Arizona Museum of Natural History
Situated in Mesa, the Arizona Museum of Natural History is one exciting outing for the whole family. With more than 40 exhibits of everything natural history, from extinct animals such as dinosaurs and mammoths to murals and skeletal reconstructions, this is the one place where you can spend the whole day pretending to be in the setting of a movie about prehistoric times. From permanent exhibits to special events, you get to learn about animals that lived millions of years ago in a fun and entertaining way. And if you feel like being a paleontologist for one day, why not roll up your sleeves and start digging for bones or may even pan for gold like prospector from the previous century?
The Roaring T-Rex
Nothing attracts kids and their parents like an animated model of a dinosaur that roars and shakes its head menacingly at the gaping crowds. The “Dinosaur Mountain”, with its indoor waterfall, has not one but three such models. If you know your tyrannosaurus rex from your pentaceratops, then you’ll be happy to know that there’s also a prowling stegosaurus that will make you shake in your boots. And when you’ve had enough fright for one day, you can move on to t he less scary, but in no way less realistic, skeletal reconstructions of saber-tooth cats, mammoths and other prehistoric animals.
Paleontology, Geology, and Art
Covering over 80,000 feet, the museum celebrates everything historical from extinct animals to Native American dwellings and even gold mines. If you’ve never heard of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine, this will be a good time to get an intimate acquaintance with the legendary gold mine. While the real mine may be nothing but a tall tale, the one re created in the museum looks and feels real enough. And while you’re, there explore a Hohokam Indian village and learn
some fascinating facts about the Hohokam culture. Hunters and Gatherers and Territorial Jail. In between the dinosaurs and the imaginary gold miners, there were some relatively peaceful times for the Paleo Indians to settle in. They were the first inhabitants of North America, mostly big game hunters who made stone tools and scrapers to hunt big game. Head over to the Southwest Gallery to get a glimpse of their daily lives which wasn’t as fun as we like to think. Speaking of fun, the territorial jail was one place that had zero fun in it. And you can explore one without being creeped out too much. The Arizona Museum of Natural History has a lot to show us about real extinct animals, Indian cultural heritage and a lot of fossils.