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Tamarack Nature Center, White Bear Township

5287 Otter Lake Rd. White Bear Township, MN 55110
Admission: $0.00
Trails and Discovery Hollow and Garden are free and open to the public. Please sign in at the main office before or after your visit. Donations are gratefully accepted. Some Programs have fees.
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Tue. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Wed. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Thu. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Fri. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sat. 09:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sun. 12:00 PM - 04:30 PM
Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area & Garden; Open daily: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Open select evenings, please call for details.

Tamarack Nature Center is a 320-acre nature preserve. It is technically part of the Located in Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park, but it is really quite separate from most of the rest of the park, It offers both free and paid nature education programs and is home to the incredible nature playground, Discovery Hollow. Entrance to the park is free and off-street parking is offered near the nature center. Dogs are not allowed in the nature center portion of the park.

Note this is a different park from Tamarack Nature Preserve in Woodbury.

Discovery Hollow is closed for construction through most of the summer of 2020. We recommend one of these Twin Cities Nature Playgrounds or DIY Nature Fun with these 65+ Fun Nature Play Ideas for Kids. Trails will remain open during construction.

Tamarack Nature Center Indoor Activities for Kids

The nature center building is full of fun activities for kids and families. Kids can get an up-close look at animals that would be found in the park, including turtles, snakes, salamanders, and frogs. They can also see a display of a honey bee hive. Cuddle up in the sitting area with nature-themed books, puzzles and toys. Drop In Discovery Stations are often held indoors.

Drop In Discovery Stations Discovery Hollow

Tamarack offers free Saturday morning Drop-In Discovery Stations from 10 a.m. – noon every Saturday morning from March – October and the first Saturday of each month from November – February.

Visitors are free to come and go from the programs as they choose, and no pre-registration is required. Drop-In Discoveries are led by Tamarack’s volunteer Discovery Hosts and feature up-close visits with live animals, including Tamarack’s resident owls, snakes and salamanders. Participants also get hands-on experience with touchable artifacts, like skulls and skins, and sample edible treats from the Discovery Hollow garden. Upcoming topics can be found HERE or on our Family Fun Calendar.

When we visited Tamarack we couldn't have felt more welcomed by the staff and volunteers. We looked out the floor to ceiling windows at the wetland habitat in front of us; we enjoyed the beehive (that was safely behind plexiglass); and we built with the tree shaped blocks.

It was low-key and invigorating at the same time. Drop-In Discovery Stations add that much more thrill for learning and experiencing nature. Stations are open to all ages, but please note that children should be accompanied by an adult.

courtesy ramsey County

Image courtesy Ramsey County

Tamarack Nature Center Trails with Kids

The nature center has several walking trails ranging from .12 miles to 2½ miles. These trails are strictly for human pedestrians; bikes and dogs are not allowed. Some of the trails are open for cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing during the winter. Download a PDF map of the trails here.

Meet the Gardener

If  you are new to gardening or would like to grow your knowledge, you can meet in Discovery Hollow at Tamarack every Monday during the summer from 10:15 - 11:00 am for Meet the Gardener.  Try your hand a planting and tending the garden at Tamarack and enjoy your fruits of the harvest.

Meet the Tamarack Nature Center Gardener

Image courtesy of Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack Nature Center Birthday Party Packages

Tamarack offers both Naturalist-led birthday parties and space rental for private birthday parties. Packages for parties led by professional environmental educators are generally available for 2-hour blocks on weekends. Parents can also call for weekday availability. If you prefer space rental only, this option is available also.  Learn more about both options HERE.

Find this and more parties: Twin Cities Birthday Parties for Kids: Party in the Park.

Tamarack Nature Center, Summer Camp

Image courtesy of Tamarack Nature Center

Free Summer Fun and Events at Tamarack

Tamarack offers several free programs during summer. On Mondays, Meet the Gardener allows visitors to help with planting, tending and tasting the harvest. Families can also go on a Discovery Walk through the prairie or attend a weekly Drop-in Discovery Station.

Tamarack Nature Center Summer Camps

Tamarack offers 4-day summer camps during the summer months. Find updated information and prices in our annual summer camp guide.

Tamarack Nature Center Preschool

The nature center works with White Bear Lake school district to offer ECFE programs and My Nature Preschool. Preschool is half days for 2-4 days per week.

Find more preschools like this: FFTC's Guide to Twin Cities Preschools

Winter Activities at Tamarack Nature Center

Tamarack is one of several Ramsey County Parks that keeps cross-country ski trails packed. A Minnesota Ski Pass is required to use these trails for anyone 16 and over. Ramsey county provides trail maps and and rules for use on its website. Both skis and snowshoes can be rented at the Tamarack Winter Recreation Rental Shack (part of the nature center building), between mid December and early March. Prices start at $7 (5 and under) and $14 (6 through adult) for two hours for shoe and ski rental. Note: that the rental shack closes when trail conditions are poor. Weather permitting, equipment can be rented Monday through Saturday: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and Sundays 12:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. Rentals must be returned by 4:00 p.m.

Tamarack has a designated sledding hill located in the Discovery Hollow Nature Play Area.

Updates to Discovery Hollow

Discovery Hollow and Garden is getting a makeover during the summer of 2020. The play area will remain closed through most of the summer to allow for construction. Updates will include:

  • The fort area"logs and hollows" will be moved to a shadier location.
  • The play stream will be rerouted improve flow.
  • The mud table will be replaced with a full mud kitchen (to be installed at a later date)
  • Fencing will be updated.

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