Want to get outside with your kids? Atlanta has many educational and fun nature centers that offer activities and learning experiences for the whole family.
Autrey Mill is unique because in addition to being a nature center with woods and a creek, it also has a Heritage Village with historic buildings. Autrey Mill has a birthday parties, summer camps, classes for preschool-aged kids, guided hikes, and feeding times for the animals at Autrey Mill. Special events include a spooky mill at Halloween, outdoor plays, events for almost every holiday, and a week of Earth Day sessions.
Address: 9770 Autrey Mill Road, Johns Creek, GA 30022
Hours: Grounds - 8:00 a.m.-dusk daily; Visitor Center - 10:00-4:00, Monday- Saturday
Admission: Free for grounds and visitor center; other events vary in price
Elachee is a 1,500 acre forest preserve with a nature museum, 13 miles of hiking trails, a plant and animal sanctuary, and a lake. Committed to education, Elachee offers junior and master naturalist classes, guided nature hikes, spring break and summer camps, and preschool programs. In the spring Elachee hosts an eco-adventure race.
Address: 2125 Elachee Drive, Gainesville, GA 30504
Hours: Monday-Friday, 10:00-2:00
Admission: $5 for adults; $3 for children ages 3-12; free for children 2 and under
Note: Hiking trails are free and open from 8:00 a.m. - dusk.
Located on the banks of the Chattahoochee River, Chattahoochee Nature Center has hiking trails, rehabilitated animals, gardens, riverfront, and forests to explore. An indoor nature exchange encourages children to learn more about the natural world in their own backyards. Highlights of CNC are Camp Kingfisher, the Butterfly Festival, and naturalist-led canoe trips.
Address: 9135 Willeo Road, Roswell, GA 30075
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10:00-5:00; Sunday, noon-5:00
Admission: $8 for adults; $6 for seniors; $5 for children ages 3-12; free for children 2 and under
Dunwoody Nature Center is a small but pretty preserve with hiking trails, a shaded playground, a treehouse classroom, and picnic areas. Mommy and me classes, family campouts, summer and holiday camps, and a butterfly festival are highlights of DNC.
Address: 5343 Roberts Drive, Dunwoody, GA 30338
Hours: Park - 7:00 a.m.-sundown daily; Nature Center- 9:00-5:00, Monday-Friday and some Saturdays for special events
Admission: Free for the park; other events vary in price
Located on a pond surrounded by forests, Cochran Mill hosts birthday parties, summer camps, a Halloween Hayride, and a Snake Day Festival. The Center is home to birds of prey, a large reptile exhibit, and bats. You can hike to a waterfall and feed the fish in the pond.
Address: 6300 Cochran Mill Road, Palmetto, GA 30268
Hours: 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Closed on Sunday
Admission: $3 for adults; $2 for kids under 12; free for children 2 and under
Situated at the base of Sawnee Mountain, the Preserve has three miles of hiking trails, a visitor center with exhibitions, a library, and classroom, and ecological and adventure classes. Tree climbing classes are a popular offering.
Address: 4075 Spot Road, Cumming, GA 30040
Hours: Trails are open daily; Visitor Center - 8:30-5:00, Monday-Friday
Admission: Free for hiking and visitor center; classes vary in price
The Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center hosts preschool classes, night hikes, and summer camps, but it also has a hands-on museum with a science and history focus. Kids can explore water, cultural history, and conservation.
Address: 2020 Clean Water Drive, Buford, GA 30519
Hours: Trails are open from dawn until dusk; Museum - 9:00-4:00, Monday-Saturday
Admission: Non-Residents - $10.50 for adults; $8.50 for students 13-22; $6.50 for children 3-12: children 2 and under are free. Residents - $7.50 for adults; $5.50 for students 13-22; $3.50 for children 3-12; children 2 and under are free.