Of course, I want free stuff! Smithsonian’s free museum day just passed and I knew exactly where I wanted to go- Discovery Park of America in Union City, TN. I went to college about 15 miles from Union City. When I found out that there was an amazing museum there, I was excited to check it out.
The Discovery Park of America opened in Northwest Tennessee in 2013. About 120 miles from Memphis and 170 miles from Nashville, the museum covers a wide range of historical periods. One of the best parts is that there are several items available to touch and truly experience.
Need to know before you go
The regular admission price is $15 with discounts for children and seniors. There are two different food options there. There is a cafe on site. I did not eat there but it smelled pretty good. Outside there is also a small snack bar. Parking is plentiful and free. Bathrooms are clean and well maintained. During the school year, there are A LOT of tour groups of children. I went on a Saturday in September and it was not super busy.
The indoor part of the museum is housed on 3 floors.
The upper level holds the Science space and technology gallery. The are many bones of dinosaurs and prehistoric pigs. There are also live animals such as fish, snakes, and turtles.
The second floor has a huge Native American gallery with MANY arrowheads. The natural history area has many dinosaur bones, some even found close by. There is also a military gallery covering the civil war up to World War 2.
A vampire killing kit was also on display. These were popular in Europe. The one displayed was from about 1840s and included a stake, garlic powder, and holy water.
These African banana leaf figurines are amazing!
There was a room with several methods of torture on display. One that intrigued me was the brazen bull. Invented in the 6th century, it was a hollow metal statue of a bull that would have a fire lit under it. The victim’s screams would echo within the structure. Coincidentally the first person to be killed in one was the blacksmith that made it.
The bottom floor has military history of all battles after World War II. It also featured some of the larger transportation carriers from wars. There is also an antique car collection on the 1st floor. My husband immensely enjoyed this!
Outside there are several “villages”. There is a Freedom square that had a barbershop and a drugstore. Unfortunately, the drugstore was closed when we were there. I really enjoyed the settlement village. It was filled with genuine old log cabins. Many of the log cabins were originally located a short distance from the museum and filled with authentic furniture and wares. An old barn held a bunch of antique tools and farm equipment. There was also a class teaching knapping while we were there. Honestly, I had never heard this term but its basically the creation of tools by hitting stone against stone. This is how arrowheads are made.
There is a large building filled with tractors. There are several there I have never seen or heard of. It also had information about agriculture and farming. This also caused my husband to light up like a child.
There were also several train cars. I REALLY enjoyed the luxury parlor dining car. It was as luxurious as you always picture it. There was even a coal-powered train. Although my husband has a great affinity for trains, I seem to not have taken any pictures while there. There is also a train “depot” with more history and memorabilia.
Strange enough, one of the things I enjoyed the most was seeing some ducks. All but one of the adults were asleep in the shade while the ducklings were swimming and playing. Eventually, the “nanny” duck took them out for a swim and to get some food. The way all of them looked like a society was fascinating.
The Discovery Park of America has many educational and fun things for people of all ages. If you have children, I would HIGHLY suggest you take the time to take them here if ever in Tennessee.
Though located in a sort of out of the way area, Discovery Park of America is well worth the detour!
Area food tip: I am born and raised to be a Tennessee pork Bar B Que lover. I was hoping to get some after leaving the park. We chose the wrong place! My sandwich had more coleslaw than meat! I was astounded that 2 days after visiting Union City, I got an email telling me about a great Bar B Que joint there. 2 days! Anyway, this is the name of the highly recommended one- Corner BBQ in Union City, TN.
Save me for later!
Information about Nashville area attractions