When you see the giant rocket beside the sidewalk, you know you have arrived at the North Carolina Museum of Life and Science in Durham.
According to museum employee Leslie Peeple, there are 60,000 square feet of indoor hands on exhibits in the two story science exhibit.
There's an additional 84 acres of outdoor exhibits and a variety of water play and outdoor natural experiences.
"You can get a real experience of natural science here," said Leslie Peeple, who added that you'll want to get there early since it's usually crowded with school out for summer.
The Life and Science Museum is built around an abandoned rock quarry that the National Science Foundation has proclaimed as a national model that links people with plants, animals and interactive exhibits in the outdoors, where red wolves, lemurs and black bears all live.
An area of the museum that is very popular with both adults and children is the "Catch the Wind" exhibit, especially on hot days where the "In the Mist" play area is a welcome relief.
Some of the animals you will find on North Carolina farms are included in the "Farmyard" exhibit and brings visitors to see the pigs, cows, rabbits and a cute donkey.
And along the "Dinosaur Trail", you can hike among life sized creatures that once roamed the earth, and take a few minutes to dig for fossils.
The "Magic Wings Butterfly House" is where you can enjoy a tropical paradise where hundreds of butterflies frolic among tropical plants.
"Year round, we have tropical butterflies that are showy and great, about a thousand at anytime you come, " said Eui Hartmond, Butterfly House Curator. "But in July, we have plans for bringing in thousands of the beautiful Blue Moras butterflies.
Next door, visitors can get a bugs-eye view of exotic insects and their predators from around the globe, including cock roaches and spiders.
And there are more than seventy five animals and reptiles in the "Carolina Wildlife" area.
Much of the main building is where adults and children can perform a variety of science and math exhibits.
The Museum has historically been most notable for its aerospace exhibit, which focuses on the early space program.
Most of the artifacts on display are on long-term loan from the National Air and Space Museum, many of them are significant project Apollo-related artifacts including a moon rock, an Apollo test vehicle, a portion of a lunar rover and a full-sized mock-up of a Lunar Module.
"So here we are in our launch lab exhibit, which is our newest exhibit components in our aerospace gallery," said Elizabeth Fleming. "So you can stay out of heat and create your own flying objects and test them out on wind tubes and on hover tables, on rocket launches, on paper airplane launchers. It is a really creative hands on design and engineering space and fun for all ages."
Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard