Just a short drive from downtown Milwaukee is a magnificent nature center teeming with wildlife and kid-friendly hikes. Here's a quick low-down for busy parents.
Ages: Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (SANC) is truly for all ages. They offer family programming led by professional naturalists for kids of all ages (including babies!).
What: SANC covers 185 acres of woodlands, prairies, ponds, and wetlands along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline. Stop by their nature center for hands-on activities, live critters, and a reading nook with wooden rocking chairs. Each Saturday and Sunday afternoon, you can see a bald eagle up close at their Word with a Bird program. They run special events throughout the year, too, such as their Fall Festival and Maple Sugaring Festival.
Where: SANC is located in Bayside, WI, about a 10 minute drive north of downtown Milwaukee.
When: Open seven days a week. Check their website for updated hours.
Observation Tower: When it’s not rainy or snowy, you can walk a short quarter mile from the main building and climb the 60-ft Observation Tower for a spectacular view of the surrounding area including the lake.
Mystery Lake: Just a half mile from the main building, this hike has a new boardwalk and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Frogs, wild turkeys, turtles, and waterlilies abound on this route. Have caution around the lake because there are no railings!
Lake Michigan Hike (For older children): The website suggests, "Take the paved trail down to Lake Michigan, and follow the sandy steps down to the beach. You can feel the lake breeze, and see if any gulls or ducks are out on the water. Continue on the North Lake Terrace Trail, stop by the new Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck for another great view of Lake Michigan, and then continue on and head up the wooded steps to return to the building."
For your safety:
Remain on designated trails and boardwalks.
No collecting, hunting or fishing. Please enjoy nature, but do not take it home.
Pack it in, pack it out.
No pets; leashed, carried, or otherwise.
No bikes on the trails.
No swimming. The shoreline beach is not tested for water quality, and swimming could be dangerous.