Do Dinosaurs live in your house? Is your floor littered with dinosaur toys? Do you find dinosaurs in your children’s beds? If so, you may want to consider taking your children for a dinosaur hunt around the Twin Cities! Regardless, we have two places that can always be counted on to entertain your young paleontologists and traveling shows nearly every year. When traveling shows come to the Twin Cities, we list them on this page.
Permanent Dinosaurs Exhibits in the Twin Cities
120 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102
The obvious place to visit to learn about dinosaurs is the Science Museum of Minnesota. Where else can you find full-size dinosaur skeletons, dinosaur books, dinosaur toys? I’ve spent entire visits in this section of the museum alone. While many museum dinosaurs are reproductions, the Science Museum’s Triceratops is one of only four real skeletons, as well as the largest specimen, on display in the world.
We all know SMM has the big dinosaur skeletons, like the triceratops, but their collections also contain thousands of real dinosaur fossils and artifacts of all sizes from Jurassic, Mesozoic, Cenozoic, Cretacious time periods and more. Learn more here.
- Dinosaurs and Fossils Gallery – Permanent exhibit near the cafeteria.
- If you have a pint-sized dinosaur lover and you don’t want to pay SMM admission for what could be a very short visit, you can still visit the mighty T-Rex in the lobby and touch its tooth for FREE. Then walk over to George Latimer Library (where there is always free admission) to read about dinosaurs together in the cozy children’s section.
- A family membership is $139.00/year and includes FREE entry plus Omnitheater tickets all year long. That is less than $12/month to have a family night out at the movies any time and dinosaur access whenever you want!
- If your family is currently on EBT, MA, WIC or Free/Reduced Lunches, you qualify for a Limited Income Membership, which is only $49.50/year. That is less than $5/month for the whole family and qualifies for all the same benefits at the regular family membership.
2088 Larpenteur Ave W, St Paul, MN 55113
While the Bell doesn’t have any actual dinosaurs for visitors to view, they do have an Ice Age Exhibit in their Tree of Life Gallery. Mammoths are pretty cool, too. I list this museum because, in the Bell’s updated Touch and See lab, kids can pretend to be real paleontologists with identification guides, magnifying glasses, and other scientific tools.
Cool Fact: Did you know that many of the Dinosaur reproductions seen in museums all around the country are made right here in the Twin Cities by, Blue Rhino Studios in Eagan? See their work at the Bell Museum’s Ice Age exhibit.
- A family membership is $95.00/year and includes FREE entry plus 1/2-price planetarium admission all year long. That is less than $8/month!
- If your family is currently on EBT, MA, WIC or Free/Reduced Lunches, you qualify for a Curiosity Membership, which is only $15/year. That is an amazing deal that you can’t beat.
Sinclair Gas Station in Champlin
120 Curtis Rd, Champlin, MN 55316
If you happen to be driving through Champlin, stop at the Sinclair Gas Station to visit their dinosaur mascot. See photos here.
Dinosaurs on the Playground
Sometimes the best experience is the simple one. These parks offer a little something for dino kids.
Goat Hill Park, Eagan
4391 Lexington Ave S, Eagan, MN 55123
For the younger dinosaur lovers, this park features a big blue dinosaur slide.
Huset Park, Columbia Heights
3965 Jefferson St NE, Columbia Heights, MN 55421
Go for the splash pad, but check out the ride on dinosaur while you are there.
Elm Creek Park, Maple Grove
12400 James Deane Pkwy, Maple Grove, MN 55369
Elm Creek Park Reserve’s giant playground has a dinosaur skeleton kids can climb on and play around.
DINOSAUR FOSSIL HUNTING
Hill-Annex Mine State Park, 880 Gary St, Calumet, MN 55716
Did you know that there have been only three dinosaur fossils found in Minnesota – ever? One of them was found in a Hill Annex mine,
which hosts fossil hunt tours during the summer months. Here is Joy’s story of the Peters family dinosaur-inspired fossil dig adventure: Fossil Hunting at Hill Annex State Park.
Note: Tours and fossil hunts at Hill Annex State Park are suspended until further notice.
For some fun home study to go with your hunt, you can learn more about what prehistoric creatures lived in Minnesota here.
Become a Junior Paleontologist
The National Park Service offers a Junior Paleontologist badge for kids who want to learn more about dinosaurs and fossils. Print and complete the Junior Paleontologist Activity Book. Then mail it in to receive a badge and achievement letter.
READ ABOUT DINOSAURS
Catherine Thimmesh is a local Children’s Book Author who specializes in non-fiction. Her writing is interesting and accessible to both children and adults. One of her most recent books is, Scaly Spotted Feathered Frilled: How do we know what dinosaurs really looked like? You and your kids can learn how these paleoartists try to accurately represent dinosaurs.
Gifts for Your Young Paleontologist
- Dinosaur Playset Bucket
- Price: $14.99
- Dinosaur Figure 5 Pack Box
- Price: $6.99
- Metal Earth Triceratops Model Kit
- Price: $4.99
- Robosaur R/C
- Price: $17.99
- LEGO Jurassic World Baryonyx Face-Off The Treasure
- Price: $84.99
- Tacosaurus Rex Taco Holder
- Price: $19.99
- Tricerataco Taco Holder
- Price: $14.99
- Dinosaur Silicone Grip Dish
- Price: $12.99
- Disappearing Dinosaur Mug
- Price: $12.99
- Jurassic Park Tin Lunch Tote
- Price: $33.99
- Dinosaur Green Toasty Toez Slippers for Kids
- Price: $12.99
- Child Dinosaur Sublimated Face Mask
- Price: $4.99
- Jurassic Park Resin Mosquito Keychain
- Price: $9.99
- Treasure X: Fire vs. Ice
- Price: $9.99
DINOSAURS AROUND THE COUNTRY
Some friends of ours have gathered similar lists for their own backyards. When traveling, check out these great dinosaur venues.
- Find dozens of life-size dinosaurs in Atlanta, Georgia’s Fernbank Museum: Why Fernbank Museum Is The Best Museum In Atlanta For Kids
- New Jersey has a lot of options for learning about dinosaurs: 10 Places to See Dinos in New Jersey – including an epic dinosaur park and a dinosaur hiking trail.
- Rockford, Illinois has Burpee Natural History Museum.
- 7 Places to See Dinosaurs Near Greenville, SC
- The nearby Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago is home to the famous, Sue – the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex specimen every discovered.
- Want to see some real dinosaur footprints? Dinosaur Valley State Park in Texas allows visitors to explore sites where dinosaur tracks have been discovered.
- Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah has over 1,500 dinosaur fossils exposed on the cliff face inside the Quarry Exhibit Hall.
Traveling Exhibits To Watch:
There are several traveling exhibits and shows that hit the Twin Cities on tours. If you want to see a particular show, you can sign up for emails letting you know when they schedule a nearby show.
Jurassic Quest: Featuring life-size animatronic dinosaurs, a dinosaur ride, bounce houses, dino crafts, digging for dinosaur bones, baby dinosaurs “handled” by puppeteers, walk with the dinosaurs and ancient oceans.
Dinosaur Adventure: Visit realistic and life-sized dinosaurs, fossil crafts, obstacle courses, dinosaur riding, Jurassic jeep course, fossil mining, inflatable playground and more.
Dinosaur World Live: A show for families with kids ages 3+, life-like dinosaur puppets take the stage.
Jurassic World – Live Shows: Brings the Universal Studios films to life with more than twenty characters and nine dinosaurs.