scope out Sue is cool, and The Brookfield Zoo might have animatronic dinosaurs; but come on, sometimes you just don’t want to drive that far for your dinosaur fix. Luckily for Lake County residents, just a quick hop over the border to Kenosha, Wisconsin allows your dinosaur-obsessed child a chance to be a paleontologist. The best part? It’s FREE!
“Dino Digs”are held every Saturday and Sunday from 1:00-4:00 p.m. this summer at The Dinosaur Discovery Museum in Kenosha. This program is designed for children ages three and older. My three-year old and his friends loved it!
Each child is given paleontologist tools and a set of goggles and is set to the task of unearthing dinosaur skeletons. It’s a fun activity but the space is small and the dig itself goes by quickly. For space considerations and time spent, I found it most appropriate for preschoolers or young school-age children. Older kids may find the activity a bit lacking.
Along with the dig, children can enjoy some dinosaur storytime and a little Q & A with museum volunteers. The program is held in the lower level of the museum, which also houses The Carthage Institute of Paleontology and Kids Discovery Lab. Afterwards, your children can make dinosaur rubbings or color pictures as well as read educational dinosaur books. As they peek through the window of the Paleontology Institute, they will see actual dinosaur fossil bones of Little Clint, a juvenile T-Rex. The whole experience lasts about 45 minutes with new groups rotated in and out during the 1:00-4:00 p.m. program period. It may be longer or shorter based on how long your child takes advantage of the Kids Discovery Lab.
The Dino Digs program is a perfect accompaniment to a visit to the main gallery, which houses the largest collection of meat-eating theropods in North America. For the uninitiated parent who hasn’t been paying attention to Dinosaur Train, it translates into lots of dinosaurs who stand on two feet and have really sharp teeth. Although the exhibit boasts impressive specimens, the main gallery is literally one large room. Even those with a serious interest in dinosaurs will find it hard to spend more than 20 minutes examining the fossils. Perfect for those with short-attention spans, but not so for anyone with grand expectations. Still, for a short afternoon trip and FREE, it fit the bill for us.
If you’re looking for an easy excursion and want to impress your own junior paleontologist, hit the road for Kenosha this summer! To make it a full day trip, check out some of these other family-friendly locations nearby:
Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour (FREE Tours and samples year round)
Bristol Renaissance Faire (Open July 6 – September 2, 2013)
Thompson Strawberry Farm (estimate Mid-June 2013 opening)
Jerry Smith’s Pumpkin Farm (Open September 15, 2013)
The Dinosaur Discovery Museum, 5608 Tenth Avenue, Kenosha, WI | 262-653-4450
Admission is FREE but donations are accepted
Directions from Lake County, Illinois: Take I-94 to STH 158. Travel to STH 32, approximately seven miles. Turn right on to STH 32 and travel to 56th Street. Turn right on 56th Street and travel one block to 10th Avenue. For I-94 road construction updates in Kenosha County, visit: www.plan94.org.
Parking: Free and metered on-street parking is available surrounding the Museum; parking for a very limited number of vehicles (12) is available on the northwest side of the Museum grounds.