Though the creatures on display at Dinosaur World don’t need much space to roam, plenty of care has been taken to furnish them a comfortable habitat. They peer imposingly from the hillsides of Kentucky, crane their necks up through native trees, and stomp through prairie fields. Although a life-size mammoth or T. rex might be hard to miss, little visitors might still jump with delight at noticing a baby dino suddenly appear from behind a bush. Giant brachiosaurus necks arch high above treetops, while toothy meat-eaters and spiny stegosauruses roam the world below. The fiberglass, steel, and concrete models reach up to 80 feet in length, and are built according to the latest scientific discoveries about what dinosaurs looked like and what styles were trendy in the Mesozoic era.
The first Dinosaur World location was a former alligator farm in Florida and five years later another one was opened in Kentucky. As Swedish-born Christer Svensson began to fill it with statues, he consulted with experts around the world to not only create realistic reptiles but to surround them with fun, educational activities. Kids can sift through sand to find shark’s teeth, gastropod shells, and trilobites in a fossil dig, get to know some lizards a little better on the playground, or examine ancient eggs and raptor claws in the museum.
After spending millions of years out of sight, wiling away the time by boring a cave deep into the earth, the Hidden River powered the town above with hydroelectricity before pollution forced it to close off from human eyes again. 50 years later, a recovery project restored Hidden River Cave, and today its depths play host to tours of the generator's remains and the underground river still flowing more than 100 feet below the ground.
Hidden River is one of the largest privately operated caves in the Mammoth Cave area, and along with hands-on exploration, American Cave Museum & Hidden River Cave spreads knowledge and awareness with two stories of educational exhibits. There, visitors explore topics such as prehistoric explorers, the history of saltpeter mining, and how to discern stalactites from walruses stuck in the cavern's ceiling.
The first Chevrolet Corvette was built in 1953, and though it has received numerous style updates since, its distinctive profile is instantly recognizable whenever it streaks by on the highway. The National Corvette Museum celebrates the history of this consummate American sports car, housing more than 70 specimens from each era of production. Upon entry, guests gravitate to the showroom's massive glass case, inside which a unique model spins on a turntable. Visitors can also sit in a current-era Corvette, leaning back for pictures and and purchasing chances to win one.
As they peruse the exhibits, enthusiasts will recognize one-of-a-kind concept vehicles and special editions, such as the 1983 Corvette, the only one in existience. Interactive exhibits abound, including the educational driving simulators used for teen driver seminars, and the pit crew challenge where you can electronically fuel up and change tires on a Corvette race car. The museum's location even plays a role in the Corvette story; across the street sits the GM Bowling Green Assembly Plant, the only place in the world the iconic sports car is manufactured.
A loud whistle sounds off in the distance, signaling the arrival of a diesel locomotive. The train pulls past dozens of trees and into the station. It?s just another day at the Kentucky Railway Museum, where new and restored trains take visitors on nostalgic journeys through the New Haven countryside. The stationary exhibit hall?a replica of the original New Haven depot?houses a collection of railroad artifacts and memorabilia ranging from rail carts and dining cars to steam whistles and the discarded mustaches of malevolent railroad barons.
Fired Up fuels the flames of creativity with hundreds of unfinished pottery pieces, including plates, platters, bowls, and mugs. Amid its orange and yellow walls, the contemporary studio lets visitors choose whatever pieces they want and equips them with paints, brushes, stencils, and other design tools. After the decorating process, the studio clear-glazes and fires finished pieces, making them safe to use with real food or fake food during imaginary tea parties. Fired Up opens its doors for studio sessions, as well as for birthdays, field trips, and special events.
A log cabin sits huddled in the woods as breezes sway rolling grasses and flowerbeds across the 1,120 acres that surround it. A Federal-style mansion stands tall against the sky, its columns flanking a towering front door and presidential balcony. Carrying on a 200-year tradition, The Hermitage tells the story of the presidential family, its plantation's slave population, and the atmosphere of the time through 32 historic buildings and more than a dozen archaeological sites.
The mansion and visitor center boast 3,000 original objects and 800,000 archaeological artifacts on display, as well as 1,200 printed items, 3,000 photographs, and 800 manuscripts bearing the president's original handwriting and cappuccino stains. The mansion's Greek-revival woodwork and mantels frame original wallpaper, and glass cases hold Andrew Jackson's authentic glasses, slippers, top hats, swords, and canes. Inside the visitor center, the Jacksons' actual private carriage guards a hallway leading to collections of artifacts from the plantation's slave families and communities. Most items in the collections were purchased directly from the Jackson family, though many artifacts were uncovered in the late 1800s by the historic Ladies' Hermitage Association when they broke ground for a new Olympic-sized swimming pool.
On the outdoor grounds, trained guides usher visitors to the first Hermitage, a log cabin where the Jackson family lived while the mansion was being built, and Alfred's Cabin, the preserved 1840s quarters of the former groundskeeper. In the garden, winding trails take visitors past period plants and the Grecian-style tombs of Andrew and Rachel Jackson. The rest of The Hermitage's grounds contain a network of winding walking trails, as well as grassy areas and cabins where museum staffers host events, weddings, and birthday parties. Across the grounds, interpreters in authentic period dress direct visitors to the sites of historic events and often train grade-school students to do the same through the center's special school programs.