Review: McWane Science Center

My son is 8 and he wants to be either one of two things when he grows up:
1) An anesthesiologist because ‘they get to put people to sleep”
OR
2) a Paleontologist because “they get to dig up dinosaur bones”

So when the prospect of visiting McWane Science Center in Birmingham came up I KNEW he would love it! But to my surprise it also had many appealing activities for the young kids and less scientifically- inclined!

McWane Center By the Ages

There were plenty of activities for toddlers in an enclosed toddler area to run, crawl, and play. I noticed many of the parents in the enclosed toddler area were wearing member stickers just because of this area. Clearly they are taking advantage of this great space frequently!

For the kids of all ages, the big attractions are:

Underwater World

A place where the kids get to see salt water fish (where the name Dori was said numerous times), pet small sharks and stingrays, and even sit inside a huge fish’s mouth for a cool photo opportunity.


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McWane Sharks

Explorer Area and Dinosaurs

The dinosaur exhibit had something for everyone! Did you know there were dinosaurs that lived in Alabama? Check out this dinosaur called the Appalachiosaurus – it was a smaller predecessor to the T-Rex! Its hand (just its hand!) is the length of a grown-up’s forearm and hand! In the dinosaur area, my daughter spent 30 minutes uncovering dinosaur bones.

McWane Dino skeleton

Take a look at the current & upcoming exhibits at the McWane Center – they change out frequently so even if you’ve been before there’s always a reason to visit again!


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Mom Musings at McWane

As a mom, here is what I noticed:

  1. It was clean – which includes the bathrooms, eating area and the hands-on activities (I didn’t find anything sticky or icky!)
  2. Well organized – staff were placed throughout to ask questions or provide directions.
  3. Safety precautions were made – I even overheard the attendant telling a mom where to leave her stroller outside the IMAX because it wasn’t allowed in for safety regulations.
  4. Cost was reasonable: For a Family of 4 (2 kids and 2 adults) price would be $44, which is comparable to the price of a family of 4 going to the movies. Except at the McWane Science Center you don’t just sit in a theater, you get to experience science with hands on activities, discover dinosaurs, watch informative plays and you get a movie!
  5. Lots of Photo opportunities!
  6. Lots of hands on learning and exploring for all ages!

McWane Big Fish

Day Trip Planning Tips

Time at the McWane Center: Plan to spend at least 2 – 3 hours to hit everything including the IMAX theater.

Food: Food and water are not allowed in the Science Center but there are nice food options within the facility that are reasonably priced. Also note, if you need to run off a little extra energy before heading back home, check out the McDonalds or Chick-fil-a one exit up on 65N on your way home from the McWane Center, they have indoor playgrounds!

Store: the souvenirs are really reasonably priced, and the shop was filled with educational toys. We bought a pair of purple binoculars for $11 that allows the kids to ‘spy’ on mom.


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Parking: Deck parking is available next to the McWane Science Center for $5, if you go on the weekend, the street parking is free.

Camera: Bring a camera, there are a lot of great photo opportunities!

McWane Science Center Details

Address: 200 19th Street N, Birmingham, AL (map)
Phone: 205-714-8300
View Website | McWane Center on Facebook | McWane Center on Twitter

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Looking for more family-friendly day trips from Huntsville, AL? Check out our RCM Roadtrip Series!