New Year, New Discoveries
December 31, 2014

This is the last day of the year, traditionally a day to look back and reflect before gearing up for the new year. I’m continually grateful to have the opportunity to write about something I love. This blog was born from the Outdoors with Kids Boston book, which I wrote for the Appalachian Mountain Club a couple of years ago. The book, subtitled “100 Fun Places to Explore In and Around the City,” covers just that many places and no more, but in doing research with my family, we discovered so many others.

As I continue to write this column, I get to share all the places that I couldn’t include in the book and I am so excited that I am always discovering more. New England really is a playground for outdoors lovers. I’m also happy to have been able to collaborate with sites like Mommy Poppins, and to have written for Family Travel Magazine and Mommy Nearest about family fun in the outdoors.

I hope 2015 brings lots of great outdoor adventures for you and your family! Below is one place to put on your ‘to-visit’ list, especially if you’ve never been.

Happy New Year!

North River Wildlife Sanctuary
This Marshfield Mass Audubon property, named for the river that runs along its northern boundary, sits on 225 acres and offers 2.5 miles of trails to explore. One trail leads down to the river to a platform perfectly situated to look for birds or harbor seals. Another trail leads to the Hannah Eames Brook, while yet another is the half-mile accessible Woodland Trail and Fern Path. This trail combines a boardwalk and ADA-compliant hard pack surface that winds through the mixed deciduous forest, through a fern glen and red maple swamp.

The sanctuary has a novel nature play area, designed to get kids to connect with nature by encouraging self-directed, informal play. Instead of a static, traditional playground, the area gives children the chance to solve problems and construct their surroundings through natural elements and unstructured exploration. They can hone coordination skills as they zig zag along a series of stumps, all of which came from downed trees on the property.

Inside, the Discovery Room is packed with nature-themed toys, puzzles, and games to puppets, magnet boards, and coloring books. You can borrow binoculars to look for birds out of the two huge picture windows. There are information stations explaining the plant life, as well as displays of nests, birds’ eggs, animal bones, cross sections of trees and much more.

A variety of programs are offered year-round ranging from owl prowls to birding. On the second Tuesday of each month at 9:30 a.m., the Little Naturalists program for children ages 3 to 5 (with a caregiver) teaches kids about New England animals and how they live through walks, stories, songs, and crafts. Each month focuses on a different theme. The next one, on January 13, is about bears. Make sure to visit the website for a full schedule of events.

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Make a leaf sailboat. A fallen leaf can be the sail, a stick the mast, and a pinecone or piece of bark the boat body. Head to a nearby pond, stream, or backyard kiddy pool to sail it.



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