Local Nature Programs Great for Kids

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Local nature centers offer kid programs for outdoor exploration. Head on out and enjoy the fresh air!

What kid doesn’t love being outside in nature? With local nature programs, all ages can enjoy exploring trails, creatures, fauna and more. Numerous programs throughout Middle Tennessee provide fun in the great outdoors for all ages. Children will enjoy getting to know different terrains and creatures — take them to a local nature center.

Davidson County

Beaman Park Nature Center
5911 Old Hickory Blvd., Ashland City
615-862-8580
Beaman Park offers regular Friday Night Hikes and Guided Nature Hikes as well as other special events during the month. Coming up is Make 3D Animals and Insects with Paper on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 10 – 11 a.m. All ages learn how to make really cool 3D figures just by
folding paper.

Bells Bend Outdoor Center
4187 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville
615-862-4187
This fun center has an indoor climbing wall for all ages and an outdoor climbing boulder for ages 13 & older. Regular nature programs include geocaching 101, archery, hikes and more.

Shelby Bottoms Nature Center
1900 Davidson St., Nashville
615-862-8539
Kids can enjoy nature programs like Fall Forage for Wildlife, Walk on the Wild(flower) Side and more going on this month. But don’t miss Paddle Into Fall on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. All ages can enjoy an open house style event showcasing all things paddling. On display, you can see examples of kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, gear, maps and more.

Warner Park Nature Center
7311 Highway 100, Nashville
615-352-6299
Kids can enjoy iSpy Fall every Saturday through Thanksgiving. Little naturalists explore lichen, milkweed and pumpkins. Drop in anytime between 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. to join the investigation. Wear clothes and shoes for outdoor play and investigation. Tools of a naturalist, including magnifying lens, microscope, net and other tools are provided.

Rutherford County

Wilderness Station
697 Veterans Pkwy., Murfreesboro
615-217-3017
All ages can enjoy the free Animal Encounters program on Saturdays this month from 1:30 – 2 p.m. and meet resident animals of the Wilderness Station. The Wild Things program is for ages 1 – 4 and a caregiver that takes place Wednesdays at 9:30 a.m. and costs $3. You’ll sing songs, discuss animals and enjoy a simple craft.
    Also, don’t miss Nature Play Days Wednesdays Sept. 19, Oct. 3 and Oct. 10. Ages 1 and older plus a care giver can enjoy a free morning of fun including fort building, playing in the water, climb, crawl, get dirty together and more beginning at 11 a.m.

Williamson County

Bowie Park Nature Center
7211 Bowie Lake Road, Fairview
615-799-5544
The free Nature Strollers program for ages 18 months – 5 years and an adult is perfect for littles. Join a naturalist for nature-oriented story times with songs, specimens, crafts and a kid-friendly hike. But don’t miss the homeschool program Nature Investigators on Monday, Sept. 24 from 10 – 11 a.m. Ages 8 – 12 can enjoy a themed program, Scales & Scutes, and learn the skills necessary to observe and explore our natural world. Registration required.

Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary
545 Beech Creek Road, Brentwood
615-370-4672
Owl’s Hill has knee-High Naturalists for ages 3 – 5 plus an adult on Wednesdays from 10 – 11:30 a.m. Participants get to explore the natural world through a series of topics lead by an Owl’s Hill Environmental Educator with a different focus each week. Cost is $54 per six-week series (adult/child pair), individual classes (pre-registered) are $10 per adult/child pair; $7 each additional attendee; walk-ups are $12 per adult/child pair; $9 each additional attendee. Series 1 runs Oct. 3 – Nov. 7 and Series 2 runs Jan. 23 – Feb. 27.
    In addition, don’t miss their free program, Nature Matters: The Mighty Monarch on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 1 – 3 p.m. Learn about the life cycle of the Monarchs and how you can help their population grow and thrive. Rosemary Chamberlain, Owl’s Hill Chapter TNP graduate, discusses the ins and outs of Monarch rearing and installing a Monarch Waystation in the home landscape. Program includes a tag and release demonstration.

Wilson County

Merritt Nature Center
at Cedars of Lebanon State Park
328 Cedar Forest Road, Lebanon
615-453-3028
The nature center keeps its Facebook page updated with info on programs. But don’t miss National Public Lands Day Hike on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 7:30 – 9:30 a.m. Join Ranger Bill Loewer at the Cedar Run Trail head for an early morning hike — approximately two miles long and takes one-and-a-half hours to complete. He discusses native grasslands, wildlife and the history of the landscape. Please wear sturdy hiking shoes and clothing appropriate for the weather. Bringing water and bug spray is highly recommended, too.

Kiera Ashford is associate editor of Nashville Parent and mother of three.

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