I love taking my kids to one of the nature centers near me year-round but especially when the weather isn't perfect! It gets us out of the house, learning a little and exploring. And the best part is that most of them are free! In fact, 18 out of the 20 below are free. All hours below as of February 2023.
Table of Contents:
- Northern Virginia Nature Centers (Fairfax-5, Arlington-3, Alexandria-1)
- Maryland Nature Centers (Montgomery-5, Prince George's-2, Anne Arundel-1)
- DC Nature Centers (3ish)
- Google Map
Northern Virginia Nature Centers
Arlington Nature Centers
- Potomac Overlook Nature Center - Tuesday to Saturday 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday 1 - 5 PM
- Long Brand Nature Center - Park is open sunrise sunset. Nature Center is open on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Saturdays 10 AM - 5 PM
- Gulf Branch Nature Center - Park is open sunrise sunset. Nature Center is open on Thursdays through Saturday 10 AM - 5 PM
Alexandria Nature Centers near me
- Buddie Ford Nature Center - Open Wednesday to Saturday 10 AM to 4 PM. And check out Dora Kelley Nature Park that shares the same parking lot!
Fairfax Nature Centers near me
- Hidden Pond Nature Center - Springfield, VA: Open Wednesday - Monday 11 am-4 pm (closed Tuesdays)
- Hidden Oaks Nature Center - Annandale, VA: Open Wednesday - Monday 11 am-4 pm (closed Tuesdays)
- Huntley Meadows Nature Center - Alexandria, VA: Open Mon-Sun, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (closed Tuesdays). And check out the beautiful wetlands park too!
- Walney Visitor Center - Chantilly, VA: Located at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park. Park is open dawn to dusk and Center is open Mon & Wed-Fri 9-5 p.m. and Sat-Sun noon-5p.m. Closed Tuesdays.
- Walker Nature Center - Reston, VA: Open Mondays and Wednesdays - Fridays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sundays 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Maryland Nature Centers near me
Meadowside Nature Center. Courtesy of Montgomery Parks, M-NCPPC.
Montgomery County Nature Centers
- Locust Grove Nature Center - Bethesda, MD: Park is open sunrise sunset. Nature Center is open on weekends 1 - 6 PM in January and February 2023. Updated hours on their website.
- Robinson Nature Center - Columbia, MD: Open Wednesday-Saturday: 9am-5pm; Sunday: Noon-5pm; Closed Mondays & Tuesdays. This is the only one that has a fee. $5 For Adults And $3 For Kids Ages 3-17 Years
- Brookside Gardens Nature Center - Wheaton, MD: Monday – Closed. Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm. Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm. Outdoor park areas and trails are open from dawn to dusk daily.And check out the beautiful Brookside Gardens and Adventure Playground nearby at Wheaton Regional Park.
- Meadowside Nature Center - Rockville, MD: Currently Closed for Renovation but will update when it has reopened!
- Croydon Creek Nature Center - Rockville, MD: Open Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. Right by the Rockville Civid Center with gardens, playground and trails!
Prince George's County Nature Centers
- Watkins Nature Center - Upper Marlboro, MD: Monday: Closed, Tuesday-Saturday: 10am-5pm, Sunday: 10am-4pm. And check out the Wizard of Oz themed playground at the regional park!
- Patuxent Research Refuge (aka National Wildlife Visitor Center) - Laurel, MD: The Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – closed on federal holidays. The grounds are open sunrise to sunset every day. Fishing and hunting is available seasonally.
Anne Arundel County Nature Centers
- Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary - Lothian, MD: OPEN: Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday (Closed Sundays Dec-Feb) 9:00am - 5:00pm CLOSED: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday. Cost is $6 per vehicle. I wrote about our walk on the wetlands here but the nature center was closed when we visited. And the Glendening Butterfly Garden is just a mile or two away!
DC Nature Centers near me
- Rock Creek Park Nature Center and Planetarium - The Visitors Center is open Wednesday to Sundays 9 AM to 5 PM and closed Mondays and Tuesdays. Great loop trail from the Nature Center.
- Kingman & Heritage Islands - is not an indoor nature center but more of an "outdoor classroom" with great signs sharing the birds and plants of these two man-made islands in the Anacostia.
- Natural History Museum - Since I could only find one Nature Center in DC, I wanted to highlight the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History as another option! It has nature from all over the the country and world but also a Bug Zoo and great Dinosaur exhibit. Free and no ticket required. Open daily 10 AM to 5:30 PM.