Just west of Cleveland, Ohio there is a charming city called Bay Village. It is home to an incredible science and nature educational center called the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center. It is located on the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks. It offers FREE admission and FREE wildlife rehabilitation services.
I took my two young daughters to visit for the first time towards the end of last year and we left wishing that we had visited sooner! The center includes live animal displays (both indoors and outdoors), a public access planetarium, a nature-based preschool and absolutely beautiful park grounds that are set along the gorgeous shores of Lake Erie.
Background / History:
Their mission is to “educate and inspire each of the us to understand, appreciate and take responsibility for our natural world”. Their vision is to “give every child and adult the opportunity to make a lasting connection to the natural world and to build a lifelong passion for discovery.”
The center was created by Elberta Fleming who became inspired when a child asked her about a butterfly that he held in his hand while she was working at the front desk of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. She realized the true benefit of hands-on learning for children. To learn more about the centers beginnings, click here.
Indoor Wildlife Displays:
Next, we moved on to the indoor wildlife display area. This place was SO informative for me as an adult! I had no idea how many varieties of animals we had in our area! Also, many of the animals have stories behind why they may look the way that they do or why they were rescued. The pictures below do not even do this area justice!
Outdoor Wildlife Displays:
The outdoor wild life area is really beautiful and small enough for little ones to walk through. My only caution in this area is to keep an eye on little ones and be sure that they do not stick their hands or fingers up to the enclosures. You are able to get right up the animals enclosures which is a really incredible experience, but I could easily see a curious young child reaching out to touch the animals out of curiosity and possibly getting pecked or bit.
There are several varieties of wild birds, a white hare, etc. In front of each animals catch is a information sheet that explains where the animals live and their stats on height, weight, habitat, diet, etc.
Unfortunately, we were about 15 minutes too late for a planetarium show, BUT we have full intentions on re-visiting and we will be sure to check the planetarium schedule in advance next time. The hallway to the planetarium itself is so fun for kids to explore and enjoy! My kids loved running through the hallway, checking out the glow in the dark space images on the wall and then realizing that some of their own clothes were also glowing!
We did not get to explore this room, as there was a class going on during that time. But I did take a photo of the room that was posted. It looks incredible! And if you check out their website, you can get a strong feel for what classes are offered in this area for young children.
They also offer a variety of educational opportunities for all youth! See the links below to their website for more information.
Surrounding Park Grounds:
We did not fully explore the park grounds on this particular day of our visit, but I know that I could spend days just exploring, relaxing and enjoying the park over and over again. It would be a perfect setting for a picnic or walking with friends. The natural surroundings are gorgeous.
Eventually, we will venture back to the center. It was quite a drive for us to Bay Village but the area is quite beautiful and I can envision checking out a class there and then a picnic in the surrounding park area with the kids.