Explore Nature – (513) 321-6070

Cincinnati Parks’ Explore Nature! has a mission to educate people of all ages about our relationship with nature, and instill enthusiasm about the natural and historical resources in the Cincinnati Parks system. Then, it will only feel natural to assist in its protection and management!

Have you ever made maple syrup right from the maple tree? Did you know Cincinnati Parks has a planetarium? Or that the simple stone shelters scattered through our parks actually exemplify a variety of architectural influences?

We have so many programs and facilities designed to get you and your friends or family interacting with the abundant nature thriving right in our city. Teachers are encouraged to contact us or view our brochures below, regarding school programs, to enhance lesson plans. Exploring nature is as close as the nearest Cincinnati Park.

Maple Magic for Girl Scouts *SOLD OUT*
Feb 24 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm


All ranks of Girl Scouts from Daisies to Cadettes can learn the history and mystery of Ohio’s first sweet product, maple sugar! We will tap maple trees, collect sap, and learn how to turn it into that sweet stuff we all know so well. Meet other troops and ages along the way! After all that work, come inside and enjoy some pancakes, sausage and real maple syrup. Program Fee: $8.00 per person. These programs fill quickly, reserve your spot early at: Click here to register  

For more information or to inquire on available spots, call 231-8678.     

Maple in Mt. Airy
Mar 3 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

Breakfastseatings starting at 9:00 a.m. and end at noon.
This event is perfect for scouts, organized groups and families of all ages! A free pancake breakfast is provided in Oak Ridge Lodge before your program begins. The breakfast includes pancakes, sausage, maple syrup, and your choice of beverage (orange juice, milk or coffee). You are given 30 minutes to eat breakfast.
After breakfast, participants head outside to interact with sugar makers from the past and present to learn how trees produce the sugar and how people have tapped into this sweet source over the centuries. Participants visit 4 stations outside of the lodge: At the Maple Tree station, learn how the trees make sap (sugar water) and stop by the Evaporator station to discover how we turn the sap into syrup. The Native American station will delight you with small samples of pure maple sugar while the Pioneers will warm your mouth with a taste of maple tea. Yum…lots of tasting! 
The program including breakfast takes approximately 1.25 hours. Program Fee: $8.00 per person (children ages 3 and under are FREE). Reserve your seat early for this popular event:  Click here to register

Call 321-6208 for additional information. 

GET MOVING! Journey Overnight for Junior Scouts
Mar 9 @ 6:00 pm – Mar 10 @ 4:00 pm

Girls are energized about this journey. Scouts earn the Energize Award and Investigate Award. We also help them get started with their leaders on a project to earn the Innovate Award.  This overnight features different energy experiments indoors and out.  Fee: $25.00 per scout and for non-leader adults. Non-refundable, pre-payment required.  Patches are not provided. Troops must bring their own food. For more information or to inquire on available spots, call 761-4313.

Homeschoolers: Cincinnati Skies Planetarium Show
Mar 15 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Choose1 of 2 sessions: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. OR 1:00  – 2:00 p.m.
Experience the oldest planetarium west of the Allegheny Mountains.  Discover stars, constellations, galaxies and more.  Learn the stories behind Orion,the Big and Little Dippers and many other constellations in the night time sky.  The program will include information pertaining to how stars form and function, star types, nebulas,novae and more. Fee $5.00 per person. Reservations required. Register online before March 14 at: Click here to register  

For more information or to inquire on available spots after the deadline, call 751-3679.

Pancakes in the Woods
Mar 18 @ 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Celebrate the maple season! Enjoy pancakes and sausage grilled by celebrity chefs at the Marian J. and Charles D. Lindberg Nature Center. Learn about the process and story of maple sugaring with on going demonstrations and hands-on activities during the event. Don’t forget to take a walk or short hike in the woods to enjoy the colorful carpet of wild flowers.  Breakfast seatings are first come, first serve; no reservations are required. All proceeds benefit California Woods and Magrish Riverlands Preserves. Suggested Donation: $7.00 per person. For more information, call 231-8678.

Wonders of Water Journey Overnight for Brownie Scouts *SOLD OUT*
Mar 23 @ 6:00 pm – Mar 24 @ 2:30 pm

* SOLD OUT*  Get ready to dive in and learn about the substance that makes our Earth unique…Water! Girls earn the “Love Water”, “Save Water”and “Share Water” Awards. We also get the scouts and leaders started to earn their “WOW” Award on their own. This overnight also includes a night hike and activities inside and outside focusing on the wonders of water. Fee: $25.00 per scout and for non-leader adults. Non-refundable, pre-payment required.  Patches are not provided. Troops must bring their own food. For more information or to inquire on available spots, call 761-4313.


Eggsceptional Eggstravaganza
Mar 24 @ 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Spring time is here and it is time to think about eggs. Join in the fun in Price Hill as we learn about eggs, the amazing animals that hatch from them,and do fun egg-tivities. The program will finish with an egg hunt. Appropriate for children ages 3 -10 and their accompanying adults. No restrooms on site. FREE but reservations required before March 22 by calling 861-3435.

Animal Habitats Badge for Junior Scouts
Mar 27 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Walk through the city and you’ll see apartment buildings, condos, and houses. All of these things someone considers “home.” We know a human home when we see one, but do you know an animal home? Come out to the Trailside Nature Center to learn how to find animal homes wherever you go. Chances are you’ve already seen some! Fee: $5.00 per scout and for non-leader adults. Space is limited; call 751-3679 for reservations.

Detective Academy! – Spring Break Day Camp for ages 6 – 10
Mar 28 @ 9:30 am – 2:30 pm

There is a mystery to solve and we are looking for some curious campers that want to earn their Detective Badges. To solve the nature mystery, children make a handy spy kit, go on a clue hunt, decode a secret message and see who did it! We meet some crazy creatures along the way too! Fee:  $30.00 per camper. Register online before March 26: Click here to register 

For more information or to inquire on available spots after the deadline, call 542-2909.


Outdoor Expo – Nature Booth
Apr 1 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm


Visitour Explore Nature! activity booth at the Outdoor Expo on Sat., April 14 from10am – 1pm at REI retail store in Rookwood Commons.

Program Listings


If you would like additional information on Cincinnati Parks’ various types of preschool programs and opportunities, please click on the appropriate link below: Preschool Program


If you would like additional information on Cincinnati Parks’ various types of School Programming and opportunities, please click on the appropriate link below:

Caldwell Nature Center School Programming
California Woods School Programming
LaBoiteaux Nature Center School Programming
Trailside Nature Center School Programming

For more information please call (513) 321-6070 or view the full School Programs brochure.


Adventures in Homeschool Science Camp (for children 6 – 12 years old)
August 28 – September 1 (Mon. – Fri.), 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – LaBoiteaux Woods Preserve
Discover your inner scientist as we uncover the mysteries of space, make slime and learn
about more about “Grossology” in nature, enjoy close encounters with some feathered
friends while investigating the physics of flight and be part of a TREErific day performing
experiments on plants. Each day includes a local expert that assists campers with in-depth
investigations. Campers are split into age appropriate groups. Active games, projects and
other engaging activities are part of the daily schedule. Register online before August 23.
For more information, call 542-2909.

Nature Centers & Preserves

See What Our Nature Centers Have to Offer

Cincinnati Parks offers programming and education for all ages at its five nature centers located around the city. Krohn Conservatory, our beautiful showcase of a greenhouse in Eden Park, also features special programs for the general public and for schools. Our archives and library are located at the Bettman Natural Resource Center. Reserve a Nature Center!  See below for more information regarding special features and programming at all of these unique facilities:

avon-woodsAvon Woods Nature Center 4235 Paddock Road
Ph: (513) 861-3435

The Avon Woods Natural Area/Preserve is located only four miles from downtown Cincinnati. It features rolling hills, hiking trails, a stream-cut valley and community gardens. The trails are easy to locate and rated as moderate hiking. Avon Woods’ programs serve participants citywide and are designed for preschool age through senior citizens.

beetmanBettman Natural Resource Center 4 Beech Lane
Ph: (513) 321-6070

This is where Cincinnati Parks houses its rich collection of books and other materials regarding its history as well as nature education. Bettman also has a small nature preserve that is wheelchair accessible. The library and archives are open to the public by appointment; our volunteer staff is available on Tuesdays from Noon to 2pm. Please call 513.321.6070 for an appointment.

caldwellCaldwell Nature Center  430 W. North Bend Road
Ph: (513) 761-4313

These parklands have a long history, going back to Cincinnati’s earliest days. Today Caldwell has approximately 3.5 miles of nature trails and a variety of wildlife (including a flying squirrel population that can be spotted gliding among the treetops in the evenings) and wildflowers. Near the Nature Center is an amphitheater and an Access Trail so that even wheelchair users can venture into the woods. A deck along the Access Trail overlooks the ravine and creek, providing a lovely view in all seasons.

californiaCalifornia Woods Preserve – Marian J. and Charles D. Lindberg Nature Cneter  5400 Kellogg Ave.
Ph: (513) 231-8678

This park is set on 113 acres of pristine forest that includes 53 tree species, as well as, dozens of plant and flower species; Lick Run Creek runs through this nature preserve, and is home to wildlife that is a treat to see, such as kingfishers or snapping turtles. On one of California’s hiking trails, look for pileated woodpeckers and even great horned owls at home among the tall sycamores. There’s also a butterfly and hummingbird garden located directly in front of the nature center.

laboiteauxLaBoiteaux Woods Nature Center 5400 Lanius Ln.
Ph: (513) 542-2909

LaBoiteaux offers busy city-dwellers a true retreat into nature and local history. The hundreds of acres that make up LaBoiteaux Woods are home to deer, red and gray fox, mink, hawks, owls and turtles, and those woods are accessible via four miles of hiking trails. A rustic nature center houses nature displays, animal mounts, live animals, and a small nature library.

trailsideTrailside Nature Center Burnet Woods
Ph: (513) 751-3679

The Trailside Nature Center is located in Burnet Woods Park, adjoining the University of Cincinnati and one of Cincinnati’s oldest parks. It includes a children’s museum, a handicap-access meeting room for nature education programs, and a fishing lake created in 1875. While you’re at Burnet Woods, check out the schedule for the newly reopened Wolff Planetarium

Birthday Parties

For Ages 5 – 12

 *Most weekends are available August 15 – April 15 but call 321-6070 to check on availability during unlisted dates.

For a two hour party at a Nature Center, the Naturalist provides 90 minutes of fun-filled nature activities such as a short hike, hands-on activities, and a simple craft to keep as a memento. Please schedule at least 3 weeks in advance of your proposed dates.

Fee: $150 for up to 10 children; $15 for each additional child.

If more time is needed for the food and gift portion of the party, the cost is $25 for each additional 30 minutes.


*Creepy Crawly (Insects, Spiders, Reptiles and Amphibians)

*This theme is more appropriate during the Spring and Fall months.

Outside: Bingo hike; Insect Hunt with nets and games such as Creepy Crawly Crunch, Eeek! Spider! or Lemonade will be played.

Inside:  “What is an Insect vs Spider” presentation; Live animal presentation and a choice of craft, such as the Turtle Shell Hide or Climbing Spider.

Activities for older participants may include: Quick Frozen Critters game; frog catch craft (an adaptation of the ball in the cup craft); and a deeper investigation on common insects and how to identify them on the hike.


Forest Friends

Outside: Camouflage Hike which will include an activity where two teams take turns hiding and finding different color cut-out rabbits and Forest Friends Bingo. Games include Fox and Rabbit, Camouflage and Animal Catchers.

Inside: Taxidermy and live animal presentation; mammal puppet craft.

Activities for older participants may include: How Many Squirrels Can Live in This Forest and Bat and Moth games outside. Craft for this age group may include the Bat Catch (an adaptation of the ball and cup craft).


Winged Wonders (Birds, Butterflies and Bats)

Outside: Bingo hike; Games such as Birds-n-Worms and Build a Bird relay race.

Inside: Depending on the topic chosen, “How do birds and others fly” presentation, Feather Fun and Build a Bird activity. Craft choices are Butterfly Clothes Pin Craft; Tic-Tac-Toe Birds or Butterfly Suncatchers

Activities for older participants may include:  Scavenger Hunt; Migration Headache game; Paper Animal flying contest.


Fantastic Fossils

*not available at Trailside in Burnet Woods or Avon Woods (no creek for fossil hunting).

Outside: Fossil Hike in creek. Game: Fossil puzzle relay race and Trilobite Tag.

Inside: ”How did fossils form” presentation; Fossil Bingo and Fossil Wheel Craft.

Activities for older participants may include: Fossil card slap game; Fossil Cootie Craft.