We checked off one of the outings from our Summer Bucket List yesterday. I took the kids to Hot Springs, Arkansas. It wasn't as long of a drive as I remembered - only about 1 hour and 15 minutes. I can't believe we've never been to the Mid America Science Museum. The kids see it occasionally on a local PBS commercial and comment that they want to go each time.
This place was great! I was really impressed. It is located in a beautiful setting,
There was plenty to do and see before we even went inside.
They had these stations set up all over the bottom floor. Kids could "become" the dinosaur in this video-game type learning experience. It seemed as daunting to me as any video game. But that's because I don't have the mind for video games; the boys seemed to do okay with it. It would be better for slightly older kids who can read all of the information/trivia/instructions on the screen. They could understand by the graphics, though, when they needed to find food or water for their dinosaur, etc.
You have a choice when you purchase tickets to add on the simulation rides (We passed on the motion-sickness experience.) or the Dinosaurs Alive! experience. (Speaking of tickets, there is a coupon online for $1 off, up to 4 people, I wish I would have seen.)
We walked through the moving, animatronic dinosaur world. Of course, Dash could name them all and tell me facts about them before I even read the screens. He SO wanted to touch the dinosaurs; it took everything within him to keep from crawling under that rope and joining them. We had to exit and walk back through a second time, as well.
If you have a child who loves dinosaurs, here is one of the museum activities that you can do at home: Design Your Own Dinosaur.
They really enjoyed the Night Crawler exhibit. They went through the dark tunnel several times, to help them feel the "life of a worm." There are video screens to see your kids on the inside.
There was another Underground Arkansas exhibit that the boys really liked. (Sissy was too scared to enter.) I wanted to go in, but I had my camera and purse, and they tell you it's not a good idea to enter with belongings. It is, according to the website, a "gigantic indoor cave filled with awesome twists, turns, tunnels, and slides...maneuver swinging bridges, climb rope ladders, and experience a realistic underground adventure."
The museum is home to the conical Tesla Coil exhibit. It is essentially "caged lightening." It's the most powerful on earth at 1.5 million volts. (It is a Guiness Book of World Records' winner.) We sat and watched the "show," which takes place several times throughout the day.
Of course, Tornado enjoyed the different activities that were dedicated to him.
This was my favorite activity. I could have played with these magnet shavings for an hour.
Tornado always loves contraptions like these, made of found objects. Sure enough, as soon as we got into the car, he was drawing his own "found objects" picture.
The next stop on our adventure was the Hot Springs Mountain Tower.
Tickets were $7 for adults, $4 for kids 5 and up. (There is a coupon on HotSprings.org, for this one, too. I apparently did not do my research ahead of time.) We rode the glass elevator up to the top.
The level below the top has an enclosed area to read about Arkansas and its famous residents. There is a gift shop on the bottom level.
Tornado, enjoying the view with his binoculars...
I love that they brought the binoculars on our "adventure," without me even giving them the idea.
A lady in the next bathroom stall at the tower got a chuckle at Sissy's excited voice as she had the binoculars around her neck.
She said, all in one breath, "Mommy, if I see an animal, I'm going to say, 'Mommy, I see an animal!' "
I wanted to take them to feel the actual hot springs, so they would understand how the town got its name. I think there a few different spots for this. I like this place next to the historic Arlington Hotel. In my memory, the water was comparable to a hot tub. I told the kids we would be able to stick our feet in the water...wrong! It is SCALDING! They could barely stick the tip of their finger in it for half a second without yanking it back out.
They played around this little area for awhile before heading back to the car.
At the museum gift shop, Sissy picked out "pretty rocks" as her souvenir.
The boys picked, of course...dinosaur poop.