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Activities for Kids in Chicago

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Millennium Park
With 25 acres of awe-inspiring landscape, breathtaking architecture and an iconic collection of public art, Millennium Park is Chicago’s premier green space. Millennium Park celebrated its 10th anniversary season in 2014 and continues to present dozens of free events and programs including art installations, outdoor concerts, films screenings, alfresco workouts and more.
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Navy Pier
Completed in 1916, Navy Pier is undeniably one of Chicago’s top attractions. Stretching into Lake Michigan, this year-round destination truly comes to life in the summer, with fireworks displays, live music, theatre, and cruises setting sail daily. Come fall and winter, Navy Pier is still hopping, with special events, sights, and activities that span all ages and interests. Pier Park is the epitome of fun. It’s where you’ll find the amazing Centennial Wheel, the Pepsi Wave Swinger, a 1920s-inspired musical carousel, and other nostalgic fairground rides. Just so you know, the Centennial Wheel soars to nearly 200 feet, with year-round, climate-controlled gondolas for the most spectacular Ferris wheel ride ever. It’s an iconic part of the Chicago skyline and a treasured piece of Chicago history, harkening to the city’s 1893 World’s Fair. You can even book a VIP Centennial Wheel experience in a glass-bottomed, plush-seated gondola. Fireworks perfectly synchronized to music have become a Navy Pier tradition. Biweekly shows are scheduled on Wednesdays and Saturdays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For an extra-special experience, watch the fireworks from the water on the deck of a cruise boat.
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Bradford Beach
One of the top urban beaches in the nation, Bradford Beach is the hottest place to be on a summer day. It's clean, full of activity, great views, and plenty of space to spread out, sunbathe, and swim.
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Indianapolis Zoo
Located along the scenic riverbanks in White River State Park, the Indianapolis Zoo is conveniently located near beautiful downtown Indianapolis with easy access to walking and biking trails into the city. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the American Alliance of Museums. Run with cheetahs on the African plains, or swim with dolphins in deep blue oceans. Wherever your adventure may take you, the Indianapolis Zoo will be your guide!
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Sauder Village
But it’s not the buildings that make history come alive at this attraction; rather, it’s the knowledgeable staff, who explain and demonstrate the significance of each building and show what little slices of life were like around the turn of the last century. Sauder Village is, frankly, the most honest historical collection in our area. History there is not boringly preserved in a jar, locked away never to be seen; but neither is it pandering to the silliness or gags that some historical institutions have introduced to boost ticket sales. It’s not quite a journey back in time, but neither is Sauder Village quite of our time. It is, in some respects, a place where time just doesn’t apply. The institution was founded by Erie Sauder, who was also the entrepreneur behind Sauder Furniture, the nation’s largest manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture ? in fact, chances are probably decent that many will read this on a computer sitting on a Sauder desk. It was a way for Sauder to preserve some of the historic structures of the area, such as his first workshop, an old Lutheran church, a train station, and a working farm. Over the years, the village has grown exponentially. Now, beautiful, larger buildings house some of the most popular crafts, such as blacksmithing, pottery, and glassblowing. A lodge and conference center abuts the village and the popular Barn Restaurant. A hands-on children’s area is new this year.
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Toledo Zoo
With over 5,300 animals representing over 750 species, The Toledo Zoo is one of the world’s most complete zoos—it’s also the region’s top family destination! Let The Toledo Zoo whisk you away, from the Arctic tundra to the wilds of Africa to the tropical rainforest and all points between—all in one great day. During the 1980s The Toledo Zoo introduced many exciting and significant improvements. Foremost among them, the African Savanna provided a stunning recreation of the plains and jungles of Africa. The now world-famous Hippoquarium - the first of its kind in the zoo world - was developed as part of the Savanna. More recently, the Kingdom of the Apes, exhibits for Siberian tigers, Asian sloth bears and African wild dogs have been added, as well as a renovated Aviary and the Primate Forest. Zoo Visitors are also welcomed by a new parking lot, entry complex, gift shop and a ramped pedestrian bridge over the Anthony Wayne Trail. The popularity of the Zoo has increased dramatically over the last decade. Restored facilities, new exhibits and a concerted effort to address the needs of the visitor have resulted in an average attendance of 875,000 people each year, with over 1,000,000 visitors in 1988, 1994, and 1999. Special promotions such as the Lights Before Christmas capture the charm and character of the Zoo and have become traditions for Toledo families.
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Detroit Zoo
An animal lover's paradise, the Detroit Zoo is situated on 125 acres with many naturalistic habitats. Major exhibits include the Arctic Ring of Life, Australian Outback Adventure, Great Apes of Harambee, National Amphibian Conservation Center, Holden Reptile Conservation Center, Penguinarium and Butterfly Garden. The Detroit Zoo is home to animals from A to Z, including anteaters and zebras and hundreds of other species in between. More than 2,000 animals representing 230 species of amphibians, mammals, birds and reptiles live in the Zoo’s 125-acres of true-to-life habitats that bring visitors face-to-face with these exotic creatures.
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Cedar Point Amusement Park
Since the 1870s, Cedar Point amusement park has been a summertime tradition for families across the Midwest. The rich history and modern world wonders have created one of the most successful entertainment attractions in the world. Every year Cedar Point hosts more than three million people from around the world. Its popularity continues to grow due to world-recording-breaking roller coasters and amazing attractions. With 68 rides, including 16 roller coasters, Cedar Point has more rides and more roller coasters than any park in the world. Two of its newest coasters are legends. Built in 2003, Top Thrill Dragster is 420 feet tall and reaches speeds of 120 mph! On the other side of the peninsula, the Millennium Force stands 310 feet in the air and reaches speeds of 93 mph along more than 6,500 feet of track. The Magnum XL-200 steel roller coaster features a huge hill of more than 200 feet while the maXair ride, Cedar Point's newest ride, swings guests 140 feet in the air. Riders sit in outward-facing suspended seats that form a giant circle of 50 passengers as their legs dangle freely in the air. Both attractions reach speeds of 70 mph.
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Columbus Zoo and Aquarium
Every Zoo goer who passes through the turnstile at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium embarks on an adventure to make memories that will last a lifetime. Here at the Zoo, we are passionate about creating lasting and unforgettable experiences for each and every one of our guests. We welcome you to share with us and the world your magical guest moment to inspire others to visit the Columbus Zoo.
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Wexner Center for the Arts
The Wexner Center for the Arts is one of the nation’s premiere cultural gems--an internationally known contemporary arts center at The Ohio State University. The Center offers exhibitions, performances, films, artistic residencies and educational programs. The building, a landmark of postmodern architecture, houses galleries, performance spaces, a film video theater, a store and a cafe. From the intimate, cabaret-style concerts in our black box theater to large-scale events in or 2,500 seat Mershon Auditorium, the Wexner Center offers a wide variety of performances – dance, theater, jazz, world music, electronica and more. In the Wexner Center Film/Video Theater, you can watch rarely screened movies from near and far, the latest independent features and classics from Hollywood and abroad.
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COSI Columbus
COSI, Columbus’ dynamic Center of Science and Industry, has combined science learning and fun since 1964 with 300-plus hands-on exhibits, Ohio’s largest Planetarium, Giant Screen Theater, live shows and more. And now, through a unique and unprecedented partnership with the renowned American Museum of Natural History, COSI’s offerings are only growing! Located on Columbus’ Scioto Peninsula, COSI is near the downtown core and the Ohio Statehouse. A brand new 6.5-acre park sits directly west of the museum featuring a splash pad, playground, picnic tables, swings and much more. COSI introduced the new Dinosaur Gallery – a permanent exhibit that allows guests to get up close to a full-sized cast of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, 100 million-year-old fossilized amber, an 8 foot titanosaur femur cast and much more.
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A Christmas Story House
A Christmas Story House, now restored to its movie splendor, is open year round to the public for tours and overnight stays. Directly across the street from the house is A Christmas Story Museum, which features original props, costumes and memorabilia from the film, as well as hundreds of rare behind-the-scenes photos. Among the props and costumes are the toys from the Higbee’s window, Randy’s snowsuit, the chalkboard from Miss Shields’ classroom and the family car. After reliving A Christmas Story at Ralphie’s house don’t forget to visit the museum gift shop for your own Major Award Leg Lamp and other great movie memorabilia.
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Cleveland
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The Akron Zoo
The Akron Zoo offers 35 acres of exhibits & guest amenities. Create lasting memories and ride the train or carousel, and view 8 animal exhibits. How did the jaguar get its spots? How does the Andean condor carry the sun into the sky? Learn the answers to the legends of these animals and more in Legends of the Wild. Travel through South America with the jaguar and capybara, Madagascar with the lemurs and the Himalayan Mountains with the snow leopards and Himalayan tahr. Come on down to the farm! You can pet, feed and get nose-to-nose with domestic farm animals like Boer goats, Oberhasli goats, Nubian goats, and pygmy goats. Make sure to see our sheep, pig and barn owl too. Buy food for these animals at our granary and then hop aboard a solar powered train, the A&K Wilber Express (April-October). If you are not too tired get lost in Ohio Farmland maze. Navigate the seven seas on the pirate playground, have a picnic in the Wild Prairie Pavilion and enjoy a snack from our Grasslands Café. Make sure you stop by the butterfly waystation and learn about the amazing migration of butterflies.
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Cherokee Park
Cherokee Park Family Campground invites you to spend your next camping vacation on our quiet, scenic grounds in Portage County, near Akron in Northeast Ohio. The Park campground features gorgeous surroundings, quality facilities, excellent campsite amenities and friendly service. Set on 50 acres, just a short drive east of Akron, Ohio, Cherokee Park offers a peaceful setting with wooded and open space surrounding two small tree-lined lakes and an activities area. Enjoy the beauty of nature and the calming effect of a campfire. You might even spot an occasional deer during your stay. Cherokee Park offers 120 campsites with 30 amp electric and water hookups. Choose a sunny, open RV site or one that is shaded by trees. Pull-thru sites are available for today's larger RVs. Pets are welcome so long as they are leashed and attended. Cherokee Park offers a few family tent sites during the summer for a limited stay.
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Minnesota Zoo
Located just minutes south of Mall of America, the Minnesota Zoo brings education and entertainment to life! The zoo is home to penguins, a lush tropical forest and aviary, marine center, boreal forest, tundra and a family farm. With more than 4,300 animals, you're bound for a new adventure on every visit! The zoo also has banquet facilities and picnic rentals available and group discounts for 20 or more.
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Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
One of the last free zoos in the United States, Como is home to a wide array of animals (from monkeys to polar bears) and exotic plants and welcomes visitors 365 days a year. Located next to Como Town Amusement Park, the historic Cafesjian's Carousel, and in Como Park, the zoo and conservatory are great fun for visitors of all ages.
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Hamilton Military Museum
Burlington Heights, where Dundurn Castle and the Hamilton Military Museum now stand, was occupied by the British military from 1813 -1815. Built as a gate house by Sir Allan MacNab in the late 1830s atop a battery from the War of 1812, This building known as Battery Lodge, now houses The Hamilton Military Museum.
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The Kansas City Zoo
More Zoo for you to explore with more than 200 acres of adventure filled with more than 1,700 animals. See penguins like never before at Helzberg Penguin Plaza. Watch king and gentoo penguins torpedo through the water in their 100,000 gallon cool pool and see the Humboldt penguins bask in the sun and get their flippers wet in the 25,000 gallon warm water pool. Dip your hands into a shallow pool and discover the unique texture of stingrays and bamboo sharks at Stingray Bay. Journey to the Polar Bear Passage and marvel at our polar bears' beauty and strength. Swing into the Orangutan Canopy and get nose to nose with these orange apes. Take a walk-about through a mob of kangaroos. Get a birds-eye view of zebras, giraffes and rhinos on the African Sky Safari. Visit animals from the tropical rainforest, the African Savanna, the Australian Outback, the Asian mountainside, the north and south pole and everywhere in between.
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Omahas Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
Travel through the 28-acre African Grasslands exhibit with the likes of elephant, white rhino, cheetah, sable antelope, bongo, ostrich and impala rising into view upon your every move. See eye-to-eye with reticulated giraffe from the all-new Giraffe Encounter. Feed and brush the African pygmy goats at the kraal. View the African lions from the peak of the exhibit, while they gaze into the distance over the entire exhibit. Immerse yourself in a desert environment at the Desert Dome, the world's largest indoor desert located under the world's largest glazed geodesic dome. See plant and animal life from three of the world's deserts: the Namib Desert of southern Africa, the Red Center of Australia and the Sonoran Desert of the southwest United States. Navigate the ocean floor as sharks and other marine life circle overhead in the Suzanne and Walter Scott Aquarium, the largest aquarium within a Zoo. Discover polar regions, temperate oceans, coral reefs and the Amazon, as well the wildlife that inhabit these areas, from Antarctic penguins, puffins, sea turtles, jellyfish, stingrays, Giant Pacific octopus, moray eels and colorful fish. And explore the natural rainforest environment as you walk through the Lied Jungle, North America's largest indoor rainforest. Cross a unique swing bridge, through wet caves and beyond swooping tree limbs to the sounds of crashing waterfalls, see gibbons and other primates swinging in the canopy and experience exotic plant life.
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Art Gallery of Ontario
The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) Collection features more than 100,000 great works of art, from cutting-edge contemporary to classic European masterpieces. View iconic paintings by the well-known Group of Seven as well as amazing art by established and emerging Indigenous, Inuit and Métis artists, sculptures, photographs, prints & drawings and so much more are on display in a beautiful building that itself is a work of art, with design details created by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry.
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Royal Ontario Museum
No trip to Toronto is complete without a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum — Canada’s largest museum showcasing art, culture, and nature from around the globe and across the ages. The ROM is home to a world-class collection of more than six million objects and specimens, featured in 40 gallery and exhibition spaces. Explore special exhibitions, as well as the Museum’s permanent collections of dinosaurs, South Asian art and culture, gems and minerals, ancient Egyptian treasures, biodiversity, and much more.
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Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
Immerse yourself in a world of 20,000 aquatic animals and discover your own underwater adventure in the heart of downtown Toronto. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada features North America’s longest underwater viewing tunnel with more than 5.7 million litres of water and over 100 interactive opportunities. Get up close and personal with several touch exhibits and soak in a live dive show daily. This awe-inspiring attraction consists of nine carefully curated galleries showcasing a cross section of saltwater and freshwater environments from around the world – starting with species from Toronto’s backyard, the Great Lakes basin. From the heart-pounding experience of Dangerous Lagoon, a football-field length acrylic viewing tunnel with moving glide-path sidewalk through sharks, green sea turtles, sawfish and moray eels; to the hypnotic dance of Pacific sea nettle jellyfish which are illuminated in an array of breathtaking colours from within the kreisel tank at Planet Jellies, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada will captivate Torontonians as well as guests from around the world!
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Centreville Theme Park
Centreville Theme Park is the ultimate summer destination for families! Located on the Toronto Islands, Centreville offers a full day of family fun — featuring more than 30 kid-sized rides & attractions, alongside beautiful beaches and 14 casual restaurants for grown-ups and kids to enjoy. One of the top attractions for families in Canada, guests are invited to revel in Centreville’s new & improved Sky Ride. You are welcome to explore 600 acres of natural parkland, interact with farm animals and experience stunning lake and city views. Getting to Centreville is almost as exciting as the park itself. Everyone likes the scenic Centre Island ferry ride across Toronto Harbour. You can choose to arrive by private boat or water taxi just minutes from downtown Toronto, along the Harbourfront.
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Toronto Zoo
With a huge range of creatures from around the globe, the Toronto Zoo is divided into seven zoogeographic regions: Indo-Malaya, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, Eurasia, Canadian Domain and the Tundra Trek. Animals can be seen indoors in tropical pavilions and outdoors in naturalistic environments. The Toronto Zoo also participates in many conservation initiatives including captive breeding and reintroduction, habitat and species research and much more. Set in the beautiful Rouge Valley in the east end of the city, the Zoo is open 364 days a year and is accessible by car and public transit.
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Buffalo Naval & Military Park
This Buffalo waterfront attraction is the largest inland park of its kind in the nation. All branches of the Armed Forces are represented in the park’s exhibits. Tour the decks and hulls of a guided-missile cruiser, destroyer and WWII submarine. Inspect uniforms and memorabilia in the museum and exhibits aboard the ships. See planes, a tank and more!
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Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum
The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum welcomes the young at heart! Housed in the National Register-listed Allan Herschell Carrousel Factory building, this attraction has exhibits, demonstrations, two antique carousels, a children’s gallery, gift shop and more.
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Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Frederick Law Olmsted’s design for Buffalo’s South Park included a conservatory and surrounding formal gardens. In 1894, Professor John F. Cowell was appointed as the first Director of the conservatory. He gathered plants, trees and flowers from every corner of the world and his expertise and guidance allowed for many successful years for the conservatory. While South Park was being constructed, Lord & Burnham Co. was busy designing the South Park Conservatory. The tri-domed Victorian design was modelled after the beautiful Crystal Palace in England and was built by a Buffalo construction company, George P. Wurtz & Son, of wood, glass, iron and steel for a total cost of $130,000. Upon opening in 1900, the conservatory was the third-largest public greenhouse in the United States and was ranked as the ninth-largest in the world. The South Park Conservatory continued to grow throughout the early 1900s and six greenhouses were added in 1907. Over the years, extensive renovations and upgrades have been made, including restoration of many of the gardens, replacement of the outdated heating system, renovation of the main palm dome and greenhouses and more. Today, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens attracts more than 100,000 annually to enjoy the amazing architecture and the indoor and outdoor garden sanctuary. It is a gathering place where visitors can find peace and harmony and enjoy the simple power of the natural world.
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Science North
Science North is Northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction and an educational resource for children and adults across the globe. Science North maintains the second and eighth largest science centres in all of Canada and features an IMAX® with Laser theatre, digital Planetarium, butterfly gallery, special exhibits hall, and so much more! Head to the second floor of the science centre for some one-of-a-kind visitor experiences. Polish a mineral in the Lapidary Lab, visit tropical butterflies in the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, handle exotic invertebrates, and trade some natural artifacts at the Nature Exchange. Take a voyage through Ontario’s natural landscapes with Northern Ecosystems. Visit Science North’s animal ambassadors and learn about the wildlife found in our own backyards. Discover what fish live in Ramsey Lake, learn how you can help at-risk species in Ontario, and even come face to face with a snake! Tinker, play, and have fun in our Tech Lab. Build race cars, learn about space exploration, and take a spin in the Gyroscope. Or discover the latest breakthroughs in biology in our Bio Lab.
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Lake Laurentian Conservation Area
The Lake Laurentian Conservation Area is a scenic natural area located only ten minutes from downtown Sudbury. Easily accessible by car, the area offers 2,415 acres (950 hectares) of protected green space. Imagine the remote tranquility of a wilderness setting, a man-made lake and pond, scenic lookouts, a self-guided nature trail, numerous wetland areas, hiking trails, bird watching areas, and snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails in winter. The Lake Laurentian Conservation Area offers the photographer, nature watcher, and recreationist boundless opportunity to experience the wilds. At Lake Laurentian children can: touch a frog, eat juicy blueberries, feed the birds, learn to survive if lost in the woods, see animal displays or plant a tree. The Lake Laurentian Conservation Area has something for everyone. Providing environmental education for over 40 years, is only one of the many benefits this facility provides.
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Hazel Abel Park
This quaint, Renaissance-style park includes a gazebo, fountain, play area and benches all surrounded by an ornate cast iron fence. It is tucked away in Lincoln's historic Near South neighborhood and transports visitors to the calm nostalgic times of days gone by.
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Lincoln
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The Memphis Zoo
The Memphis Zoo has been named as one of the best zoos in the country according to TripAdvisor, and for good reason! From the time you step inside the grand entrance, you know you’re in a very special place. The main entrance and courtyard pays honor in its design to the ancient city of Memphis, Egypt. The meandering streams, crisp waterfalls, native plants and tranquil gardens alone are a great reason to visit. With 19 unique exhibits and thousands of animal species, you can “travel around the world” within the perimeters of the zoo. Visit Teton Trek which brings the Yellowstone National Park to Midtown. The Great Lodge and replica of Old Faithful are surrounded by grizzly bears and wolves. (And yes, you can play in the geyser.) Catch a playful sea lion performance at Northwest Passage where you can also get nose-to-nose with polar bears, see totem poles (that actually received a Native American blessing), bald eagles, black bears, and the list goes on. Pay a visit to China where you can stand a few feet away from giant pandas, Le Le and Ya Ya. The Memphis Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States to provide this rare opportunity.
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Greensboro Science Center
Experience the wonders of an aquarium, zoo, science museum, and 3D theatre all in one attraction! See sharks, penguins, otters, stingrays, a fishing cat and other amazing animals from around the world in NEW The Wiseman Aquarium. Get eye-to-eye with tigers, meerkats, monkeys, crocodiles and other unique animals in Animal Discovery Zoo. Roam through Dinosaur Gallery, take a journey through the human body, experience extreme weather, and have fun in Kid’s Alley in the Museum. Watch amazing 3-D shows that pop out of the screen in the OmniSphere Theatre.
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Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta
LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta is nestled in the heart of Buckhead at Phipps Plaza. With offerings for both children and adults, this is a great place to visit no matter how old you are. Open only to adults with children during regular hours, LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta features a 4D Cinema, interactive rides, a Build & Test area for race cars, a Master Builder Academy to build with experts, and more. At the 4D Cinema, they’re back! And they’re still awesome! Emmet, Wyldestyle, Benny, MetalBeard and UniKitty star in The LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure. It’s an all-new, totally original, never ever seen before 4D movie and it’s only at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Atlanta! Our heroes, along with the audience, go on a trip to a new theme park and wind up in an incredible adventure they never expected. You’ve got to see and feel it to believe it! Rides include Merlin's Apprentice, where you race to become the next Merlin's Apprentice, pedalling as fast as you can. Or, try the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride, where you fend off evil beings like ogres and rats to save the kingdom. To further your LEGO building skills, make and race cars at our Build & Test zone, or build alongside a Master Builder to learn tips and tricks for the best designs! Be sure to check out Pirate Adventure Island where children and adults can build their own sandcastle, create their own treasure map, build a pirate ship and navigate it through an aquatic obstacle course, and battle fellow shipbuilders with air cannons. Adults are invited to enjoy LEGOLAND without children at Adult Night on every third Thursday of the month.
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NarroWay Theatre
"The Broadway of Christian Entertainment," NarroWay features fun, family-friendly dinner shows in a schedule that runs year-round. See why NarroWay is the premier Christian theater of the South. Take in a delicious dinner and hearty serving of southern hospitality as every audience is greeted and served by the NarroWay cast. Live animals, talented actors, original scripts, inspiring music and a delicious meal themed with the show are all part of the NarroWay experience. Enjoy a variety of original, Broadway-style musicals, spectacular holiday shows for Christmas and Easter, epic Biblical productions, mystery theater shows, children's shows, day trips and more!