Welcome to “Field Trip Friday” where I share an idea for a fun outing in nature. The setting is specific, but the advice is intended for use wherever you might call home.
Enjoy a play date with friends at the El Dorado Nature Center. Maybe even tack on a hike along one of the nature trails. (Thanks to Michele at Fun Orange County Parks for the invite! Read her review of the Nature Center and larger El Dorado East Regional Park where it’s located here.)
To try this adventure outside of the Los Angeles area … head to a nearby nature center. Check online to find one in your area.
Nature centers can be a fun way to help kids familiarize themselves with the plants and animals in an area. Plus, you’re pretty much guaranteed the chance to touch, play and explore safely.
El Dorado Nature Center is no exception. The Big Explorer was eager to peruse the live insect zoo. He was also drawn to a cool X-ray screen where he checked out images of several kinds of bugs, fish and other animals.
Insider tip: There’s plenty to see before you even reach the Nature Center building. Enjoy the beautiful lake view and take a peek in the water – you’re pretty much guaranteed to see turtles!
Another nice thing about nature centers is that they usually feature family-friendly hiking trails right outside the doors. We opted for El Dorado’s one-mile trail.
Insider tip: Grab a guide to the trail at the Nature Center. It describes 14 points on the route where you can stop, look and listen for certain things (like the Large Mouth Bass found at sign #4).
Our walk was picture perfect. Along the way, we saw two kinds of squirrels, tons of acorns (which the kids tried to feed to said squirrels), butterflies galore, dragonflies – even bass.
We finished our morning excursion with a picnic in the “Oppossum Patch” just outside the Nature Center. No surprise that the kids were full of laughter, joking and smiles. A few hours in nature will do that to you.
- El Dorado Nature Center is open Tues. – Sun. from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (trails are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.); closed on Mondays
- Admission to El Dorado Nature Center is free
- Several hiking trails can be found just outside the Nature Center, including a ¼-mile paved trail, 1-mile & 2-mile options
- There is a vehicle entry fee of $5 (M-F), $7 (Sat. & Sun.), or $8 (holidays); annual passes are also available
- No food is allowed on the Nature Center grounds, but the “Oppossum Patch” picnic area just outside the premises (at the back of the parking lot) has plenty of picnic tables
- Restrooms are available in the Nature Center as well as outside it in the “Oppossum Patch” picnic area
- El Dorado Nature Center is just one of many attractions at the very large El Dorado East Regional Park
El Dorado Nature Center is located at:
7550 E. Spring St.
Long Beach, CA 90815