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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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Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center

  • Address: 6685 Coolidge Highway, Troy
  • Phone: 248-688-9703
  • Hours: Exhibit Hall hours: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, closed on holidays. Trails: Dawn-dusk daily. Building hours can change without notice; call ahead to confirm.
  • Admission: Free/general and trails, small fees/programs

Visit this sanctuary with your family for tons of nature fun. Take a hike along the trails for some beautiful views, or try one of their special programs, like the Junior Naturalists.

Nankin Mills Interpretive Center

  • Address: 33175 Ann Arbor Trail, Westland
  • Phone: 734-261-1990
  • Hours: 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday.
  • Admission: Free/general, fee/programs

Sue, a large snapping turtle, will greet you – along with some other real reptiles and amphibians. There are tons of hands-on activities here, including touch boxes where kids can feel real snakeskin and other nature items, or the touch table, featuring elk antlers. Touch-screen computers feature games about river cleanliness. Or head to the interactive map. Find history exhibits and interactive programs, too. Fun fact: This historic mill was one owned by Henry Ford!

Oakwoods Metropark Nature Center

  • Address: 32991 Willow Road, across river from Michigan Memorial Cemetery
  • Phone: 734-782-3956
  • Hours: 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
  • Admission: Park entry: $7/vehicle daily, $30 annual; fees vary/program

Wow! The huge 700-gallon turtle tank is a fun place to watch real turtles swimming about. See snakes, toads and fish, too. Hawkeye the red-tailed hawk would like to meet you, if you swing by to say hello. Find trails, a pond and butterfly garden here as well.

Red Oaks Nature Center at Friendship Woods

  • Address: 30300 Hales St., Madison Heights
  • Phone: 248-585-0100; 248-858-0916 (programs)
  • Hours: Noon-4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday, noon-8 p.m. Wednesday, closed Sunday-Monday. Trails: Dawn-dusk, daily.
  • Admission: Center: Free; park entry $5/day or $30/annual Oakland County resident, $10/day or $46/annual nonresident; small fees/programs

This cozy nature center, which is inside a log cabin, offers programs for families, includes exhibits with live native animals. Also, find a pond with a low waterfall, which is a water source for the wildlife in the area. Check out the surrounding George W. Guarez Friendship Woods and 1.3-mile paved trail. Find nature programs online.

Sterling Heights Nature Center

  • Address: 42700 Utica Road, Sterling Heights
  • Phone: 586-446-2710
  • Hours: Fall/winter/spring: 1-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Summer (June 17-Labor Day weekend): 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
  • Admission: Free/general, fees/programs

Find a calendar of nature center events to see what piques your family's interest. Head to the center to discover the live reptiles and amphibians and explore the touch tables. Nature walks and classes are available here, too.

Stony Creek Metropark Nature Center

  • Address: 4300 Main Park Drive, Shelby Township
  • Phone: 586-781-9113
  • Hours: 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (school season); 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily (summer).
  • Admission: Park: $7/vehicle daily, $30/annual; fees vary/programs

What a great environment for the area's wildlife! This nature center gets families up close to live snakes, turtles and fish. Want to participate in one of the programs here? Be sure to keep up with this center for fun nature-filled activities.

Wint Nature Center

  • Address: Independence Oaks Park, 9501 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston
  • Phone: 248-625-6473
  • Hours: walk-ins: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1-5 p.m. Sunday; registered groups and appointments: Tuesday-Thursday.
  • Admission: Park entry: $5/day or $30/annual Oakland County resident, $10/day or $46/annual non-resident; small fees/programs

Programs? Special events? You bet! Find the StarLab here, plus the Nature Discovery program. Take a look out the Window on Wildlife to see wildlife feeding outside.

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