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11+ Nature Centers Worth Checking Out


Sometimes, because we live in such a suburban landscape, it’s hard to image the natural world our area once was — and still is! In Northern Virginia, we are lucky to have such active park systems that offer nature centers with live animal exhibits, learning opportunities, hands-on events, and more!

Broadlands Nature Center
21907 Claiborne Pkwy., Broadlands, VA 20148
Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 729-9704

Home to many furry and scaly residents, native to Northern Virginia and the Broadland’s environment, families are invited to visit and learn about the natural world within their community. Drop-in for a visit with the animals or plan ahead and register for a nature program, camp outs, scout event, and more! Learn more.

Frogshackle Nature Center
21544 Old Vestals Gap Rd., Sterling, VA 20164
Connect: Online | (571) 258-3700

Within the Lanesville Heritage Area, a special section of Claude Moore Park, is the Frogshackle Nature Center. This center is a great place to stop after a hike or picnic and houses animal and plant collections, as well as hands-on learning activities for kids themed around exploring nature. Many programs and opportunities are offered here too. Find them by searching ‘Claude Moore Park’ on Webtrac. Learn more.

Gulf Branch Nature Center
3608 N Military Rd., Arlington, VA 22207
Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 228-3403

Exhibits, a classroom, a children’s Discovery Room, a pollinator garden, live animals, and a pond are just a few of the things that make this nature center unique. Don’t miss the restored log cabin, observation bee hive, or the frequent family-friendly events. Learn more.

Hidden Oaks Nature Center
7701 Royce St., Annandale, VA 22003
Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 941-1065

Hidden Oaks Nature Center , located in the 52-acre Annandale District Park not only offers woodland trails and creeks for exploring, but a nature center complete with live animal displays, a climbing “tree” loft/puppet stage, a resource library, and an “Urban Woodlands” interactive exhibit. Learn more.

Hidden Pond Nature Center
8511 Greeley Blvd., Springfield, VA 22152
Connect: Online | (703) 451-9588

Part of the 25-acre Hidden Pond neighborhood, Hidden Pond Nature Center features exhibits and live animal displays which orient you to the park and the natural world of Fairfax County. Surrounded by acres of undisturbed woodlands, quiet trails, splashing streams, and a tranquil pond, the Center is a great place to start your journey into nature! Learn more.

Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center
5750 Sanger Ave., Alexandria, VA 22311
Connect: Online | (703) 746-5525

Located next to the Dora Kelley Nature Park, a 50-acre wildlife sanctuary with a one-mile long nature trail that meanders along streams, wooded hills, and freshwater marshland is the Jerome Buddie Ford Nature Center. Families are invited to see live animals up close, learn about the cultural and natural history of the surrounding park, and access the wealth of knowledge of on-site Naturalists. Learn more.

Long Branch Nature Center
625 S Carlin Springs Rd., Arlington, VA 22204
Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 228-6535

Featuring exhibits, a children’s Discovery Room, live animal displays, and a viewing pond to name a few things, Long Branch Nature Center is a family-favorite. The center is located at the beautiful and secluded 95.5-acre Glencarlyn Park offering nature trails, connections to Four Mile Run and W&OD trails, a playground, an amphitheater, and more. Learn more.

Potomac Overlook Nature Center
2845 Marcey Rd., Arlington, VA 22207
Connect: Online | Facebook | (703) 528-5406

Located in Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 7-acres of peaceful woodland, trails and educational gardens, Potomac Overlook Nature Center offers visitors the chance to see live animal and natural history exhibits, as well as access to their newest exhibit “Energerium.” Energerium offers visitors a fun and accessible way to learn energy basics and ways they can help create sustainable energy solution. Learn more.

Riverbend Park Visitor Center
8700 Potomac Hills St., Great Falls, VA 22066
Connect: Online | (703) 759-9018

More than rest stop or place to get a cold drink, the Riverbend Park Visitor Center also has self-guided activities for children, live animal displays, and natural and cultural exhibits. Plus, they offer you the opportunity to check out a Scavenger Hunt packet and follow the clues as they lead you through the park in search of cool nature facts! Learn more.

Walker Nature Center
11450 Glade Dr., Reston, VA 20191
Connect: Online | Facebook | Twitter | (703) 476-9689

Nestled in a 72-acre woodland at the Walker Nature Center, Nature House is home to on-site naturalists who will introduce you to their resident box turtle and a snake. Before exploring the nearby pond, trails, and stream, families are also encouraged to enjoy exhibits and displays, a nature library, and a variety of nature programs for all ages. Learn more.

Walney Visitors Center
5040 Walney Rd., Chantilly, VA 20151
Connect: Online | (703) 631-0013

The Walney Visitors Center, part of the 650 acres of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park is a converted 1780 farmhouse. More than a rest stop for hikers and naturalists, they have live animal and historic exhibits, children’s touch table area, a greenhouse, and a classroom. Learn more.

Disclaimer/Terms: These opportunities are subject to last minute cancellations and changes that might not be reflected in this post. Please, always confirm by calling/clicking.

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