Dinosaurs, prehistoric beasts large and small, have captured our imaginations and our fascination since their initial discovery (note: while dinosaur bones have been found for thousands of years, it wasn't until the late 17th-early 18th century that they came into modern knowledge as dinosaur fossils.). From Jurassic Park to The Land Before Time, dinosaurs have continued to hold us enthralled. Truly, it's one subject that kids pretty much unanimously look forward to learning about in school. So when you're searching for a fun and educational field trip destination for your student group, look no further than the dinosaur museums, parks, and dig sites around the United States.
Museum of Natural History - Washington, D.C.
The Smithsonian's pride and joy, D.C.'s own natural history museum is perhaps the nation's top destination for dinosaur lovers. However, because of major renovations and a whole new exhibit being built, the Hall of Paleobiology is set to be closed until 2019. Nevertheless, this isn't going to stop visitors from viewing a portion of the museum's 46 million fossil collection throughout the rest of the galleries.
Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Center - Colorado Springs
With over 30 life-size specimens and one of the most complete raptor skeletons in North America, the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Center is a fascinating and intriguing destination for dinosaur fanatics. Not only can you view prehistoric dinosaurs, marine reptiles, mammals, and prehistoric fish are also included in the collections. Alongside viewing the many exhibits, visitors can observe fossil preparation in their on-site lab.
Field Museum of Natural History - Chicago
Home to the world's largest, best-preserved, most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton, Sue. People come from far and wide to take in this massive creature, learn about its 67 million-year-old fossil, and the paleontologist who found it, Sue Hendrickson. The Evolving Planet exhibit is the museum's major dinosaur wing following the history of the earth through 4 billion years of life and showcases dinosaurs from every major group.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center - Thermopolis, WY
With a motto like "Dig into Paleontology!" you'd better believe you're in for a treat at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. 30 full skeletons, 12,000 square feet of space, and over 80 live dig sites at the nearby affiliated Warm Springs Ranch, this museum is nothing if not interactive and informational. Science is fun here where you can see one of the world's best-preserved Archaeopteryx fossils and also head outside and see for yourself how paleontologists uncover dinosaur bones. Maybe you can become a junior paleontologist yourself!
Dinosaur National Monument - Jensen, UT
Step back in time to a highly preserved window into the late-Jurassic Period. On the border between Colorado and Utah, you'll find over 800 dig sites, some dating back as far as 150 million years. Dinosaurs such as the Allosaurus, Deinonychus, Abydosaurus have been found in the park. 1,500 bones and fossils, estimated, are still embedded within the rockface of the quarry wall and is a popular draw for visitors.
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
The largest museum in the Western United States, the Los Angeles Natural History Museum is home to 35 million specimens over 4.5 billion years of earth history. It's also the only museum in the world to showcase a growth series of a Tyrannosaurus Rex from a baby to a young adult. Other dinosaur skeletons include Allosaurus, Triceratops, and more. As the La Brea Tar Pits are nearby, this museum gains even more attention and influence over dinosaur lovers.
Dinosaur Valley State Park - Glen Rose, TX
Have you ever watched a dinosaur movie and wondered just how big those footprints are? Well, you get the chance to see in person at the Dinosaur Valley State Park, home to some of the world's largest and best-preserved dinosaur footprints. Just like a normal state park, at Dinosaur Valley you can swim, hike, bike, and camp in its beautiful grounds but you'll also encounter a number of giant footprints to spice things up. Bring a swimsuit and go for a dip in the swimming hole where, around the shores, you'll see massive imprints from several million years ago.