Many years ago I had a membership to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC. Way back when I only had one kid and we lived a bit closer to Durham I would take Jude for short visits to the museum. We had a lot of fun visiting the museum back then but because Jude was so little we didn’t get to explore all the exhibits because he was just too small.
Jump ahead about 8 years and we finally returned with all 4 kids. All of the boys got to enjoy every part of the museum and they loved it. The Museum of Life and Science is a sprawling indoor and outdoor museum located on 84 acres. From the 2 store’s interactive science center, butterfly house, giant tree house, many life animals, and daily programs there is always something new to explore.
We started our visit outside. During the summer months, it’s best to do outside activities before the heat of the day gets unbearable. We started at Gateway park and Sound Garden which has a lot of nature-inspired structures for children to climb, sand the dig in, and musical instruments to beat. Then we explored Hideaway Woods, the boys were in awe of this giant tree house structure that connects multiple trees. Hideaway Woods is the ultimate nature discovery environment. There is also a small man-made stream that children are allowed to play in. Located within Hideaway Woods are a bathroom and changing area so kids can change into dry clothes after playing in the stream.
Next we venture over to the Farmyard and got to visit with animals like goats, alpaca, pigs, cows and chickens. From there we went to the Magic Wings butterfly house but didn’t go into the butterfly exhibit because I have a child that is terrified of butterflies but we did explore all of the insects in the Insectarium.
Next, we stopped at the bathrooms near the Sprout Cafe before heading to the dinosaur trail. I have a 4-year-old that is obsessed with dinosaurs so this was a huge hit, especially the fossil dig area where we found a few shark teeth.
After the dinosaurs, we walked down the beautiful path to Explore the Wild. We stopped to see the bears but at this point, in the day it was rather hot and the bears had retreated to much cooler spaces. However, just outside the bear exhibit, we saw a green frog and the boys thought that was just as cool. We then visited the Red Wolves and the new wolf cubs and then stopped the visit the lemurs and tortoises.
It was starting to get rather hot and the boys wanted to head inside but along the path, they continued to stop at each exhibit like the sail boats in Catch the Wind or Into the Mist.
Finally, we looped back around and went inside where the boys had a blast discovering all the wonderful hands-on science available. Abel (4) really loved the Aerospace exhibit like climbing inside the command module. Jude (11) loved the Math Moves exhibit with stop-motion animation and sounds and shapes to explore. Noah(8) my animal lover like exploring the indoor animal exhibits of the Carolina Wildlife Exhibit. Simon (6) loved dancing around the Soundspace exhibit.
On our first visit to the Museum of Life and Science, we spent about 5 hours exploring the museum. We got to see most of the exhibits but we didn’t get to spend a lot of time at the indoor science center because we were just so tired from our outdoor discoveries. So before we left I upgraded our general admission to an annual pass so I can take the boys back during their year-round track outs.
We had a great time and I highly recommend visiting the Museum of Life and Science if you are in the Durham, North Carolina area. In a few weeks, they will be opening a new exhibit, Earth Moves, which looks like a lot of messy fun.
The Museum is located at 433 W. Murray Avenue Durham, NC 27704
There are two large parking lots near the main entrance with ample parking.
It’s about a 45-minute drive to the museum from our house, depending on the traffic.
Admission & Hours:
General Admission – $23 for adults, $18 for children (ages 3-12), Free for children 2 and under, $21 for seniors, and military discounts available.
Membership – The Museum of Life and Science offers membership levels based on the number of people. An Explorer 2 membership, which includes 1 cardholder and 1 guest, is $155 annually.
We purchased the Explorer 6 membership which allows 1 cardholder and 5 guests unlimited admission to the museum. This means as long as one of the named cardholders is present they can bring any 5 guests. The cost for the Explore 6 membership is $220 plus tax.
They also offer for general admission visitors to upgrade to the membership during the time of their visit. So if you pay general admission and decide you want a membership stop by the guest services desk to apply your admission purchase price to the cost of a membership.
Members also get discounts at the gift shop, cafe, and camps, plus early admission to the museum and invitations to special events. You also get free or reduced admission to participating AZA zoos across the country and 280 science centers worldwide.
Regular Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 5pm