Ark Encounter: An Afternoon Visit
There’s not a lot that can entice me to stop when I’m road-tripping it solo-parenting style with the kids. Let me re-phrase that – *nothing* sways me from my myopic goal of covering the 16 driving hours of distance between Detroit and New Orleans. Except Chick-fil-a and occasional potty breaks. So when my mom volunteered to ride north with us after the wedding, I was enthusiastic for the help as well as the opportunity to throw in a scenic stop along the way. We picked Ark Encounter (a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark) in Williamstown, Kentucky, because it was something that piqued our interest, and we also thought the kids might enjoy it.
What grabbed our toddler’s attention from the beginning was the sound effects. There were animal sounds coming from baskets and cages as well as the background noise of a deluge. The first and second floors of the Ark are full of containers for food and water storage along with cages containing representations of animals from different species.
Plaques along the walls give hypotheses to questions I’d never even considered like “where did Noah keep the polar bears?” and “what did Noah feed the anteaters and koalas?” There are also two different films (that kept the kids’ interest!) to see and a lot of exhibits and informational displays.
When reading through TripAdvisor reviews about the Ark Encounter ahead of time, it seemed like a common thread was “save time for the last level – it’s the best!” Among other things, this third level contains living quarters for Noah and his family along with background stories crafted about Noah’s daughters-in-law. While the rooms were much more comfortable than I would have imagined, I suppose if you were building a boat over a period of approximately 75 years, you’d probably try to make the living space as nice as you could. 😛
Overall, it was worth the stop! We spent about four hours at the Ark and the adults along with our 8 year old felt like we could have spent more time there. The youngest three members of our group were DONE though, so it was a brief lunch stop and back on the road for us!
Know before you go:
- Purchase tickets ahead of time here! Even visiting off-season, we waited in line to buy tickets about twenty minutes. Spare yourself the wait if you can.
- The grounds and Ark itself were all very stroller-friendly and handicap accessible. Those ramps meant for animals also worked splendidly for herding our crew in and out. 😉
- There are dining options available on-site – a couple of restaurants (seasonal) as well as some prepared foods in the gift shops. We blitzed past these and ate on the road, though. If you’re in the area for longer, there are other activities around the Ark. Ice skating is available in the winter and zip-lining can be done the summer (for an additional fee).
- Hours: the Ark Encounter opens at noon on Sundays, and at 9 am the other 6 days of the week. Closing hours vary according to the season (check their page for current hours).