The Dinosaur Park

Location: Daytrip
In/Outdoor: Both
Activity level: Moderate

Features: The Dinosaur Park is a newcomer to the local entertainment scene located within a short drive from Austin. It features a nature trail with life-sized dinosaur statues to view, a dinosaur digging area, playground, activities such as a scavenger hunt, and a gift shop.

Cost for a family of four: $20 (admission is $5 per person, children under age 2 are free)

Best for ages: 0-10

The Experience: The local couple who created the dinosaur park show what loving attention to detail can accomplish. It is clear that the park is their pride and joy, and they have tried to make the experience as special as possible to their customers. Customers enter the park through the gift shop, which is packed to the brim with dinosaur merchandise, including toys, games, T-shirts, décor, and puzzles, all with a dinosaur theme, most of which we had not seen before in other shops, like the giant wall-mountable T-Rex heads. After paying the admission fee, we proceeded outside to the park area, where a nice playscape sits in the shade. There are swings and shaded picnic tables nearby, and some Nerf toys lying around for the kids to play with. Dinosaur songs for children are played from a speaker. There is a giant fiberglass T-Rex head which allows kids to look out through the mouth so mom and dad can snap a funny photo. There was also a sign nearby that told us how big several of the dinosaurs were, and then compared the distance to the area between the sign and various markers on the ground (the seismosaurus marker could barely be seen from where we were, describing a dinosaur of such immense proportions it was almost impossible to imagine.) There were also mystery boxes which you could put your hand inside and try to guess which type of dinosaur you were feeling, and then peek under the lid to see if you were correct. There was a wagon sitting by the back door which the owner said that anyone was free to use, so we put our two-year-old, who refuses to ride in strollers, in the wagon and set off down the trail. The owners had given us a scavenger hunt sheet when we paid, so we took on the challenge of trying to find some partially hidden items and answer some dinosaur questions on our walk. There are orange footprints on the ground to tell you that a hidden item is nearby and can be seen if one looks carefully. The highlight of the trail were the seven realistic life-sized dinosaur statues located at various spots along the trail. An informational sign accompanies each. The owner said he would eventually like to put 50 dinosaur statues in the park. We also were surprised to see three giant walking stick insects on trees in the park, which do seem to thrive in the Cedar Creek area based on previous ones I have seen. The trail was partially shaded, but of course on a late June afternoon the heat still made us uncomfortable. It would be a lovely place to go on a fall afternoon. Coming out of the trail and back into the picnic area, there are two long bone-digging tables set up to dig for dinosaur bones. Our digs unearthed some permanent concrete larger bones and small plastic bones. We were glad to go back into the air-conditioned gift shop, where there were some more educational activities, such as matching the dinosaur to its tracks and comparing your weight to a T-Rex. Our kids were entranced with the dinosaur toys available to play with and the dinosaur video playing, and probably could have stayed all day if we had not eventually encouraged them to choose a small souvenir so we could be on our way.
Before you go: Bring sunscreen, water, and a camera. Dress for the outdoors.

How to go cheaper: If you are planning to go frequently, you can buy an annual pass for $20 per person.

Birthday Parties: The birthday parties include the use of reserved picnic tables for a fee of $25, with $10 refunded after clean up. Children cost $5 each, unless you have 15 or more, in which case the cost drops to $4 each. The party features a guided tour of the park with a scavenger hunt. You provide the food, cake, favors, etc. A 10% discount is available from the gift shop if you purchase party favors there (at least 10 of the same item). The Bastrop Pizza Hut offers a special discount on pizza for Dinosaur Park birthday parties.

Accessibility: Coming soon.

Fun Factor: 8/10
Yum Factor: N/A
Value Factor: 8/10

The Lowdown: A fun and unique way to entertain your dinosaur-crazed children (they may even learn something).

Hours: Daily 10 am – 4 pm, closed on Wednesdays and major holidays

Website: http://www.thedinopark.com

Address: Just off Hwy 71 between Bastrop and Austin Map: Google Map Phone: (512) 321-6262