Hey folks! As I (think) I've mentioned recently in another post, my biggest goal for the year is getting out and exploring more of Indiana! We received a state park pass from my parents for Christmas, so that's even more incentive, right? Although I don't plan on JUST going to state parks. Case in point...
Dobbs Park in Terre Haute, Indiana. With the weather still being unpredictable here, I decided to get online and see if there were any other cool nature center type places nearby besides the one at McCormick's Creek State Park. (It's only about 12 minutes from us and is one of the best nature centers I've ever been to!) Myka and I both enjoy going to them, so I was happy when I came across Dobbs Creek Nature Center. It looked really awesome from the pictures on their website, so I was excited to check it out.
I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. I had only read about the nature center online, so I had no idea there was also a pond, walking trails, and a pretty nice playground! There was even a Native American “mini museum” right next to the nature center that I didn't know about until the day before when I looked up directions on how to get there! It only took us about 50 minutes to get there, but I also invited my cousin's wife and their kids to come with us, which took them about an hour and 20 minutes to get there from where they live, so I was glad it was totally worth the drive for everyone.
Naturally, the first thing the kids noticed was the playground, so that was our first stop. I wouldn't say it was huge, but it had enough to keep the kids entertained for quite awhile. In fact, the playground ended up being our last stop before heading home per all of the kids' request! Myka was obsessed with the bouncy teeter totter and finally went down the big slide after watching all of the boys go down.
Since it was a bit of a drive for all of us and we didn't meet up until 11, we decided to bring our lunch with us. There was a nice covered area with picnic tables right next to the pond, so that was our cafeteria for the afternoon. There were some geese hanging around in the pond and Myka loves all things birds, so she thought that was really cool.
It was such a nice day that after lunch we decided to check out their trails. We had no idea where we were going and kind of blindly following the older kids, but luckily the trail we went on looped around. It circled around another pond/marshy area and we got to see a line of turtles sunning themselves on a fallen tree in the water. We went on part of some other trails too and winded up back at the first pond. The trails weren't strenuous and offered plenty of shade, so that was nice since I have to carry roughly 25 extra pounds on my back in the form of a 13 month old, backpack carrier, and all the goodies inside the pack. The only warning I do have is that there are quite a lot of tree roots in spots! If you have little ones that can't walk, I don't think I'd even recommend a jogging stroller. A baby carrier or hiking carrier is your best bet.
After stopping by the first pond for a bit after walking, we finally convinced the kids to check out the nature center. Some of them were kind of whiny about it...Until we actually got inside, then they were all super into it! This was, hands down, the best nature center I've ever been to. They had so many things for kids and adults alike to check out, including live animals such as fish, snakes, and turtles, an objects from nature display (which you could actually pick up and check out) that included snake skins, bones, antlers, etc., a bird viewing area, books, and even animal puppets to play with!
The nature center also included a decent sized meeting room, which I assume they use for their special Saturday programs and group programs. And if that's not enough, if you can't make it to their Saturday programs, they offer their extra craft materials so you can make them at home! (I don't think any of them cost over $3.50 or so, if I remember right.) Myka surprised me and wanted the bird to paint instead of the snake, which, if you know how I feel about snakes at all, was fine by me! My cousin's two older boys did get wooden snakes to paint, as well as a bird call, and their daughter got a bead kit to make a butterfly, if I remember correctly, as well as a butterfly life cycle activity. Hopefully that gives you an idea of what they have and, for reference, our kids range from 1-12, so there's just about something for all ages!
Again, we kind of had to drag the kids into the Native American museum after the nature center, but they (mostly) had a good time. (It was getting towards some of their nap times. :) ) Naturally, they all loved playing in the “house” displays, which included a wigwam and longhouse, and food preparation area. Myka and my cousin's 2 year old were pretending to make cupcakes, which was amusing. I used to be really into Native American culture, so I'd love to spend some more time in there next time we go. Oh. And I also found a trail map while we were in there. Better late than never?
I absolutely loved this place and Myka did to, which was evident by her asking to go back there repeatedly for the next several days. It was right up our alley since we all enjoy visiting nature centers and hiking, plus the added bonus of the playground for Myka. Speaking of which, the only other “warning” I have to give is that if you have babies or toddlers who don't do much walking, if any, steer clear of letting them roam around the lawn leading to the play area. It was goose poop city! Other than that, I have no complaints and highly recommend you go check it out with the kiddos if you are local or visiting the area! You can see more pictures and check their hours on their website.
Speaking of pictures, I am totally lame and didn't get any. I know. I was too worried about getting videos to put together for a YouTube overview vid, which I hope you'll watch below. I will definitely be getting some next time!