Kid-friendly Nature Spots in Philly & The 'Burbs
The Out on a Limb Tree Adventure canopy walk lets you explore the forest from a bird’s point of view and lounge on the Squirrel Scramble’s hammock-like net 50 feet in the air. The arboretum also provides downloadable field guides where kids record plant and animal sightings.
Pennypack Environmental Center
The features at this center emphasize nature as a place to reflect and imagine. Step inside an artist’s take on Thoreau’s Hut, revel in the scenery on one of many oversized benches and spot resident animals on the bird blind.
Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
Play the musical wall, dig in the sand and explore the mud kitchen at the all-natural Tall Trees Playscape. Duck inside the Discovery Center to prep for a trek on the trails with “discovery boxes,” insect & water trivia and an indoor bird blind that looks over courtyard bird feeders.
Wissahickon Environmental Center
Nicknamed the Tree House after a tree grew through the front porch (the stump’s still there), the farmhouse houses a 200-gallon aquarium filled with fish and turtles and a floor-to-ceiling wildlife mural primed for a round of I-Spy.
Briar Bush Nature Center, Abington
Get hands-on in the Natural Playscape with a stream, sand pit and log structures. Then head over to the Griscom Bird Observatory., a cabin with large windows, toys and rocking chairs that overlook a bustling bird habitat.
ChesLen Preserve, Coatesville
Let the kids loose on the natural playground. Designed to encourage creative play and exploration, visitors can climb logs, splash in small streams and build forts.
Churchville Nature Center, Churchville
Before you hit the trails, head to the Wildlife Gardens. You’ll find a lush landscape lined with plants, animal viewing areas and butterfly, hummingbird & woodland gardens.
Lorimer Park, Huntingdon Valley
While Pennypack Creek is at the center of the park, Harper’s Run — the shallower stream that feeds into it — is sized just right for kids. The other draw is Council Rock, an outcropping overlooking the creek that’s perfect for photo ops.
Nockamixon State Park, Quakertown
Bring your guppies to the Children’s Fishing Pond in Lot 13; its large clearing lets kids get close to the water. Or pedal over to the paved, 2-mile bike path in Lot 1 for views of the lake and marina.
Norristown Farm Park, E. Norriton
View dozens of seedlings formed from trees with historical significance (think Johnny Appleseed) on the Interpretive Nature Trail, and see who can reel in the biggest catch at Kepner and Stony Creeks during dedicated kids’ fishing days.
Peace Valley Nature Center, Doylestown
This center offers plenty of ways to catch animals in action, including smooth footpaths near the Solar Building, a blacktop Hike and Bike Path and the Chapman Road Bridge & duck blind that overlooks the Special Wildlife Area.
Riverbend Environmental Education Center, Gladwyne
Stroll the trails on a self-guided tour amid open fields, ponds and animals. Return for frequent family programming to see all these highlights in one fell swoop.
Silver Lake Nature Center, Bristol
The sandy Kids Krawl space gives tots a close-to-the-ground experience of the woods. Nearby, another play area features a “fossil pit,” bridge and streams. Want to see the sights from an unusual vantage point? Climb up observation towers that look over the lake.
Tyler Arboretum, Media
Explore mini villages rife with fairies, wizards and gnomes along the Magical Path. Pose for pics in the Crooked Goblin Shack. And wander from one human-sized structure to the next until you’ve climbed all seven Totally Terrific Treehouses.
Upper Schuylkill Valley Park, Royersford
Deer, foxes, wolves and a bald eagle are known to roam the Wildlife Center. Over at the Schuylkill Wilds exhibit, say “hi” to river dwellers like turtles, frogs and fish.
Warwick County Park, Pottstown
Keep an eye out for wildlife on the ½-mile Nature Trail that passes vernal ponds, bat boxes, birdhouses and a wetland boardwalk. After, hike the Adirondack Tree ID Trail, developed by a local Eagle Scout, and cool off by French Creek.