‘Twas the night before Christmas — four nights, actually — and the kids were bored.
Parents, on the other hand, were growing frantic. How to occupy the “littles” while scrambling to finish preparations for the holidays?
As it happens, there are plenty of ways to make the most of a school break that don’t involve pestering siblings or lounging in front of a television. Case in point: Imagination Station, 1 Discovery Way.
“Dinosaurs Around the World” remains open at the downtown science center through Jan. 15, with a slate of 13 full-scale animatronic reptiles sure to fascinate young visitors.
A fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex bears his pointed teeth in one corner of the exhibit, while an enormous Hadrosaur lifts a sinuous neck in another. Interactive stations invite visitors of all ages to play paleontologist too, sculpting bone replicas from putty, rubbing imprints from bones trapped in stone, and unearthing real fossils from locally sourced shale.
Emily Garcia, science center spokesman, said there’s just something about dinosaurs.
“Kids of all ages love dinosaurs,” she said. “I think it’s just the fascination of how different they are. They’re not like animals that are on the planet today, necessarily.”
And there’s that size thing, she added.
“You have these monster animals that are somewhat unfathomable to have out today walking around.”
The temporary exhibit has proved popular since it arrived in May, she said. It walks visitors through a loose chronology of dinosaur existence, starting with relatively petite creatures, like the feathered Velociraptor, and moving up to more monster-sized cousins.
Dinosaurs were not native to Ohio, Ms. Garcia added, so the shale tables add a valuable local connection. The shell fossils that visitors can unearth speak to the region’s underwater history.
Admission to “Dinosaurs Around the World” comes in addition to regular science center admission. Plan on adding $9.50 for adults (general admission $11) and $7.50 for children ages 3 to 12 (general admission $9). Imagination Station is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Imagination Station offers plenty of other entertainment options too. But for those who are looking for something else, here are a few other options to stave off that inevitable question: “How many days until Christmas?”
■ Scope out the art scene: The December Art Loop coincides with a Mini Maker’s Mart at Handmade Toledo on Thursday. The Art Loop, which is organized monthly through the Arts Commission, runs 5:30-9 p.m.; first-time attendees can find an information booth, as well as shuttle bus access and parking, at the Toledo Lucas County Main Library, 325 N. Michigan St. The Mini Maker’s Mart is a scaled-down version of the popular local artists market that took place last month. It runs 5-9 p.m. at Handmade Toledo, 1717 Adams St. For more information, go to theartscommission.org or handmadetoledo.com.
■ Check out the lights: Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo boasts more than 1 million lights and more than 200 illuminated animal images It runs 3-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 31; that excludes Christmas Day. Nonmember tickets are $17 for adults and $14 for children and seniors. Or opt for an admission-free light show downtown: Hensville Lights strings more than 200,000 lights along St. Clair Street, between Washington and Monroe streets. They flash on at 6 p.m. and twinkle in sync to the music of 96.5 FM through Jan. 20. For more information, go to toledozoo.org or hensvilletoledo.com.
■ Take in a holiday display: Children’s Wonderland remains open at Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter, 7060 W. Sylvania Ave., through Dec. 24. Visitors can check out 36,000 square feet of walk-through holiday displays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Shortened Christmas Eve hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children and seniors. Or stroll through a display of more than 100 nativity scenes at the HeART Gallery at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 428 N. Erie St. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday; admission is free. For more information, go to childrenswonderland.org or heartgalleryandstudios.com.
■ Enjoy a carriage ride: Families can cruise the Town Center at Levis Commons by horse and carriage on Saturday between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Rides will also be available Dec. 30. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 per family with no appointments or reservations necessary; carriages will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Rides will pick up and drop off near Taste of Toledo, 3110 Chappel Drive, Perrysburg. Families can also come early on Saturday to catch Mrs. Claus leading a story time at Books-A-Million, 2105 Levis Commons Blvd., Perrysburg, between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. For more information, go to shopleviscommons.com.
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