Scientists estimate that 66 million years ago, a catastrophic event — likely an asteroid hitting the Earth — caused the end of all dinosaurs except for neornithine birds. As the theory goes, dinosaurs died out from the extreme weather change. Having ruled the planet for more than 180 million years, they suddenly vanished.
You wouldn’t know it, though, given the way dinosaurs are still all around us. Sure, they’re not alive and roaming the land and sea the way the “Jurassic Park” series of books and films would have it, but their bones, fossils and recreations are everywhere.
That means that interested travelers have a long list of museums, parks, monuments, digs and kitschy roadside attractions to check out around the world. There are hundreds to explore — here are 16 of the best.
Dinosaur National Monument - Utah, United States
This National Park Service monument has to be on every dinosaur fan’s bucket list.
Located across the southern border between Colorado and Utah, it preserves a staggering array of dinosaur fossils: over 1,500 of them, to be exact. They’re from the Jurassic Period, making them 150 million years old.
The fossil beds were discovered in 1909 by a paleontologist named Earl Douglass, and the fossil beds were preserved by President Woodrow Wilson in 1915. Exhibits on how the bones and fossils were preserved are especially interesting.
Those interested in exploring over the course of a few days can book one of several campsites. The monument is also home to several intriguing living animals, including kangaroo rats, prairie dogs and river otters.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Pennsylvania, United States
While you can learn about the work of influential paleontologist Earl Douglass at the Dinosaur National Monument, to see his most spectacular finds you’ll need to head to Pittsburgh. That’s where, at the Dinosaurs in Their Time exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, you’ll be able to explore his great fossil discoveries.
Seventy-five percent of the dinosaur bones on display are the originals, including most of the skeletons. These include a T. rex, an Apatosaurus and a Diplodocus. The Carnegie prides itself on showing dinosaurs that reflect the most recent scientific discoveries.
Plan on learning some intriguing details while there — like the fact that the T. rex walked with its tail held off the ground.
Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Brussels, Belgium
Across the ocean, European museums also offer impressive exhibits about dinosaurs. One of the most notable is in Brussels, where the Dinosaur Gallery is the largest exhibition space devoted to dinosaurs on the continent.
A wide variety of dinosaur experiences are available here, from hearing a recreation of a Parasaurolophus’ scream to the chance to fight (virtually!) a Pachycephalosaurus.
Don’t forget to make friends with the museum’s most beloved dino fossils: a Plateosaurus named Ben and a T. rex named Stan.
The Field Museum of Natural History - Illinois, United States
Chicago’s Field Museum is another wonderful stop for travelers in search of dinosaurs. The fossil skeleton of Sue, the nickname given to the museum’s T. rex, is one of the largest, best preserved and most extensive of its kind ever found.
Even more staggering is the skeleton cast of a Titanosaur (they call it Máximo), one of the largest dinosaurs ever discovered, measuring 122 feet across and standing 28 feet tall.
The Field Museum has many more displays and exhibits about dinosaurs, offering scientific context as well as historical perspective on the work of paleontologists. You can also check out the fossils of equally impressive beasts lost to time, like the Megatherium, a giant ground sloth.
American Museum of Natural History - New York, United States
Kids especially love visiting this museum, not just for its impressive holdings, but because it was featured in the “Night at the Museum” movies.
It has one of the greatest dinosaur fossil collections in the world, and its website offers a self-guided “dinosaur tour” through the museum’s displays. Especially compelling is the decision to show some of the dinosaur skeletons posed as they might have been seen when alive millions of years ago: for example, you can see a Barosaurus protecting her young from an attacking Allosaurus.
Also on display is the Glen Rose Trackway, an excavated series of fossilized dinosaur footprints. Their sheer size is breathtaking.
Natural History Museum - London, UK
London’s Natural History Museum lures in dinosaur fans with the chance to have a sleepover with them! The cheekily “Dino Snores” program offers separate events for kids and adults. Participants dine near the dinosaur gallery at the museum, enjoy a private tour and entertainment, and then bed down on the floor of the museum, underneath their famous skeletons.
During daytime visits, revelers can explore exhibits of exhaustive range — the museum’s collection showcases 157 species. Impressive dinosaur tracks and fossilized droppings dating back 70 million years are also on display.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis - Indiana, United States
“Now You’re in Their World” is the terrifying tagline for this museum’s Dinosphere, a chance to travel back in time and experience what life might have been like for dinosaurs. Kids and adults alike will enjoy digging for dino bones and touching the fossil of a T. rex.
Of particular note in the displays here is “Leonardo,” a mummified dinosaur discovered in Montana in 2002. Because Leonardo’s skin, scales and stomach contents were preserved, scientists learned a great deal about dinosaurs from him, including what the species ate. Leonardo has been recognized in the Guiness Book of World Records as the best preserved dino in the world.
Dinosaur Provincial Park - Alberta, Canada
This park in Alberta is a UNESCO World Heritage site because it boasts one of the richest dinosaur fossil locations in the world. In fact, 58 species of dinosaurs have been discovered here, and 500 species have been excavated.
Exhibits detail not just the incredible diversity of dinosaurs who once lived here, but also the unique geology and geography of the area. Visitors seeking a more immersive education can camp on the grounds, then participate in bus tours, group hikes and even guided excavations.
Dinosaurs Alive! - Canada and United States
So now you want to up the stakes and see dinosaurs alive? Sure thing. You’ll want to visit the Dinosaurs Alive! exhibits at one of the Cedar Fairs amusement parks (including Cedar Point in Ohio and Carowinds in North Carolina).
There, you can see animatronic, life-size dinosaurs in recreations of various habitats they likely would have lived within. Some of the dinosaurs are interactive, and visitors report that many of the dinosaurs are convincingly real.
Museum of the Rockies - Montana, United States
Dinosaurs still rule at this attraction located in the hip college town of Bozeman.
The museum houses the Siebel Dinosaur Complex, the world’s largest holding of dinosaur bones and fossils found in North America. The complex includes the standout Tyrant Kings exhibit, featuring the largest and smallest T. rex skulls ever discovered.
Also of interest is the Bowman Dinosaur Viewing Laboratory, a chance for visitors to see how the work of retrieving fossil specimens is accomplished.
Dinosaur Ridge - Colorado, United States
Dinosaur Ridge, located a short 30-minute drive from Denver, is just a small part of the Morrison Fossil Area National Natural Landmark, but it’s well worth a visit. Because it was one of the first well-known dinosaur fossil locations (digging started in the 1870s), the modern history of the place is as of much interest to dinosaur fans as its ancient bona fides.
Along with many fascinating exhibits, visitors can walk a trail that shows the extent of the fossil finds in the area. A must-visit is a bone site where the first Stegosaurus fossil was found, in 1876.
Parque Cretacico (Cretaceous Park) - Sucre, Bolivia
The attraction boasts the world’s largest collection of dinosaur footprints – an incredible 5,000 of them, representing at least eight different species of dinosaur. The grounds are additionally home to an impressive collection of dino statues, including a towering Titonosaur that measures 118 x 59 feet.
Guided tours combine an education with close-up views of the prints.
Dinosaur Valley State Park - Texas, United States
If you spend too much time in museums, it’s easy to start thinking that dinosaurs actually belong there, in the marble halls. But, of course, dinosaurs walked the same Earth as us, as this state park in Texas reminds us. Here, you can see actual preserved dinosaur tracks in the riverbed if conditions are right. Ranger tours are offered frequently.
Watch out for two formidable park greeters: a 50-foot-tall. T. rex statue and 70-foot-long Brontosaurus statue.
Walking with Dinosaurs - Europe
Still not enough? Want to see dinosaurs walking around? Well, then this is the arena show produced by Global Creatures and BBC Studios is for you, as it shows off 18 life-sized animatronic dinosaurs that move around. Some of them even fight!
The show’s producers worked with scientists to assure the most realistic depiction of dinosaurs possible. It’s currently on tour in the United Kingdom and will be heading to Europe next.
Dinosaur World - United States
Enough with all of the educational museums and sites, you say – you want to see some dinosaurs! Well, this park is ready to help. Lifesize displays of dinosaurs in a natural setting are the draw at this attraction with outposts in Florida, Kentucky and Texas.
Is it a little cheesy? Yes. But according to visitors, it’s also surprisingly fun, although you probably shouldn’t go in expecting high scientific standards. Instead, it’s a great place to stretch your legs and wander around for a couple of hours.
DinoLand U.S.A. at Disney’s Animal Kingdom - Florida, United States
By now, you might be feeling so fond of dinosaurs that you wish you could save one from extinction. Luckily, the standout ride at DinoLand will let you do just that. It’s a silly delight in which you race back in time to save Iguanadon before that meteor hits.
Along the way, you’ll evade a Styracosaurus and a Velociraptor, among other dinosaurs, before saving the day. It’s a fitting end to your dinosaur travels.