The Dinosaur Place Story
Believe it or not, the concept for this family fun center came about as a result of a vacation to Arizona! The husband and wife team which were destined to become the architects and designers decided to bring back a souvenir from their trip, but no t-shirt or postcard would do. Instead, they bought a 4-foot tall Apatosaurus tibia. A real dinosaur shinbone! Avid collectors of the most unique treasures coupled with an insatiable curiosity for natural wonders, the happy couple were able to channel their energies to bring to life their ultimate dream: creating a place where everyone could share and appreciate the beauty of natural creations. In August 1991, a very small shop in Salem, CT was opened, aptly named Nature’s Art, where everyone could for the first time gaze upon the true art of nature with an ever growing collection of gemstones, minerals, fossils and collectibles. A true realization of the American Dream, the concept of Nature’s Art took off and has grown ever since. What was once a small store and a dream has now become Nature’s Art Village, Connecticut’s fastest growing family destination.
Not being satisfied with just one dinosaur artifact, Nature’s Art soon grew to become the home of The Dinosaur Place™ where over 40 life-sized dinosaurs roam in a pristine, picturesque woodland setting. Monty, a 14 ft tall juvenile T-rex named after the town of Montville became the mascot which now stands guard over The Dinosaur Place™ entrance. During the initial ribbon cutting and grand opening of The Dinosaur Place™ expansion, back in 2003, Mike Doyle, Director of the Governor’s Eastern office at the time exclaimed, “I can tell you one thing, by the end of the weekend I’m going to have to come back with my kids!” Then Connecticut Governor John Rowland also wrote in a statement: “As you celebrate this new park and nature trail, you can take pride in knowing that this addition to the community is a true testament to your commitment to Connecticut’s most precious resource – our children”. The doors opened and so it began. Amidst the dinosaurs and the warm sunshine was an air of excitement, as perfectly stated by Kevin, age 6 of Salem, who said to his father upon entering the park, “Dad, pinch me…. I must be dreaming!”
The Dinosaur Place™ continued to grow as a family fun center over the years and is now also home to New England’s largest SplashPad®, and a fabulous a”MAZE”asaurus where families can play together to find their way out sliding down the mouth of a giant T-rex. Here you will experience over 50 beautiful acres of pristine wetlands and woodlands, including a seven acre man-made lake, and over 1.5 miles of dinosaur trails. To access the trails, guests walk under the belly of a life-sized brachiosaurus, an immense creature that measures 75 feet long and 40 feet tall! Everyone, even mom and dad, will enjoy the state-of-the-art playground featuring the unique SpaceNet which was designed exclusively for The Dinosaur Place™. The climbing structure consists of two connected climbing towers that reach approximately 65 feet long, 42 feet wide and 19 feet high. SpaceNets use spatial geometry that invites kids to climb through them. An imaginative, three-dimensional web swings, vibrates and springs with every move. Every family member will want to join in on the fun. So much to do, so much to see!
The fun isn’t just outside. Inside, Discovery Depot allows everyone to personally experience the hunt for Nature’s Art treasures which lie beneath the earth. Here, families can explore Jackpot Mine, a replica silver mine and dig for gems consisting of over 50 varieties of polished stones and crystals. You actually get to keep what you find, an awesome value! Children can experience all the adventure of panning for gold in our unique indoor flowing stream at Thunder Creek. Cut your own geode before your very eyes. Unearth a dinosaur skeleton in the Bone Zone and take home souvenir fossils. There is no shortage of things to do here but wait there’s more. Yes! Kid’s love having their birthday parties here which are unlike any other party you’ve even been to. Book yours now, spaces fill quickly!
Today, Nature’s Art Village provides a family fun destination for all. The Shops at Nature’s Art Village offers over 10,000 sq ft of shopping with six unique shops showcasing spectacular collections including crystals and minerals from every corner of the earth, uniquely crafted jewelry, New England’s largest beads and findings collections to create your own jewelry, toys, science kits and of course fossils. In May 2013, Nature’s Art Village welcomed The PAST Antiques Marketplace and Gateway Museum, to its collection of attractions. An antique shopper’s delight and a collector’s showcase, The PAST Antiques Marketplace features American and other fine collectibles offered by an assemblage of dealers all under one roof. The Gateway Museum will take you and your family back in time, experiencing the evolution of technology from steam engines to search engines.
Truly a destination which you will want to come and come back again and again, Nature’s Art Village offers a once in a lifetime experience, every time for everyone!