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“We love "Life and Science"!”

Museum of Life + Science
Ranked #4 of 81 things to do in Durham
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: The Museum of Life and Science is one of North Carolina’s top attractions. Situated on 84-acres, our interactive science park includes a science center, a butterfly conservatory which is one of the largest in the world and beautifully-landscaped outdoor exhibits which are safe havens for rescued black bears, lemurs, and endangered red wolves. The Museum's Dinosaur Trail takes visitors on a journey through the Late Cretaceous period. Other attractions include a Farmyard, Ellerbe Creek Railway, Contraptions – a hands-on exhibit for older children and adults, a sailboat pond, The Lab in Investigate Health!, Play to Learn – an exhibit for children under six, more than 60 species of live animals and so much more. The Museum of Life and Science is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Useful Information: Stroller parking, Lockers / storage, Wheelchair access, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children, Stairs / elevator
Reviewed June 27, 2013

We've been members of this museum for nearly 5 years. We love it! It's a fantastic place to take the kids, especially when we have a day when we just aren't sure what to do. If you live locally, they've priced memberships so that, if you go three times in a year, it's worth buying a membership. Plus, you can "try before you buy" meaning, you can pay admission and go in and experience Life and Science and, if you decide you like it, you can apply what you just spent toward the membership.

We went the first time when our elder child was 9 months old. We weren't sure she'd get much out of it. But she did! And so did we. We became members that day (applying our admission toward membership) and have been members ever since.

There are indoor and outdoor activities. I think it's appropriate for every age. There are special events, too. Currently, they are hatching 1000 new blue butterflies and releasing them into their atrium, which is a beautiful space, filled with tropical plants, butterflies, fish and birds. Wonderful in cold months - it's like a mini-vacation.

We love the outdoor stuff best: Play area, outdoor drums, water pump play area, sandbox, caboose, farm animals (cow, duck, rabbits, pigs, alpacas, donkey, etc.), insects and butterflies are indoors in a separate building, dino walk and dig zone - we found an awesome huge shark tooth last year - you can keep what you find, bears, wolves, lemurs, wind zone, and the new "into the mist" exhibit is awesome for hot days! There is also a train (costs a few bucks each to ride and you must buy tix in the main entrance area, not at the train station) you can ride - my littles love that. The new cafe is much improved and the food is largely local and tasty. There is a discount with membership (10%, I believe), but the prices aren't astronomical, more like what you'd expect at a museum cafe. We do eat at the cafe sometimes - there is indoor and outdoor seating.

Inside the museum, there is a sound and motion exhibit, a section which changes regularly and is mostly interactive - like special blocks to build things, a lot of weather and space stuff that is mostly interactive, another small animal section with gators, snakes, owls, fish and such, and an indoor play space for infants and toddlers.

Every year, there's a Santa Train special event in December - tix go on sale earlier and, if you aren't a member, it's tough to get tickets. It's part of our pre-xmas tradition now, since we've done it for the past 4 years. It's the same train ride as usual, except the train only does the circuit once, but it's decorated with lights (it's in the evening) and it takes you to visit Santa, who talks briefly with each child. There are also take-home crafts and hot chocolate (included in the price of the tix), and some add-on cost items like face-painting and mementos available at the station. There are a number of other events throughout the year, but the Santa Train is the one we attend.

I feel so lucky to have this 20 minutes from where we live!

Thank 24JE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lori B, External Relations Assistant at Museum of Life + Science, responded to this reviewResponded July 1, 2013

What a great story, JE! It's always nice to hear from our members--especially when they have such a wonderful history with us.

If you saw any of the newly hatched Blue Morphos on your visit, try to come back near the end of July when nearly all of the 1,000 will have hatched! It will be quite an extraordinary experience.

We're also happy to hear you enjoyed Into the Mist. We have a brand new component of that exhibit called the Mist Bowl that is sure to please those searching for a way to cool off on our 84-acre campus!

We hope to see you again soon, JE and thanks again for the great review!

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531 - 535 of 754 reviews

Reviewed June 23, 2013 via mobile

My daughter is 9yrs old and she loved the museum. There were a lot of interactive things. Great family time.

Thank ascrappinmom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lori B, Guest Relations Assistant at Museum of Life + Science, responded to this reviewResponded June 25, 2013

Thanks for letting us know you enjoyed your visit ascrappinmom!

We love to hear from our out-of-town guests. Hopefully you'll come back to visit us soon. Consider visiting throughout the month of July to help us release our 1,000 blue morpho butterflies into the Magic Wings Butterfly House. We have daily butterfly releases where you can chat with our entomologists and maybe even release a butterfly yourself!

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Reviewed June 21, 2013 via mobile

This places is like a hidden gem. Tucked away near downtown you would never know all that was there unless you explored it youself. I wasn't expecting much when we went but it was fantastic. There is something for all ages and it's well priced whether you go once or once buy the membership and go all the time (which I highly recommend). From the large outside play ground to the indoor play area for crawlng tots. From the Alpacas to to the butterfly garden I could do on and on... plus all the different indoor science exhibits this place is great rain or shine.

Thank slandis2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lori B, External Relations Assistant at Museum of Life + Science, responded to this reviewResponded July 1, 2013

Thank you for the review, slandis2007!

We are all about exceeding expectations--so I'm glad we could wow you on your visit! I see that you visited in May and mentioned the butterfly garden. If you want a truly wow-inducing experience, come back during the month of July when we're releasing 1,000 blue morpho butterfiles into the Magic Wings Butterfly House conservatory. You could even help release a newly hatched blue morpho during one of our daily butterfly releases! This is a great activity for all ages and is free with your admission or membership.

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Reviewed June 10, 2013

An earlier reviewer said it is free - it is not - about $14 for adults, $10 for kids - still a bargain! My sisters-in-law and I took our 6 year old grandchildren here for an afternoon while our husbands went to the baseball game. We all had a great time. The boys (very active) loved each exhibit. The outdoor area starts with a wonderful playground with noisemaking stops and water valves. I think their favorite was Into the Mist where water vapor comes up out of the ground and creates dense fog. They also enjoyed the sailboats, butterfly house and insectarium. I would however give the train a miss. Bathrooms were plentiful and clean. Also had lots of benches and shade. Plan on a lot of walking and getting damp - maybe wet!

Thank Lalyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lori B, External Relations Assistant at Museum of Life + Science, responded to this reviewResponded June 11, 2013

Glad to hear what a great time you all had, Lalyc!

Into the Mist is a very popular exhibit come these warm weather months. If you really want to stay cool this summer, come back and visit us between July 18 - 20 from 10 am – 3 pm when we'll be beating the heat with a variety of super cool science experiments! You can cool off with a cup of liquid nitrogen ice cream, made in minutes before your eyes or get a little messy by using giant blocks of ice instead of paintbrushes to make your own icy artwork!

Thanks again, Lalyc!

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Reviewed June 9, 2013

There are so many interesting exhibits here. Something for everyone. They offer many opportunities to attend workshops or presentations, so plan ahead. Visit often - it's free!

Thank Meg W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lori B, External Relations Assistant at Museum of Life + Science, responded to this reviewResponded June 10, 2013

We're so glad to hear you enjoyed your visit, Bridgette2073!

Our admission, which is free for Members, does indeed include all those great experiences you mentioned! I saw you visited in December--hopefully you'll come see us again during our warmer weather months. We have great exhibits inside our Museum facility that feature exploration in local, Carolina wildlife, aerospace and an interactive space all about sound. These are great opportunities to stay cool during our hot, Southern summers while still enjoying the Museum of Life and Science!

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