Annett Nature Center is so cool! I can’t believe it took us this long to go check it out – I emailed with the staff ahead of time to make sure someone would be there and the center would be open, since it’s a bit of a drive from the west side (please do the same – on a nice day it would be no big deal if they had a meeting/program and were closed, but on a cold day you might be bummed!). We were not disappointed – there were enough animals and interactive displays to keep 4 kids 4 and under busy for 45 minutes, easily.
[You can see more specific details on the Annett Nature Center page or check out its location on the interactive map.]
The nature center is a part of the Warren County Parks, and has a set of trails in addition to the indoor building. It’s a bit hard to photograph inside – but you walk in to a large reception desk and lobby with a few taxidermied animals, nice clean bathrooms, and then can go downstairs to the main exhibit hall. There is a coat room too, which is nice in winter.
Right now they have a new, traveling exhibit called “‘Snakes, Rattles, Holes’! Walk through the larger than life snake skeleton to learn about the anatomy of a snake, how they swallow their prey, the process of shedding their skin, how they move & hunt, and more! ” (from the Warren County Facebook page). You can see parts of the huge snake skeleton, my kids were big fans. They said this exhibit will be up until mid July of this year (2017).
There was a lot to read and look at, all touch-able as well.
It’s hard to see with the skeleton there, but there is an adorable little wooden playhouse along the backwall with animal pelts hanging off of it, a neat sensory box to stick your hands into, and a large trunk full of puppets and stuffed animals that was lots of fun.
They have a honeybee hive to check out as well! There is a tube to the outside, and it was neat to watch them all working away in there.
Down the steps, there is a large area with lots of animal displays, and then this side room. Through the window, there are two screech owls outside and then several turtle aquariums.
I didn’t snap a good shot of the main animal area – but you can see the cool floor tiles in this one. There was an “open” turtle tank here that my kids LOVED looking into, in addition to a few fish tanks, a cute little crawl/hidey-hole, and a few other small displays.
At the front, we borrowed the nifty laminated maps – you can see there are two bridges, two observation towers, and a bird blind. We went over the main/largest bridge and back, it was 30 degrees and sunny but our hiking buddies didn’t have quite the same enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to going back in spring!
You can see the bridge here – it was pretty cool checking out the ice up close!
There was some fun sculpture art at this pond, closest to the nature center, with a little dock.
The trails we went on were all mud/grass, nothing too steep and easy to walk.
There is a butterfly garden up by the nature center as well- not very pretty right now but can’t wait to see it in spring!
A big barbed wire buffalo sculpture, also towards the front.
Last but not least, a beautiful wooden lodge that this photo totally doesn’t do justice to. The picnic tables were slabs of wood, with a fireplace and sink, it was gorgeous!