Saturday, December 27, 2008

EcoTarium in Worcester Massachusetts is a Hidden Jewel

This morning I awoke excited to have the weekend arrive because we had no real plans and the entire day ahead of us but I had no idea we would find such a wonderful eco-friendly museum through so many random circumstances. I checked some email over coffee and then flicked on the television to discover one of my favorite local shows was on -- The Phantom Gourmet. Local eateries are rated and reviewed and this morning they were reviewing the hottest burger joints in and around Boston. One of the places they discussed was 5 & Diner in Worcester. Matt and I have been itching for some yummy diner food since we left Long Island so we got ready and hit the road.

As soon as we got off the highway my eye caught sight of a sign reading “EcoTarium” and we both agreed it might be something fun to check out after lunch since we were already in the area. We ate, it was yummy and served in a traditional fifties style with juke boxes at every table and home made whipped cream on the chocolate shake, and then we headed out to find out just what this EcoTarium was.

The museum was located about two miles from the highway and there were clear signs leading us right to it. We pulled up to the gate to discover the admission was only $10 for adults and $8 for children (3-18, under 3 are free). After we paid we had to wait for a minute as the Explorer Express Train passed by. As we walked up to the entrance to the museum we passed two living barred owls and two bald eagles in outdoor habitat locations.

The museum was fantastic inside with handicap accessibility through ramps and elevators to each floor and in the separate coat room just past the Information desk there were wheelchairs available for use. The main level also included a gift shop with lots of eco-friendly and educational toys and items. As we toured through the museum we encountered the Thinking Globally, Minerals, Old Growth Forest, Tide Pool, Freshwater and Africa rooms which were jam packed with animals, both live and staged, in their natural habitats as well as critical planetary information and tips for conservation. Throughout the entire museum were square boxes clearly marked for waste, paper or cans. After hanging out inside we walked down to the outdoor living habitat of the river otter who was so adorable and certainly showed us how much he loved to play and interact with people.

My only disappointment in the EcoTarium was the restrooms. The accessibility would be difficult for a wheelchair as the entrance hallway was rather narrow and there were no hand dryers, only paper towels. I was hopeful the towels were created from recycled paper.

Please check out the photos and video from our trip below and if you are in the Massachusetts area I highly recommend checking it out for yourself. Hours are Sunday 12:00 - 5:00, Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 - 5:00 (open year round except New year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas eve and Christmas Day). In addition to the museum and grounds there is a Planetarium, The Explorer Express Train, Animal Encounter and lunch as well as a wildlife path (outside) and many additional hidden treasures which we sadly did not have enough time to enjoy this time around.

Because of the accessibility, ease to find and available information for children and adults alike, not to mention the really reasonable admission price, I am granting EcoTarium Four Green Leaves! I applaud this fantastic museum for their innovation and look forward to a return visit really soon.

The MISSION of the ECOTARIUM is to promote appreciation, increase knowledge and foster stewardship of our New England environment by stimulating learning about the world in which we live.


Bridgete said...

OMG I love Phantom Gourmet! I was just telling my mom she has to watch while she's here.

Anyway, the restaurant sounds great, as does the EcoTarium. When I *finally* bring my car out here (have the $$$$, just have to arrange it...) I'll have to go visit.

High Desert Diva said...

Sounds like a fun outing!