Most kids have a fascination with dinosaurs at some point, and if they’re anything like mine they can be relentless. One day my daughter came home from school asking questions about fossils, plant-eaters and T-Rex and didn't stop for two weeks. I’d heard about the Dino Pit at the Austin Nature and Science Center and decided to give it a try as a way to indulge her latest obsession. I’m glad we did, it was well worth the trip.
First of all, I didn't realize all the things the Austin Nature and Science Center has to offer. We went to dig for dinosaur fossils – which we did and the kids loved – but also saw live animals and waded in a river. There was no admission to get in and no shortage of things to do.
The Dino Pit is a large sandy area where kids dig for fossil casts. There is a dinosaur skeleton rib cage near the entrance and dinosaur info everywhere. My girls pretended they were paleontologists digging for bones and got really excited when they uncovered something.
The kids also loved the small animal exhibit. We saw reptiles, birds and other animals native to the area. They were particularly fascinated with the gray wolf. We learned that some of the animals were rescued after being hurt or orphaned, which brought up a lot of good conversation topics.
The other highlight was the stream of water running through the middle of the center. It was beautiful and apparently just too tempting for my kids. Before I knew it, they had all removed their shoes and were wading in the water trying to catch a tiny fish. Fortunately they were unsuccessful, but they did have a great time splashing and enjoying nature.
The ANSC is a wonderful place for hands-on learning. Kids can explore, dig and see real animals. They offer a lot of educational programs and camps during the summer. Plus, its location in Zilker Park is ideal, because there are tons of other activities to do nearby including the Zilker Botanical Garden. The day we went we had a picnic at the park and spent most of the day enjoying the outdoors.
So if your kids are in to dinosaurs, the Dino Pit is a must visit. But even if they don’t give a hoot about the Jurassic period the Austin Nature and Science Center it is still a wonderful, free activity to do with the family.