Thursday, April 20, 2017

Atlanta Attractions: Chattahocchee Nature Center

It looks like Spring is finally here to stay. The temperatures are remaining steady and here in Atlanta we've all moved our party outdoors. Our Spring Break was a few weeks ago, but rather than make way for the nearest beach we decided to check out some of our favorite local spots (and even try a new adventure or two).

Atlanta offers so many fun family activities, and there are tons of fun places to celebrate Spring outdoors. We thought about making a trip to Stone Mountain, or heading back to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens since we had so much fun their during our visit in the Fall, but The Cutes desperately wanted to do something with animals. While we love the Zoo, I-85 had just collapsed before the break and Atlanta traffic was not something we were willing to battle. Even for adorable animals. After brainstorming we realized one of our favorite places a little closer to our neck of the woods would satisfy everyone. The Chattahoochee Nature Center is a great little gem, and an easy place to let kids explore and enjoy a lot of hands on activities.

One thing I love about the Nature Center is that it never seems to be crowded. Even on a beautiful sunny day during a school holiday it was enjoyable, and felt like we had the whole place to ourselves. 

For those of you not familiar with the center, or who live in Atlanta, but haven't been yet, I would say if you have a nature lover in your crew it is definitely a spot to put on your radar. It is located in the heart of Historic Roswell right off the Chattahoochee River, and is a large park, garden, rehabilitation center for wild animals, and an education center all rolled into one. Not to mention it is located right across the street from several large playgrounds, bike trails, and more!

You enter through the center's main building and on the ground floor there is a fun space for kids and adults to explore and learn about everything from fossils to rocks to animal wildlife and everything in between. The children's area has nature centered books, coloring materials, and even a real microscope for kids to check out up close and personal some of the things they see everyday.

Most times we've visited there are special scavenger hunts and challenges the children can try. The Cutes had a blast trying to build there own Fairy home. Even Baby Cute was getting into trying to make something out of the tools they provided. 

On the same floor is a theater where you can attend one of the center's Creature Feature sessions, as well as the Explore area where you can interact with several exhibits to learn more about Georgia's watershed, forests, and how things are all connected to one another in nature. The Cutes love this area!

Explore has a few animal inhabitants (fish, turtles, opossums, and snakes), that the kids love. It reminds me of a mini aquarium and zoo wrapped into one.

A lot of the excitement in this area though comes from the interactive exhibits along the way.

Most things are hands on or have something that kids can take with them as the explore the property and trails.

The Nature Center is self guided so you can take as much or as little time as possible in each section. We always make our way around this area and then head outside, and then come back again at the end so the kids can circle back around and explore anything a little deeper than they did the first time around. 

One thing I think is neat, especially if you have older children, is that you can borrow these backpacks filled with activities and tools to get a more hands on experience while you are outside on one of the many trails. Seriously, they have thought of every single way to make learning fun and to get everyone more involved.

Once we were outside, we made way for the main reason we came - the animals! All animals at the center are rehabilitated local animals. Some are rehabilitated and returned to the wild, and some make the Nature Center their new home.

The Cutes love visiting each and every one. L.C. calls the eagles "her eagles" and even has names she  has given each animal on site.

Aside from the eagles there are several different species of owls, a few hawks, and even a vulture.

While still inside the center we got up close and personal with one of the scalier inhabitants at the center, but this mommy is thankful that those stay mostly hidden.

Along each nature trail there are several interactive educational outposts. I love these because they spark conversation and make little ones think a little more about what they are seeing than just trees, flowers, or animals.

The Cutes favorite one on the whole property is the bat one. It's a large tree with different species of bats molded into it. There is an information stand close by for them to learn about each one, but they have a blast just playing around in it.

During our visit two different events were going on. The Roswell Azalea festival was just wrapping up, but we were lucky because some of the azaleas were still in full bloom.

And they were gorgeous! I am so jealous and wanted to cover my back yard in these pretty orange ones!

The second event that was (and still is) going on was the Fairy House trail. At the head of the trail kids (and adults) can find materials to build their own fairy houses. Then along the trail there are little homes that the fairies have hidden and the kids (and adults) have to find. 

I wasn't sure what to expect, but The Cutes had a blast during this activity and thought it was so fun when they spotted one. They came in all shapes, sizes, and decor. 

Some were elaborate and well hidden, and others were a little more natural in their furnishings. Either way my two were smitten with the idea, and couldn't wait to get back to the center to re-build and even better fairy house than they came up with the first go around.

We ate snacks, and soaked up every bit of sunshine we could.

(Looking at one of the bat boxes on the trails.)
Before we knew it, it was late and time to head home - before the real bats came out.

We love that this special place is practically in our backyard so that we can visit again soon, but even if you aren't as close I would definitely say it is worth the trip.

Have you been to the Chattahoochee Nature Center? Or do you have something similar in your hometown? Share with us!

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Explore Atlanta: The Chattahoochee Nature Center located in Roswell, GA

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