My husband and I took a leap of faith nine years ago when we moved to Northern Ontario to build a business and start our family. The location was completely foreign to me, however, over the past few years I've discovered that it's rich in hidden gems, incredible scenery and attractions as well as events that are perfect for families.
Sudbury was once the world leader in nickel mining and is still home to two major mining companies. It has since become more multi-faceted, expanding to include different industries. In addition to its rich history, the entire Greater Sudbury District is a popular tourist destination for travelers making their way across the Trans Canada Highway.
Science North is one of the most popular attractions in Sudbury, providing all sorts of exhibits and indoor attractions that will keep you busy for the entire day. Food is not permitted inside the exhibits, however you are welcome to bring your own lunch, or dine in the restaurant or Curious Thymes Restaurant (kids eat free) on property. Before I get into the exhibits, I want to highlight a brand new addition to Science North that just opened in March and will run until September.
The Science of Ripley's Believe It or Not!, is a large exhibit with plenty of amazing interactive activities, sights and sounds. A live bug cooking show, computer generated height monitor, various video exhibits and many sculptures and art pieces that will wow you. Bring your camera and pose in front of the life-size model of the Titanoba (a massive snack dating back to prehistoric times) or the world's tallest man standing 8 feet, 11 inches tall!
Interactive Display Fun
The Ripley's exhibit is located adjacent to the gift shop and at the entrance of the building. You'll also find the IMAX theatre here where you can enjoy a 3D movie that literally immerses you in the film.
As you make your way to the opposite side of the building to see the regular exhibits, you'll walk through a 2.3 billion-year-old bedrock that has been blasted to create an underground tunnel. This in itself is a cool experience for little kids. Once you reach the other side, there are three additional levels filled with various exhibits. Babies and tots will love the children's play area which offers traditional toys as well as a couple of mini exhibits geared towards tots.
The 2.3 billion-year-old bedrock tunnel
The secret to prying the children away from the play area is to entice them with promises of butterflies! One level up is the Nature Exchange and Butterfly Gallery. Kids can trade their natural finds and treasures here, learn about various bugs, rocks and minerals and even try their hand at stone cutting, grinding and polishing.
On the same floor you'll find the F. Jean MacLeod Butterfly Gallery, home to hundreds of tropical butterflies that flutter around the warm room glass enclosed room. There is a good chance that you'll have a couple on your clothing before you walk out, so be sure to shake yourself off before you walk out.
Flying squirrel demonstrations, porcupine feedings and antler fittings are the three of my kid's favourite things to do in the Forest Lab. Located on the third floor, this space is dedicated to the wild animals, amphibians and natural fauna of Canada. There are many hands-on, supervised activities here as well, that will keep your kids engaged and busy.
Head up to the fourth floor for all things interactive. The Speed Park Racetrack gives kids the opportunity to make their own vehicle and watch as it races the others on a track. There are pulleys, motors and other construction materials by K'NEX , as well as an instructor to help and supervise. Lie down on a bed of nails, check out comparisons of healthy and unhealthy body organs, watch DNA shows and play with gravity for extra kicks. Who said science has to be boring?
Big Nickel & Dynamic Earth
While you're in the city, be sure to visit the Big Nickel & Dynamic Earth. You'll need an extra day in Sudbury to check out this spot, but I promise, it's worth it.
Weighing in at 13 tons, the Big Nickel is the largest coin in the world and was originally constructed in 1964 as a replica of a 1951 Canadian Nickel. It stands in front of Dynamic Earth and across from a huge playground area for the kids.
Dynamic Earth's newest exhibit "Dinosaurs Unearthed: Secrets Revealed" is available until September. It's quite realistic with the moving dinosaurs and real life displays of skeletons, eggs and fossils, however it may be a little scary for little ones. My girls opted out of this one as dinosaurs are not their thing. My 2-year-old son however was highly intrigued, but alas he was outnumbered.
Dynamic Earth is essentially a look at our planet underground. Plenty of rocks and minerals are on display here, many of them offering a real 'wow' factor. The kids adored the fully immersive play experience downstairs called, "The Mine Explora Mine". This play structure takes kids through the mining process with foam pieces of 'coal', mini wheelbarrows, slides and all sorts of interactive features. There is a play area for babies in the same area as well as a section for nursing moms.
You can also pan for gold, try your hand at digging with a computer excavator or take an Underground Tour where you will be guided through the history of mining from the late 1800's to present day. If you have a tot, no worries as strollers are provided (you'll need one!). We all learned all sorts of interesting facts on this tour. We've come a very long way in the mining industry that's for sure!
Pan for Gold
These are just a handful of the many attractions available at both Science North and Dynamic Earth. They are both excellent attractions that are suitable for the entire family regardless of age. For more information, rates, hours and information on upcoming events, star parties and dino family sleepovers please visit ScienceNorth.ca.
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