Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale University
Head count: About 150,000 annual visitors; more than 12 million specimens and artifacts on display and in the archives
Beyond the fossils: Although the iconic 7,350-pound bronze sculpture of a Torosaurus at the front entrance may lead visitors to believe that Yale University’s Peabody Museum of Natural History is primarily a paleontological affair, there’s a whole lot more to be discovered within the halls of this esteemed institution. (To be fair, the expansive collection of prehistoric skeletons and fossils, along with Rudolph Zallinger’s famed “The Age of Reptiles,” mural are a huge draw).
The Birds of Connecticut exhibit is a must-see for ornithology enthusiasts, while the kid-friendly Discovery Room — official rule: “Please Touch! — is home to host of critters including poison dart frogs, giant hissing cockroaches, tropical leaf-cutter ants and a nest of rat snakes. In addition to collections of minerals and ancient Egyptian artifacts, the third floor of the Peabody is where visitors will find the museum’s show-stopping, masterpiece-quality wildlife dioramas.