Don’t nature centers make a trip to your favorite park extra special? First there are the sounds of nature, the slide-to-view facts, and the countless live animals encourage kids and families to want to learn more about their surroundings, history, and ecosystems. Then there’s the opportunity to keep kids learning without tons of books and binders.
Here’s a list of 10 nature centers in central Indiana worth checking out:
6363 Spring Mill Rd, Indianapolis
What makes it special: The dynamic exhibit in Habitat Hall includes the White River Water Table, Music of the Wetlands Exhibit, and an elevated Hardwood Forest viewing area allowing visitors to experience the forest canopy.
More info: 317-327-7180
5901 Delong Road, Indianapolis
What makes it special: As soon as you walk in, it’s very likely you’ll be greeted by some sort of creature! That might be a snail, or during the summertime, you can even catch the morphing of a caterpillar into a monarch butterfly right at the front desk. Inside the center you’ll find a beehive, exhibits of the American toad and grey tree frog, and much more.
More info: 317-327-7148
2100 E 151st St, Carmel
What makes it special: Families, school groups and nature lovers can explore the science of Indiana woodlands and learn about the importance of preserving plants and animals in their natural habitats.
More info: 317-774-2500
690 Beech Street, Zionsville
What makes it special: The former house that holds the Zion Nature Center is jam-packed with realistic sounds, facts, interactive exhibits, and live animals, making it interesting for kids and adults alike. The center boasts turtles, snakes, and amphibians on display- making it a wetland lover’s paradise.
More info: 317-873-8950
801 Elks Road, Richmond
What makes it special: An 1833 dairy barn acts as the Nature Center, filled with exhibits on regional flora and fauna. The entire Arboretum holds 3% of Indiana’s old forest growth, which the nature center gives more information about. It is a fun place to learn about history and science.
More info: 765-962-3745
4306 Mounds Road, Anderson
What makes it special: The park itself is home to the Great Mound, a structure thought to be constructed by the Adrena-Hopewell people in 160 B.C. The Nature Center gives ample information on the rich history and includes a wildlife viewing room, animal displays, interactive games and more.
More Info: 765-642-6627
8121 Park Rd, Marshall
What makes it special: Turkey Run State Park offers interpretive naturalist services all year long. Scheduled programs include hikes, planetarium programs, history talks, a junior naturalist program, and evening programs.
More Info: 765-597-2654
8518 Hughes Rd., North Salem
What makes it special: The McCloud Park Nature Center hosts over 1,000 square feet of exhibit space and is filled with informative modern exhibits, animal specimens, interactive and educational computers, a bird viewing area, greenhouse, resource library and rotating local artists’ exhibits.
More info: 765-676-5437
250 McCormicks Creek Park Road, Spencer
What makes it special: The Nature Center at McCormick’s Creek State Park, designed on the ‘Please Touch – Gently’ theme, houses natural history exhibits, nature games and quizzes, a wildlife observation room, and a full range of naturalist-led activities available free of charge to park visitors.
More info: 812-829-4344
4200 S Park Rd, Kokomo
What makes it special: The Kirkendall Interpretive Center has a large diorama of preserved animals including a beaver, a groundhog, an albino muskrat, and much more. Several display cases hold fish mounts, butterflies, insects, fossils and educational displays. Five large aquariums also enhance the building by housing native species of fish, frogs, lizards, and snakes.
More info: 765-864-1655