The Ultimate Guide to Dinosaur Spots in the Midwest

The real things may be long gone but you can still check out creatures that ruled the world millions of years ago at these dinosaur spots in the Midwest.

A statue of a T-rex in the forest from the Detroit Zoo
Image courtesy of the Detroit Zoo

Roar! If you’re like me, you have one or more dinosaur fans in your household that can’t seem to stop stomping around or sharing the latest dinosaur fact they’ve learned: “Mom, did you know that chickens are descendants from dinosaurs?”

Dinosaurs have ruled my house for years, and we’ve done our fair share of dino hunting. Check out these dino-mite Midwest spots you and your own dino-lovers can’t miss.

Note: Due to COVID-19, health and safety protocols will be taken at many of these locations. Be sure to call before you head out to find out what is expected and if the location is currently open.

Michigan

Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills

Kids will dig: coming face-to-face with the full-sized t-rex skeleton, the jaws of a megalodon, the saber-tooth cat and the mastodon displays. Learn about the ice age, who survived it (and who didn’t), discover dinosaur features and much more.

Detroit Zoo, Royal Oak

Kids will dig: The forty lifelike animatronic dinosaurs are invading the Detroit Zoo this summer as part of Dinosauria, the largest exhibit of its kind in the country. Enter your own “Zoorassic World” and explore the five-acre Dino Trail. Watch out though, these creatures may be lurking close by. Note: This display is not permanent and instead makes a return to the zoo each year, barring any issues. Check ahead that it’s happening before heading out.

Dinosaur Garden, ILC, Ossineke

Kids will dig: This one-of-a-kind park, which opened in the 1930s. It is filled with reproductions of life-sized dinosaurs including pterodactyls, t-rex and the mighty triceratops. Dinosaurs are set against natural scenery and guests are free to touch and pose with the statues. There are plenty of photo opportunities along with a mini-golf course and a frozen yogurt bar, too.

Prehistoric Amusement Park, Onsted

Kids will dig: This roadside attraction‘s old-school vibe that features full-size fiberglass dinosaurs and a man-made volcano. Once upon a time, this attraction was booming but fell victim to the rerouted interstates. You can still see the dinosaurs but since this park is located on private property, you must get the landowner’s permission, first.

University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, Ann Arbor

Kids will dig: The Evolution of Life Through Time exhibit, which explores the five major extinction events and how life made it through them, along with the Exploring Michigan exhibit, which takes guests back through Michigan’s history to explore the animals that lived in our state. There’s full male and female Mastodon skeletons, too.

Ohio

Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland

Kids will dig: Meeting “Happy,” a 70-foot-long “Haplocanthosaurus delfsi” sauropod, plus other dinosaur friends in the Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life. The latest exhibit, Ultimate Dinosaurs, should also not to be missed and is on display through early October.

COSI: Center of Science and Industry

Kids will dig: Getting face to face with a full-size cast skeleton of a T. rex or the 60-foot-long metallic model of the long-necked Apatosaurus. With a one-of-a-kind partnership with the American Museum of Natural History, there are many interactive and educational elements to learn from.

Orton Geological Museum

Kids will dig: Taking photos with life-size skeletal displays of their favorite Dinos and looking at other prehistoric fossils, too. Best of all, admission is free.

Illinois

The Field Museum, Chicago

Kids will dig: Visiting with SUE, the 40-foot-long and 90% complete t-rex, the giant grounded sloth, Megatherium, The Tully Monster and Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old hominid.

Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford

Kids will dig: Jane, the world’s most complete juvenile T. rex, and Homer, a Triceratops.

Bess Bower Dunn Museum, Libertyville

Kids will dig: Standing up close to the world’s most scientifically accurate Dryptosaurus, complete with fleshed out skin, protofeathers and claws. Then try a hand at pit digging to find an ancient treasure.

Chicago Children’s Museum

Kids will dig: Being a part of Chicago paleontologist Paul Sereno’s team and exploring a recreated Saharan expedition, then find a life-size Suchomimus skeleton in a huge dino pit.

Wisconsin

Dinosaur Discovery Museum, Kenosha

Kids will dig: Hanging out with more than 20 meat eating dinosaurs! Don’t miss the exhibit, Little Clint: The Story of a Baby Dinosaur. Kids can follow the journey of a juvenile T. rex (excavated in Montana) from its birth to being displayed in a museum. Expect interactive activities, including pretending to hatch in a nest and climbing into a dino dig to excavate fossils.

Milwaukee Public Museum, Milwaukee

Kids will dig: The Third Planet exhibit features dinosaurs in a diorama complete with thunder and the roaring of a life-sized replica of T. rex.

Madison Geology Museum, Madison

Kids will dig: The Edmontosaurus and Triceratops, and a roomful of other dinosaurs in this small “gem” of a museum. Stick around and explore other real gems, a cool fluorescent display and extraterrestrial geology.

Indiana

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indianapolis

Kids will dig: The dinosaurs ON the outside of the building welcoming you, plus everything in Dinosphere! Kids can literally spend hours here by digging for dino bones and learning all about the dinosaur skeletons on display. Check out Leonardo, a mummified Brachylophosaurus, which is important to science for its first real look at the skin and scales of a dinosaur. Learn more about Dracorex, the newest dinosaur on the block, which bears a resemblance to a fairytale dragon and see Bucky the teenage t-rex, too.

Minnesota

The Science Museum of Minnesota, St. Paul

Kids will dig: Saying they’ve seen one of only four real Triceratops on display in the world. Plus, it’s the museum’s largest complete specimen on display. You also can’t miss the 82-foot Diplodocus or the recreation of an Allosaurus hunting two Camptosaurus.

Kansas

Sternberg Museum, Hays

Kids will dig: Walking through the land and sea diorama complete with a life-sized animated model of a T. rex. Ever see a fish within a fish fossil? This, along with other Cretaceous Period fossils can be found here.

Field Station: Dinosaurs, Derby

Kids will dig: Walking through the 10 dino-infested acres with 40 life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Find out which dinosaurs were unique to Kansas, then dig for fossils, play Jurassic Golf, explore the Raptor Maze and more.

Keystone Gallery, Oakley

Kids will dig: A 20-foot Mosasaur and 14-foot Xiphactinus, plus other fish, turtle and bird fossils.

Museum at Prairiefire, Overland Park

Kids will dig: Meeting AMNH 5027, the first complete T .rex ever discovered by famous paleontologist and Kansas native Barnum Brown. The Discovery Room awaits for those interested in more hands-on fun, including Paleontology.

Fick Fossil & History Museum, Oakley

Kids will dig: Seeing the oldest known mosasaur fossil, which its eye socket in tact along with more than 11,000 shark teeth and a 15-foot Xiphactinus Audax.

KU Natural History Museum, Lawrence

Kids will dig: Annabelle, a 50-foot-long, 140-million-year-old Camarasaurus. There’s also the skeleton of one of the first vertebrates, the Pteranodon and a 16-foot-long bony fish, the Xiphactinus, which was first discovered in Kansas in the 1850s.

Museum of World Treasures, Wichita

Kids will dig: Ivan the T .rex and Logan the Tylosaurus, along with a number of other prehistoric fossils.

South Dakota

Dinosaur Park, Rapid City

Kids will dig: Totally fun road trip diversion, Dinosaur Park, which lures travelers and dino lovers with their life-size dinosaur sculptures. It’s kitschy fun at its best!

Do you know of other dinosaur spots in the midwest? Tell us about them in the comments so we can add them to our list. And for more family travel fun, check out these Midwest caves and waterfalls.

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