Monday, September 16, 2013

Greensboro and the Science Center

Have you ever been completely surprised by a place? Maybe you didn’t expect a lot, or had preconceived notions that were completely off? Such was my experience with Greensboro, NC. After a memorable Labor Day weekend on the Blue Ridge Parkway I found myself in this city an hour west of the popular Research Triangle, unsure what I would do with the boys all day while my husband was working, and wondering if I wouldn’t have to cut the trip short. It was just the opposite – we ran out of time to see all that we had hoped!

It's electrifying!
In my research before the trip I had read reviews of a museum geared towards children that also encompassed a small zoo and aquarium, the Greensboro Science Center. I thought we would have enough to look at to keep us busy for at least a morning, and was happy to discover our Greenville Zoo membership would get us in for free. I always check if our local zoo, aquarium or museum membership has reciprocal agreements with those of other towns, this time our membership saved us the $12.50/adult, $11.50/children 3-13 entry fee.

An African penguin zooming by
We started in the “sciquarium” portion of the center, as it opens an hour earlier than the rest and the penguins were scheduled to be fed in a few minutes. The fishing cat was out (but not fishing) and the otters playing in their lagoon, and before long we were watching the African penguins gulp down entire fish carefully fed to them by two keepers. The center attraction is the “hands on harbor” where a half-dozen rays glide around an open pond with plenty of spots for visitors to pet them. Both boys bravely touched a stingray, although seemed to be more interested in splashing around.

The stingrays have had their barbs removed and are harmless
My favorite was the “open ocean shark tank” (similar to our Georgia Aquarium experience) with all sorts of colorful fish, rays, sharks and other creatures. There is daily shark reef dive, as well as informative talks at the stingray and otter exhibits for those interested. We also saw moray eels, an Anaconda, a two-toed sloth and mata-mata turtles. Then it was out into the heat to see the zoo.

I was surprised at the size of the zoo; I had expected a small petting zoo but in actuality it was closer in size to our zoo here in Greenville. We started out in the “friendly farm” with the sheep and goats, then worked our way around to the coatimundis and tamanduas. After walking through the wallaby enclosure (always a cool concept but in reality you never get any closer to them than you would if they were behind a fence, something we also saw in the Columbia zoo) it was the red pandas and monkeys. I’m tempted to put up videos of the howler monkeys in Greensboro and the gibbons of Greenville side-by-side to see which ones are louder…

It's a rough life in the petting zoo...
Lauris was most impressed by the tigers, one of which came very close to us in his rounds – I was amused by the “tiger spray zone” signs posted at the fencelines. At the farthest end we found the maned wolves, which to me looked more foxlike, but the heat was starting to get to us and so we headed indoors to grab a snack.

There is safety glass between that giant cat and the boys
Many places don’t allow visitors to bring in food, but the Science Center has a designated cafeteria in addition to their Fresh Market Café, and I found it refreshing to not spend a fortune on food that the kids don’t even eat. We rested and dived right back in, starting with the Kids Alley. A children’s museum in two rooms, we could have spent an entire day in this section alone! A water table, shopping market, train table, reading nook, playhouse… it was an hour-long breather for mom until time came for us to head back to the hotel for naps.
After such a great experience we decided to come back the next day after we had had our fill of the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. Definitely getting our money’s worth, wink wink. It was a good decision, mainly because we had the opportunity to explore the rest of the Science Center, as we hadn’t seen everything on the first day. The boys got their first glimpse of the world of dinosaurs in the “prehistoric passages” rooms, and have been showing a lot more interest into everything dino-related since. A quick glance into the extreme weather gallery and “healthquest” exhibits confirmed they are meant for older children, but down in the lower level we found even more things to see. The herpetarium was full of lizards, snakes and such (the boys even got to hold a turtle) that gave mom the chills, and the safari room and other displays kept them squealing with delight over all the cool animals.

Definitely wasn't ready to stand that close without keeping on eye out for sudden movement!
We decided to venture out into the zoo again, and found that we had skipped a section in haste to get out of the heat. This time we peeked into the meerkat enclosure by crawling into a big tunnel, we played in the “locomotion zone” and then watched the crocodiles. Despite the fences, I had a fleeting feeling of being prey – those crocs (and really all I could see of these two was eyes) came swimming our way with a seemingly singular purpose of having a snack. The Kavanagh Discover House had more creepy crawlies, and then we took another stroll to see the tigers. This visit was a bit depressing, as both big cats seemed so sad that day to be in the enclosure; I cut the viewing short and we headed back indoors.
One more loop around the sciquarium, more playtime in the kids alley, a stop in the gift shop, and we were finally finished with the Greensboro Science Center. It was off to the hotel pool for us!


  1. Hi There, What a wonderful surprise for you all. AND--what a fantastic experience for your kids... I'll have to remember the Greensboro Science Center--when someone is looking for a neat place for kids... Glad it worked out!!!!


  2. How fun! I love these types of places! Just took our kids to the aquarium last weekend. I think my husband and I had just as much fun (if not more) than the kids!

    Rachel from Brachel Boulevard

  3. Thanks for reading my blog. I'm following your blog on Google+ now. : )

    Louisa @ My Family & Abruzzo

  4. Ooh, this place looks like a really nice place to visit! Kids would really love to pet all the animals and stingrays, I bet! (I would too, actually. Oops.)

  5. Thanks for popping by my blog with the friends around the world linkup! I love that photo of the goat on the park bench. Seems so backwards doesn't it? :-) He's pretending he's human (but goats often do that, I think). Love your blog! X Jane

  6. I love zoos! This place sounds really neat. You're also more than welcome to link up this post with my Travel Tuesday post you commented on today! These are exactly the kind of posts I look for: stories about your recent travels, whether nearby or overseas. :) Domestic traveling is definitely still traveling!

  7. Ou, izskatās interesanti ne vien bērniem, bet arī Jums pašiem! Man ļoti patīk šādi zinātnes centri!:)


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