Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
GOOD FOR: All Ages

Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:500 Walk Hill Street, Mattapan, MA
Hours:Trails: dawn to dusk daily; nature center: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and Monday holidays
Fee: Free for Mass Audubon members; $2 suggested donation for nonmembers
Contact:; 617-983-8500

Bathrooms: At the nature center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain in the nature center

Visitors will enjoy easy walking trails and a surprising amount of wildlife in such an urban setting.

Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

You never know what might turn up when you take a walk at this 67-acre urban sanctuary. On one hot summer afternoon, after dodging a multitude of day campers playing on the lawn, my group went out the back door of the nature center, followed the easy 0.5-mile Snail Trail to Fox Trail, where in just a couple of minutes, all noise fell away. Rabbits hopped down the trail in front of us. A few minutes after that, a large turkey and three small chicks made their way across our path. This is a perfect hike for toddlers.

The 2 miles of trails here are easy to navigate and range from grassy meadows to boardwalks through wetlands. Download the winter quest on the center’s website and follow the guide to thirteen stations. The naturalist’s notes and clues will teach kids all about winter wildlife and flora and fauna.

This is a popular and busy Mass Audubon property, offering environmental education programs to Boston elementary schools weekly. The sanctuary’s George Robert White Environmental Conservation Center was built green to teach about environmentally sustainable design. Inside, you’ll find displays about the building and about the animals and birds in the area.

Remember: The nature center has birding kits that you can borrow for 1.5 hours. Each kit includes binoculars, bird guide books, and a list of common birds found at the center. Call ahead to reserve one if you have a budding birder in the family.

Plan B:

Forest Hills Cemetery is just next door.

Where to Eat Nearby:

Numerous places to grab a quick bite are on American Legion Highway.


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