What it is: If you've been going to the Museum of Life and Science a lot and you're getting a little tired, this is an excellent change of pace! This is also a very kid-centric science museum, but with very different offerings from our good ol' NCMLS. There's a wonderful zoo in the back that's very walkable (a very easy 15-minute hike or an asphalt path) but dotted with very cool animals: meerkats, giant turtles, parrots and lorikeets, howler monkeys, lemurs, a pair of tigers and a den of red wolves. There's also a real petting zoo with mini horses and donkeys, sheep, goats and alpacas, and a couple of peacocks roaming loose. Then when you get too hot, head back indoors for two levels of fun. We cooled off in the three well-equipped Kid Alley rooms, and then saw the hall of dinosaur skeletons, and went downstairs to the snake and reptile exhibits and the petting aquarium. We packed lunches, and there were ample picnic tables both outdoors and indoors in the basement lunchroom. We ended the day in the big maze, where the kids ran around and screamed in the air-conditioned space, and worked out what was left of their energy while we adults lazed around. A great find!
What we liked: The kids had hands-on stuff at every turn, and could pretty much run loose without getting into trouble too much. For a Friday in summer, it was incredibly uncrowded, even with a couple of camps! And there were many volunteer staff at every turn to help out and give explanations.
What we would change: If you don't pack a lunch or snacks, you will only find a bank of vending machine options. The two sets of bathrooms are off to the side and not centrally located, so make use of them when near them. And though they are members of the ASTC, we checked, they won't give a discount to NCMLS members: some volunteers explained we were still in our home territory, others said they couldn't get NCMLS to return their phone calls.
Website and other important information: Beware, the drive from Durham along I-85 is easy until Greensboro, but then you need to switch onto Hwy 70 and there are a few turns that are not well marked, so if you have a GPS, this is a good time to use it.
Address: 430 Lawndale Dr., Greensboro, NC 27455
Phone: (336) 288-3769
Hours: Amazingly, during the summer, the center is open 7 days a week from 9 to 5! Even Sundays!
Admission: Adults-$8, Seniors-$7, Children (3-13)-$7, Children under 2-Free (It is not clear from this info. whether two-year olds are $7 or free.)