Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wildwood Park, Harrisburg, PA--Hidden Gem

Wildwood Park, Harrisburg PA
This past weekend, we checked out Wildwood Lake Nature Center for their annual Wetlands Festival. I've seen the "attraction" sign on the highway in Harrisburg many times and have always been intrigued. After some poking around on the internet, I decided that their Wetlands Festival would be an opportune time to see what this place was all about. (Although the festival is over, they offer a number of events and classes throughout the summer, as well as summer camps for kids 7+, all available on their website.) The park and Nature Center are free. Some of their classes and activities are free, and others carry a small fee.

If you look closely, you can spot some Egrets off in the distance.

As you know, I'm forever looking for places to take Ethan to visit, minimal travel of the South Central Pennsylvania area, that are appropriate for the 0-3 year old crowd. Ethan loves to be outside, so the trails around the lake sounded like a good fit.

Nature Center
I was pleasantly surprised by the Nature Center. From inside there was a great bird watching area complete with comfortable chairs. They even have a bird cam you can watch from home! There's a book reading area with books for adults and children. We didn't take the time to sift though their library, but it definitely looked like something Ethan would enjoy! A discovery area for children was in the back full of crafts for kids to do at any time (although not infant projects, I saw potential for baby involvement). Interactive learning areas help you learn about the local wildlife and wetlands. The center isn't large, but it's very well done.

Hiking Trails
We then continued our afternoon by checking out some of the hiking trails (they have a good variety of trails for all skill levels-some of which are wheelchair/ stroller accessible). We took both of the Boardwalk trails through the wetlands and marsh, and back by the lake. Along the way there were multiple identification stations to help identify local birds and wildlife, as well as observation huts where you could watch the birds without spooking them away. I was amazed by how many different birds we saw--even with a chatty infant!

The Verdict
Ethan really enjoyed our walk. He was super happy the whole way, and there was just so much for him to take in! I'd love to go back and spend some time at the Nature Center when we have a bit more time. Some of the displays really caught Ethan's eye too! There's quite a bit to do and explore, and the park is very well maintained. Definitely worth the trip! :-)


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