I recently saw this Topic and completely mis-read its intent. I thought it was about good nature places to take kids! Since it was not about that…
Do you know fun natural places to take children? Here are a few from my area. Realizing visitor centers may be closed due to covid, these parks still offer interesting natural scenes.
My criteria also includes:
-Bathrooms and parking areas
-Safe trails (using good sense)
-Something intriguing not found at playgrounds
Natural Bridges State Park in Santa Cruz, CA
Besides a lovely beach (do be careful of waves here) with many shore birds, there are 2 shallow tidal lagoons. In winter, a population of overwintering Monarch butterflies visits the area behind the beach. There is a winding boardwalk down to a little viewing platform. Also, some easy trails that go to a lagoon and through a semi-forested area.
Henry Cowell State Park, Felton California
Many old grown redwoods are fire-hollowed, making imaginary tree houses (one with a real room, many have partial hollows with doors and windows). Besides the old growth tree loop trail, there is a nice trail (Pipeline) to a nearby river beach. There are usually nice docents around to point out interesting features. The adorable gift shop is open. Bonus: Roaring Camp Railroad is walking distance. They are open for old-time steam train rides through the forest (reservations likely needed).
Alum Rock County Park, San Jose, CA
The YSI Nature Center and the Ranger Station may be closed now, but the bathrooms are open. There are pretty pathways along the creek and one or two hot springs inside tiny grottos. There’s lots of wildlife. The south-facing side of the creek is dry, with grasses and oaks. The northern side is much wetter and shady. Different plant and animal communities are found just a few hundred yards apart on either side of the creek (e.g., scrub jays on the dry side and Stellers jays on the cool side.
I have some others in mind, but mainly I think it would be lovely if you could contribute ideas for other areas.