I’m loving the back-to-nature trend I’ve seen pop up at outdoor play spaces in the Twin Cities. As much as I appreciate neighborhood parks we can bike to, it’s refreshing to take a break from the standard play equipment and unleash the kids on a place like Discovery Hollow at Tamarack Nature Center in White Bear Lake. This natural playground has been designed with all the elements kids crave: fallen logs and stumps to balance on, sticks to build forts, beautifully-engineered and arranged boulders to clamber over and a sufficient amount of sand and water to keep them entertained for hours.
I never tire of watching the kids find so much joy in playing with basic materials. They also loved puttering around in the Hollow’s garden, a space that, come August, will be bursting with produce and flowers the children are encouraged to tend. There’s a pump to supply water, mulch to spread, and plenty of buckets to collect weeds (when we were there last summer, prizes were awarded to kids who filled a weed bucket). If you can find the “secret” strawberry patch, harvesting a couple is perfectly fine.
If I can offer a couple tips for a gorgeous sunny day: if you’ve got the time, plan to spend a few hours at Discovery Hollow. Pack a picnic and have the kids wear swimsuits under their clothes! If yours are anything like my brood as soon as they see the glint of sun on the water they’re as good as drenched. My son spent an hour damming streams with sand while his sisters dug swimming pools. And yes, completely immersed themselves. But how can I mind when they’re having an absolute blast connecting with nature?
Discovery Hollow at Tamarack Nature Center
5287 Otter Lake Road
White Bear Township, MN 55110
Hollow and Garden Seasonal Hours:
Sun – Wed: 9am-5pm
Thurs – Sat: 9am-dusk