1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Montville, CT 860-443-4367
Last week we decided to have a Connecticut staycation and visited some fun local attractions. Our first stop for the week was The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, CT. The Dinosaur Place has been on my list of family-friendly places to visit in Connecticut for some time now and I’m so excited that we finally got to visit such an exciting place.
The park is in southeastern Connecticut, not too far from the casinos. It took us about an hour from our home in central Connecticut. The Dinosaur Place is located within Nature’s Art Village. In addition to the outdoor dinosaur attractions, there are indoor activities (at an additional cost). You can dig for crystals & minerals, pan for “gold”, uncover dinosaur fossils, create crafts, shop and look for antiques. Since our trip was last minute we didn’t have enough time to experience the indoor attractions but would love to come back (maybe in the winter?) to explore more.
The price of admission varies throughout the year depending on peak time. Admission includes entry into the dinosaur trails, playground, splash pad, moon bounce (it was closed when we visited), and maze. I found admission to be a bit pricey but it is a whole day’s worth of activities all in one location.
TIP: Check out their website for occasional special promotions before planning your trip
In Season Pricing:
May 28 – June 30 & Sept. 6 – Sept. 31
Ages 2-59: $19.99 plus tax (under 2 free)
Ages 60+: $16.99 plus tax
Peak Season Pricing:
Dates: July 1 – Sept. 5
Ages 2-59: $23.99 plus tax (under 2 free)
Ages 60+: $20.99 plus tax
Off Season Pricing:
Dates: Oct. 1 – Nov. 27
Ages 2-59: $16.99 plus tax (under 2 free)
Ages 60+: $14.99 plus tax
Located between the playground and splashpad is a quick service restaurant serving burgers, hot dogs, pizza and beverages at Monty’s Munchies. You are welcome to enjoy food from home at one of the picnic areas located around the park. There’s also ice cream shop located outside the entrance to the park.
Nestled in the woods of the park are over 40 life-sized dinosaurs. There are two main trails to walk on to see the dinosaurs: Connecticut trail (with dinosaurs from this region) and the Mesozoic trail. The trails were easy to walk along and stroller-friendly. There was an area that was clearly labeled steep incline so we made sure to avoid taking that route with our little kids and stroller.
We chose to walk along the Mesozoic trail. The dinosaurs were hidden within the water and vegetation. It was a great way to imagine dinosaurs in their natural habitat. The whole walk was shady which is great for a hot summer day. We were able to get up close to many of the dinosaurs. Signs were displayed with the dinosaur’s name, pronunciation and interesting facts. Many of the dinosaurs were knew to me. I especially loved the mama guarding her eggs.
My kids also loved the “What am I?” boxes with hidden surprises throughout the trail. They had to use their sense of touch and a few clues to guess what was inside the box. It was a nice distraction when there weren’t any dinosaurs in sight.
One of the must-see spots for my kids was the erupting volcano. It sits on the man-made lake and can be seen and heard from the playground or while walking at the end of the dinosaur trail. The volcano erupts with noise and steam on the hour and we were lucky enough to catch it just in time.
Monty’s Dino-Sized Playground
Included with the price of admission is the large playground named after the mascot of the park, Monty (named after Montville, CT). The playground is perfect for all ages. My 2-year-old had no problem keeping up with his older sisters or the other children nearby. There are slides, a climbing web, and dinosaur skull to climb through.
My kids spent a considerable amount of time climbing through the park’s all-new playscape for the 2016 season, T-Rex Towers. It included multiple levels of climbing and crawling fun. There is a miniature zip line, tunnels, and slides. The area is closely monitored by staff and rules are strictly enforced for everyone’s safety. Adults are not permitted.
TIP: T-Rex Towers requires socks. Bring along a pair and if you forget socks are available for purchase for $2.
The Dinosaur Place is home to the largest splash pad in New England! Within the gated splashpad are 30 dinosaur water activities. My kids loved exploring the sprinklers, spraying each other through dinosaur water guns, running through spraying tunnels. My son was a little hesitant to get his face wet so he enjoyed the multi-level water table. Parents can get in on the fun or supervise little ones from an umbrella covered table around the perimeter of the splash pad.
TIP: Water shoes or flip flops are required. There are shoes to borrow if you’ve forgotten your own.
Follow the Lost Loop Trail to the dinosaur maze. Get lost within the twists and turns that eventually lead you out through a giant T-Rex head and slide. I was able to cheer on my little ones and give them clues (or watch them crawl under the walls for a quick escape) from a raised platform above the maze.
We had a really great time at the Dinosaur Place. I’m glad we finally made the trip out to visit all of the dinosaurs. My kids loved playing on T-Rex Towers and the splashpad. I really enjoyed walking through the dinosaur trails and seeing the dinosaurs hidden within the woods. I found the price of admission to be a little high but since my kids had so much fun and fell asleep within 5 minutes of of our car ride home it was all worth it. I definitely recommend a trip to Dinosaur Place this summer.