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Walkingwithdinosaurs_2 If you’re looking to add an element of education to your family travel, check out these exhibits deemed "worth the trip" by members of the Orbitz Parent Panel.

These top contenders, many of which are touring North America, give both kids and parents the opportunity to take away tales of ferocious creatures, espionage and galaxies far, far away.

My my, what large teeth you have …

Walking with Dinosaurs
Fifteen life-like dinosaurs, each weighing about as much as a car, roar to life with thehelp of technology and a team of master puppeteers. This show, touring venues across North America, depicts the life and evolution of dinosaurs, like the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Stegosaurus and Brachiosaurus. Recommended for ages 3 and up. Walking with Dinosaurs tickets

Journey with Gentle Giants
Or, if you want to sound impressive to your friends, call it: "Swim with the ‘Sharks’." These are actually whale sharks, the largest fish in the world. Jump into a 6.3 million gallon exhibit with these gentle creatures, as well as zebra sharks, sawfish, leopard whiprays and bowmouth guitarfish. This exhibit is at the Georgia Aquarium for ages 12 and older.

Open Sesame

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World
Peer into the imagination of Jim Henson, the late brilliant creator of Kermit, Big Bird, and other childhood favorites. Witness his process of "visual thinking" through artworks, photos, puppets and video. This touring exhibition is at the Smithsonian through Oct. 5, 2008.

One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure
Explore the sky with Big Bird, Elmo and friends in Sesame Workshop’s new planetarium show. "One World, One Sky: Big Bird’s Adventure" is scheduled to make its U.S. premiere at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium on Oct. 15, 2008.

Night at the museum … or zoo

KidSpy® Overnight: Operation Secret Slumber
Once the International Spy Museum in Washington DC locks its doors for the night on Nov. 15, 2008, top-secret spy training begins for kids 9-13. Pint-size secret agents disguise themselves with new identities and back stories, gather intelligence about espionage, and hunt for a mole within their ranks.

Cincinnati Zoo Overnights
The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden boasts "the wildest nightlife in town." Grab a sleeping bag and prowl for predators or doze off with manatees by your feet.

What’s old is new again

Day in Pompeii
Journey back to 79 A.D., when Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the ancient Roman city of Pompeii. View hundreds of artifacts, including seven original body casts of victims frozen in their last moments. Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC, is the fourth and final U.S. destination for this exhibit. It runs through Jan. 4, 2009.

King Tut
The King Tut exhibit is returning to the U.S. for a second tour, beginning at the Dallas Museum of Art Oct. 3, 2008-May 17, 2009. "Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs" showcases the lives and splendor of many of the Egyptian rulers as well as the evolution life and art under their reign. Among the artifacts on tour: Tut’s gold burial sandals and a jar with his mummified internal organs. King Tut tickets

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Tagged: Family time, Midwest

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