Thanksgiving Point Museum of Ancient Life

Thanksgiving Point: Dinosaurs, Butterflies, and Cows…Oh My!

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Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah, is an excellent way to add some family fun into a visit to Salt Lake City, Provo, or other cities in the vicinity. Just about a half hour south of Salt Lake City, the drive isn’t so long as to render toddlers and little kids car crazy either. Thanksgiving Point is a group of five attractions – Butterfly Biosphere, Museum of Ancient Life, Museum of Natural Curiosity, Ashton Gardens, and Farm County.

All are excellent. All are fun for all ages. And all are worth a visit, but it can be tough to visit all of them on one day. We visited on a Thursday morning and managed to get to three of the five. Next time, we’ll head to the other two!

Thanksgiving Point
Thanksgiving Point’s Water Tower Square is home to the Butterfly Biosphere as well as a restaurant.

Tickets and Getting There

Thanksgiving Point is located at 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi, Utah 84043.

You can buy tickets to each individual attraction. Individual tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children and seniors for all attractions except for Farm County, which is $10. However, let it be known the best deal is to get an Explorer Pass, which will run you $34.95 (as of late 2019) and get you admission to all the museums and attractions. We visited on an Explorer Pass and found it took the pressure off of moving quickly between attractions rather than feeling like we had to get our money’s worth at each one (or is it just me who thinks that way?).

You do only have one day to use your Explorer Pass, though, so you can’t come back and spread your visits out over time. Still, if you’re going to see more than one attraction, totally worth it.

You can also buy memberships if you plan to return more than once over the course of a year.

Butterfly Biosphere
The Butterfly Biosphere lets you get up close to all kinds of butterflies.

Attractions

Three of the five attractions (Butterfly Biosphere, Museum of Ancient Life, and Farm Country) are located within walking distance of each other. The two others (Museum of Natural Curiosity and Ashton Gardens) are a short drive away.

Butterfly Biosphere: With more than 40,000 square feet and more than 1,000 butterflies (and tarantulas and beetles), the Butterfly Biosphere is a lot of fun. If you’re visiting with small children, there are a few large butterflies to climb on and touch and hands-on activities too. If you’re not visiting with kids, this is still a nice time as wandering through the butterfly house and hanging out with your new fluttery friends is always a treat.

Museum of Ancient Life: I almost skipped this one as we visited with our two-year-old and I wasn’t sure if this would be great toddler fare, but it turned out to be my favorite of the attractions we saw. More than 60 life-size dinosaur skeletons fill the galleries! I grew up going to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in DC and, I have to say, I thought this museum was more kid-friendly…there were just so. many. dinosaurs!

Beyond the plethora of dinos, the displays were highlighted by beautiful lighting and some fun posing too (look for the mammoth being taken down by a bunch of spear-throwing human skeletons). Of course, there are plenty of hands-on activities for kids, including fossil digs in a big sand pit, toy dinosaurs, casting their own fossils, and there’s a fascinating exhibit where you can watch real live people unearthing real dinosaur bones in the lab.

Thanksgiving Point Farm Country
Hello, Pony! Behold my Peppa Pig toy!

Farm Country: This was my two-year-old’s favorite attraction. I’d say Farm County is less of a to-do for adults, but a surefire hit with kids. It’s smaller than the other attractions we visited, but absolutely perfect for younger kids and toddlers. Get up close and personal with goats, sheep, ponies, cows as you can touch, pet, or feed many of the animals. With the cost of admission, your child also gets a ticket to ride a pony and you all get to go on the hayride pulled by a tractor. Both are short experiences so even toddlers don’t get restless. The pony ride alone blew my toddler’s mind and she was talking about it the whole rest of the day.

Museum of Natural Curiosity: We didn’t make it to the Museum of Natural Curiosity for one simple reason – nap time was approaching and it’s not on the same campus as the three attractions we visited. However, kids of all ages are sure to love this kids museum. A whopping 400 interactive exhibits range from educational to just plain old fun, and include themed areas like the Rainforest, Water Works and the Discovery Garden. We’ll be back!

Ashton Gardens: With 55 acres of formal gardens, Ashton Gardens is the most “grown up” of the attractions at Thanksgiving Point (though, nature-loving kids should enjoy it too). It’s the perfect place for a walk, or watch for special events such as Luminaria, which decks out the gardens in thousands of lights for the holidays. Bonus – the largest manmade waterfall in the Western Hemisphere is also here!

Beyond the five main attractions, there are a few other things going on here. Brick Canvas is an event and class space that also has some shopping options and a restaurant. There’s also a theater and a golf course in the complex.

Also, watch for seasonal happenings. When we visited, there were pumpkin displays as well as an entire fall-themed section with all kinds of fall fun. The holidays also brings a Christmas lights display, and other happenings take place throughout the year.

Thanksgiving Point Butterfly Biosphere
The Biosphere is more than the butterfly house (you can see part of that in the back of this photo). It’s also got plenty of hands-on activities and cool displays like this one.

Where to Eat

If you spend the day at Thanksgiving Point, you’ll eventually find yourself hungry. There are plenty of places to eat right on the Thanksgiving Point campuses, and restaurants nearby in Lehi as well.

Restaurants at Thanksgiving Point include the Harvest Restaurant (casual, table service, near the Water Tower); Tower Deli (soups, sandwiches, and salads, also near the Water Tower); and the Trellis Café (a lunch restaurant that overlooks Ashton Gardens).

Other eateries include the Curiosity Café in the Museum of Natural Curiosity, an ice cream shop near the Water Tower, Expedition Café in the Museum of Ancient Life, and the Clubhouse Grill at the Thanksgiving Point Golf Club.

All in all, visiting Thanksgiving Point literally has something for everyone.

Thank you to Thanksgiving Point to hosting us for our visit, but note that all opinions are my own. I really did enjoy exploring and fully intend to go back next time we’re in Salt Lake City!


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Thanksgiving Point Lehi Utah