The "Fighting Dinosaurs" are not a high school football team, but the trademark symbol of this massive museum: Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops skeletons poised in a stance so realistic that every kid feels inspired to imitate their Jurassic Park bellows (think Calvin & Hobbes). Opened in 1913 in a beautiful domed Spanish Renaissance building, this massive museum -- it's the largest natural and historical museum in the western United States -- is a 35-hall warehouse of earth's history, chronicling the planet and its inhabitants from 600 million years ago to the present day, and housing more than 33 million specimens and artifacts. There's a mind-numbing array of exhibits of prehistoric fossils, bird and marine life, gems and minerals, and North American mammals. The kid-friendly Discovery Center entertains children via hands-on, interactive exhibits: Kids can make fossil rubbings, dig for fossils, and view live animals such as snakes and lizards. Thomas the T. rex Lab is a specially designed workroom where visitors can watch the actual work of paleontologists as they prepare and assemble the fossils of a 66-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex nicknamed "Thomas." The best permanent displays include the world's rarest shark, a walk-through vault of priceless gems (including the largest collection of gold in the United States), and an Insect Zoo.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2009
- Highly Recommended 2010