Whenever we are on a road trip, I always look for somewhere to stop every 2 to 3 hours. This helps the kids stay positive about the long drive and gives us an opportunity to stretch our legs.
My kids are total nerds. Not only are they incredibly in love with dinosaurs, they also love the hands on experience most science museums provide. More often than not, our driving routes are planned around where I can use my reciprocal science museum membership.
We happened upon the Tellis Museum after a short jaunt to Atlanta. This little museum had never been on my radar before but it was conveniently on the way home from our trip. If it had not been listed on the ASTC membership website, we likely would have just driven on by; which would’ve been such a pity.
The first thing you notice when you pull up to the Tellus Museum are the similarities it has to a park. Vast green space is available with lots of mature trees and beautiful landscaping. This museum looked promising before we even left the car; the four large trucks and heavy machinery around the parking lot were a good indication of what to expect from the facility.
Once we arrived, we discovered that the front doors to the museum were around the corner from the parking lot. If you stay straight on the main pathway, you will reach their brand-new solar house; a new and exciting feature that we thoroughly enjoyed exploring. It’s a new installation and there are already more plans on expanding their solar technology educational offerings. My family decided to visit the solar house last but you could easily make that your first stop!
Before entering the building, we came across their rock garden. Large boulders of all different types could be identified here and both of the kids enjoyed running from rock to rock as they learned what each of the names were. We made our way toward the front doors after a little bit and found ourselves in a lobby smaller than most museums we have visited. Though they are limited in size, they are not limited in the quality of exhibits they show and we quickly discovered that upon arriving.
After showing our reciprocal science museum membership cards, we entered into the main hall where we were greeted by gigantic dinosaur skeletons. After we spent a few minutes in the shadows of these bony beasts, we turned left and went to the geology gem exhibit. This feature was beyond awesome. Not only were their stones, soil samples, meteorites, and a display of all the materials derived from the crust of the earth, but there were also rocks you could touch. Just a few examples of what they display are phospholipid florescent stones under blacklight, various gems, jewels, and gold. We spent a majority of our time in this exhibit; I never knew rocks could be so interesting!
Next-door to this exhibit was the display about traveling or motorized vehicles. This exhibit included Wright’s airplane replica, Model T’s, motorbikes, and even a plane’s cockpit. Continuing on from there, in the back corner of the museum resides the traveling exhibit which discussed the technology of your phone. It represented how much a smart phone does now in comparison to how the same technology was represented 30 years ago. My children really enjoyed using the working rotary phone in this exhibit.
Next, we meandered down an adjacent hallway where we were able to dig for fossils. A huge plus was that the kids were allowed to keep one fossil that they found and I am all about the free souvenirs! The digging medium felt like chipped rubber and the staff had added lots of little fossils throughout the area. We ended up coming home with shark teeth. This area was designed for the young at heart and serves as the perfect place to grab a free souvenir from the Tellus Museum.
After some vigorous fossil digging, we did a little gem panning at their elaborate gem mining trough. We spent even more time here than at the fossil finding area because we could take home as many gems as we could find! Each of us were given a small plastic jewel bag where we could pan through the sandy trailings until our hearts were content. Again, another point for the Tellus Museum for the free souvenir. The children loved this activity and it was the best water play area we had ever participated in. The added activity of panning for gems made the kids feel like they were doing something more than just splashing around in the water.
Children’s play area
The last area we visited at this museum was the children’s play area. We usually save these for last when we go to a museum because if they’re great you will never see another part of the museum. If they’re not any good you get to go home a little early. This play area sits squarely in the middle of those two extremes. It brings several concepts to life in an easily discernible way for the younger crowd but it was a little lacking in hands-on activities. While it was a quality play area, it wasn’t the best we had ever seen. In total, we spent about 30 minutes playing in that area.
There is a café at the Tellus Museum but we did not stop by. From what we could see, it looked clean and nice. The gift shop the museum had was well-stocked and I managed to get several ideas for great Christmas presents for my nephews.
The staff was pleasant, the grounds were beautiful, and my family had a wonderful time. Overall, the Tellus Museum has so much to offer and we will definitely stop by again. And they had dinosaurs!