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Being a paleontologist is serious business.
My 3-year old clearly relished the opportunity to give back to society by digging for dinosaur bones. As she adjusted her goggles, I could see her silly nature take a back seat to the intense concentration of a little girl on a mission. As a Mom, these are the kinds of moments I live for.
As a Mom of a little girl, I really love opportunities to have fun that doesn’t involve the colors purple and pink.. or the word ‘princess.’
If you visit Philadelphia with kids, you will definitely want to check out the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. This museum, which was founded in 1812, makes the perfect day trip for little kids. It is very engaging, but not overwhelming– the perfect combination. Read on for 7 reasons why your kids will love this Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences!
This visit was hosted, but this is my independent review of the museum.
1. Dinosaurs Unearthed
The newest exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences is an absolute must for kids! The exhibit includes very life-like animatronic dinosaurs that will roar and try to eat the other dinosaurs (and probably your kid if they could get out of the exhibit!). For some of the exhibits, kids can press buttons to make the dinosaurs neck and tail move. Also, the exhibit features real dinosaur specimens, including dino poop (Everybody Poops after all!).
After your kids get a thrill from the mighty dinosaurs, definitely make a stop in the museum’s Butterfly exhibit/habitat. The butterfly greenhouse and tropical garden is home to anywhere between 60 and 150 butterflies of varying species. This is a delightful exhibit where kids can’t touch, but they will really get a kick out of seeing the butterflies flit around.
3. Dinosaur Hall and the Big Dig
You really can’t miss Dinosaur Hall, as it is the first major exhibit you encounter when entering the main entrance to the museum. Many of the dinosaur skeletons in this great hall are full skeletal mounts and there are various kid-friendly activities including challenges to jump and walk like a dinosaur. For kids though, you will want to make a beeline upstairs to the Big Dig. Kids can don goggles and paleontology tools and help unearth dinosaur treasures still buried in the sand.
4. Wildlife Dioramas and the Secrets of the Dioramas
The wildlife dioramas at the Academy of Natural Sciences are phenomenal. The exhibits are arranged by area of the world and span two floors. The 37 dioramas, many of which were created between 1930-1950, are very life-like and include animals such as bears, lions, moose, doll sheep, tigers, and American bison. The Secrets of the Dioramas is worth a side visit mostly because it includes opportunities for kids to touch a sampling of the eyeballs, noses, ears, etc.. that are used to create the dioramas.
5. Outside In
If your kid is under 8 years old, you will want to check out ‘Outside In,’ a hands-on playroom designed specifically for young kids. This self-contained room is full of fun activities such as digging for shark’s teeth, getting up close to a bee hive, books and toys related to Natural History, and a huge eagle’s nest. Also, kids may get a chance to pet an animal, or even a bug! Ewwww!
6. Live Animal Presentations
Every weekday from 11 to 1145AM, you can get up close to one of the museums 100+ animals (alive, not dioramas). Additionally, outside the auditorium kids can pet small animal pelts or touch/hold the skulls or claws of various animal skeletons.
7. Super Fun Kid-Friendly Festivals
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University holds a number of super fun family-friendly festivals throughout the year. Some of the highlights include:
- Animal Superhero Weekend (April)
- Bug Fest (August)
- Dinosaur Days (November)
- Totally Turtles Weekend (June)
Know Before You Go
- The Academy of Natural Sciences is easily accessible via public transportation and there are two double decker tourist bus stops that are very close to the museum. There are numerous parking garages nearby but the cost is rather high and many of them can not accommodate vehicles over 6′ tall.
- Hours are 10AM-430PM during the week and 10AM-5PM on the weekends.
- Cost: $17.95 for adults and $13.95 kids (3-12 years old)
- Food? The Academy Cafe offers numerous kid-friendly options including flatbread pizza, chicken fingers, and mac n’ cheese. None of the food options are fried.
- If you are visiting with a wheelchair or stroller, enter through the 19th Street entrance. This is an older museum, but there are elevators that give visitors access to all of the floors and exhibits.
- What’s Nearby? The Academy of Natural Sciences is located on Logan Circle (also called Logan Square). Almost right next door in the Franklin Institute. You could easily spend an entire day visiting these two museums alone. If the weather is nice (or hot) though, bring a change of clothes and let your kids splash around in Logan fountain. There are signs that say no wading, but there are always people splashing around, so the rule must not be enforced. Also, Sister Cities Park is located on Logan Circle and features a small splash area specifically designed for kids.
- For more information, here is their website: http://www.ansp.org/
If you plan a visit to Philadelphia with young kids, you must put the Academy of Natural Sciences on your ‘bucket list.’ I guarantee your kids will love it!
Thanks for reading,