I recently returned from a family trip to Drumheller, Alberta. We did some day hikes in the badlands at Horseshoe and Horsethief Canyons. We also toured the Royal Tyrrell Museum and picnicked at the feet of the World's Largest Dinosaur. Good, wholesome, nerdy family fun. My boys, aged 5 and 8, enjoyed the otherworldly terrain of the place. They scrambled over the sandstone and clay and didn't mind getting their hands dirty in their excitement. They acquired some rocks of no scientific value, but of immense interest to them.
The museum exhibit was fantastic. It held the attention of my five-year-old for about three hours, and my eight-year-old's for six. I especially liked being walked through the excavation of a fossil find, the Extreme Therapod Gallery, and the Burgess Shale Diorama. Creatures found in Burgess Shale deposits were rendered in their bioluminescent splendor at twelve-times scale in a creepy seascape diorama with a glass floor that allows you to glide through the scene as the seafloor creatures appear to scuttle beneath your feet.
Most of the exhibit is displayed chronologically, each period being preceded with a globe illustrating the break-up of pangaea, the location of modern day Alberta in the primordial geography, and the position of the period on a timeline.
It is a long way to go for such a display unless you're really dinosaur crazy. But if you're ever in the region, it's worth a day's drive to reach Drumheller and enjoy these simple pleasures: commune with nature, learn about life's pageant on this planet, and support the ongoing pursuit of such knowledge.