Tag - Springbrook Nature Center

Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green
A Family Visit to Springbrook Nature Center

Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green

Nature Playgrounds are a growing trend for good reason; scientists keep finding connections between nature to child development and well-being.

nature playgrounds
It used to be, according to my children, that in order for a park to be authentic, it needed at least a slide and a set of swings. I was less enthusiastic about taking them to places like state parks simply because I felt I’d have to go the extra mile to “prove” that playing and exploring in a natural environment could be just as fun as clambering around a commercially manufactured jungle gym. Don’t get me wrong – the local playgrounds can be a lot of fun, too. And some are really inventive! But I have to say that I get a deeper satisfaction from watching them play in a more natural setting: digging, figuring out how to climb that tree, following paths, building forts. They become immersed in tossing rocks into the water, scouting frogs, collecting wildflowers. They also gradually forget that “playing at the park” requires a plastic treehouse.

So here’s what I find really cool: incorporating natural elements into new playground designs seems to be the trend. More places are popping up where kids get the opportunity to interact with the landscape and, perhaps, develop a greater appreciation for it. Here are seven places I’ve discovered that have those goals in mind:

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A Family Visit to Springbrook Nature Center

Located just off University Ave in Fridley is a piece of land called Springbrook Nature Center.  Tucked behind Walmart, you would never really know it’s there unless someone told you. So I’m telling you.Springbrook

Springbrook Nature Center is a beautiful park to enjoy.  They have an interpretive center where you can learn about the ecosystem located in Fridley, and they have groomed trails to enjoy.


There is plenty to do and see in the interpretive center with a puppet theatre, books, and touchable artifacts.  They also have a display from the 1986 tornado that went through Fridley.  With interactive displays and live animals, your kids will be enthralled for hours.





Live animals include:

  • snakes–lots of snakes.  That was a bit difficult for this girl who hates snakes.
  • toads and frogs
  • fish
  • turtles
  • butterfly chrysalis sanctuary
Soon it was time to head out for a walk/hike.  Springbrook has quite a few trails to follow.  Some are miles long.   The problem was that I couldn’t figure out how to read the map.  Luckily, we ended up on a short loop and not long loop, but I was so confused.  I would turn around and look at the map over my shoulder to try to figure out which trail we should take every time we came to a crossroads.  I have no idea why it was so difficult for me.

Even though I was completely confused by the map, it was beautiful.  We enjoyed the entire experience.  The shade of the trees kept us cool from the hot sun, but there was plenty of sun, too.

The staff at  Springbrook Nature Center host regularly scheduled  classes:

  • Get Crafty on Monday nights:  $3 crafts to do with your whole family
  • Polliwogs on Tuesday mornings: for preschoolers
  • Nature IQ on Tuesday evenings:  $3 for the whole family
  • Eco-Fitness on Thursday evenings:  $3 to participate in natural cardiovascular workout
  • Animal Feedings on Saturday mornings: for the whole family
I am so excited about Springbrook Nature Center.  It’s a blessing to be surrounded by so many natural celebrations in the midst of the cities.  I would highly recommend Springbrook Nature Center for a relaxing day outside.

And I think they would agree!


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