Great Day Trips 2011: Dinosaur Land

A fiberglass menagerie straight out of the Mesozoic Era

At frozen-in-time Dinosaur Land, kids can wander among a stegosaurus and other creatures. Photograph by Erik Uecke, Illustrations by Alli Arnold

Dinosaur Land
3848 Stonewall Jackson Hwy., White Post, Va. 540-869-2222

Dinosaur Land, just south of Winchester, Virginia, and a little more than an hour beyond the Beltway, aims to transport visitors back to the Mesozoic Era, when toothy giants roamed the earth. In truth, the time machine sends you back to the 1960s, when Ford Country Squire station wagons roamed the highways and such pieces of Americana as Dinosaur Land ruled the roadside.

What was a sunbaked field 48 years ago when the first towering beasts were erected here is now a woods. Little else has changed, and the same family still owns and operates this menagerie. The one-acre time capsule hits the nostalgia bone for boomers and makes tykes squeal with delight. Although some museums sport animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar, these paint-chipped frozen-eyed relics continue to appeal to youngsters, especially when arranged in campy dino-vs.-dino battle scenes.

Hand-painted signs describe each creature so that this can be a teaching moment, though don’t be surprised to hear “Daddy, that corythosaurus doesn’t have the correct number of toes” from the more dinosaur-savvy. Why is a 70-foot-long pink octopus also on display? A 10-foot-tall praying mantis? Don’t ask; just enjoy the photo ops.

True to form, you enter and exit this land of the lost through a gift shop, replete with throwback tchotchkes: snow globes, auto-bingo games, root-beer-flavored stick candy.

Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for ages two to ten.

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