Nature centers are places where you can see the natural and historical world come alive. Browse through these nature centers in Florida and introduce your children to the world outside their door.
Nature Centers in Florida
Eden Gardens State Park
Stop in for a picnic along Tucker Bayou, stroll down our nature trail, or simply meander through the gardens. The focal point of this park is a beautifully renovated, two-story house with elegant white columns and wrap-around porch. Surrounded by moss-draped live oaks and ornamental gardens, the Wesley house inspires visions of hoop skirts and landed gentry. The park is part of the estate owned in the 1800s by the Wesleys, a wealthy Florida timber family. In 1963, Lois Maxon bought and renovated the home, creating a showplace for her family heirlooms and antiques. The collection of Louis XVI furniture is the second largest in the United States. Guided tours of the house are available hourly Thursday through Monday (including holidays). Visitors can enjoy the grounds, gardens, and picnic area daily from 8:00 a.m. to sunset.
Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center
The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center is located on Hutchinson Island. Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the 57 acre parcel houses the Society's headquarters, library, nature trails, Children's Activity Pavilion, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion and the Frances Langford Visitor's Center. With its coastal hardwood hammocks and mangrove forest communities, the site provides excellent opportunities for education and research aimed at increasing the general knowledge of these unique environments.
Explore the nature, culture, and history of the Big Bend region at the Tallahassee Museum. The Tallahassee Museum’s exhibits explore the human and animal residents of the Big Bend region and reveal their relationships with their communities, with each other and with the area’s natural environment. Areas of the museum include the Phipps Gallery, Wildlife Florida, Big Bend Farm, Old Florida, Natural Florida, Florida & Beyond, and the Discovery Center.
Environmental Learning Center (ELC)
Take a walk on an elevated boardwalk system meandering through a mangrove forest, visit the Wet Lab filled iwth touchable exhibits and aquaria with marin life, tour the Dry Lab's exhibits, preschool play area, and interactive computers, and view the native plant gardens.
Destin History & Fishing Museum
Experience the feeling of swimming in the Gulf of Mexico with award winning examples of fish caught in Destin. This exhibit is displayed on a 100 feet of wall space depicting the Gulf floor. View a large collection of antique fishing rods and reels, the most unique is constructed of split bamboo with an original Penn Reel, that belonged to Ernest Hemmingway. Get an idea of life in Destin before the arrival of electricity in the 1930s. Visit the original Destin Post Office building located adjacent to the property. See the oldest seine fishing boat still in existence, The Primrose, built in 1925. Enjoy vintage photographs of early Destin settlers, boat captains and their boats, beach scenes, businesses, and much more. Located in Destin, Florida.
Morningside Nature Center
Gainesville’s premier nature park, Morningside Nature Center, is one of the last remaining examples of fire-dependent longleaf pine woodlands in the area. More than seven miles of trails wind through sandhill, flatwoods, cypress domes, and areas where native vegetation is being restored. Morningside boasts a spectacular wildflower display and opportunity to see a diverse array of wildlife.
Heathcote Botanical Gardens
Heathcote Botanical Gardens consists of an assortment of specialty gardens including a Japanese Garden, Reflection Garden, Herb Garden, Rainforest Display, Native Plants Garden and a Palm & Cycad Walk. These areas convey an atmosphere of individual garden rooms. Through this type of garden design, you will sense the intimacy of this unique botanical garden. Gracing the areas in between these specialty gardens are borders of flowering shrubs, bulbs, trees, vines and other assorted herbaceous plants. Niches found throughout the garden provide varied microclimates, which allows the use of a wide variety of plants ranging from those found in Mediterranean climates to the Tropics.
Tree Hill Jacksonville's Nature Center
Tree Hill, Jacksonville's center of excellence for environmental education, conservation and awareness, offers programs, facilities and access to natural areas, which promote understanding of and respect for our natural world.
Tree Hill Nature Center
Located in the center of Jacksonville, Florida, Tree Hill is the perfect place to connect with nature for individuals and families, school field trips, home schoolers, scout troops, business groups and so much more. Stop by with your friends and family to explore our 50-acres and three ecosystems. Plan a family reunion or evening reception in the beautiful Joseph A. Strasser Amphitheater. Enjoy fresh air, plentiful trails and an on-site butterfly house.Tree Hill is open to the public Monday - Saturday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary
The Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary offers visitors an opportunity to learn about tigers, lions, cougars, leopards, bobcats, coatimundis, and foxes. You can enjoy a daytime or nighttime tour.
Marine Science Center
Experience the marine environment as you journey past mangroves, coral propagation tanks, alligators, whale and dolphin anatomical exhibits, a dune habitat with a cross-section of a sea turtle nest, and a wide variety of local fish and invertebrates including a 5,000-gallon aquarium. There are always new exhibits to learn from and to enjoy. Text, audio, and on-site naturalists (when available) provide interesting information on the ecology of Volusia County. The museum features sea turtle rehabilitation, nature trails, an observation tower, an artificial reef aquarium, and more.
The Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience
Founded in 1974, the Whitney Lab is dedicated to using marine model animals for studying fundamental problems in biology and applying that knowledge to issues of human health, natural resources, and the environment. The goal of the Whitney Lab’s K-12 outreach education programs is to use the Lab’s resources and expertise in modern biology to enrich science education in the surrounding communities and increase STEM education for local student learners. At the elementary school level, our programs introduce younger students to the scientific method, and do so in a format that promotes observation and questioning. At the higher level we provide high school students with the resources to conduct an experiment using modern biotechnology.
Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Reserve)
The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve was formed through a collaboration of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It covers 74,000 acres of coastal lands in northeast Florida from Ponte Vedra Beach to Palm Coast. The GTM Research Reserve is part of a national system of research reserves that focus on research, education and stewardship. The GTM Research Reserve has a 21,000 square foot Environmental Education Center which includes interpretive exhibits, aquariums, classrooms, teaching and working laboratories, an auditorium and an outdoor amphitheater overlooking the Guana River Aquatic Preserve. Education staff offer programming for all ages on the importance of estuarine ecosystems. A Coastal Training Program offers training for professionals on issues of concern in our local community including watershed, invasive plants and much more.
McKee Botanical Garden
McKee Botanical Garden, Inc. is a private, not-for-profit cultural organization located at the southern gateway to Vero Beach, Florida, with the mission of "nurturing and enhancing a historic garden in a unique subtropical setting for the education, enjoyment and enrichment of all." McKee Botanical Garden is known for its 18-acre subtropical jungle hammock, filled with plants appropriate for horticultural growing zone 9B. This dense and diverse collection also features several restored architectural treasures.
Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center
The Silver River Museum and Environmental Education Center provides unique hands-on learning opportunities for Marion County Public Schools students, staff, and the general public. Visitors learn about the cultural and natural history of Marion County, and the importance of protecting and conserving cultural and natural resources.
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