Ark Encounter Family Trip

The Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum 

Imagine visiting a Biblically-based, spiritually safe museum that inspires and strengthens your faith. A place with exhibits based on history, science and the Bible. A place that teaches nothing but the truth of our existence. Wouldn’t be wonderful if such a thing existed? 

Enter: The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum.

Because people constantly ask us about our trip to the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museums, I decided it was well worth documenting some of those FAQs. Since you can find specific details like ticket costs on their websites, I’m going to simply offer practical suggestions and information based on our experience.

Creation Museum

What was the drive like to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum?

We live near Columbia, South Carolina. From there, the drive is about eight hours to the Ark in Williamstown, Kentucky. The Creation Museum is another 45 minute drive to Petersburg, Kentucky. Something of interest to note no matter where you live is that the Ark Encounter is “located within a one-day drive of almost 2/3 of the US population” according to an article by Ken Ham on the Answers in Genesis Website.

The Ark Encounter is located within a one-day drive of almost 2/3 of the US population.

Ken Ham, Answers in Genesis

However, we chose to break the trip into two days. Our children are still young, 6 and 10, and I’m not a fan of driving all day. This worked well for us, but I know many families from my area that made it a one-day trip. Regardless of where you’re located, I can guarantee it’s a trip well worth your time and money.

Where and when did you stay while you visited the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum?

We reserved an Airbnb duplex apartment that was very close to the Ark. Obviously owned by Christians, the home flaunted Bible verses and inspirational quotes throughout every room. Staying in a place like this was as inspiring as the Ark itself—we loved having words of faith surrounding us constantly. 

Making several of our meals…saved us tons of money.

We also appreciated the privacy of our own kitchen and a separate bedroom for the children. Making several of our meals as opposed to eating out saved us tons of money. And it didn’t matter if I had my breakfast or dinner in my pajamas!

Another thing to note is that we planned our visit to both museums during the week before Memorial Day while public schools were still in session. I had hoped it would limit the crowd size. I’m sure it did, but we still found ourselves surrounded by a good number of other visitors.

Are these attractions suitable for young children?

Snake at Ark Encounter

In my opinion, a child who can read will get much more out of the experience, but there is plenty to do for the younger ones. I saw families with children of all ages, including babies. We waited until our youngest turned five, and he wasn’t able to read yet. Explaining the information at each exhibit kept him interested and involved. We’ll definitely go again when our youngest is older so that he’ll get even more out of the experience the next time. 

A child who can read will get much more out of the experience

Parents of young children need to know that at both museums you may encounter scary images related to sin, hell, and death. Even though these are realities of life, I thought it best to keep my youngest from seeing exhibits that might do more harm than good. 

Another Adventure Along the Way

While researching our trip, we discovered that Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, was almost exactly half-way to the Ark from our home. We decided to overnight here because Pigeon Forge happens to be home to one of two museums dedicated to another famous large ship—The Titanic. The other is located in Branson, Missouri. (Are you wondering why a ship’s museum is in a completely landlocked state?) 

Was it worth adding this to our agenda? Absolutely!

The Titanic Lego model

The Titanic Museum unexpectedly impressed us. The courteous historians and staff on board exhibited a thorough knowledge and dedication to honoring the people, memories and stories from the Titanic. The experience touched each one of us deeply as we re-lived this tragic event from history. When my children expressed their sorrow for the people who died on the ship, we discussed how grateful we are to know Jesus.

We found ourselves discussing man’s idea vs. God’s idea

Visiting the Titanic perfectly fit our theme of “big ships.” Only a few days later, we compared this massive ship with Noah’s Ark. Surprisingly, we found ourselves discussing man’s idea versus God’s idea, pride versus humility, and natural versus supernatural.  Several signs at the Ark even mentioned the Titanic!

One important tip though is never plan to stay in Pigeon Forge unless you are a fan of overpriced hotels, hoards of people and shameless commercialism. Stay a few miles outside of the town and enjoy a nicer hotel with great amenities and a comparable cost. 

Ark Encounter with visitors

The Ark Encounter Specifics

One unique aspect of the Ark Encounter is that you park very far away from the attraction and ride a bus to the entrance. It’s a lot of walking once you arrive, so wear appropriate shoes and remember to carry water and snacks. We all carried travel satchels to hold our supplies for the day. Because this museum requires more outdoor walking, we also kept track of the weather. It worked well to visit on rain-free days.

Anyone could easily spend two full days at the Ark Encounter

Currently, this attraction has a zip line, petting zoo, virtual reality experience, children’s playground, restaurant, live programs and more to come. All of this is in addition to the three sprawling floors of exhibits to explore.

We bought a combo pass and used one day for the Ark and the second pass for the Creation Museum. Next time, I would highly consider purchasing annual passes, especially if they continue to allow children 10 and under for free. Then we would take several days to fully explore the Ark instead of feeling like we had to pick and choose our activities. Anyone could easily spend two full days at the Ark Encounter.

Noah's son on Ark Encounter

I appreciated their up front admission that they took creative license with some of their exhibits. Of course, all of the exhibits are based on Biblical and historical information. Some specific things we may never know, but that doesn’t discredit the facts we do have. For example, they gave solid reasoning to support how they portrayed people and animals. No one knows exactly what they really looked like or sounded like, but they guessed based on what they do know.

Some specific things we may never know, but that doesn’t discredit the facts we do have.

Lastly, the good quality of the food at the on-site restaurant, Emzara’s, surprised us. The cafeteria-style buffet offers allergy friendly options and even have a guide to help you determine what you can eat. I considered it reasonably priced compared to other buffets we’ve frequented. 

The Creation Museum Specifics

At the Creation Museum you can park much closer to the entrance, which is more convenient. Like the Ark, this attraction offers extra things to do such as a 3D theater, planetarium, playground, petting zoo, nature trails and beautiful gardens, and a zip line. Because it’s a little smaller than the Ark Encounter, we were able to do most of what was offered. They also have a cafe on site where you can purchase snacks and lunch items. Unfortunately it’s not nearly as elaborate as the restaurant at the Ark Encounter. 

My children enjoyed the Creation Museum more than I expected since the Ark offered more interactive exhibits. Still, one thing I might change for next time is that we would start at this attraction first. Then our adventure would follow a chronological order of events. Although in reality, it doesn’t matter which you do first. 

Dinosaur in garden at Creation Museum

Another consideration is the weather. We intentionally chose to visit the Creation Museum on the one day when the weather forecast called for rain. Unlike the Ark, most of the exhibits are indoors. It also doesn’t require walking outdoors to get food, and you can park closer to the facility.

Who is behind these two amazing attractions?

Answers in Genesis, founded by Ken Ham, created the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum. Their goal is to empower believers to defend their faith by teaching them real historical, scientific and Biblical facts. If we learn how science really does support the Bible, we are much more prepared to face the skeptics and searchers who ask tough questions.

According to their website: “Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.”

Ken Ham at the Ark Encounter

This organization offers a plethora of free and purchasable resources including videos, books, online apologetics courses and homeschooling materials. Be sure to bookmark this site because you’ll want to return to it for a spiritual investment for you and your friends and family.

Is it worth all of the money that we spent at the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum?

You’ll hear me repeat the idea of spiritual investments. This means that when we buy or support Biblically solid Christian books, movies, museums, websites, programs, and the like, we are investing in our faith. For example, the price you pay for the Ark is seed you are sowing into the kingdom of God. When invested in this type of attraction, our money is used to propagate truth, not deception. Ultimately, it strengthens the faith of Christians and draws unbelievers to Jesus.

That, my friends, is a worthwhile investment.

From the cost of tickets, food, and gifts from the gift shops, we planted our money in fertile soil that will produce righteousness and glory for God. I had no qualms about the amount we spent on any of it. On the other hand, I didn’t feel the same about the Titanic although we enjoyed it thoroughly.

We planted our money in fertile soil that will produce righteousness and glory for God

To be clear, I don’t count money spent on the Ark Encounter or Creation Museum as tithing, but rather it’s investing. Both attractions stoked our faith and solidified our spiritual foundation to prepare us for those tough questions unbelievers ask. That’s a good return immediately for our investment. We’re also confident our contributions will help Answers in Genesis produce more good fruit in the future.

Another thing is that many of the faith-based gifts we bought will go on to increase the faith of other believers and introduce unbelievers to the truth of God’s Word as we give them away. Two souvenir books you’ll want to purchase is the Ark Signs and Creation Museums Signs. Both are filled with the incredible facts that adorn the walls and exhibits at each attraction. The amount of information can be overwhelming, so owning the books allows you to learn and review the material at your own pace.

My hope is that you are encouraged to invest in Biblically solid organizations like Answers in Genesis, which grows people in their faith and reaches people for Jesus. Now you can start planning your life-changing and faith-building trip to the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum today.

Have you been to the Ark Encounter or Creation Museum? Feel free to help others know what to expect by commenting about it below!

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Published by

HR Hook

Lover of Jesus. Wife. Mother. Writer. Poet. Novelist. Teacher.

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