Roadside America

The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village

The Dinosaur Place in Oakdale, Connecticut (southwest of Norwich) is a fun adventure park for kids of all ages. They even have an animatronic Dilophosaurus that spits water at you when you step into its cave! I loved dinosaurs as a kid, and would have been enthralled. When Jurassic Park came out in 1993, I was so excited I refused to change my Jurassic Park t-shirt until we saw it.

The Dinosaur Place grew out of a shop called Nature’s Art, which displayed fossils and gem stones. It was so popular that by 2003 the owners were able to open an expansion featuring life-like depictions of these prehistoric creatures. Families can easily spend an afternoon (and a small fortune) here. In addition to the dinosaurs, there’s also a maze and splashpad for kids.

Visitors stroll the 60-acre park along a 1.5 mile trail, where sculptures depicting over 40 types of dinosaurs are on display. Compared to Dinosaur World in Plant City, Florida, The Dinosaur Place emphasizes activities over science, although information panels accompany each type of dinosaur. There is a side trail specifically dedicated to dinosaurs that lived in the area that would become Connecticut.

The dinosaurs are colorful, and look to be made of the same combination of polystyrene foam, fiberglass, and putty as the ones at Dinosaur World. Most are posed actively: roaring, stalking prey, running, and even stealing eggs. Some are hidden in the environment, so you have to look carefully. I felt the distance between dinos was a little too far, but perhaps they are leaving room for additional displays.

If you come at peak season, get the credit card ready. This is the most expensive dinosaur park I’ve visited, and you have to pay extra for hands on indoor activities like panning for gold in Thunder Creek, digging for crystals and minerals in a replica silver mine, uncovering a dinosaur skeleton in The Bone Zone, and arts and crafts. It’s an additional $48 for all these activities, or you can pay an extra $30.99 for just Thunder Creek, Jackpot Mine, and The Bone Zone.

The Dinosaur Place at Nature’s Art Village, 1650 Hartford-New London Turnpike, Oakdale, Connecticut has three pricing tiers depending on the season. Peak season pricing, from June 16 to September 3, is $23.99 for adults and children over the age of two. Age 60+ is $20.99 plus tax. Prices are more reasonable (under $20) any other time of the year, but expect to pay more for additional activities. Contact (860) 443-4367 for hours and more info.

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