"Turtle! Turtle!" my son yells. The sign nearby reminds parents to "please have children use their inside voices." Apparently, the animals are disturbed by loud noises. I cringe as my two-year-old runs through the Broadlands Nature Center, releasing gasps of amazement and yelps of joy.
From then on, we practice the shushing gesture of placing our index fingers over our lips as we browse through the building. Besides the turtle and koi environment, there is an enclosure for two black and white bunny rabbits, a frog terrarium, a smaller turtle aquarium, fish tanks, a bird cage and a mysteriously empty snake box.
My son takes his time looking at each creature. "Ribbit!" he calls to the frog. I've just retrieved him from daycare and we've got two hours to enjoy before dinner. The Nature Center is going to kill thirty minutes with almost no effort on my part.
I love that I can zoom over to the Broadlands Nature Center rain or shine and let my child experience a few wonders. Open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the Nature Center also boasts a children's reading room with comfortable chairs and floor mats, shelves of books, and fish tanks; a teen corner with intriguing research and documents; and an area to learn about bird watching. There is even a naturalist on staff. It's fun for all ages.
When schedules permit, the Nature Center, located at 21907 Claiborne Pkwy, is an educational, guilt-free activity for the kids.