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.
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.
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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
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