The Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park is an absolute gem amid its urban surroundings. You can spend an entire day here with your children exploring the building and the surrounding park.
Download our free digital download “A Kid’s Guide to the Urban Ecology Center at Riverside Park” for must-see features, fun facts, and more.
- Find the secret entrance that leads to the two blue slides. (Hint: you have to go outside to access it!)
- Visit the turtles, snake, and frogs in the Native Wisconsin Animal Room.
- Check out a board game at the front desk using wooden leaves hanging by the entrance.
- Play the fiddles (ask for assistance).
- Complete the giant floor puzzle of S.E. Wisconsin.
- Play with nature inspired blocks and toys.
- Go inside the rooftop tipi. You’ll find a fire pit and animal furs to rest on.
- Find the hidden classroom. There are four large murals with 80 animals camouflaged within in. Can you find them?
- Explore the green roof garden.
- Discover the pond with a people-powered fountain.
- Play on the Habitat Playgarden with a sandbox, spider web, & otter slides. (Northeast corner of Riverside Park.)
- Find the archway made of found iron & steel. (Northwest corner of UEC building.)
- Discover three sculptures entitled “Walk like a River.” (Hint: The first one is just behind the UEC building.)
- Enjoy the large, colorful river mural across from the building, made by students, and inspired by their experience in nature.
- Find the giant concrete frog and Bronze “Connection” raccoon created by Wisconsin artist Jeremy Wolf.
- Explore the forest and walking paths west of the footbridge.
- Discover the huge stone archway at the entrance of the Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum. (You can see the archway from the entrance of the UEC building if you look southwest.)
- Take a Walk of 3 Billion years, a walking path marked with rock sculptures as high as seven feel tall that tell the geological past of Wisconsin. Starting at the building, go west until you see the first cairn made of 340-million-year-old stone at the gravel drive that leads to the warehouse. Follow the winding path until you find the ninth and final stone structure that’s made from rock over 3 billion years old.
Fun facts to impress your kids:
- The wrap around porch on the second level is made of wood scraps from the construction of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
- The toilets at the UEC building are rainwater flush toilets – choose between a half tank or full tank flush, depending on what you do in there!
- The climbing wall is 40 feet tall.
- This branch is home to one of the largest solar power stations in Wisconsin.
- An arboretum can be defined as a “living museum of trees.” The Milwaukee Rotary Centennial Arboretum kiddie corner to the UEC building is home to 70 trees indigenous to Southeastern Wisconsin.