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.
A loud whistle sounds off in the distance, signaling the arrival of a steam 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 area’s scenic landscapes encompass 17 miles of track that meander around scenic Mount Vernon. 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.
Since first stumbling upon them as a child in Colorado, Susan Russell has been enthralled with rocks and fossils. The law offices she found herself in for the first 23 years of adulthood, however, were a far cry from the natural surroundings that first catalyzed her imaginative passion. "I wanted to get back to doing something more creative with the remainder of my years," she told The Tennessean in 2010, which is why she supplemented her daytime gig with classes in metalworking, silversmithing, and repurposing tin cans into airplane propellers.By congregating jewelry designers, glass blowers, potters, and painters, Susan has fulfilled her creative ambition at Atelier, where the artisanal ensemble handcrafts original, oft-customized jewelry and art from real gemstones, exotic pearls, and hand-forged sterling, silver, and gold. Each craftsperson builds their designs around the natural materials personally selected by Susan, ensuring that their pieces emphasize the color and attributes of their coral, fossil, tiger eye, or Peruvian opal centers. The store, voted Nashville's Best Jewelry Store by Nashville Scene readers in 2011, ships every creation in a covered and cotton-filled box that you can gift without additional wrapping to an important person or mannequin in your life.
Though the staff at Honeysuckle Hill Farm cultivates livestock and crops of seasonal produce, its other chief resource is outdoor adventure. Through their seasonal tours, farm staffers teach adults and children about farm operations, the basics of agriculture, and which fabrics scarecrows find itchy. They also give visitors a chance to work their way through labyrinthine corn mazes. At birthday parties, younger visitors can pet the resident animals, pan for gemstones at an artificial stream, and race each other in pedal-powered carts. Away from the fields, Association for Challenge Course Technology–certified guides and their guests soar down a one-mile zipline course designed and built to ACCT standards. The guides lead tours through the course’s three elevated towers, three canopy-level bridges stretched across Battle Creek, and eight ziplines, which they maintain daily to chase away loitering vigilantes. Along the way, guides showcase their knowledge of the creek’s history while pointing out local flora and fauna.
Founded as the Union Gospel Tabernacle by steamboat captain Thomas Ryman after an angel got trapped in his smokestack, the Ryman Auditorium has since become a different kind of hallowed ground, lovingly referred to as the "mother church of country music." The Grand Ole Opry and The Johnny Cash Show have both taken residence among its wooden pews, and the twanged voices of country legends such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline have reverberated off the stenciled artwork on the face of the balcony. Today, the venue plays host to a variety of acts, from rock concerts to television specials to comedy shows.