Back To Nature {Exploring Westchester’s Nature Centers & Parks}

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A trail at a nature center.Living in Westchester County, we are so lucky to have access to big cities, farms, forests, the ocean, and everything in between. Westchester County is home to several nature centers, preserves, hiking trails, and parks. Many can be enjoyed by the whole family for little to no cost and with minimal planning. So if you are looking for a unique and interesting way to spend your day, visit one of our Westchester County Mom favorites below. 

Something For Everyone

Nature centers can be a wonderful destination for families with children of varying ages. The Rye Nature Center has a beautiful natural playground with climbing structures and a slide. It is also home to an animal museum. In addition, the Rye Nature Center hosts a variety of family-friendly programs, from adult and me classes for toddlers and preschoolers to summer camps for school-aged children.

Another gem in lower Westchester, the Greenburgh Nature Center, has live indoor animal exhibits, a greenhouse, a barnyard, gardens, a natural playground, and much more.

One of my family’s favorites is Westmoreland Sanctuary in Mount Kisco. Westmoreland’s natural science museum is home to live animals, including rabbits (be sure to say hello to Skittles and Houdini), birds, and turtles. Entry is free, and the building is open from 9 a.m. through 5 p.m., seven days a week. There’s also a small pond where you’ll find frogs and turtles. My children have used the sanctuary-provided nets to discover snails and other creatures.

Education Disguised as Fun

I love when my kids can learn from authentic experiences. The natural parks in our area are an excellent source for hands-on learning. For children fascinated by birds, both Lenoir Preserve and Butler Sanctuary are perfect sites to observe hawk migration.

The Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem teaches visitors about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future.

Step back in the past and explore the dinosaur garden at Lasdon Park and Arboretum in Katonah. You’ll also find beautiful gardens, a holiday train show, and rotating exhibits here.

Just a short drive from Lasdon Park is another of my family’s favorite outdoor activities, Muscoot Farm. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no fee to visit Muscoot Farm and experience history, agriculture, and wildlife in a family-friendly atmosphere. You’ll discover cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and pigs. You can also walk through historic buildings such as the milk house, the ice house, the brooder house, and the carriage house and hike over six miles of trails.

Westchester’s natural playgrounds and many outdoor gems are a perfect way to spend the day with your family.

What are your favorite go-to parks and preserves? Share with us in the comments!

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