The Covid19 pandemic has brought about an unexpected change in the US. People are leaving the larger, more expensive cities for suburbs and smaller cities across America. Many of these cities are experiencing an unprecedented boom in population growth; Boise, Idaho is one of those places. With its easy access to skiing, boating, mountain biking, hiking and its up and coming wine region, it is quickly topping the lists as one of the best cities for quality of life. But as parents, we know that sometimes those activities don’t necessarily translate into easy outings with kids. If you find yourself in the area, whether it be for a vacation or because you are one of its many new residents, and hoping to enjoy the natural surroundings of the Treasure Valley, than be sure to check out these great kid-friendly nature centers in Boise.
5 Kid-Friendly Nature Centers In Boise, Idaho
This incredibly interactive and education center is chalked full of great activities for the kids. Through hands-on activities, it introduces kids and adults alike to water preservation and conservation. From a simulated river where the kids can get their feet wet and build a dam with river rocks to a unique playground experience where they can build pipelines and wooden forts, the Boise Watershed is sure to give your family hours of fun and entertainment that is also educational! Best of all, this amazing center is totally free!
Have you ever seen a raptor up close? No, I don’t mean the dinosaur…although technically these animals are descendants of dinosaurs. I’m referring to birds of prey! The World Center for Birds of Prey is a conservation organization whose mission is to conserve raptors worldwide and educate the public about their population decline due to humans encroaching on their habitats. Did you know the Peregrine falcon dives to catch its prey at up to 200mph? Or that the Harpy eagle has talons as long as a Grizzly bear’s? Kids will learn these amazing facts and more, while also seeing all of these great creatures up close. In fact, this is one of the very few places that you can even see a harpy eagle! (Unless of course you are able to make a trip to the Amazon and catch a glimpse of one of the few thousand or so left in the world.)
Nestled in the Boise foothills the Jim Halls Foothills Learning Center is a great jumping off point for families wanting to enjoy the many hikes around the city. Take a picture next to the giant dandelion and then check out the self-led story trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water when hiking as Boise is a high desert semi-arid climate and can be incredibly hot in the summer! Spring will bring the trails full of wildflowers and fall will stun with its golden glow and great temperatures. If your kids are able to hike further, download the all-trails app and check out the Ridge to Rivers website. Please stay on the trails though and never hike on a trail when its muddy!
The MK Nature Center is on 4.6 acres along the Boise river and will give guests a glimpse of the Idaho wildlife and its multiple environments. There are pathways that take you through the area and viewing windows that peek into the many ponds around the center giving kids a glimpse of life below the water. Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day here! After you are done, walk along the river or make a stop at the nearby playground. Don’t miss the small informational area inside where you can read about Lonesome Larry and his incredible 900 mile journey. (Spoiler alert: Lonesome Larry is a salmon, but his epic trip is one for the history books and he is now a symbol of salmon conservation efforts.) The one-of-a-kind Lonesome Larry now calls the MK Nature Center home, so be sure to get a picture of this iconic fish!
One of the best things about Boise is it’s four very distinct seasons, which means there is always something fun to do anytime of the year! Take the kids and head on over to the Idaho Botanical Garden. The best times to visit are either spring or fall when the temperatures are mild and you can spend a full day outside walking around. During the spring, witness the beauty of the season in all her glory and enjoy the blooming flowers amongst the large grounds and mulitple gardens. In October, enjoy the beauty of the leaves changing around you as the kids play in the interactive children’s adventure garden! If you happen to be here in December, the Idaho Botanical Garden also puts on a dazzling display of over 400,000 lights at it’s annual winter garden aglow festival!
Have you enjoyed any of these kid-friendly nature centers in Boise? Or do you know of any others in the area? Let us know in the comments below!
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