Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Retro dioramas? Check. Taxidermied animals? Check. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, with its bones, gems and planetarium, takes visitors back in time on their very own school fieldtrip (well, minus the big yellow school bus).
There’s a full-size replica of a T-rex and a skeletal cast of a juvenile tyrannosaur. Even more special, though, is Happy’s (Haplocanthosaurus delfsi) skeleton. Happy is the oldest sauropod on exhibit anywhere and the most complete adult specimen of this 70-foot-long, 14-foot-high dinosaur.
Balto is tiny by comparison, but don’t miss him. This hero husky led a team of dogs through an Alaskan blizzard in 1925 to deliver diphtheria serum to sick residents in remote Nome, a trip now commemorated by the annual Iditarod Race. Inspirational, right? Especially considering many of us complain about walking to our cars on really snowy days. A stuffed version of Balto has lived at the museum since dying in 1933.
The Human Origins Gallery is a more recent addition. The exhibit opened in 2013 with a “lifelike” skeletal cast of Lucy as the centerpiece. She’s the famous 3.2 million-year-old partial fossil skeleton of a human ancestor discovered in Ethiopia in 1974 by Dr. Donald Johanson, a former curator at the museum.
After taking it all in, head outside the museum where you’ll find a sanctuary of real live animals including owls, foxes and bobcats.