The Environmental Nature Center is located in an unexpected place. Just a normal city street near a high school. From the outside it looks like nothing more than a pretty eco-friendly building but once you step inside you are swept into a world that nature rules.
The inside features a Discovery Room with a giant tree surrounding by stuffed creatures to learn about and drawers filled with fun things to discover. There is a Native American shelter with a spot where you can learn to grind acorns and terrariums filled with snakes on the side wall. There are also plenty of fun books for kids to curl up with and learn from. I think my kids enjoyed making animal tracks with water and stamp pads the best.
Out back, the ENC really shines. There are trails meandering through representatives of 15 of California’s ecological zones including a Redwood Forest and Channel Islands Flora. I think the ENC is a wonderful place to take a walk and educate your children on California’s diverse habitats. My kids especially loved the stream that ran through the Southern Oak Woodland and plunged over a small waterfall. There is just something about poking water with sticks that seems to entertain three year olds for hours on end. I found the Desert and Coastal Sage Scrub to be exceptionally beautiful with all the wildflowers in bloom this time of year.
During our walk we focused on the tiny aspects of nature that make the outdoor world so incredible. Everything from tiny fish swimming in a wetland to mushrooms sprouting up in the damp, organically rich soil of a forest floor, to a butterfly with tattered wings seamlessly blending in with its surroundings.
During the late Spring and Summer, the ENC’s Native Butterfly House is open. We missed the opening by a week but we will certainly be back soon to see things all aflutter!
The best part of the ENC is all the classes, workshops, and programs it has to offer. There are classes for children, families, and adults about everything from bushcraft to dino fossil mold making to green building. There is truly something for everyone who interested in the natural world. For a look at some of the upcoming classes and events click here. I can’t wait to return and have my children participate in some of the Little Naturalist programs.
The Environmental Nature Center is located at 1601 16th Street in Newport Beach, CA. Its open Monday through Friday from 8-5 and Saturday from 8-4. Admission to the facility and enjoy some time in the great outdoors is FREE! For more information check out their site here.
For more fantastic travel photos check out Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.
PS- in the spirit of Photo Friday I had to include my new favorite shot of my kids. It wasn’t taken at the ENC (actually it was taken in a field near my house) but I just love it and have to share it with the blogging world!