After a long winter stuck indoors, April is the perfect time to get out and explore. Westchester’s nature centers offer unique programs to help you spot animal tracks, identify birds, even plant a garden. Their trails are open daily, dawn to dusk. This list highlights just a few of the programs going on. Program times and days are subject to change, so call ahead or visit the websites listed to find out more. Most programs are free or offered for a nominal fee, plus parking fees don’t start until May — so enjoy seeing the sun once again!
Audubon Center of Greenwich 613 Riversville Road, Greenwich, CT (203) 869-5272 On the property’s 285 acres, you can explore woodlands, wetlands, and meadows within 10 miles of hiking trails. Open 9am-5pm daily, the Audubon Center offers events nearly every Saturday. On April 3, join the staff to look for the signs of spring in Blackbirds, Bluebirds, and Pussy Willows. On Saturday the 24th, join the Wildflower Walk at 2pm. Admission to the center is free for members, $3 for adults, $1.50 for seniors and children. Program fees are the same and include admission to the center; pre-registration is required. For more, visit http://greenwich.center.audubon.org.
Cranberry Lake Preserve Off Route 22, Old Orchard Street, North White Plains (914) 428-1005 The 165-acre preserve, which includes wetlands, a 10-acre lake and three miles of trails, is open from 9am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday. Weekend programs include Looking at Predatory Birds on Saturday, April 3, at 1pm. Or go Ponding on the 24th at 2pm. Pre-register your 3rd-5th grader for Habitat Hoopla, a three-session program, April 17, May 1 and 15. The program costs $30 and runs from 1pm-3pm. Admission to the preserve is free. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Croton Point Nature Center Croton Avenue, Croton-on-Hudson (914) 862-5297 This 504-acre site was once a Native American Indian fortress. Located on the largest peninsula on the Hudson, the park includes meadows and four miles of river shoreline. Join a Spring Migrant Bird Walk on Saturday, April 10, from 11am-3pm. Learn more about gardening throughout the month. On Saturday, April 3, learn about composting at 11am, and on Saturday, April 17, starting at 11am, help plant in the nature center’s garden. Open 9am-4pm Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Greenburgh Nature Center 99 Dromore Road, Scarsdale (914) 723-3470 At this 33-acre woodland preserve complete with hiking trails and nature center with animals, enjoy Nature Bugs on Mondays, April 12, 19, and 26, from 1:30-2:30pm for 2- to 4-year-olds. For children ages 18 months-5 years there is Critters, Crafts & Kids on Wednesdays, April 14, 21, and 28, from 10-11am. Both programs require a parent or caregiver to attend. Older children, in grades 1-3, can attend the Nature Explorer series on Tuesdays, April 13, 20, 27, from 3:45-4:45pm, without a parent. All classes are drop-in. For members, classes are $3 adults and $2 children, non-members pay $5 adults and $4 children; admission to the Manor House is extra. The nature center is open 10am-5pm daily, except Fridays. For more, visit www.townlink.com/community_web/gnc/.
Lenoir Preserve Dudley Street, Yonkers (914) 968-5851 This 40-acre preserve lies along the Old Croton Aqueduct and overlooks the Hudson River. There are butterfly and hummingbird gardens as well as a dragonfly pond within the woodland and field habitat of the park. Visit the nature center from 9am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday. Saturday, April 3, identify trees in Buds and Mud and Leaves at 11am. On the 24th, go on a Glorious Spring Hike for Kids at 11am. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Marshlands Conservancy Route 1, Rye (914) 835-4466 At the 173-acre property, you’ll find forest, meadow, salt marsh, and shore habitats included in three miles of trails and a one-half mile Long Island Sound shoreline. Families with children over 7 can see the Return of the Osprey, or fish hawk, Sunday, April 4. at 10am. Nature Adventures is perfect for 3- to 4-year-olds on Thursdays April 8, 15 and 22, from 1-2:30pm. The program is $30; pre-registration required. Children attend with a parent or caregiver. The center is open from 9am-5pm. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary Playland Parkway, Rye (914) 967-8720 This 179-acre wildlife sanctuary, located on the Long Island Sound shore, includes diverse marine life and hosts over 5,000 species of ducks. Walk along three miles of forest and field trails or take a look at tidal creatures along the shore. On Saturday, April 10, at 10am, come to Low Tide Ramble for Kids and find out more about crabs, snails, mussels and clams. On April 17, get an Introduction to Spring Birding at 9am. Open 9am-4pm. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Rye Nature Center 873 Boston Post Road, Rye (914) 967-5150 This 47-acre wildlife preserve, which has over two miles of hiking trails, is open from 10am-4pm daily. Spring Break Camp runs April 5-9, from 10am-2pm daily, for K-4th grade. Fees are $40 a day or $190 for the week. Pre-registration is encouraged; children should dress appropriately and bring a bag lunch. Admission to the nature center is free. For more, visit www.ryenaturecenter.org.
Stamford Museum and Nature Center 39 Scofieldtown Road, Stamford, CT (203) 322-1646 You’ll find everything from horses and cows to llamas on this 118-acre working New England farm. Hikers will enjoy miles of trails in which you might spot wood ducks, painted turtles and even woodpeckers within the forest or along the creek. Take a Hike Week, April 20, 21 and 22, gives families a chance to take a guided tour. On Tuesday, April 20, For the Birds invites 4th graders and up to spot birds; hikes begin at 8:30am, 9:30am and 10:30am. On the same day, Rock Hounds, at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm, helps 1st graders and up identify rocks. Admission for Stamford residents is $3 adults, $2 for those under 14 and seniors, and for non-residents $6 adults, $5 for those under 14 and seniors, under 3 admitted free. Hours are Monday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sunday from 11am-5pm. For more, visit www.stamfordmuseum.org.
Teatown Lake Reservation 1600 Spring Valley Road, Ossining (914) 762-2912 Located on an 834-acre preserve, this reservation includes a 33-acre lake, streams, and a scenic gorge, as well as swamps, forests and meadows. The nature center is open Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-5pm and Sunday from 1-5pm. Mucking for Teatown’s Lake Critters takes place Sunday, April 4, from 1-2:30pm, for 6- to 7-year-olds. Members pay $6 and non-members $8. The Spring Fling Mini-Camp runs from April 5-9. Create crafts and learn more about the outdoors, from 9am-noon for 4- to 7-year-olds, and from 9am-3pm for 8- to 12-year-olds. Cost is $115 for members and $135 for non-members to attend half-day; $230 for members and $260 for non-members for the full day. For more, visit www.teatown.org.
Trailside Nature Museum Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, Routes 35 & 121, Cross River (914) 864-7322 The 4,700-acre park is Westchester’s largest and boasts wetland ponds, hemlock gorges, ponds, two rivers and 35 miles of trails. The nature center is open from 9am-4pm Tuesday-Saturday. Keep busy on Saturday the 17th with Nature Awareness and the Teachings for the Medicine Wheel (pre-registration required) at 10am, and Lessons from Nature: Animals, Plants and the Native Americans at 1pm. Nature Awareness through Drawing is offered on Saturday, April 25, at 1pm. Bring a sketchpad and pencils and learn more about the outdoors through drawing. All of the programs are suggested for ages 12 and above. For more, visit www.westchestergov.com/parks.
Weinberg Nature Center 455 Mamaroneck Road, Scarsdale (914) 722-1289 Weinberg offers a butterfly and a hummingbird garden, which are being expanded each year. Also on the property you’ll find a Japanese-style Zen meditation garden. Free programs include The Nature of Things: Reptiles & Amphibians, Sunday, April 18, at 2pm, for families; and Woodland Animals on April 25 at 2pm. Don’t miss the Archeology Program held Saturdays from 10am-noon; the program is recommended for 4th graders and above and requires registration. Other programs include Toddler Time, where youngsters discover animal tracks and nature along with a parent or caregiver, Mondays from 10:30-11:30am, registration costs $72 for six sessions beginning April 19 and running through May 24. Spring Vacation Workshops are also available April 7-8 for 2- to 10-year-olds. Hours vary. For more, visit www.scarsdale.com/weinberg.asp.