Kid-Friendly Nature Centers in Metro Atlanta
Atlanta may be a busy metropolitan city with skyscrapers, highways and plenty of Targets, but it is also home to many naturally wooded sanctuaries. Here are 15 nature centers that provide perfect opportunities for your family to get back to nature.
Chattahoochee Nature Center
Perhaps the most well-known of metro area’s nature destinations, this 127-acre center sits on the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Roswell. Kids flock to the CNC for its guided day and night hikes, canoe trips, animal encounters and the reptile and fish exhibit at the interpretive center. 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell.
Cascade Springs Nature Preserve
A hidden gem in southwest Atlanta, Cascade Springs has easy walking trails and a small, but beautiful waterfall. With three hiking trails (all suited for kids or beginners), families can spend a long time in this peaceful place and even see the remains of trenches from the Civil War battle of Utoy Creek. 2852 Cascade Rd. SW, Atlanta.
Elachee Nature Science Center
Visitors have frequented this center in Gainesville for more than 30 years because of its guided hikes, camp and field trip programs and 12 miles of trails. Kids love the “live animal” exhibit where they can get close to snakes, spiders and reptiles. 2125 Elachee Dr., Gainesville.
Dunwoody Nature Center
This center boasts 22 acres and four distinct habitats, including two miles of woodland hiking trails, Wildcat Creek, gardens and more. Find all three geocaching spots for an outdoor treasure hunt. 5343 Roberts Dr., Dunwoody.
Clyde Shepherd Nature Preserve
Clyde Shepherd is described as “an oasis in suburbia” and it is easy to see why. On the north side of bustling Decatur, this 28-acre preserve has several miles of trails and is a wildlife sanctuary. 2580 Pine Bluff Dr., Decatur.
Lost Corner Nature Preserve
Right in the heart of Sandy Springs, this nature preserve was a working farm in the 1800s and was donated to the city by its last owner. It has a cute bungalow on the property as well as a community garden. Visitors can hike the trail, which is just under a mile, and see lots of wildlife. 7300 Brandon Mill Rd., Sandy Springs.
Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center
This land in north Atlanta flourishes with nature and wildlife. Families can regularly spot a box turtle, a midland water snake or the carnivorous lady slipper orchid while walking on the easy two miles of trails. Kids especially love the replica of a teepee. 9770 Autrey Mill Rd., Johns Creek.
Tucker Nature Preserve
At just nine acres, this nature preserve’s smaller size makes it easy for families to navigate. A half mile trail winds through the scenic woods where visitors can see native plants, plenty of birds and also do some geocaching. 4408 Lawrenceville Hwy, Tucker.
Big Trees Forest Nature Preserve
A simple Sandy Springs escape which features just what you would think–big trees. There are three trails with bridges over a creek in this 30-acre plant, tree and wildlife sanctuary. 7645 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs.
Morningside Nature Preserve
This gem in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood boasts 30+ acres of woods along South Fork Peachtree Creek. A cool suspension bridge over the creek connects the trails. Visitors and their canine friends like to frequent “Dog Beach,” the shore and shallow water under the bridge. 1941 Wellbourne Dr., Atlanta.
Blue Heron Nature Preserve
With 30 acres and a three-mile Blueway Trail, Blue Heron Nature Preserve is awesome for seeing animals and different artworks, including the “Art of Nature: Into the Wild” exhibit opening on April 24. 4055 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta.
Reynolds Nature Preserve
Reynolds Nature Preserve offers an audio tour, a butterfly trail, birdwatching hikes and more. 5665 Reynolds Rd., Morrow.
Mill Creek Nature Center
Mill Creek Nature Center is a wetlands and wildlife preserve with natural and boardwalk pathways, Ivy Creek, an observation tower and more. 2355 Mall of Georgia Blvd., Buford.
Newman Wetlands Center
Newman Wetlands Center offers community education about the crucial role wetlands play in the cycle of water, trails, seasonal wildlife and plants. 2755 Freeman Rd., Hampton.
Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve
This preserve has mountains, exposed granite, wetlands, pine and oak forests, streams and two lakes. Each season, see beautiful flowers, and activities include biking, hiking, paddling, archery, fishing and geocaching. 3350 Klondike Rd., Stonecrest.
Elsa Simcik and Emily Webb contributed to this article.