Best Dinosaur Museums in the US Kids Will Love (Adults Too!)

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A T. rex and triceratops at the LA Natural History Museum
Dueling Dinosaurs. Photo credit: Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County

If you’ve got kids, chances are reasonably good you’ve got at least one dinosaur fan, thanks to movies such as Jurassic WorldJurassic Park and The Good Dinosaur. Many of the world’s best dinosaur museums are located in the United States. They’re a great attraction to include on family road trip itineraries. Here are the top US dinosaur museums, including city destinations, like Chicago and New York, and rural ones located near American dino dig sites.

1. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum

Usually the only dinosaurs you find in Las Vegas are sitting at the craps table, but if you head to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, you can see something infinitely more interesting. The museum houses a 35-foot long T. rex that lowers its head and roars, as well as a triceratops, ankylosaur and an impressive ichthyosaur, a gigantic marine reptile that swam in the waters of prehistoric Nevada.

There’s also an amusingly-titled “Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science Investigation” exhibit, which unlocks the secrets of the world’s most preserved dinosaur in the flesh, the Dinosaur Mummy Leonardo. This 23-foot-long plant eater from the late Cretaceous period was naturally mummified before it was turned into a fossil.

Read More: The Best Las Vegas Hotels for Families

T. rex at the Smithsonian
A T. rex gets its dinner in the Deep Time exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Photo credit: The Smithsonian Institution

2. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Looking for a collection as majestic as the animals you’re searching for? The Smithsonian in Washington D.C. boasts one of the largest dinosaur displays in the country, with millions of fossils in its collection. In 2019 they opened their remodeled David H. Koch Hall of Fossils – Deep Time exhibit hall with all of their dinosaur exhibits and includes some fossils and dinosaur bones you can touch.

Along with the dinosaurs, the museum has an extensive collection of mammals, birds, fish, invertebrates as well as plants and minerals. The museum also organizes events for children including special programs about dinosaurs, hands-on activities and even dinosaur sleepovers.

Whether you’re searching for a T. rex, stegosaurus or something else entirely, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is the place to go – and it’s free to enter!

Read More: Fun Things to Do in Glen Rose, the Dinosaur Capital of Texas

Otis Booth Pavilion at the LA County Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Photo credit: Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County

3. The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Dinosaur Hall is one of the most extraordinary dinosaur exhibits in the world, and a premier dinosaur experience in the western United States. Inside are more than 300 real fossils and 20 complete dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures.

The Dinosaur Hall doesn’t just have fossils; the exhibition is also packed with multimedia stations where you can “excavate” specimens and watch never-before-seen footage of a real dinosaur hunting expedition and even has a live performance, Dinosaur Encounters, which features life-size puppets bringing the past to life.

Utah Field House of Natural History
The Utah Field House of Natural History in Vernal, Utah. Courtesy Utah Field House of Natural History. Photo credit: Sandra Salvas

4. Utah Field House of Natural History

Utah is famous for its dinosaur fossils, and the Utah Field House of Natural History Museum houses an extensive collection of fossils from many sites, including nearby Dinosaur National Monument, along with impressive full-size replicas of prehistoric animals. The Field House is a great mix of education, experience and fun.

Many exhibits are hands-on, making it a great place to wander and enjoy. The garden includes a 20-foot Tyrannosaurus with six-inch, knife-like teeth, a horned Triceratops, six-ton Stegosaurus, winged Pteranodon and other full-size prehistoric animal replicas.

Dinosaur National Monument wall of fossils
People viewing the wall of dinosaur fossils at Dinosaur National Monument. Photo credit: National Park Service

5. Dinosaur National Moment, Colorado and Utah

Spanning the border between northeastern Utah and northwestern Colorado is Dinosaur National Monument. Paleontologists have been pulling fossils out of the area in and around the park for over century. The park features an enclosed “Wall of Bones” with over 1,500 fossils embedded in the wall at the Dinosaur Quarry building, as well petroglyphs, camping, rafting and other activities in the park.

Great Plains Dinosaur Museum dig pit
A child touches some bones in a dig pit. Photo credit: Great Plains Dinosaur Museum

6. The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum

Montana is home to the Montana Dinosaur Trail with 15 separate museums and field stations that help families explore the wealth of prehistoric artifacts found in the Great Plains. From nearly complete dinosaurs to the tiniest of plants, the fossils in The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum are known for both their beauty and scientific impact as well. There are adult and junior field programs called Dino Digs. Be careful to note open times. At the time of publication, this museum was still closed for the winter.

7. Wyoming Dinosaur Center

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is located in Thermopolis, Wyoming, and is one of the few dinosaur museums in the world to have its own excavation site within driving distance. The museum has more than 30 mounted dinosaurs, a modern preparation laboratory and hundreds of displays and dioramas. Weather permitting, the dig sites offer a rare opportunity to see an actual excavation and you can even sign up to go out and dig for bones with their staff.

Read More: Fun Things to Do in Sweetwater County, Wyoming

8. The Art Sculptures of Borrego Springs, California

These 130 full-sized metal artworks range from prehistoric mammals to historical characters and a 350-foot-long serpent that appears out of the ground. The art sculptures were created when the late Dennis Avery, land owner of Galleta Meadows Estates, in Borrego Springs, envisioned the idea of adding free standing art to his property.

The original steel-welded sculptures were created by Perris Jurassic Park owner/artist/welder Ricardo Breceda. Camels protect their young, elephants graze and dinosaurs “run” through the desert dust. By driving, you will also see artworks of wild horses, saber tooth tigers and desert tortoises—and all appear to be moving.

Dinosaur skulls at Dinosaur Hall in Philadelphia
Touchable and climbable dinosaur skulls in Dinosaur Hall. Photo credit: Jeff Fusco/Visit Philly

9. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, a world-renowned educational and scientific institution, offers exceptional exhibits on natural history and interesting interactive activities for visitors to experience. Kids can go on a fossil expedition mission in the Big Dig, explore a dinosaur hall, or enjoy several exciting discovery stations focusing on fun topics like animal classification and evolution.

The Academy has educational programs like hands-on activities, film screenings, family drop-in art workshops and even sleepovers with dinner, night hikes and more. It also houses a vast research collection containing over 18 million specimens. Adults will also be impressed by the expansive butterfly pavilion which is home to 500 butterflies flying around at any time in a simulated rainforest environment – something both kids and older guests alike will truly never forget!

The titanosaur on display at the American Museum of Natural History, one of the best dinosaur museums in the US.
The 122-foot-long Titanosaur cast on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Photo credit: D. Finnin American/©Museum of Natural History

10. The American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City currently houses one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world. The museum, founded in 1869, includes attractions like their Tyrannosaurus Rex exhibit where you can gaze upon its four-foot-long jaw, six-inch-long teeth and its massive thigh bones. The Glen Rose Trackway is a 107-million-year-old series of fossilized dinosaur footprints, which have been excavated from the bed of the Paluxy River in Texas.

The museum also houses a dinosaur mummy, which is a fossilized imprint of the carcass of a duck-billed dinosaur. It’s one of the most complete pieces of Mesozoic dinosaur remains ever found, with this fossil representing one of the greatest discoveries in the history of paleontology and they’re proud to present the 122-foot-long titanosaur.

Read More: How to Tour NYC’s Museum of Natural History like a Local

T. rex at the Field Museum
At more than 40 feet long and 13 feet tall at the hip, SUE is one of the largest Tyrannosaurus rex specimen discovered. SUE is also the most complete—around 90 percent—and on view at the Field Museum. Photo credit: Field Museum, Lucy Hewett

11. The Field Museum

The Field Museum in Chicago was founded in 1893 as the Columbian Museum of Chicago, and since then has spent more than a century in the pursuit of scientific knowledge about the world around us. Their star turn and selfie must-have is SUE, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex ever unearthed. SUE measures 42 feet long from snout to tail and 13 feet tall at the hip. She boasts 58 dagger-like teeth and a 600 pound skull.

Visitors can also watch Waking The T Rex: The Story of SUE, a 3D movie, which explains how the world’s greatest predator was found in South Dakota, and come face to face with Máximo the titanosaur. Their Evolving Planet exhibit takes visitors through four billion years of life on Earth, and in the summer, they offer camps for young dino enthusiasts.

12. Two Medicine Dinosaur Center

If you want to experience a fossil dig and paleontology first hand, check out the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in north central Montana. Established 20 years ago, the center organizes public dig programs, volunteer programs and seminars. The Two Medicine Dinosaur Center also houses a wide variety of dinosaurs, invertebrate and plant fossils, as well as cultural artifacts.

The research collections include new species of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. On permanent display in Bynum are some of Montana’s rarest fossil discoveries, including the first infant Maiasaura bones from the nearby Egg Mountain. You can book half or full day digs where you can learn fossil identification, surface mapping and field search.

Fernbank Dinosaur Plaza exterior
Fernbank Dinosaur Plaza at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. Photo credit: Fernbank Museum

13. Fernbank Museum of Natural History

The Fernbank Museum of Natural History is a superb attraction for any family with a member passionate about dinosaurs. The museum has gigantic dinosaur fossils on full display as well as interactive activities that all ages can enjoy such as multimedia presentations and simulations.

But, most importantly, this Georgia museum has a giant virtual reality experience known as Dino ARK. Dino ARK is an immersive walk-through large-scale world filled with living dinosaurs and this makes Fernbank Museum special amongst other museums, due to its attention to technological advancements. As such, visiting the Fernbank Museum of Natural History is an awe-inspiring experience for dinosaur lovers of all ages; one that’ll be remembered for many years to come!

14. Museum of the Rockies

If you’re looking for the perfect destination to take your young dinosaur enthusiast during your holiday, then look no further than the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Montana. From their extensive collection of real dinosaur fossils to their interactive exhibits that bring dinosaurs back to life, this museum is guaranteed to ignite a passion within your whole family!

Depending on when you visit, there may also be special activities designed just for kids. For example, during the school holiday periods, they have engaging lectures conducted by renowned paleontologists, as well as workshops and hands-on ‘dig’ experiences so children can learn more about what it’s like to unearth an ancient fossil. If you’ve got a dinosaur lover in your family, you’ll want to include a visit to the Museum of the Rockies, this special curation will ensure all family members have a great time while learning something new.

Father and son looking at dinosaur skeleton exhibit
A father and son admire an exhibit. Photo credit: Carnegie Museum of Natural History

15. Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History is the permanent home to one of the great dinosaur attractions, the original fossils of Dippy the Diplodocus, one of the first dinosaurs to ever be put on display in 1907 (and credited with starting the dinosaur craze). The museum still houses Dippy along with another sauropod, an apatosaurus, a T. rex, a triceratops and many other dinosaur skeletons in their Dinosaurs In Their Time exhibit hall where they in place the fossils in extraordinarily detailed reconstructions of their respective environments as evidenced by science.

This Pittsburgh museum offers Super Science Saturdays and homeschool classes where you can piece together prehistoric evidence on how dinosaurs lived and died or extract DNA from modern-day relatives of the dinosaurs.

Exterior of the Indianapolis Children's Museum
The dinosaurs are trying to sneak into the Children’s Museum, Indianapolis. Photo credit: Children’s Museum Indianapolis

16. Dinosphere at The Children’s Museum

The Dinosphere at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis offers a unique, life-like experience for young dinosaur enthusiasts and their families. In this suspended walk-through time machine of sorts, visitors can explore some of the world’s most fascinating prehistoric creatures up close. Upon entering the Dinosphere, you’ll find yourself surrounded by four full-scale animatronic dinosaurs: a T. rex, an allosaurus, a torosaurus and a Utahraptor.

Your tour guide will provide insight into dinosaur habitats, morphology, social behavior and theoretical extinction theories as you journey through this realistic environment. As if that wasn’t enough incentive, individuals can also get hands-on with interactive activities like touchable fossils and even watch an exciting live performance featuring all the thrilling action of these ancient animals set to music. For anyone eager to see these majestic creatures come to life before their eyes while learning something new too – the Dinosphere at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis is such an amazing place for families with young dinosaur enthusiasts to visit.

Read More: Why the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis Rocks!

Blue the velociraptor at Universal Hollywood
Come face-to-face with Blue at Universal Studios Hollywood’s Jurassic World Attraction. Photo credit: Universal Studios Hollywood

17. Jurassic World at Universal Studios Hollywood

As many might remember visiting the Jurassic Park ride, now they can take their kids to the updated Jurassic World. While this may not be the most scientific exploration, it’s a great family-friendly way to experience dinosaur-themed thrills and spills year-round. Based on the Jurassic World movie, you can get up close to dinosaurs knowing that a hot dog and fountain Diet Coke are never too far away.

Highlights include coming face to face with Indominus rex as she stalks you through the jungle, and getting caught in her epic battle with the Tyrannosaurus rex. There’s also Raptor Encounter where you can meet Blue, the velociraptor, and the interactive DinoPlay for Kids area.

18. Jurassic Quest

Is your family interested in exploring the realm of prehistoric dinosaurs? If so, then you need to check out Jurassic Quest! Founded in 2007, it is a touring exhibition of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs that allows families to travel back to a time close to 65 million years ago. During their visit, guests can view the displays, look for fossils and even hop on and ride some of the dinos! Whether for educational or recreational purposes, Jurassic Quest promises to be an exciting and realistic adventure that your family won’t soon forget. The tours move throughout North America, so check out their schedule and see when they’ll be visiting a location near you.

Plus one Canadian Dinosaur Museum Worth Mentioning…

T. rex at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology
A T. rex stalks its way through Dinosaur Hall at the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Photo credit: Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology

Royal Tyrrell Museum

The Royal Tyrrell Museum is the perfect place to take young dinosaur enthusiasts for an unforgettable day! Located in gorgeous Drumheller, Alberta, Canada, this state-of-the-art museum has something for everyone. The moment you step foot inside you will be surrounded by interactive displays, multimedia features and over 120 life-sized dinosaur exhibits.

Invite your kids to become paleontologists and join one of the many child-oriented educational activities or check out the massive Sphinx Sculpture Garden with over thirty unique sculptures inspired by dinosaurs. There is also a 3D Movie Theatre featuring stunning visuals and spectacular science facts about our prehistoric friends. Whatever you decide to do, a visit to the Royal Tyrrell Museum will give your family a few dinosaur memories that will they will all enjoying digging into.

Unplug and Reconnect During Your Dino Discovery

If you have children that are fascinated by dinosaurs, then the best dinosaur museums and exhibits are your ticket to a fun and educational family experience. In addition to fossils, interactive activities and guided tours, each museum offers special opportunities to learn more about prehistoric times and the natural sciences with live-action events like lectures and fossil digs.

Whether it’s admiring triceratops horns, dinosaur bones and skeletons, or recreating a velociraptor hunt with VR-based technology, these expansive exhibitions have something to offer both amateur paleontologists and curious families alike. So, turn off those laptops and pack your bags – an unforgettable adventure through history awaits!

Born adventurer and Los Angeles-based travel writer, Margot Black focuses on outdoor family travel, family travel, cultural immersion and experiences in nature. Her goals in life include mastering Spanish, being the weight on her driver’s license, and learning how to travel with just one small suitcase.
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