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Best Family Nature Centers in Southeast Michigan

Experience the great outdoors and adventure in nature at these Macomb, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw centers in Metro Parent's 2014-15 guide

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Farmington Hills Nature Center

  • Address: Heritage Park, 24915 Farmington Road (between 10 and 11 Mile roads),
  • Phone: 248-477-1135
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday. Closed most holidays and closed Mondays in winter (December-March)
  • Admission: Free/general, fees/programs

Find family-friendly groups and activities for the kids like the Advanced Junior Naturalist Club and outdoor yoga. At the Discovery Cove, check out the hands-on touch table. Plus, inside, you'll see a life-sized animal habitat with 40-plus critters, a backyard habitat viewing area, native fish aquariums and a nature library, too. Plus, sign up for camps at the nature center and park or head here with your school or scout group for programs.

Gerald E. Eddy Discovery Center

  • Address: Waterloo Recreation Area, 17030 Bush Road, Chelsea
  • Phone: 734-475-3170
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. Sunday (April 1-Memorial Day and September-November). Open Mondays (Memorial-Labor Day), weekends only (January-March).
  • Admission: fees vary, most programs free for Waterloo Natural History Association Members, $2/person, $5/family (non-members). Recreation Passport is required for entry. $11/Michigan residents.

An interactive map lets families see the Waterloo area's natural highlights. Kids will love the "Mad Scientist Lab" and the "Fossil Graveyard." Afterward, take a hike on the trails at the 20,000-plus acre park.

Indian Springs Metropark Environmental Discovery Center

  • Address: 5175 Indian Trail, White Lake
  • Phone: 248-625-7280
  • Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily
  • Admission: Park entry: $7/vehicle daily, $30 annual; fees vary/programs

Here, kids can learn about Michigan's ecosystems. Located on more than 60 acres, the center has everything from ponds to wetlands and prairies. Be amazed by the underwater viewing room at this award-winning spot.

Kensington Metropark Nature Center

  • Address: 2240 W. Buno Road, Milford
  • Phone: 810-227-8917
  • Hours: Center: 1-5 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Park: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
  • Admission: Park entry: $7/vehicle daily, $30/annual; fees vary/programs

See fun live displays here filled with reptiles and fish. Plus, hands-on activities are always a treat for the kids. Take a walk on the trails to see the woods and marshes, too. Don't forget about the monthly activities!

Lake Erie Marshlands Museum & Nature Center

  • Address: Lake Erie Metropark, 32481 W. Jefferson Ave., Brownstown
  • Phone: 734-379-5020
  • Hours: School season: 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Summer hours (through Labor Day): 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily.
  • Admission: Park entry: $7/vehicle daily, $30/annual, fees vary/programs

A highlight here is always seeing the real live bald eagle, Luc, who was rescued by the park. Find a 1,300-gallon aquarium and see regional fish swimming along. Kids will get a kick out of the Marshland Symphony, where you can play bird and frog calls. Find programs for the kids here, too.

Lake St. Clair Metropark Nature Center

  • Address: 31300 Metropolitan Parkway, Harrison Township
  • Phone: 586-463-4581
  • Hours: 1-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends. Check for summer hours.
  • Admission: $7/vehicle daily, $30/annual, fees vary/programs

Interested in the wetlands? Head here to see lots of wildlife thanks to the shoreline, wooded and marsh areas. Live reptiles and amphibians are always fun for the kids to watch for. Take a nature walk or partake in one of the family programs, too.

Leslie Science & Nature Center

  • Address: 1831 Traver Road, Ann Arbor
  • Phone: 734-997-1553
  • Hours: Critter House: Noon-3 p.m. Sunday. Contact for program hours. Grounds: Sunrise-sunset daily.
  • Admission: Free/general, fees vary/programs

The Critter House is teeming with, well, critters! Visit the turtles, snakes, rabbits and more. Plus, there are always the raptor and birds of prey enclosures to see – or explore the grounds. Leslie Science & Nature Center has family events available, too.

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