Rawr! Where to celebrate World Dinosaur Day in Central Florida

From life-sized sculptures to prehistoric fossils, here’s what you can find

Ancient jaws of prehistoric sea creatures at the Florida Museum of Natural History. (Florida Museum of Natural History)

ORLANDO, Fla. – First, the bad news: scientists only have fossils in Florida dating back to the Eocene epoch, going back 55 million years ago, but still not far enough to find fossils of those classic land dinosaurs we all love. In fact, Florida was still underwater during this period, according to paleontologists at the University of Florida.

The good news: You can still find plenty of dinosaur attractions in Central Florida, along with the fossils of Florida’s real prehistoric residents. Here are some places to check out for World Dinosaur Day, June 1.

Florida Museum of Natural History — Gainesville

The Florida Museum at the University of Florida is the repository of Florida’s natural history, from fossils to insects and alligators and plants. The museum has some 500 fossils, most dated since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. The fossils that can be seen include the jaw of the Megalodon, the largest shark ever, ground sloths, beardogs, mastodons, mammoths and more.

Some of the fossils have been found on the Montbrook site in nearby Levy County. Take a look at some of the fossils that were recently found there.

Admission to the fossil exhibit and other permanent exhibits at the museum is free. More details on pricing is on the museum website.

Orlando Science Center — Orlando

The Orlando Science Center has an exhibit called DinoDigs, which includes real fossils and giant fossil replicas. A tour guide helps visitors go in-depth on the world of paleontology, while kids can check out interactive activities, including a fossil dig.

Tickets to experience all of the Orlando Science Center are $24 for adults, $18 for youth 2 through 11, and other discounts are available. Also, be prepared to pay for parking.

Dinosaurs at Leu Gardens — Orlando

Prehistoric creatures have taken over the nearly 50 acres of Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, now through July 30. While taking in the life-sized sculptures, also learn about some of the prehistoric plants that you can still find today.

Tickets to the gardens are $15 for adults and $10 for children. Find all the information you need on the Leu Gardens website.

The Dinosaur Store — Cocoa Beach

This attraction in Cocoa Beach contains the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures. Head to the Hall of Dinosaurs to see authentic fossils and cast skeletons from the Devonian, Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Visitors can also learn about ancient man, and check out the Adventure Zone, with interactive science stations, animal encounters and arcade games.

Tickets for the museum only are $14 for adults and $10 for children. More information is on the Dinosaur Store website.

Dinosaur World — Plant City

No list of Dinosaur attractions is complete without Dinosaur World. It’s a little out of the area, in Plant City, but it features animatronics and dozens of sculptures of prehistoric creatures. There are interactive exhibits, a fossil dig, and a dino-themed playground. Leashed dogs are also welcome.

Tickets to Dinosaur World are $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for children. More information is on the Dinosaur World website.

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About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.