8 nature centers in Denver your kids will love
Are your children starting to get bored with summer? Are you finding it hard to keep them interested and busy? Are you looking for something new and different to do with your young children? Check out your local nature centers.
Did you know that there are eight nature centers in the Denver Metro area? And from seeing pronghorn on the plains to taking in spectacular view from the foothills, there is a surprising variety of ecosystems and natural attractions to enjoy. Almost all of them have nature displays and trails to explore as well programs for children and families.
Here is list of programs that nature centers offer specially for young children:
Majestic View Nature Center (Arvada)
Majestic View Nature Center, located on 80 acres in Arvada, boasts a lake, wetlands, interpretive trails, and a nature center. The nature center offers a wide array of story times, guided hikes, and craft classes for children. On the calendar for this summer is Story Time in the Garden, Bug Bonanza, and a Growing Up Wild workshop for families. Some classes are free but many require a nominal fee.
Bluff Lake Nature Center (Aurora)
Bluff Lake Nature Center, located just east of Stapleton in Aurora, features Bluff Lake and numerous trails. Although Bluff Nature Center doesn’t have a museum or a toddler time, it does offer family-friendly fireside chats throughout the summer complete with marshmallow roasting. The next fireside chat on “Brilliant Beaver Dams and Other Animal Homes” is scheduled for June 30. A $1 donation per person is suggested.
Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Commerce City)
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal, a National Wildlife Refuge in Commerce City, is home to bison, burrowing owls and bald eagles. One of their many programs is Tuesday Tot Time for ages three to six which takes place on the first and last Tuesday of the month from 10-11 a.m. Come play games, take a walk and do a special craft while learning about nature. The program is free, but sign-up early because space is limited. If you can’t make the Tot Time program, the brand new visitor center at the Arsenal features a large Discovery Room filled with fun activities just for kids.
Lookout Mountain Nature Center (Golden)
Perched on top of Lookout Mountain in Golden, the nature center is definitely a fun place to visit. It offers a free Toddler Time for two- to five-year-olds on the first and third Saturday of the month as well as the first Monday. Online registration opens one month prior to the program date and fills up within a day or two.
Audubon Center at Chatfield (Littleton)
Nestled at the southeast corner of Chatfield State Park in Littleton, the Audubon Center at Chatfield is home to many birds and other wildlife. Their program for kids ages three to six, The Little Fledgling Nature Hour, takes places every other Tuesday and Saturday. It is a fun-filled hour involving crafts, stories, a nature walk and snacks. The cost per class is $8 for the first child and $4 for each subsequent child. Classes are small which allows for good student teacher interaction. Call to reserve your spot.
Carson Nature Center (Littleton)
Carson Nature Center has an interactive museum area and trails along the Platte River in Littleton. The most impressive part of the Nature Center is the huge indoor river model where you can play with sand and water to simulate the way a river would flow. Carson Nature Center also has many different family and children’s programs either for free or for a nominal fee including guided hikes and homeschool science classes.
Morrison Nature Center (Aurora)
The Morrison Nature Center on the historic Star K Ranch in Northeast Aurora boasts of deer, turtles, and many types of birds. The Star K Kids program takes places at 9:30 and 11:00 am on Thursdays for kids five and under. Each week kids learn about another letter of the alphabet through puppets, interactive activities, and a nature walk. No reservations are required, just show up, but be aware that lots of other people might show up as well.
Plains Conservation Center (Aurora)
The Plains Conservation Center in eastern Aurora is historical education center and nature refuge and is home to many animals such as pronghorn and prairie dogs. Prairie Preschool Companions for ages two through five meets on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. No reservations are necessary. You do have to pay $6 per child but the class sizes are small and each child receives significant personalized attention from the staff. The hour includes center time with games, crafts, and stories, followed by a nature hike or wagon ride. Of all of the nature centers we visited, this was our favorite.
So with all of these options, there is no excuse to stay indoors this summer. It’s time to get out into nature at your local nature center.
Guest blogger Emily is a stay-at-home with two preschoolers who enjoys finding new and interesting activities to with her kids. She blogs about fun and frugal things to do with kids in Denver at www.kidsindenver.net