Lily is a big dinosaur fan. She’s got dinosaur movies, dinosaur books, a dinosaur puzzle. She talks of someday being an paleontologist. For years, I’ve been thinking about taking her to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. This summer, I finally did that.
My sister-in-law, brother-in-law and two nieces day-tripped with us to the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. It’s about an hour and a half from Calgary. There’s lots to do there, so I do recommend giving yourself a day.
For us, it was a good excuse to plug in another audio book. I also enjoy watching the scenery change as we head east. The farmer’s fields were a sight for these city-sore eyes. Then there’s the abrupt drop into the badlands just before reaching Drumheller.
The Royal Tyrrell Museum is easy to find; there are plenty of signs to help out. It’s one of Drumheller’s chief attractions and is very busy during the summer months.
We were lucky to find a parking spot fairly close to the museum; my sister-in-law ended up further away, in the bus parking. I loaded our stuff into my umbrella stroller (wishing I had my Graco with me but alas, it was too big for a road trip) and told the girls to stay close.
As soon as we walked up, we saw dinosaurs. The girls had fun posing with them, petting them, and talking about which dinosaur was their favourite. (I think the baby dinosaurs won that vote.)
Inside the museum, we were greeted by more dinosaurs. The girls oohed and aahed at the models grinning toothfully down at us. Then we fell into the general flow of the crowd, moving forward while reading the signs.
I was glad both Sunshine and Lily are now reading. It made it easier to let them explore a bit on their own (within sight). Of course, they were also excited to have their cousins there and generally stayed in a group.
One of the highlights of our visit was coming around the corner to find a paleontologist working on getting a dinosaur skeleton out of a cast. With a tiny tool, she chipped away at the cast while chatting with her eager crowd of questioners. The girls and their cousins stood watching for probably twenty minutes. They would have watched for much longer, but I finally told them to come away and let other kids watch too.
Another fascinating part was finding out about recent dinosaur skeleton discoveries. The floods in Alberta in 2014 unearthed quite a few new skeletons. In one of the first parts of the museum, we saw a dinosaur skeleton still encased in rock. It had to be lifted from the river via helicopter after it was found. Sometime soon, the museum paleontologists will work at chipping it out of the rock and finding out what dinosaur it is.
Before touring the Royal Tyrrell Museum, we let the kids play outside on the playground and had a picnic. After going through the museum, they wanted to go back to the playground. Sunshine compared it to an outdoors McDonald’s PlayPlace. One end was a giant sandbox with a half-buried dinosaur.
The girls spent quite a while helping to dig out the dinosaur. My sister-in-law and I wondered if the museum staff covered it up again every night, and wished that there were a few more hands-on examples like that for kids.
Lily says her favourite part of the visit was seeing the dinosaur skeletons. She posed with several dinosaurs for pictures. Jaclyn’s favourite part was watching some fish swim around an aquarium. Nearby was a fossilized fish of the same species. They all enjoyed the dinosaur models outside.
To find out more about what’s going on at the Royal Tyrrell Museum and plan your own visit, drop by the website. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube for behind-the-scenes pictures and information.
Kid-friendly: Yes and no. There were very few hands-on activities for the kids to do. A kid who is reading can follow along with all the signs (as Sunshine and Lily were able to), but Jade often lost interest before her sisters did. There were several movies which they watched and many displays were located at kid-height.
Baby-friendly: Yes. I had my stroller with us for the day (as well as the Juno) and it was easy to get around the museum with wheels. The washrooms were big and accessible, with stools for kids. There was also a sign in the washroom for breastfeeding mamas, inviting them to ask for help if they required a quiet place to nurse. (I just sat down on a chair to feed Pearl while the other kids were watching one of the movies, but it was busy so it wasn’t always easy to find a place to sit.)
Fees: Both my sister-in-law and I thought the fees here were very reasonable. A one-day family pass is under $50; if you want to stay for two, get the two-day pass for a discount. Kids six and under are free.
I received complimentary admission to the Royal Tyrrell Museum for this review; all opinions expressed are my own.
We are so lucky to have the Tyrrell museum here in Drumheller. And remember that there are many other things to do here. Stop by the visitor information centre and pick up a guide book to learn about our other attractions.