Academy of Natural Sciences All Star Week Review

Posted on: January 10th, 2014 by

This post was sponsored by The Academy of Natural Sciences who is a Jersey Family Fun Partner in Fun.
We appreciate their support of Jersey Family Fun that allows us to share with families information about
things to do with families in Philadelphia & Philadelphia Museums we think your family may enjoy.


The fun begins before you even step inside!

The fun begins before you even step inside!

Dinosaurs, animals and butterflies, oh my! There is something for everyone at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Last week, we were invited by the Academy to visit the museum and participate in their All-Star Week activities. I can’t think of a better way to spend a day off with my family then at the Academy. My five-year-old son loves dinosaurs and this place does not disappoint. We visited on Dinosaur Day (of course!) and explored the amazing world of dinosaurs by touching real fossils and using our  detective skills to solve prehistoric puzzles. There were various stations set up around the Academy that enabled my son to ask questions and get a hands-on experience unlike ever before. Three different special presentations were made throughout the day to teach youngsters about dinosaurs. We attended the 1:00 presentation entitled “Dinosaur Detectives”. Audience participation was encouraged and many children even got to play detectives on stage. Both my children were engaged for the entire presentation and my husband and I certainly learned a few new facts as well.


After ensuring that we took full advantage of the special All Star Week activities we decided to stick around and explore the rest of the Academy. We live two hours away and this was our first visit so we wanted to see what else the Academy of Natural Sciences has to offer.

WOW- we were truly amazed at all there is to do at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

We visited Dinosaur Hall, off of the 1st floor next and were impressed with all the opportunities for hands-on learning. The Big Dig was my son’s favorite activity of the day. He enjoyed pretending to be a paleontologist digging for bones. He also enjoyed stepping into a dinosaur movie, walking like a dinosaur, feeling real fossils, and of course checking out the huge T-rex on display. I highly suggest you venture towards the back of Dinosaur Hall where you will find an area where visitors could observe the museum’s researchers as they prepare fossils for display.The two researchers were funny , engaging and encouraged my son to ask questions. It was a great, interactive area that more families should definitely take the time to see (it was empty when we first walked in despite the large crowds on this day). We loved Dinosaur Hall so much that we all agreed we would make a trip back just for that.


Like most museums, the Academy offers special exhibits throughout the year and currently have Dinosaurs Unearthed (now through the end of March). We paid the extra ($3 for museum members, $5 for non-members) fee and explored this exhibit. Not only did my son have fun but we all did! It was a multi-sensory experience with roaring, moving animatronic dinosaurs. Dinosaurs Unearthed features more than a dozen realistic, full-bodied dinosaurs, as well as skeletons, fossil casts of skulls, claws, horns and more. This exhibit offered an additional dig site for young paleontologists, a Dino Detective touch-screen quiz, chances to control dinosaur movements, and other hands-on activities. My son just had to touch and explore every section of this exhibit. A good part of our day was spent here but so worth it! My one-year-old was roaring like a dinosaur all day long!


Here’s a clip from the Dinosaurs Unearthed! Exhibit on display until the end of March.

After all that dinosaur fun who would believe there was still much more to see and do! The 1st floor’s North American Hall and the 2nd floor’s African and Asian Hall provide visitors with life-size versions of animals of the past and today. We enjoyed these sections as well as they have animals few people get to actually see in person. The scenes and animals are so realistic that my son was scared at first to take a picture in front of the brown bear display. My usually antsy one-year-old happily sat in her stroller the entire time as she had so much to look at.


We had such a fun-filled day of adventure and learning that we were exhausted and didn’t get to see some of the other amazing exhibits. We look forward to our next trip as we want to explore the Butterfly exhibit, Live Animal Center (although we got to see a few along the way at the various stations set up for All Star Week) and the Outside In playroom on the top floor (currently closed from January 6 – through the beginning of February as they make  this experience even more exciting for visitors). We had heard such great things about the Academy and we are glad we finally made the trip. My son not only asked us on the way home when we were coming back but he said he now wants to be a scientist. Definitely, a great family day!

Learning how to be a paleontologist at The Big Dig

Learning how to be a paleontologist at The Big Dig

What we love about the Academy of Natural Sciences

  • Open, large spaces that make exploring easy and fun. Even though we had the stroller for our toddler we were still able to venture around the exhibits quite easily. It was a crowded day and it never felt like it. We were able to explore, touch and see what we wanted despite the large crowds.
  • With over 10 exhibit areas your children will never be bored (or adult visitors either!). There is so much to see, do and explore that we couldn’t even do it all in the over four hours we were there. Makes taking a day trip so worth it!
  • Kind, helpful and informative employees. Every exhibit and special presentation we visited had employees ready and available to interact with you and your child. My son asked so many questions during our visit and I was truly impressed with what he learned throughout the day.
Dinosaurs Unearthed Exhibit going on now through March

Dinosaurs Unearthed Exhibit going on now through March

Now that you are interested in visiting the Academy of Natural Sciences here are a few more things to consider:

  • Located at 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • Regular admission to the Academy of Natural Sciences is $15 for adults (13+) and $13 for kids (3-12).
  • Hours are 10:00 am-4:30 pm Monday-Friday and 10:00 am -5:00 pm weekends and holidays.
  • Make sure you have a map. We are the type of people who don’t look at a map and just see where we end up. Not a good idea here! The layout of the building can be a bit confusing. There are four floors available to the public. But one of those floors, splits at one end forming a lower and mezzanine level. There are two elevators but they do not both go to the same floors so read elevator signs carefully. If we could just take the stairs it would probably be a lot easier but we had the stroller for my toddler. Better yet, download the ANS Explore! App ahead of time to make sure you don’t miss a thing!
  • Don’t worry about ending your day early because your little ones are hungry. The Ecology Restaurant offers plenty of food choices. Although we didn’t eat here we did check it out for future visits. There are tables available here and in a larger room in the back (many tables open in the back even on this crowded day). We saw many families eating their own food from home as well.
  • Parking in any city can be a challenge and expensive and this location is no different. However, there are several parking garages within walking distance and somewill offer some type of discount with museum validation.
Learning about animals in the North American Hall

Learning about animals in the North American Hall

Read more about The Academy of Natural Sciences by checking out our The Academy of Natural Sciences series.


Check out our other reviews of family attractions in our Field Trip Friday series.


In full disclosure, The Academy of Natural Sciences is a Partner in Fun with Jersey Family Fun. These monthly articles are included in their advertising package, but all opinions are our own based on our experience at The Academy of Natural Sciences.  To become one of our Partners in Fun, please contact [email protected]