These 11 great activities at Discovery Park of America in Union City, Tennessee, are just a sampling of the educational fun in store for you. Opened in November of 2013, the 50-acre park appeals to all ages with a tremendous variety of fascinating exhibits, many of them interactive.
Inside Discovery Park’s Main Building
Discovery Center’s distinctive appearance hints at the wonders inside this uniquely shaped, 100,000- square foot complex. Exhibits include natural history, science and technology, Native Americans, energy, military, regional history, transportation, and more.
1. A gigantic metal human sculpture forms a 48-foot tall slide, accessible to young and old alike. (Yes, I took the plunge. That first drop is a rush!) You’ll want to allow time to do this one several times, even if there are no kids with you.
2. Children will love riding the escalator back up to slide again, and it’s fascinating to see the internal workings of the escalator through the glass wall.
3. Life-sized replicas of dinosaurs, including a T-Rex, fill the main level of the Grand Hall.
3. Hands-on exhibits allow children to enjoy water play, to explore the ways our senses work, and to climb inside a bubble for an up-close view of aquatic life native to Reelfoot Lake (gar, albino catfish), to name just a few.
4. A gigantic wall of library books welcomes visitors to another whole wing of Discovery Hall, this one housing a life-sized replica of the Arc of the Covenant; a full suit of armor; a military section complete with weapons, a helicopter, other aircraft, and even an actual A-bomb!
5. Cars ranging from the Model-T through race cars are showcased. There are classic beauties in this collection, along with authentic old-time gas pumps and other memorabilia from bygone days.
6. An interactive space exhibit could provide hours of fascination, and an earthquake simulator ($4.00 extra) gives visitors another kind of Tennessee “shake, rattle, and roll”!
7. For an additional $4.00, you can ride the glass-walled elevator up 12 stories to the observation tower. This trip provides stunning views of the entire 50-acre park, including unusual vantage points as you stare down through strategically positioned glass floor panels, both inside the tower and out on the balcony.
Some folks got the willies from looking down 120 feet, but my grand-darlings didn’t seem to be bothered at all.
Discovery Park’s Outdoor Attractions
8. Outdoors, the beautifully landscaped park features an authentic 1800s village, farmhouses, a barn, livestock pens, a mill, and other artifacts.
9. Freedom Square, a typical Southern court square, showcases replicas of historic American documents, and a 100-year old Methodist church provides a charming setting for weddings and family gatherings.
10. Actual train cars intrigue young and old alike, especially the formal dining car and the engine, where kids can climb up and pull the whistle. (Hold your ears! It’s LOUD!) You can stand out on the platform as if you were actually waiting to board the very nice club cars.
11. A 3-4 story wooden tower offers another nice view of the area and gives kids a thrill to climb up, and the maze at its base allows them to run safely and get out some of that excess energy. Plus, if you can’t see your kids, you could climb the tower and spot the little varmints easily.
To cite only these 11 activities at Discovery Park of America is to do an injustice to this amazing venue. Truly, Discovery Park of America is a fantastic outing for the entire family. It’s a good bargain too, with adult admission costing $13.95 and children aged 4-12 costing $10.94. Those 3 years and under are admitted free. Seniors 65 and older pay $11.95. Season passes are also available.
I’d love to go back and spend at least a day there with just my husband. It’s that interesting, and it would take more than a full day to absorb the information. Discovery Park of America is definitely a place I’ll return to visit, and I encourage you to go there too.
One tip is vital if you go: Purchase your tickets online in advance to avoid waiting in line. We probably would have had at least a 45-minute wait had we not purchased our tickets in advance. Also, food is available in a snack shop, but we took a picnic and ate on the grass near our car. Admission bracelets ensure your easy return to the gated areas of the park. By the way, parking is free and close to the entrance. However, do wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes for your day’s outing. (For more information, here’s a link to the official Discovery Park site.)
Have you experienced Discovery Park yet? What did you think? Or do you plan to go? Let me know in the comments.