Bartlett Nature Center

Lucky for us we had a very mild fall here in Illinois.  It was perfect for hiking, picnicking, and long walks with the dog. In early October, my Mom, sister, and I decided to bring the kids to the Bartlett Nature Center. We were looking for something to do outside and it's about halfway between our houses.  We had so much fun, I hardly took any pictures!  Thankfully, my sister and Mom love to snap photos so many of these are from my sister who blogs over at This Happy Life about life with 3 kids (She has some great crafy tutorials too)! Between the two of us, I hope we were able to capture a few moments to urge you to GET THERE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!  This place is AWESOME!!

The Bartlett Nature Center is located in the James "Pate" Phillips State Park, on Stearns Road, just east of Route 25. It is open

Monday - Friday 9am-4pm and Saturday 9am-1pm. It is open to the public or you can rent rooms for an event like a birthday party or  I recommend you CALL BEFORE YOU COME to make sure the animals are not out at a show at a local school or event.

There are 4 miles of crushed limestone trails, on which you can hike,bike, snowshoe and cross country ski.  Don't own snowshoes or cross country ski's?  No problem!  You can rent them!  How cool is that?  We went in early October, so there was no snowshoeing for us (although I can't wait to get a good snow so we can try!) We did however, have beautiful weather for a short hike to the creek and plenty of HANDS-ON time with the animals inside!

Beaver dam on the creek

When we got inside, we had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Dan.  I don't remember his exact title, but it is something along the lines of Environmental Education Lead or something like that. Essentially, he has my dream job. 

My niece petting Scooter the Hedgehog.

 

 And then petting a hissing cockroach - girl has guts that's for sure.  Mr. Dan put it in my hand and I flipped out!  I dropped it, then I felt bad that I dropped it. So I pet it. 

And then petting a hissing cockroach - girl has guts that's for sure.  Mr. Dan put it in my hand and I flipped out!  I dropped it, then I felt bad that I dropped it. So I pet it. 

 Mr. Dan let us put the hedgehog back in his cage, but we had to wear special gloves and hold him just the right way.

Mr. Dan let us put the hedgehog back in his cage, but we had to wear special gloves and hold him just the right way.

 Mr. Dan even got my Mom to hold a snake!

Mr. Dan even got my Mom to hold a snake!

 This trio was cracking me up.  Smartest crickets in the cage.

This trio was cracking me up.  Smartest crickets in the cage.

 After we ate lunch, Mr. Dan showed us how to make jellies using gelatin.

After we ate lunch, Mr. Dan showed us how to make jellies using gelatin.

He also showed us how to make zombie make-up from the same stuff!  They were having a Zombie-run the next week so he was super stoked to practice on me!

We really had such a good time here. They also have a sandbox where the kids can dig for geodes and treasures and an area with games and activities like puzzles and drawing for a little change of pace.  If you go, make sure you ask for Dan! He's the best!