Whether your child is a budding paleontologist or you’re just looking for an alternative to the beach, digging for dinosaur bones is an adventure the whole family is sure to, well, dig. Grab a shovel and some sunscreen and set your GPS for one of these sites.
Kids of all ages (and their parents) will find digs designed specifically for them at this Thermopolis, Wyoming, dino Mecca. Programs include day-long digs kids and parents can do together, kids-only digs for 8-12 year olds, drop-in “shovel ready” digs and a week-long Dinosaur Academy for teens.
Located 150 miles from Rapid City, South Dakota, in the Black Hills of Wyoming, Paleo Park and its onsite lodge are a family-run operation lovingly managed by descendants of the adventurous homesteader who claimed the land in the 1800s. The first dinosaur found on the property was excavated in 1908, and the discoveries have continued ever since. Choose from 2-hour long, overnight, and week-long digs for the whole family.
The primary focus of this granddaddy of paleontological research is excavating fossils and providing paleontological specimens to museums. The Institute also has an immersive on-site museum and at certain times in the summer volunteers 8 years old and up are invited to accompany the staff researchers on digs.
Hot Springs, South Dakota, isn’t just a spa town—it’s also home to the world’s largest mammoth research center. Here, visitors can explore the museum, observe a scientific excavation in progress, be a fly on the wall at a working paleontology lab, and from June through August, participate in a simulated dig designed for “Junior Paleontologists.”
East Coast-based dino fans will go Jurassic for the impressive display of fossil tracks preserved in this Rocky Hill, Connecticut, park and museum. There’s no digging here, but families can spend the day making track casts, mining for gems and fossils, as well as exploring over two miles of nature trails.
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