Crisp leaves crunch underfoot and through your binoculars you spot a Tufted Titmouse perched on a branch. A group of children are taught to identify which animal left behind tracks or scat along a nature trail, but this nature center is an excellent place for all ages. All this and more occurs during a nature walk sponsored by one of Connecticut’s nature center. Learn about Connecticut’s flora and fauna at one of these 10 great nature centers.
Striving to educate children and adults about nature first hand, the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center works with the local community through their numerous activities and events. Recently voted Readers’ Choice for “Best Preschool” by The Day, the nature preschool and their “living classroom” is clearly loved by all. From the youngest naturalist in preschool to the oldest naturalist, there are events at Denison Pequotsepos for everyone, so do check their website for frequent updates.
With numerous activities for students and families, such as school break activities, scavenger hunts, and classes about maple sugaring, Roaring Brook Nature Center provides wonderful services to the community. Founded in 1948, the Roaring Brook Nature Center has always focused on children’s activities and was even formerly known as the Canton Children’s Nature Museum. The Roaring Brook Nature Center can be visited on Tuesdays through Sundays.
The Connecticut Audubon Society Coastal Center in Milford works to protect the state’s bird populations and habitats through action, fundraising, activism, and education. Get involved with your local chapter of the Audubon Society and become a citizen scientist to help with Christmas Bird Counts, osprey protection, bird banding, and trainings.
With numerous youth, adult, and after-school programs, New Canaan Nature Center has activities for all. The Early Morning Yoga on Saturday mornings is a popular offering. Hike the trails on the nature center’s land, enjoy spotting tadpoles and frogs in the vernal pool, and stroll along the marsh boardwalk while spotting water birds.
Northwest Park and Nature Center is a 473-acre park that has diverse forests, fields, and streams, featuring 12 miles of hiking trails. They aim to be a “living classroom” with educational and recreational activities for visitors of all ages. Their on-site animals are friendly for families and include goats, sheep, cows, chickens, mules, and donkeys. They also frequently host concerts with area musicians.
The Darien Nature Center has become a local institution and thriving community center with a focus on environmental education. With hedgehogs, chinchillas, rabbits, ferrets, owls, snakes, prairie dogs, and more, animal lovers of all ages will love visiting. Programs include preschool, afterschool, vacation, summer camp, and scout activities throughout the year to keep your family busy.
Run by the City of New Haven, the West Rock Nature Center and surrounding grounds are made up of trails, overlook points, and archaeological dig sites. The West Rock Nature Center also has a visitor center, Nature House, and playgrounds. This is a great center and park to visit for a day outside of the city.
Hiking through the 205-acre wildlife preserve and on-site environmental education center will familiarize you and your family with a wide array of habitats including mountain, meadow, woods, streams, wetlands, and gardens. With such habitat diversity, you are likely to spot wildlife through your binoculars during your walk. Additionally, the Pratt Nature Center features educational activities and programs for students, scout troops, and the community.
In addition to being a great site for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, the White Memorial Conservation Center has workshops for adults and children including trail walks, ice fishing, and nature painting. Workshops sometimes even hold receptions with wine and cheese to encourage mingling. Events are all nature focused with the aim to educate the public.
Meigs Point Nature Center’s programs follows Connecticut’s state curriculum, so its courses, workshops, and activities compliment what is learned in the classroom. The nature center’s aim is to create a coastal learning environment at Hammonasset Beach State Park for all ages. They have been accomplishing this goal since 1952 when a teenager began an amateur nature center. Meigs Point Nature Center also holds off-site activities and lessons and local schools.
Grab your sneakers and plan to spend your weekends at one of Connecticut’s great nature centers. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about nature first-hand, meet some friendly animals, and get some fresh air.