In Georgia, in this land of cotton, Civil War battlefields, and big mess of traffic in Atlanta, it's hard to imagine that dinosaurs once roamed these hills of red clay millions of years ago.
But roam, they did, something I didn't really learn until I visited the Tellus Science Museum in the small town of Cartersville in North Georgia. As I wandered through the Fossil Gallery replicas of a Tyrannosaurus rex and a Megalodon shark jaw were most impressive our guide explained how several species once lived in what is now the Peach State.
Now dinosaurs are set once again to rise from the primordial mists and capture our collective imaginations, just as they did in 1993 with the premiere of "Jurassic Park" and its sequels in 1997 and 2001. So with dino-fever set to strike again, it seems the perfect invitation to travel to explore places where the more intrepid sojourners can vicariously walk with dinosaurs or at least near them.
The "Walking With Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time" Event, Calgary, Canada
Long before they helped create the new $85 million movie, the filmmakers at BBC Earth helped launch the "Walking With Dinosaurs" craze with a television series and live arena events of the same name. Now the team at BBC Earth is working with the luxury tour and cruise company Tauck on a special five-day, all-inclusive exploration of all-things-dinosaur in and around Calgary next July.
Tauck's "Walking With Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time" event takes families on paleontologists-led expeditions into Dinosaur Provincial Park, which has yielded more than 150 complete dinosaur skeletons and more than 40 different dino species. This is a chance to really get up close and personal with the prehistoric beasts.
As part of the Tauck experience, you'll also explore indoors at the renowned Royal Tyrrell Museum, one of the world's top paleontology museums and home to 140,000 specimens. Other exclusive experiences include special evening gatherings and chances to learn techniques used by BBC Earth filmmakers to make their award-winning documentaries.
July 17-21, 2014
All-inclusive prices from $3,078 per person, plus air.
Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, Ga.
As a lifelong Southerner, I was truly surprised to indeed discover dinosaurs through my visit at the Tellus Science Museum. The Tellus, appropriately named for Tella, the Roman goddess of Earth, is a Smithsonian Affiliate and is huge and huge fun at this 120,000 square feet museum that was once the obscure Weinman Mineral Museum. In addition to the T-Rex and the nine-foot wide jaw of the school bus-sized and now extinct Megalodon, I marveled at the size of the bones of an 80 foot-long Apatosaurus and felineness of a saber-toothed cat.
Admission is $14 for adults and $10 for children ages 3-17
Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Atlanta, Ga.
A range of dino-centric exhibits are located at Fernbank. Start out at Dinosaur Plaza, where you'll find a family of bronze hadrosaurs known as Lophorhothon atopus, which once marched through Georgia like Sherman did on his March to the Sea.
In the Giants of the Mesozoic exhibit are the bones of the some of the largest dinosaurs in the world, big creatures that lived in Patagonia. But for Georgians like me, the Walk Through Time in Georgia, with its fifteen galleries, takes you through millions of years from the mountains to the coast.
Admission is $17.50 for adults and $15.50 for children ages 2-12