Most nature centers are operated by a city or non-profit, so admission to these nature centers is usually free, except for special events, and special programs are either programs are free or low-cost.
The visitor's center has a library and resources about the natural world, and also about green gardening and housekeeping. Outside, there is a natural play area with logs and boulders to climb and balance on.
Gardeners will find Maplewood Nature Center of interest too, with their demonstration gardens: raingardens, woodland and wildflower prairie butterfly gardens and a small constructed pond with waterfall.
The nature center is open year-round, you can hike or stroll the trails in summer, and snowshoes are available for rent in the winter months.
As well as wild animals, a small demonstration farm has barnyard animals to see, and there might be eggs from Dodge's chickens for sale at the visitor's center.
Dodge Nature Center is well known for it's popular pre-school, and a large selection of programs and day camps for school age children - a great resource for local parents.
The Nature Center's visitor center has resident bees, snakes, turtles and other live animals, and is the location for regular nature programs for children and adults.
Outside the nature center is a nature-themed play area, with logs, caves and a sandy-bottomed stream to play in.
The grounds has several miles of trails through forest, meadow and prairie. A unique feature is the permanent orienteering course. For a couple of dollars, you can borrow a map, compass, and punch card to track down several control points around the nature center. There's beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses.
It's open year-round, with reduced hours in the winter, and visitors can rent kayaks, canoes in the summer, and snowshoes and kicksleds in the winter.
Inside the visitor's center, families will find a library of nature books, specimens, live animals like frogs, and bees who live and make honey in a see-through hive. And outside, there are trails through marsh and woodland, plus the play areas in Central Park.
An annual Earth Day celebration and several other annual events are held at the Harriet Alexander Nature Center, all free to the public.