Kids and Mother Nature in Philly & The 'Burbs
Bucks County Audubon Society at Honey Hollow in New Hope
John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge
Throughout the ten miles of trails, families take part in self-guided exploration and wildlife viewing, making use of observation platforms and a kid-favorite boardwalk over the water for easier and more engaging interactions with nature.
The Out on a Limb Tree Adventure lets you stroll through the trees on the canopy walk and climb the Squirrel Scramble’s hammock-like net 50 feet in the air. Leave your perch to decode riddles and search for hidden sculptures as part of the Sculpture Scavenger Hunt.
Pennypack Environmental Center
Inside the center, watch birds at the feeders through wall-to-ceiling windows and gaze into the 300-gallon aquarium. Then take to the trails on a makeshift scavenger hunt to seek out wooden sculptures, including an artist’s take on “Thoreau’s Hut.”
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
Dig in the sand, play the musical wall and explore the mud kitchen in the Tall Trees Playscape all-natural playground. Head to the Discovery Center to prep for what you’ll see on trails with “discovery boxes,” trivia games and an indoor Bird Blind that looks over bird feeders.
Wissahickon Environmental Center
Nicknamed the Tree House after a tree grew through the front porch (the stump’s still there), the center is home to a 200-gallon aquarium with fish and turtles and the I-Spy-ready floor-to-ceiling Wissahickon mural.
Briar Bush Nature Center, Abington
Get hands-on in the Nature Playscape, a natural playground with a stream, sand pit, tunnel and log structures. Then say “hi” to Ralph the turkey vulture and Scarlett the screech owl on the way to the Griscom Bird Observatory, a cabin with rocking chairs, large windows and toys.
Bucks County Audubon Society at Honey Hollow, New Hope
Take to the trails in meadows, woods and ponds to see which birds, ducks and raptors you spy at this local favorite spot for birding. Just beginning? Try the FREE Saturday Morning Guided Bird Walks geared toward the entry level.
ChesLen Preserve, Unionville
Keep an eye out for the all-new natural playground launching this summer. Designed to encourage creative play and exploration, kids will be able to splash in a stream, build forts out of sticks and hop along tree stumps.
Delaware Canal State Park, New Hope
This 60-mile hike and bike trail runs alongside the Delaware River from Bristol to Easton. Travel by foot, bike, kayak and canoe to enjoy the ample opportunities for wildlife viewing and natural exploration.
Five Mile Woods Preserve, Yardley
Move along the boardwalks on the Sweetgum and Creek Trails to Queen Ann’s Creek, to explore and observe wildlife. For younger hikers looking for a less developed path, opt for the Evergreen Trail, a narrower, often wetter option that snakes through terrain.
Fort Washington State Park, Fort Washington
Whether you visit the ADA-accessible observation deck with birds close enough to view without binoculars or take your boots and bikes to the Green Ribbon Trail, the whole crew can interact with nature. Little ones need a break? Stop by the playground, where you’ll find clean bathrooms close by.
Green Lane Park, Green Lane
Bring the brood to set up camp and enjoy a night under the stars. The 30-site campground is kept simple with hiking trails, a playground, picnic tables, fire rings and fishing on Deep Creek Lake to get more connected with nature.
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton
Start with a Raptors Up Close! live hawk or owl program then move to the Visitor Center for the Wings of Wonder Gallery, with 19 life-sized raptor models suspended from the ceiling, for a look at what to expect outside.
Lorimer Park, Huntingdon Valley
While Pennypack Creek is at the heart of the park, Harper’s Run — the clearer, shallower and smaller stream that feeds into it — is the go-to for kid explorations. The other cornerstone, Council Rock, is an outcropping overlooking the creek that begs to be climbed.
New Leaf Eco Center, Kennett Square
Put the earth first and discover how to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle through the preserve’s interactive exhibits including a recycling center, composting area and apiary, where families frequent during Open Hive Days.
Nockamixon State Park, Quakertown
Bring your rods and wheels! The Children’s Fishing Pond in Lot 13 has a large clearing that allows kids to get close to the water. Or get pedaling on the easy-ride, 2.1-mile paved bike path in Lot 1 that provides great views of the lake, coves and marina.
Norristown Farm Park, E. Norriton
The park is home to Kepner and Stony Creeks, site of special kids’ fishing days. On dryer land, the paved and shady Tree Trail is a self-guided adventure. Take the sheet of descriptions at path’s start and try to identify what you see.
Peace Valley Nature Center, Doylestown
This “Important Birding Area” has family-friendly wildlife-viewing vantage points, including smoother footpaths near the Solar Building, a blacktop Hike and Bike Path and the Chapman Road Bridge & Duck Blind that provide looks into the Special Wildlife Area.
Riverbend Environmental Education Center, Gladwyne
Wander the trails on your own, amid ponds, open fields, live animals and the kid-favorite bubbling stream. Visit the center during the annual Summer Solstice Event this June to see all these highlights in one fell swoop.
Silver Lake Park & Nature Center, Bristol
Look under rocks, explore a stream, build natural shelters and play in the sand at the Natural Play Area for Children. Move inside to the Exhibit Area to see live animals up close and learn what to expect outside before you travel the trails.
Tyler Arboretum, Media
Wind your way through the Stopford Family Meadow Maze labyrinth. Keep a watch for gnomes, fairies and other fantastical creatures when you stroll the Magical Path, rife with tiny dwellings. And flit from one human-sized house to the next until you’ve climbed all 10 of the Totally Terrific Treehouses.
Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, Royersford
Make furry and scaly friends. In Schuylkill Wilds, get up close with snakes, turtles, frogs and fish. Meet more animals in the Schuylkill Woods, like wild turkeys and Margeaux the bobcat. Don’t forget to say “hi” to wolves Hunter and Scout, who can be found further in the park.
Warwick County Park, Pottstown
Encounter wildlife on the ½-mile Nature Trail, running alongside vernal pools, a bat box, bird nest boxes and a wetland boardwalk. Then hike the Adirondack Tree ID Trail, developed by a local Eagle Scout. There’s still more to explore: Reel in natural fun (and trout!) at French Creek.
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