Craving Dole Whip

Disney & museum obsessed, homeschooling mom of 3, parenting to focus on experiences, not possessions. Sharing Disney tips, educational adventures and 'been-there-done-that' reviews. Constantly craving Dole Whip.


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Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

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Ranked as one of the most-visited museums in North America, The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) showcases a plethora of traveling educational exhibits and features an impressive assembly of permanent collections, worthy of topping any must-see lists for Houston, Texas.

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Permanent exhibitions include a comprehensive Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, an extraordinary Hall of Ancient Egypt and the stunning Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals, just to name a few.

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With 30,000 square feet of modern, clean lines, chalky white alcoves and chronological classifications, The Morian Hall of Paleontology houses the extraordinary and one of the most monumental permanent collections found inside the HMNS.

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World-renowned paleontologist and author, Robert T. Bakker, Ph.D., curates the substantial exhibit.  The collection walks visitors through prehistoric eras and human evolution, presenting predators and prey in active, natural poses.

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450 exquisite fossils and authentic replicas narrate the story of the flora and fauna that dominated our Earth for 200 million years.

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Descriptive and informative labels, comprehensive explanations and epoch timelines guide museum visitors through thought-provoking and educational displays.

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Several realistic-looking representations portray early humanoids and Neanderthals.

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The Morian Hall of Paleontology at the Houston Museum of Natural Science presents a thorough and breathtaking view into a prehistoric and extinct world brimming with unusual biology, enormous dinosaurs, massive tress and an ever-changing environment.

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Put this museum and specifically, the Morian Hall of Paleontology, on your “Things to do in Houston” list.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science is located at 5555 Hermann Park Drive, Houston, Texas, 77030.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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Ticket pricing for all permanent exhibits and collections:

Adults–$25

Children ages 3-11–$15

Seniors ages 62+–$15

College students with ID–$15

Military with ID–$8

Members are always free.

Parking is available in the museum parking garage.

Parking for non-members–$20

Parking for members–$5

Discounts, Groupons and CityPass cards are sometimes available.

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Dining options while at the museum:

McDonald’s is in the museum’s Grand Entry Hall and several restaurants exist within walking distance.  I recommend the MFA Café, located inside the Museum of Fine Arts, just a few blocks from the Museum of Natural Science.

Visit www.hmns.org or call 713-639-4629 to purchase tickets and for more information.

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Do you love museums?

Click here to read about my favorite museum in Oklahoma.

Click here to read about the Salvador Dali museum in Florida.

Traveling to Houston soon?  Check out Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios, currently performing in Houston, Texas.  Click here to read a full review of the amazing show!

 

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The Dali Museum

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Salvador Dali is arguably the most famous surrealist painter of all time.  He was born in Figueres, Spain in 1904, and hosted his first solo art show in Barcelona by the age of twenty-one.

His original, striking and dream-like images can be alarming, intriguing and thought provoking all at once.  Creating unconventional art in all kinds of mediums, Dali’s work conveys complex symbolism through paintings, drawings, film, sculptures, and photography.

By the time of his death in January of 1989, Salvador Dali reigned as the world’s most eccentric, flamboyant, and prominent member of the surrealism movement.  To this day, his peculiar work is celebrated by many and recognized by most.

In Florida, there is a breathtaking building showcasing the extraordinary work of this cutting-edge artist in a museum solely dedicated to his legacy.

Welcome to The Dali Museum.

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Located in the beautiful and charming city of St. Petersburg, The Dali Museum displays over 2,000 pieces of Salvador Dali’s creative artwork, including 96 oil paintings, sketches, sculptures, photographs and personal documents.

The building alone is unusual, innovative and dramatic, hinting at the surreal and imaginative contents inside.  A large, cubist-inspired concrete entrance with a calming water feature opens to a stunning glass paneled ceiling and a winding, ribbon-like spiral staircase.

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It is simply breathtaking.

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The Dali Museum exhibits the life work of Salvador Dali in a series of open rooms with floating walls.  Visitors can view Dali’s early impressionistic style and walk through the many series of his constantly evolving artistic themes.

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Admission includes a free-audio guide and public tours.  My daughters, ages 10 and 11, were given an interactive worksheet and treasure hunt which they greatly enjoyed.

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Dali’s slightly strange images are masterfully realistic, but placed into unrealistic settings, sometimes posing more questions than answers.

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The gifted visionary expressed himself in an entertainingly bizarre and outlandish manner, which visitors can perceive through many personal photographs.

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Though Salvador Dali is most famous for his expressive surrealist paintings, the brilliant artist also created three-dimensional supernatural sculptures.

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The whimsical and playful gardens, located on the grounds of the Dali museum, are just as alluring as his influential artwork.

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The Dali Wish Tree was a highlight of our outdoor exploration.

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My daughters tied wishes to the flowing strands, connecting their thoughts and hopes to other visitors.  It was a very peaceful experience.

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Dali’s artistic influence can be found not only in the architecture and design of this sublime museum, but obviously in the furniture, as well.

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Café Gala is a modern and appetizing café located inside the Dali Museum.  Named for Salvador Dali’s wife, the innovative café serves a culinary experience through Spanish-inspired tapas, small plates, soups and salads.

The café can be found on the first floor of the museum and paid admission is not required for guests who only wish to dine.

There are several indoor and outdoor tables with seating in the Avant-Garden patio and garden.

Try the mushroom and bacon Lardoon skewers, fried artichokes, serrano ham and Manchego croquettes, or the chilled tomato and cucumber soup.

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There is also a large, funky and eclectic gift shop full of interesting Dali-inspired and art-themed items:  perfume, umbrellas, t-shirts, jewelry, kitchenware, toys and mustache stickers.

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Our entire family enjoyed our Dali Museum experience.  Before we arrived in Florida, my daughters completed a full unit study focusing on surrealism and several surrealist artists, including Dali.  Visiting the museum and seeing his work in person brought the entire curriculum to life.  The Dali Museum was more spectacular than we imagined.

Museum admission prices are as follows:

FREE–Ages 5 and younger

$10.00–Ages 6-12

$17.00–Students ages 13-17

$17.00–Students ages 18+ with ID

$22.00–Firefighters, educators, military and police with ID

$22.00–Seniors ages 65+

$24.00–Ages 18-64

Members receive unlimited free admission.  Membership for an individual is $60 and family membership is $100.

Admission includes entrance into all museum galleries, a free audio guide and public tours.  The museum regularly hosts additional, non-permanent exhibits.

Visitors can download a Dali app and use their own earbuds for the audio tour, if preferred.

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The museum is open 7 days a week and only closes on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and during the St. Petersburg Grand Prix.

Museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Thursday.  Thursday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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Onsite parking is available for $10.00.  Museum members park for free.

The Dali Museum is located at One Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.  The main phone number is 727-823-3767.  Visit their website for more information at www.thedali.org.

Did you know that Salvador Dali and Walt Disney created a film together called “Destino”?

Click here to check out the book detailing the friendship and artwork shared by these two innovative geniuses.

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The Chihuly Collection at the Morean Arts Center is another amazing museum in St. Petersburg, FL.  Click here to read all about it!

Do you love blown glass artwork?  Ever want to create your own?  Click here to learn all about a super cool glass blowing experience in St. Petersburg, FL.

Curious about homeschooling?  Click here to read the top 5 reasons we homeschool our profoundly gifted daughters.

 

 


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Amazing Glass Blowing Experience At The Hot Shop Glass Studio

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The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a modern art gallery, open to the public and free of charge.  It showcases the work of local artists and craftsmen while offering interesting and creative classes.  Across the street is the Chihuly Collection, a structure built specifically to display the amazing glass work of American artist, Dale Chihuly.  Read a review of the museum here.

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Housed behind the Morean Arts Center facility and located in the hip and upcoming Central Arts District of downtown, the Hot Shop is a covered, outdoor art studio dedicated to the unique and exciting art of glass blowing.  Live glass blowing demonstrations take place daily and bleachers are available for spectators, as long as a ticket to the Chihuly collection has been purchased.

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On New Year’s Eve of 2016, my daughters each participated in the individual glass blowing experience offered at the Hot Shop.  The 30 minute experience cost $75 per person.  I purchased the tickets and made reservations online several months in advance (and gave it to my girls as a Christmas gift).

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Each daughter got 30 minutes of one-on-one attention and instruction from a knowledgeable and patient glass blowing expert.  They learned the fundamentals of glass blowing, the history and the process, while receiving step-by-step instructions to create their own pieces of art.

First, participants choose which project to create from a few sample pieces.  Individual color choices are made next.

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With the help of the professional glass blower, participants heat up the glass and gather colored crystals while swirling the molten glass on the tip of a rod.

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Some movements are made tandem-style for safety reasons, but most of the work is completed by participants with clear and concise directions coming from the artist.

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Once the colored piece is heated properly, the process of shaping begins with twisting and turning.   Forged tools are used for pulling and stretching and additional heat sources (which my youngest daughter loved!) help to keep the glass malleable.

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Once the piece is completed, the master glass blower removes it from the rod and places it inside a safe container for cooling.  The unusual art pieces are ready for pick up the next day because it takes time to properly cool the glass.  If participants can not return the next day, the artwork can be shipped home for a small fee.

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The personal glass blowing experience was amazing and very interesting.  My husband and I both wish we had bought 2 additional reservations for ourselves to participate.  But, we loved having a front seat to watch our girls create their own unique glass pieces, and that was super cool!

The professional artist was friendly and more than willing to answer all of the questions my daughters threw his way.  This was a great experience and we learned not only the process of making glass art but also gained an appreciation for the time, talent and effort put into the creation of glass pieces.

 

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Quick little side tidbit:

My daughter’s experiences were reserved for 10:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.  We arrived early and were delighted to find a cozy, modern coffee shop right next door to the Morean Arts Center.

The Banyan Café and Catering, Central location, offers super yummy, fresh breakfast sandwiches, burritos, waffles, fruit, granola and pastries.  Made with local ingredients, the inventive and unique menu changes often.  Breakfast and lunch are both served daily.  A weekend brunch is also served and there are several delightful tables providing indoor and outdoor seating.

The address is 701 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida and phone number is 727-896-6600.  Check out their daily menu at www.banyancoffee.com.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Friday 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


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The Morean Arts Center is located at 719 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.

The main website is www.moreanartscenter.org

For more information, call 727-822-7872.

The art center is free and open to the public.

Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Sunday 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.


You need to know:

The personal glass blowing experience is $75 per person for 30 minutes.

The minimum age requirement is 11 years old.

Participants need to wear closed-toed shoes, cotton clothing and no dangling jewelry, rings or bracelets.


After the personal glass blowing experience, we spent several hours viewing the Chihuly Collection across the street.  Read a review of the Chihuly Collection here.

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We leisurely walked Central Avenue for the rest of the afternoon, enjoying a quiet, delicious lunch at the Iberian Rooster, ice cream treats and perusing many local shops in the Central Arts District.

I recommend spending an entire day (or 2!) enjoying this eccentric and eclectic area of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Going to Oklahoma soon?  Check out my review the best history museum in OK here.

Read my top 5 reasons for homeschooling our daughters here.


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Chihuly Collection At The Morean Arts Center

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Dale Chihuly is a world -renowned, American glass blowing artist.  Born on September 20, 1941, in Tacoma, Washington, Chihuly’s large scale, contemporary creations are unique and inventive.  His breathtaking environmental art and gravity defying installations create a sense of wonder and amazement.

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Within the Central Arts District of downtown St. Petersburg, the Morean Arts Center includes a building designed specifically to display a permanent collection of Dale Chihuly’s glass creations.

We visited this amazing exhibit in December of 2016.

The Morean Arts Center is free to the public and showcases the work of local artists.  Across Central Avenue is the spectacular building containing the Chihuly permanent collection.  To view the Chihuly collection, buy tickets online or inside the Chihuly building.  Tickets are $19.95.

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As a pioneer in the artistic glass movement, Dale Chihuly is creating stunning, fragile artwork completely made using different glass blowing techniques.  His sculptures range from enormous, complex outdoor installations to ornate and breathtaking colorful bowls.

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Because this is a permanent exhibit, the architecture of the building and the glass pieces were designed to work in harmony, creating an unique visual journey and a peaceful experience for visitors.  The intricate and very deliberate placement of lighting showcases and highlights the dancing colors and delicate artwork.  It is purely breathtaking.

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We spent at least 2 hours enjoying the collection and near the exit, we found a Dale Chihuly biographical movie playing in a small theater with benches for seating.  The film was a little long, but very informative and worth the extra time.  My daughters studied Chihuly several months before our vacation, but learned quite a bit more from the movie at the museum.

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My family and I were completely mesmerized by the glass work of Dale Chihuly.  If you find yourself near St. Petersburg, put this museum on your “Must-Do” itinerary.

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The Morean Arts Center is located at 719 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.

It is free and open to the public.

Monday-Saturday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Sunday 12:00 noon-5:00 p.m.

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The Chihuly Collection is located at 720 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida, 33701.  The main website is www.moreanartscenter.org  For more information, call 727-822-7872.

Ticket prices are $19.95 per adult and include entry into the Chihuly Collection, The Morean Arts Center, live glass blowing demonstrations at the Hot Shop and docent lead tours Monday-Friday.

Senior, military and student discounts are available.

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If you love the beautiful glass work created by Dale Chihuly, check out this post to find out how you can experience glass blowing and make your own piece of artwork, right across the street from the Chihuly Collection!


Click here to read about the Dali Museum is St. Petersburg, Florida.


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The Museum Of The Great Plains

Tucked away in the sleepy town of Lawton, Oklahoma, is a surprisingly impressive and highly interactive museum bursting with exhibits dedicated to the Great Plains of the United States.

My family and I found this showpiece completely by happy accident.  While searching for the Comanche National Museum, our GPS told us to drive through an empty parking lot first.  It was the parking lot of this museum.

We decided to stop and check it out.

We are so smart!

If you are headed to or through Lawton, Oklahoma…put this museum on your itinerary.

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Welcome to the Museum of the Great Plains.

The Museum of the Great Plains officially opened in 1961 and a massive 25,000 square feet of space was added in 1997, including a foyer and gift shop.  We were told the main museum was recently renovated when we visited in 2016.  The museum was very clean, well organized and one of the most interesting museums my family has ever visited.

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The Museum of the Great Plains is a top-notch, hands-on history museum, focusing on the diverse cultures and inhabitants of the Great Plains.  It celebrates the enormous area located in the interior of North America between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, spanning the vast land separating Mexico and Canada.

Nods to the past, present and future, with a dash of Oklahoma history fill the immense, educational space.  The museum website suggests at least an hour for the self-guided tour, but we were there all day (and could have stayed longer!)

 

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An excellent tornado disaster-themed theater showcases a realistic tornado cellar, simulated storm and video clips from Terrible Tuesday, which was a catastrophic tornado outbreak in 1979 that destroyed Wichita Falls and the Red River Valley.

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A large, life-size bison replica allows visitors to remove various organs from the guts and learn the different ways hunters used 100% of the animal.  Did you know that 87 non-food uses for buffalo have been documented?
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Many interactive exhibits encourage visitors to take a step back in time and experience the Great Plains in practical, every day settings.  Several teepee dwellings, canvas shelters and covered wagons are completely accessible to visitors, creating tangible connections to the past.

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An authentic mammoth dig site provides tools and an active environment for fossil discovery.

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“Exploring the human history of the Great Plains” is the museum’s motto and is best represented by the fantastically realistic general store.  Every item found inside could be moved, used, bought and sold during creative and imaginative play.  It was historically accurate and surprisingly entertaining.

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A captivating leather stamping exhibit teaches visitors how to wet and properly stamp leather disks, which can be taken home as souvenirs.  The leather workshop is equipped for live demonstrations, but there was not one scheduled for the day we visited.

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An enormous printing press artifact sits in the corner of an interactive newspaper print shop, where visitors are encouraged to choose printing blocks to create a visually pleasing newspaper front page by designing the layout and presentation of information.

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My girls enjoyed the simulated calf roping exhibit, where they learned to handle the rope, practiced proper placement of the swinging arm and worked on perfecting the correct time for the release.

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Encased in clear display stands, artifacts sprinkle the museum landscape between the multitudes of interactive exhibits.  Informational postings explain and describe the objects in simple concepts and details.

The crowning jewel of this unexpectedly remarkable museum is the 1830’s trading post and fort we discovered outside.

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Within the knobby log walls of this genuine trading post, we uncovered a fully-stocked supply building with several pioneer history buffs dressed in period clothing, reenacting the day-to-day events of the early 1800’s.  The men and women were knowledgeable and passionate and taught my girls to make fire with forged tools.  We spent at least 3 hours enjoying the outdoor grounds, reenactors and displays.

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The Intermodal Transportation Center can be found outside near the trading post.  A large train engine and multiple farm equipment machines are on display near a replica depot.  Unfortunately, the center was closed by the time we finished touring the outdoor trading post.  However, we were able to walk around and view a few of the items parked outside.

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The entire Great Plains Museum provides an educational journey through the history and activities of the people living and working in the Great Plains.  Every exhibit is authentic, interactive, educational and hands-on.

My daughters were 10 and 11 at the time of our visit and they greatly enjoyed this museum.

 

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The Museum of the Great Plains is located at 601 NW Ferris Avenue, Lawton, OK, 73507.  It is inside Elmer Thomas Park, beside McMahon Auditorium and The Comanche National Museum.  Call directly at 580-581-3460 or visit their website at www.discovermgp.org.

Hours of operation:

Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Sunday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Fees:

Free:  Visitors ages 2 and younger

$8:  Visitors ages 3-12

$10:  Visitors ages 13+

$9:  Visitors with a military ID card

$9: Visitors ages 62+

Free:  Museum members

 

Are you curious about homeschooling?  Click here to read about the top 5 reasons we homeschool our daughters.