I took my kids back—90 million years to be exact—on a prehistoric trip to Field Station: Dinosaurs in Leonia, NJ. Nestled into Bergen County’s Overpeck Park, we amazingly entered the past, thanks to robotics, bringing these enormous, extraordinary creatures back to life. And if your kids are up on their dino facts, this is the (almost) real deal—paleontologists have worked to ensure the exhibit utilizes the latest theories and discoveries in paleontology, geology, and environmental studies. It was a mind-blowing adventure at this Jurassic-like park, the only one on the East Coast (the other location is in Kansas), and my kids loved every minute of it, even becoming super paleontologists during our trip back in time. Read on for our prehistoric journey, and for more fun adventures around New Jersey, check out the 13 NJ Amusement Parks To Get Your Thrills Out This Summer Guide.
Become an NJMOM Insider! For all the best things to do with your family around New Jersey, be sure to sign up for our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox each week, and don’t forget to tag your photos #NJMOM and @njmom for a chance to be featured on our social media.
Get your passport stamps around the park
As we entered the park, the kids were given trail maps and passports. My kids were thrilled to learn that they could show their passports and receive a stamp when they completed an activity. After six stamps, they would become super paleontologists, and they couldn’t wait to earn the status. Our first area to explore was the dinosaur trail. As we wandered down the path, we were greeted by life-size and very realistic-looking dinosaurs from the T-Rex to Baryonyx; many even moved and roared at us as we walked by. The detail of each creature was amazing, and the dinos were intriguing to look at, not imitating or scary. When the path meandered into the woods near a creek, I really did get the feeling we were transported back to the time of the dinosaurs.
Sing and dance with the dinosaurs
After taking lots of selfies with the dinosaurs, we reached the Amphitheater where there are shows like T-Rex Feeding Frenzy and the Dinosaur Dance Party. Lucky for us, we made it just in time for the next show. I was impressed by the performers as they sang and found fun ways to keep the audience engaged. It was so much fun to see my kids interacting with them, and they raised their hands at every opportunity they could. The shows were entertaining, and I learned quite a few things about these prehistoric creatures (some dinos were even as small as a cat). We even got to meet the mighty T-Rex, and as a bonus, the kids got their first passport stamp.
Dig for fossils
Next, we headed over to the Paleontologist’s Laboratory. My kids were handed goggles, digging tools, and a piece to dig for fossils. They soon began to dig and scrape quickly, on a quest to discover the treasures inside. It took a little bit of elbow grease, but my kids uncovered their fossils, and they were able to take home each of their prehistoric finds in a pouch and earned more stamps for their passports.
Jump to be eye level with a dinosaur
As we explored the grounds, it was hard not to ignore the happy screams and sights of kids getting air on a bungee trampoline aptly titled Jurassic Jump. My kids wanted to test out their jumping skills, and once they got harnessed in, they really got some height (harnessed riders can jump 5 to 25 feet). Even though they went high, I felt they did a good job keeping it safe for all ages. When they finished, they received their last stamp and reached super paleontologist level—my kids were happy to have such an honor and high-fived each other for the prehistoric recognition.
Field Station: Dinosaurs food, gifts, and events
When we finished exploring, we started getting hungry, so we headed over to the outdoor food area to grab something to eat. We found a reasonable kid-friendly fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, drinks, and there are plenty of picnic tables to sit at to enjoy your lunch. As we ended our adventure, we made sure not to miss the cleverly named Tricera-Shops on the way out with prehistoric themed gifts, books, and toys. We also found out that Field Station: Dinosaurs has thrilling, educational, and fun events for all ages. Upcoming ones include the Super Stars of Science in paleontology, geology, and Earth Science on select Saturdays in July and August. And my kids would be thrilled to do Dinosaurs After Dark which includes a dinosaur sing-a-long around the campfire with roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate.
What to know before you go
The park is open seasonally from June through November, and hours vary, so check the website before you go. For tickets, prices start at $17 for a basic ticket with add-ons for Jurassic Jump, Paleontologists Laboratory, and Dinosaurs After Dark. Explorer tickets are $25 and include the Jurassic Jump only. Overall, the experience took about two hours, including most of the shows. My kids wore sneakers because it is a bit of walking and meandering around the woods. On the way home, as my kids admired their passports and stamps, we talked about what a unique and cool experience we had—Field Station: Dinosaurs gets two prehistoric thumbs up from us.
Field Station: Dinosaurs
3 Overpeck Park Driveway, Leonia, NJ 07605