The first time I went to the Greensboro Science Center, it was with my daughter’s school field trip two years ago.
It’s about an hour and a half west of Raleigh – an easy day trip – and it’s a surprisingly awesome destination, offering an extensive, kid-friendly aquarium exhibit, an outdoor zoo, and a complex ropes course completed in 2015, among many other things.
We went again recently, this time with the rest of the family, and even my husband was impressed, so you know it has to be good.
First up was the aquarium exhibit, which has a hands-on stingray touch tank (very slimy and smooth!), a large aquarium tank with sharks and other fish, a huge penguin habitat, a sea otter exhibit, a ginormous anaconda, and a giant octopus, which has to be the most fascinating thing ever. If you’ve seen Finding Dory you’ll get a sense of what this octopus looks like and since they’re very smart, I could easily imagine the one at the science center escaping and going on an escapade around the building or perhaps hijacking a box truck full of fish. The octopus was featured on Animal Planet’s Tanked! – they built the unique display for it – and he was super-active the day we went.
The otter habitat has a neat little dome in it at the otter’s floor level, where kids can crawl up from under the display and be at eye level with the animals. My friend, a huge fan of this particular exhibit, loves the otters so much she bought an annual membership to the museum. She shared that she was not above monopolizing the dome viewing feature (it provided excellent therapy when her graduate school studies had gotten just a bit too stressful), much to the chagrin of many a kid who waited impatiently for her to get her fill of the wee beasts’ antics.
The penguin exhibit, a huge tank with swimming and land area, was full of ruffled, unkempt looking birds thanks to their seasonal molt, who gleefully swam and waddled around oblivious to the crowd in front of them.
An adjacent, newly added expansion of the aquarium exhibit was full of salt water tanks with jellys, corals, crabs and all sorts of cool fish.
Once we’d had our fill of sea life, we headed outside to the zoo where meerkats pondered the occasional airplane overhead, giant aldabra tortoises lumbered around their habitat, and lemurs, red pandas, howler monkeys, alpacas, wallabys, a tiger named Axl and many other animals hung out and did their thing. It’s a beautifully landscaped zoo, with a ropes course interwined throughout the campus, and the animals were easily viewable through the day.
We headed back inside and enjoyed the herpetarium (lots and lots of snakes and lizards), a human body exhibit where the kids were amused to learned where boogers come from, and paid one last visit to the aquarium before heading out.
I can’t say it enough – this is an awesome science center for both kids and adults. There are a ton of docents available to answer questions about the exhibits, and a number of add-on experiences if you want. We’ll definitely be back to try out the Skywild ropes course. A few things to know before you go:
- The facility is open year-round from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., except for Thanksgiving and Christmas day, and the day of their annual gala. The outside zoo closes at 4 p.m. seasonally.
- Admission is $13.50 for adults, $12.50 for seniors and children ages 3 – 13, and free for children 2 and under.
- There are specialty shows and experiences which do cost extra, including Skywild, Inside Tracks Aquarium Adventures, Penguin Encounters, and Zoo Trek, and Adventure Theater and Omnisphere Shows. I advise going early if you want to take advantage of everything they have to offer.
- There is a cafe on site.
Check their website for updates and information at www.greensboroscience.org. The science center is located at 4301 Lawndale Drive, Greensboro, NC, and there is plenty of parking on-site. Enjoy!
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