Nashville is full of beautiful parks and greenways. This is a great way to spend time together as a family without having to spend money or wait in long lines to ride something. One of the first days of summer, I load up my car with my kids, my nephew, a cooler of food, wipes, and toys to play in the dirt and the creek. We head to the Nature Center on Hwy 100 which is part of Edwin Warner Park. My plan is to explore the park and just have fun.
We park near the Nature Center. There is a nice parking lot and it is near the public bathrooms. Having a special needs child, I have to worry about finding flat areas easy for her to walk on and clean public bathrooms. The Nature Center bathrooms are clean each time we visit. I also know there are a few areas to picnic near the Nature Center for after we play in the creek and dirt park. We grab our bag of shovels, trucks, and nets and head across the open field to the little fenced off dirt park area. The kids have a lot of fun running up the dirt hills digging in the sand box areas, and playing in the little cabin. I sit on a bench and watch them having fun digging and exploring. Sometimes there is a water hose turned on which adds a new level of fun and mud, however it was not on the day we went.
After they get bored playing in there, we walk to a nearby creek. Shoes go flying as they rush to explore the creek. The mission to find some crawdads is on. Rocks are slowly lifted to see what little creatures are hiding, toes are dipped in the cool creek water, and lots of laughter rings out through the woods. I then spot the start of the story walk and we choose to put on shoes and go to read the book as we hike farther into the woods. Each kid takes a turn reading the book pages posted on the path and we wind around a short little trail as we read the book. The hike is fairly easy, and even my special needs child did it with minimal help to not fall on rocks. The book is cute and the hike gets out some more energy. I highly recommend going and doing the story walk (they just revealed the summer story). As part of the hiking trail the book is on, you can go farther and go to a bird feeding station and a few other fun stops for kids. It is a clearly marked trail and not too terribly long for young children.
After all that playing and hiking, we are hungry and head to the bathrooms to wash up. We grab the cooler and walk to a picnic table near the pond. It is shaded and we can listen to the bull frogs croaking as we eat. The nice thing for me is they can walk across the stones on the pond, hunt for the frogs, and explore the pond as they finish their lunch. I can see them the whole time and no one feels rushed to eat. The kids love walking on the stones, going on the trail around the pond and seeing the huge bull frogs in the water. We explore the wildflower trail near the pond, and also walk a little ways on the trail nearby. All very shaded and very well marked.
Since we were outside a few hours and getting pretty hot, we decide it is time to go inside the Nature Center. There are several stations with different activities to do and explore. All of it has to do with the park or creeks. My kids love going inside the huge tree and pushing the buttons to make the animal sounds. They love all the animals to look at; the bird watching station to try to name the birds eating at the feeders; and their most favorite is the station with lots of microscopes and slides to study. They spent over thirty minutes looking at slides and sharing between the three of them.
I stop and talk to one of the ladies at the desk and learn about the backpacks you can check out. They have a scavenger hunt, nets and bug catching things, and some other items as well, and you can check one out and use it while you are at the park. Wished I knew that before we had already explored the park. But plan to pick one up when we go back for our next adventure. The nice thing is they have a small one for younger kids who want to be like big sister or brother with a net and stuff in it as well. I thought that was cute. The inside of the Nature Center is a great place to cool off and learn more about local animals, birds, bugs, and all things outside related. It really is a cool place to touch all kinds of bones, rocks, and more. Very hands on and very kid friendly for many ages. The younger kids will love the big tree to go inside and the cool hand puppets and puzzles, while the big kids can look at slides and read about different areas of Tennessee.
It was a great morning and afternoon at Edwin Warner Nature Center. My young son and the two older kids had fun. I was not stressed and got to enjoy myself with the kids. We are looking forward to attending a few of the many activities they are hosting during the summer months. Go on line and look at the schedule or stop by for a paper copy. Pack a picnic and some water and go have fun!!