Where to see dinosaurs in Chicago


It's no secret kids love dinosaurs. And the good news is that those of us in the Chicago area don't have to rent a time machine to see those prehistoric beasts; we've got four spots that highlight some prime paleontology. And these dinos, at least, don't bite.


The Field Museum

  • 1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
  • (312) 922-9410
  • fieldmuseum.org

The granddaddy-or should we say grandma?-of dinosaurs is Sue, the Field Museum's poster girl. The 67-million-year-old skeleton is the largest, most complete and best preserved T. rex that's ever been found and includes a whopping 224 bones. Her original skull is kept in a separate case-although at 600 pounds, or about the size of a cow, it's a bit hard to miss. Fun fact: Sue's got a Twitter account! Follow her @SuetheTRex. The Field's Genius Hall of Dinosaurs also highlights a few less famous dinos, such as Rapetosaurus krausei. If you're longing for a 'saur sleepover, watch for the Field's "Dozin' with the Dinos" overnights, where a premium ticket snags you a spot in the middle of the hall. Our advice: keep one eye open, in case of some Night at the Museum-style high jinks.


Burpee Museum of Natural History

  • 737 N. Main St., Rockford
  • (815) 965-3433
  • burpee.org

Move over, Sue, there's another T. rex in town! Sure, Jane technically lives in Rockford and is about half the size of her more famous cousin, but that 21-foot-long skeleton still is pretty impressive. The "Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur" exhibit explores what happened during the 66 million years she was stuck underground and simulates the Montana dig site where her bones were first discovered. Plus, kids can check out the lab to see the skull of Homer, a "kid" just like them. The juvenile triceratops was only discovered in 2005, so if you're lucky, you can spy staff members working on his bones for a new exhibit opening in 2013. Then see if your kids can figure out what zoo animal the horned fellow resembles most.


Prehistoric Life Museum and Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop

  • 704 Main St., Evanston
  • (847) 866-7374
  • davesdowntoearthrockshop.com

A little shop/museum in Evanston doesn't seem like the place to find prehistoric treasures, but this unassuming building boasts some remarkable finds. There may not be any full-fledged dinos here, but there is a femur bone that once belonged to an Apatosaurus (aka Brontosaurus) and was put together, puzzle-style, out of 100 pieces discovered in Colorado. Plus, check out one of the world's largest fossilized carnivorous dinosaur eggs and the collection of fossils from every geological time period going back 3 billion years. The museum grew out of Dave and Sandy Douglass's personal collection of rocks and fossils, including some Dave found as a boy. So you might want to hand over a shovel when you get home and let your kids get to work. You never know what they'll come across!


Goebberts Pumpkin Patch

  • 42W813 Reinking Road, Hampshire
  • (847) 464-5952

Goebbert's Farm and Garden Center

  • 40 W. Higgins Road, South Barrington
  • (847) 428-6727
  • pumpkinfarms.com

He doesn't quite fall into any known genus or species, but if we had to guess, we'd say this dinosaur most closely resembles a small-scale Diplodocus, the long-necked guy who ate an awful lot of leaves. Plus, given the 20-foot-tall Pumpkin-Eating Dinosaur's choice in snacks, he must be an herbivore. True, the handmade electronic creature is a bit more dragon than dino, fashioned from fiber glass and canvas and able to blow smoke out of its nostrils (along with growling and burping). But either way, he certainly tops the list for originality. Funosaurus Rex, perhaps?

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