Enter the doors of the Arizona Museum of Natural History, and witness a timeline that will leave you awestruck. The collections at this Mesa museum highlight the origin and chronology of life with a strong focus on Southwest culture and natural history. There are nearly 60,000 objects of anthropology, history, culture and art on display, so get ready to spend some time exploring.
A Place for Family Entertainment
Planning a kid-friendly activity that is also educational, engaging and inexpensive isn’t easy, but AzMNH covers it all. Children of all ages will find something to love at this intriguing museum. As you step into the lobby, you’ll be greeted by larger-than-life prehistoric skeletons that will surely ignite curiosity in younger visitors. Just the 8-foot span of the megalodon jaws hanging from the ceiling will have your little ones hypnotized.
The star of the museum is Dinosaur Mountain, a gigantic dinosaur exhibit representing four different prehistoric periods in Arizona. A couple modern creatures stand watch at the top of the mount as well. Each tier of the three-story mountain holds animatronic-style dinosaurs and animals that move and roar in eerily lifelike ways. Approximately every 25 minutes, a flash flood crashes down the mountainside, which just adds to the awesome scene.
An Interactive Adventure
Unlike some natural history museums, AzMNH encourages hands-on investigation. The Exploration Station is devoted to children who are excited to learn more. In this brightly colored room of discovery, kids can imagine, create, explore and touch until they’re satisfied. After your children have overdosed on learning, bring them to the real-deal jail cells of Arizona’s original territorial prison. Laughter is imminent if you put them behind the bars.
The fun continues in the outdoor courtyard where your young explorers can pan for gold nuggets in the fountain. They can also excavate fossils from the land and sea. For the really adventurous, there is a replica of the legendary Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, which is filled with twists, turns and plenty of mystery. Your kids will go wild when they see the Lost Dutchman’s shadowy shape in the darkness.
A Visual Narrative of History
AzMNH has special rotating and permanent exhibits that center on the origin of the universe as well as the development of the Southwest. Temporary exhibits often highlight Native American history, but there are also displays focusing on ancient species. Continuing exhibits include a gallery dedicated to South American culture, a collection of beautiful Native American artwork, and displays of ancient artifacts from Central Arizona cultures.
The Arizona Museum of Natural History is like a visually enticing history book just begging to be explored. Tickets cost just $12 for adults and $7 for children, and senior citizens and students receive special discounts. The museum is open daily until 5 p.m., so you can enjoy an entire day of thought-provoking discovery with your family. When your adventure is finished, you may even feel a new connection to Arizona’s past.
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