Few things excite the imagination of youngsters the way dinosaurs do. When I was in second grade, I would devour every ounce of information I could find about dinosaurs. Let me tell you, Pre-Google, this was no easy task! Once upon a time, Dinosaurs roamed the land that we now call Hartford County. Fortunately for us, a little piece of this pre-history has been preserved in The Dinosaur State Park. Now that my daughter has her own questions about dinosaurs, I decided to step away from the screens, and head out to the park where we could get up close and personal to this pre-historic slice of our past.
This museum transports visitors back to ancient times when these giant pre-historic animals roamed Connecticut's valleys and forests.
Unbeknownst to many Nutmeggers, the Connecticut Valley has quite a history of fossil track discoveries. The site of Dinosaur State Park was actually meant to be a State Building until these tracks were accidentally discovered in 1966.
Guests can walk above the carefully restored dino tracks in the air-conditioned, mysteriously darkened exhibit center where giant dioramas, smart light and sound effects evoke the presence of roaming dinosaur herds.
Image courtesy of utopianian via Instagram
The newly renovated Discovery Room has tons of hands on activities to engage even the youngest of visitors. There is an interactive geologic map of Connecticut, Investigation Stations where you can examine mica, crystal structures, and other rock specimen, and a giant Mesozoic Magnetic wall.
There is also a small movie theater that shows fascinating movies about - you guessed it - dinosaurs!
There is plenty to do outdoors, too. The Park is criss-crossed by 2 miles of hiking trails that roam through a variety of natural environments from open meadows to a traprock ridge. It is hard to imagine that lava once flowed through this area, but the pieces of broken basaltic rock along your hike are a reminder of the amazing pre-history of this place!
May 1st- to October 31, kids can participate in the park's special activities at the Casting Area and learn how to cast dinosaur tracks. You can learn more about this process here.
Image courtesy of saratedidee via Instagram
In the springtime, visitors are also able to mine for gems and fossils on the weekends. During the summer, this activity is available Tuesday through Sunday.
You can learn more about this experience here.
Dinosaur State Park
400 West Street
Rocky Hill, CT, 06067
Exhibit Center: Tuesday-Sunday: 9 am – 4.30 pm
Park: Daily (9 am – 4.30 pm (no fee)
Children 5 and under: Free
Cover photo courtesy of ctmommyblogger via Instagram