City Kids – Rock Creek Park Nature Center – “Creature Feature”

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City Kids is written by Takoma, DC resident Caroline. Caroline previously wrote about The Building Museum.

Rock Creek Park has endless opportunities for activities for all ages. The Rock Creek Park Nature Center, tucked just south of Military Rd, has a small gift shop, planetarium, and a large exhibit of local plant and animal species. Rangers and volunteers at the nature center conduct a variety of free programs on the ecosystems found in the park and night sky watching.

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Every Friday afternoon, visitors of all ages can watch and help rangers feed the captive animals who live at the nature center. Three varieties of turtle and two snakes live in aquariums. A group of about five parents with kids ages 1 to 7 watched a yellow-orange corn snake strike, squeeze, and unhinge its jaw to swallow a mouse. The kids preschool age and up got the most out of the “eeewww” factor, although the little ones also enjoyed the display. Littler ones also enjoyed the large collection of taxidermy animals.

Continues after the jump.

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At the same site as the nature center is the Rock Creek Horse Center. Thirty or so horses were at the site, some in the stables, some in outdoor corrals, and some preparing to go on rides with patrons. Those in the stables were identified by name, including a warning if they are known to bite. Center staff indicated which of the horses were most friendly, and those horses came right up to say hello and have a sniff.

A placard with rules directed visitors to be quiet and calm while around the horses, and this may pose a challenge for some kids. My toddler was very interested in the horses, but cautious. Strollers were not permitted in the area, so I used an Ergo carrier.

Rock Creek Park Nature Center
5200 Glover Road, NW
9:00 am. – 5.00 pm Wednesday-Sunday

Rock Creek Park Horse Center
5100 Glover Road, NW
Mon – Fri: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

5 Comment

  • Wow. So much undiscovered stuff right in our own backyard.

  • I like the category “City Kids.”

    • Allison

      I like this column too! I don’t have kids yet, but I plan to stay in the area and have at least one someday. I realized that I would have no idea what to do with one living here! (I grew up in a slightly more rural area where the activity of the week was usually poking dirt with a stick.)

  • Went here all the time as a kid and loved every second of it. The center was lots of fun but it was all the cooler because we got to see the horses and then picnic/walk in the nearby woods.

  • Next to the nature center are horse stables – they have pony rides for kids. I think it was $20 and worth it. My daughter loved it. You can call ahead and schedule pony rides. If you just show up you can wait for next available ride.

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