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.

Printable Calendar


Monsters in the Sky Planetarium Show
Fri., November 3, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Wolff Planetarium, Trailside Nature Center in Burnet Woods
You’ve heard of lions tigers and bears and thought… oh my?  Try gorgons, the wrath of ancient gods and the release – of the Cracken!!!  Oh my indeed!  Join us this October for a monster tale, 2,000 years in the making.  Programs are open to adults and children ages 5 and older accompanied by an adult.  Fee:  $5 per person.  Reservations required; Seating is limited.  Call 751-3679 to register.

Campfire on the Bluff
Fri., November 17, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. – California Woods Nature Preserve
Meet live owls and learn about the night time forest and lore while enjoying a roaring fire on a beautiful bluff in California Woods. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and cook a s’more. There is a short but steep luminaria-lit hike up to the bluff. This program is FREE, but seating is limited and pre-registration is required.  Call 231-8678 by Nov 16 for information or registration.  Sponsored by the California Woods Advisory Council.


First Thanksgiving: A Native American Celebration
Sat., November 18, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. – LaBoiteaux Woods Nature Preserve
10am – noon:  Adults and youth ages 14  and up gain hands-on experience as participate in Native American lifestyle skills from the past and present such as fire building, cooking and a make-n-take project.
1 – 3pm:  Families with young children  ages 4  – 13 discover the lifestyles of early Native American tribes of this area by playing games, participating in simulation activities, sampling food and making a craft.  Engaging fun for all!

Fee: $5 per person or $15 per family. The Camping and Education Foundation is our program partner.
Call 542-2909 by Nov 16 for more information and paid reservations.


Harvest Day Camp for children in grades Kindergarten – 3rd
Wed., November 22, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. – Avon Woods Nature Preserve
On this Thanksgiving Eve join us to celebrate the fall harvest, learn about local Native American tribes and their culture. Make a charming craft to take home. Pack a lunch with a drink and dress for the weather. Fee: $15 per child.
Register Here by Nov 20.

Winter in the Woodlands
Fri., December 1, 6:00 – 8:00p.m. — California Woods Nature Preserve
Inclement weather date: Saturday, December 2 at same time
Families and adults can follow a beautiful, luminaria-lit trail on a leisurely self-guided walk through the forest. Decorate your own home-baked holiday cookies, make crafts, listen to storytelling at the cabin and sit by a crackling fire to enjoy lively acoustic music by Ceol Mohr. Sponsored by the California Woods Advisory Council. Fee: $6 per person. Register online by noon on Nov 31. Call 231-8678 for more information.


Holiday Wreath Making
Sat., December 2, 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. — Caldwell Nature Preserve
Make a fresh holiday wreath to decorate your table or door. Join our professional florist as she guides you into making your own masterpiece. Fee: $30 per person. For reservations and information, call 761-4313 by Nov. 27.


Holiday Crafts Weekend
Fri., December 8, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. OR
Sat., December 9, noon – 2:00 p.m. — LaBoiteaux Woods Nature Preserve
Adults and families of all ages enjoy creating a variety of crafts, many of them made with natural materials. The Secret Santa Room gives children a chance to make presents for family members.  Staff instruct and advise but the personal touches are up to you. Fee: $5 per person or $15 per family (up to 3 children and 2 adults).

Register online by Dec. 6.  Call 542-2909 for info.


“Holiday Skies” Planetarium Show
Fri., December 8, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. — Wolff Planetarium at Trailside Nature Center in Burnet Woods
Join us as we experience the real holiday light show, the winter sky. Discover the mysteries of the Christmas Star, see a bright holiday “wreath” of twinkling lights and hear the tale of the man being pulled across the sky… and his three baby goats! Appropriate for adults and families with children ages 5 and up. Space is limited.

Fee: $5 per person. Call 751-3679 by Dec 7 for information and paid reservations.



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.