Is your house full of adventurers? Do your little ones spout off the names of more dinosaurs than you ever knew existed? Ready to walk like an Egyptian with one of the biggest exhibits opening this fall? For curious minds always ready to learn something new, The NAT offers an exciting day’s romp that is sure to spark some great family conversations.

Photo Courtesy of The NAT

The Discovery of King Tut
The newest highlight at The NAT is The Discovery of King Tut exhibit, which opened Oct. 11 and runs through spring 2015. This impressive recreation of King Tut’s tomb replicates the beauty and awe of discovering the young pharaoh’s tomb as it was first found with all its golden treasures at hand.

Families will marvel at the large, open, gilded burial chamber with intact mummy, golden masks, and stunning treasures such as statues of Egyptian gods and precious gems and learn about the young king who died at the age of 19 but who will never be forgotten. An audio tour in both adult and kid versions will enhance your understanding of the exhibit and is included in the price of your tickets.

This special exhibit is worth a visit all on its own. Entrance to the exhibit costs $27 for adults (members are $15). And to celebrate Kids Free San Diego, the first 500 kids who enter with a paid adult are admitted free. Otherwise kids under 12 are $10 during October.

Insider’s Tip: This is sure to be a popular exhibit. To ensure a speedy entry without waiting in long lines with your kiddos, we suggest purchasing advance time entry tickets online.

Photo Courtesy of The NAT

Permanent Exhibits
A big draw for little ones is the 2nd floor of the museum: Fossil Mysteries where terrific, interactive exhibits allow kids to pretend to be paleontologists with truly hands-on experiences. Starting at the South Entrance, kids turn a wheel and watch a baby dino “hatch” from an egg. Further on, school-aged museum-visitors will enjoy the interactive blocks that tell a story of a local dinosaur’s life, death and journey to the museum.

A big screen computer prompts kids with hints in sequencing the story, a hit with kids who love technology. Younger siblings can stand next to a model of an ankylosaur and touch his plates. Enter prehistoric San Diego and search for animals with a field guide, use a sifter to look for fossils, and gaze through a microscope at fossils projected onto a computer screen.

Also on this floor, kiddos can move a large map of California showing how plate tectonics are at work and also check out the animals that lived in our local waters during prehistoric times and compare them to native animals living today.

Photo Credit: Cherie Gough

Your visit includes a ticket to watch a movie in the comfortable giant screen theatre on Level 1. The film Ocean Oasis is great for kids of all ages who enjoy learning about animals and reinforces topics that they saw throughout their museum tour. Filmed in Baja California, you too may learn something new about this nearby region and relax watching the beautiful scenery.

Also on Level 1, sit in peace at a table in the atrium and savor a cup of coffee at the Dino Cafe where you can watch your little ones play in adjacent Camp-o-saurus with model dinosaurs, a tent, and campfire. Enjoy a quick walk through the water exhibit located behind Camp-o-Saurus where water conservation is reinforced in a cool demo showing how energy and water are linked. Spot some local live reptiles in the terrariums as you pass through.

Photo Credit: Cherie Gough

More Reasons to Visit
In addition to its stellar exhibits, The Nat features fun, family events that add to kids’ scientific thinking and hands-on experiences. If your kids love this museum, consider coming back for one of these fun programs that is free with admission.

For Preschoolers: Nature and Me Storytime
Every second Thursday, little ones can listen to stories and engage in fun activities that will enhance their love of nature. Upcoming themes include: bats, Ancient Egypt, and winter animals.

For School Kids: Wacky Science Sundays with Mrs. Frizzle
Every Sunday Mrs. Frizzle takes kids on an awesome adventure via her Magic School Bus. This show features Mrs. Frizzle decked in her wacky gear taking fun-loving kids through the fascinating world of science. In October explore bats, in November germs, and in December coyotes. The popular show runs every Sunday at 12:15 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Family Days
Each month, the NAT hosts a special Family Day on a weekend  between 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. This month explore bats and make a Halloween-themed crafts. Next month, learn more about King Tut and learn to walk like an Egyptian.

Insider’s Tip: After your visit, enjoy a picnic nearby. At the North entrance is one of the biggest fig trees in all of San Diego. Near the South entrance is Balboa Park’s renowned fountain.

Money Saving Tips 

  • If you’re thinking about visiting multiple times, the NAT offers annual membership. For $70, a family can enjoy unlimited entrance to the museum’s permanent exhibits, family shows and films. Members also receive significant discounts to special exhibits like The Discovery of King Tut, and discounts for summer camps and the museum store.
  • Kids are free to the permanent exhibits during October.
  • San Diego residents receive free museum admission on the first Tuesday of each month.

1788 El Prado
Balboa Park
San Diego, Ca 92101

Have you taken your little ones to the Natural History Museum? What’s your favorite thing about The Nat?

— Cherie Gough

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