Nestled in the heart of University Circle and near the world-famous Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History awaits the explorer in all of us. Founded in 1920, it’s home to an astonishing range of animal, vegetable and mineral exhibits.

The adventure starts at the door, where a life-size replica of a Stegasaurus looms, its armor spine waiting to be climbed by children. Inside, more dinosaurs fill the large Kirtland Hall of Prehistoric Life, with a 20-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus rex that looks ready to start a fight with a spiky, horned Triceratops. A life-sized casting of what’s believed to be a baby T. rex is the only one of its kind in the world.

Fossils of animals, plants, fish and more fill glass cases lining the walls and precious gems are beautifully lit and sparkling, accompanied by descriptions of their ages and how they formed.

Marvel at the three million-year-old female Australopithecus afarensis, “Lucy,” one of our oldest human ancestors. Though she sometimes still travels to other museums, Lucy’s permanent home is right here in Cleveland.

Wander with your family through the live exhibit of local plants, animals and birds at the Perkins Wildlife Center and Woods Garden and marvel at the live hawks, eagles, deer, turtles, bobcats in their secure habitats.

Be sure to visit the museum’s Shafran planetarium. It’s state-of-the-art, and a big draw for stargazers. The planetarium’s projector boasts SkySkan software, which allows 3-D imaging of stars, planets, and galaxies. Virtual tours given by the museum’s astronomers are sure to have you looking up in wonder and amazement at a view of the universe you didn’t know was possible. Come back to the museum at night and climb to the top of the planetarium’s building, where you can find the North Star in clear skies.