Maryland nature centers

Maryland Nature center

Attend a kid friendly event at Maryland nature centers

Nature centers offer monthly events such a story time, crafts and animal encounters. They are usually relativity cheap or even free. It’s also a chance to meet other local moms and kids. It also seems that almost all of these events are outdoors which is great for being covid safe.

Below are the January and February 2021 events at Maryland nature centers. Please double check on the requirements for waivers and registration.

Oregon Ridge Nature Center

Winter Hike and Hunt

(Winter Mystery Hike) January 13, 20, 27; February 3; March 10, 17, 24 or 31; 1 -2:30 p.m.

Put on your mittens and boots and hike around the park to find clues about each week’s Mystery Theme. Each family will be given the first clue to start their hike. You’ll have 45 minutes to 1 hour to find the rest of the clues. Then we’ll gather to share our answers and learn a little more about the nature related theme in a small group setting.Families with children 5+$5per person ($3for ORNCC members)

Bookworm Story Time

Fridays,January 8; February 5;March 5 and April 2;11 -11:45 a.m.

Enjoy a nature story with the storyteller’s choice of an activity such as an animal encounter, puppets or a craft. Toddler to age 6FREE(Donations appreciated)

“That’s Wild!”

(if this program fills we may decide to add another morning session, watch our Facebook Events tab for updates) Join us every Saturday and Sunday in January as our 10 Naturalists present 10 Wild Programs.Adults and children 4+$3 per person ($1 for ORNCC members) 1 -2 p.m

-Saturday, January 2 –Box Turtles

-Sunday, January 3 –Owl Friends

-Saturday, January 9 –Oh! Possum

– Sunday, January 10 –Clever Constrictors

-Saturday, January 16 –Fishy Tales

-Sunday, January 17 –Cluckin’ on the Ridge

-Saturday, January 23 –Nature’s Recyclers

-Sunday, January 24 –Crazy about Crustaceans

-Saturday, January 30 –Frozen Frogs

-Sunday, January 31 –Honk, Honk! It’s a Canada Goose

Small Group Maple Sugaring Workshop

Wednesdays, February 17th or 24th; 9:30 -11 a.m.; 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. or 1:30 -3 p.m.

Join us as we present our very popular Maple Sugaring Field Trip in a small group setting. We’ll hike to the sugar bush, tap a tree, learn about spiles and spile making and see the process of making syrup from the collected sap. Groups and/or individuals ages 5+ (Maximum 12 participants per session)$5 per person or Group Rate of $50 per group of 12Dueto lowered capacities we are not able to accommodate younger siblings at this program. Everyone in attendance must register and pay.Advance registration andCOVID-19 Waiver required via email.Download a waiver at… to… info@OregonRidgeNatureCenter.org3

Morning Bird Walk

Fridays, March 12 or April 9; 8 -9:30 a.m.

The early bird gets the most sightings. Join a naturalist for this early morning bird walk to find and identify birds in the park. Adults FREE(Donations appreciated)

Owl Prowl

Saturday, January 30; 6 -8 p.m.

Owls are fascinating birds that are active all winter long. We’ll learn about our native owl species and how to recognize different owl calls. You’ll meet our resident barred and screech owls, dissect an owl pellet (one per family), then head outside to see if we can call in any owls along the trails.Adults and children5+$6per person ($4 for ORNCC Members)

Be a Citizen Scientist!

Project Feeder Watch Saturday, February 6; 10 a.m. -12 p.m.

Learn what it means to be a citizen scientist and collect data for Project Feeder Watch. We’ll learn why it is important for birds to have access to feeders in the winter and early spring and visit the feeders around the Nature Center to record the different bird species observed. We’ll enter our data into the Project Feeder Watch database. We’ll end our exploration by making a bird feeder that participants can take home and hang to continue their observation and data collection.Adults and children 4+$4per person ($2for ORNCC Members)

On the Move! Outdoor Games

Wednesday, February 10; 1 -3 p.m.

Animals are on the move this time of year… their survival depends on it! Come spend the afternoon outside playing some “On the Move” survival games with one of our Naturalists.Adults and children 4+$3per person ($2for ORNCC Members)

Love All-ways!

Saturday, February 13 or Sunday, February 14; 1 -3 p.m.

Humans have their own way of showing their love. Learn the different ways animals show their love and play some silly games related to animal partnerships. Adults and children 3+$3per person (FREEf or ORNCC Members)

Self-led Maple Sugaring Weekend

Saturday, February 20 or Sunday, February 21; 10 a.m –4 p.m.

Visit the park anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to learn the process of making maple syrup. Participants will travel along a designated trail to visit stations where naturalists will describe each step of the process. We’ll have a map for you at the start of the trail and you’ll end at the Sugar Shack where you can observe the process of boiling the sap into Maple Syrup. Individuals and families only. No groups please.All Ages $5 per family.

Nature Book Club

The Cloudspotter’s Guide Monday, February 22; 7-8 p.m. via Zoom.

Where do clouds come from? Why do they look the way they do? And why have they captured the imagination of timeless artists, romantic poets and every kid who’s every held a crayon? Veteran journalist and lifelong sky watcher Gavin Pretor-Pinney revels everything there is to know about clouds, from history and science to art and pop culture. Internet access is required for this program. Adults FREE

Full Snow Moon Night Hike

Saturday, February 27; 6 -8 p.m.

The Farmer’s Almanac has deemed February’s full moon the snow moon because that is when the weather tends to be the coldest and snowiest for those in northern latitudes. Join us for a hike to enjoy the cold and hope for snow. Then, gather around the campfire for a snowy story.Adults and children 5+$5per person ($3for ORNCC Members)

Brrr! It’s Cold Outside

Sunday, February 28; 1 -3 p.m.

How do animals stay warm in winter? Adaptations! Join us on a winter hike as we explore hibernation, torpor and the cold weather adaptations of the animals that call Oregon Ridge Park their home.Adults and children 5+$4per person ($2for ORNCC Members)

Nature Book Club

The Weather Machine Monday, April 5; 7 -8 p.m. via Zoom

Andrew Blum takes readers on a fascinating journey through the people, places and tools of forecasting, exploring how the weather went from something we simply observed to something we could actually predict. As he travels across the planet, he visits some of the oldest and most important weather stations and watches the newest satellites blast off. Internet access is required for this program.Adults FREE.

Cromwell Valley

Winter Birding with Expert Birder, John Canoles

Jan.16, 8-10am- Ages 12+.

Our winter residents are tough adaptive birds. Learn their markings with John and his father, Noot. Bring binoculars, if you have them. $2 members /$4 non-members.

Feast for our Feathered Friends

Jan 17,1-2pm- All Ages.

 Join a Naturalist as we make edible winter treats for our feathered friends. $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Bear Necessities

Jan 23, 1-2:30pm. Ages 4 to 10 with Adult.

Black bears have been found throughout North America. Do we have bears in Maryland? We sure do! Find out where they can be found, what they do during the winter, and how they survive. You’ll also go home with your BEAR-y own craft! Parent must attend program with their child. $2 members /$4 non-members

Cabin Fever

Jan 24, 1-3pm- All Ages.

Have cabin fever? We have the cure! Get plenty of Vitamin D and help ward off those winter blues while we hike on our trails. $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVEN

Creatures of the Night Hike

Jan 29, 6-8pm- Ages 8+.

From Owls to Opossums, learn about our amazing nocturnal animals and their adaptations they possess to roam the nighttime landscape. Wear sturdy shoes and dress for the weather!  $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Calling all Conifers!

Jan 30, 1-3pm- All Ages.

Join a Naturalist as we hike to identify conifers then create a cone craft! $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Woodchuck, Groundhog, Whistle Pig, Pasture Poodle, Land Beaver, or Punxsutawney Phil

Jan 30, 1-3pm- Ages 8+.

They’re all the same mysterious animal. Learn about the woodchuck, search for a burrow, and predict if we will have 6 more weeks of winter or an early spring. $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Animal Tracks & Clues

Feb 6, 1-3pm Ages 8+.

Learn the art of reading clues left behind by animals. We’ll hike in the park and try to figure out what animals have been up to and where they might be. Let’s see if we can solve the mystery! $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Winter Entomology

Feb 7, 1-3pm- Ages 8+.

Join a Naturalist as we see how freezing temperatures effect the insects that live in our streams. Wear shoes that can get wet and dress for the weather!  $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Love Birds?

Feb 13, 1-3pm- All Ages.

Did you know people of all ages are counting birds all around the world for the Great Backyard Bird Count? Come join in on the annual bird-watchers tradition. We’ll take a hike through our park and count birds along the way!  $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Who Doesn’t LOVE Scat?

Feb 14, 1-3pm- Ages 2 to 10 with Adult.

Animal droppings come in all shapes and sizes. Become Scat Detectives and track the scat around the park. We will find out just who is leaving their droppings behind and what they’ve been eating. Don’t be a party pooper, join us and make your own edible scat to take home.

Maple Sugaring Weekend

Feb 20-21, 11-3pm All ages.

Native people made sugar from the sap of our native maples. Join our Naturalists for ongoing cooking demonstrations, spile making, tree tapping, and sap boiling. Reservations NOT required. Drop in program. FREE!

Oh My Gourd!

Feb 27, 1-3pm -Ages 8+.

Picasso’s, Rembrandts, and Michelangelo’s unite! Our gourds that were grown in the Children’s Garden have all been cut into bowls and are ready for you to decorate!  $5 members /$7 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Antifreeze in the Natural World

Feb 28, 1-3pm- All Ages.  

Where do Turtles go in the cold winter months? Join a Naturalist to discover what turtles, frogs and toads do to survive. $2 members /$4 non-members. BOTH ADULTS AND CHILDREN MUST REGISTER FOR THIS EVENT

Marshy Point

Animal Encounters!

Tuesdays, Thursdays at 1 pm, Saturdays, Sundays at 11 am.

Families are welcome to join a Naturalist on the front lawn of the Nature Center to meet one of our animal ambassadors. Registration is not required. Animal encounters last approximately 15 minutes but may be shortened or cancelled due to inclement weather or for the comfort of our animals.


PRE-K. January 25 to February 26, 2021 Mondays & Wednesdays (virtual), Friday (in person, 10-11:30 am with a parent)Ages: 3, 4, 5. Must turn 3 by January 1, 2021 & be potty proficient.

Irvine Nature Center


Sunday January 17, 24, 31
11 a.m.- 12:30 p.m.
$30 per child for all 3 sessions (Ages 5-8 & 9-12) *NN Discounts apply

Join us for this 3 part-series where we dive into the world of mammals. See different mammal skulls, look for tracks on the Irvine’s trails, and make your own track story. You’ll even get to meet an Irvine Animal Ambassador!


Monday, January 18
8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Aftercare from 4pm-6pm is available for an additional charge.
$100 per child

Join Irvine Naturalists as we discover the wonders of wildlife! Learn how to take care of animals, different types of enrichment, and hike the trails in search of natures hidden gems. Become a wildlife enthusiast and enjoy the outdoors to the fullest. Remember to bring your mask so everyone can be safe!


Saturday’s January 16 & 23; February 20 & 27
10 a.m. – 1 p.m. (Timed Entry)

Do you like just hanging around the campfire and enjoying the warm glow? Ever take a winter hike and wish you had a cozy fire at the end? Come and join us around the campfire; you’ll warm back up and even make a delicious campfire snack.


Saturday, January 23
1-3 p.m.
$10 per participant (Adults and Children ages 12+ with an Adult)
$10 per participant (Children under 3 are Free)

Take a hike on Irvine’s trails to discover the secret to identifying trees in winter. Learn about the traditional and medicinal uses of local trees. Finish by tasting herbal teas made from twigs and needles we collect.


Saturdays February 6th and 13th, Sundays February 7th and 14th
10-11:30 a.m. AND 1-2:30 p.m.
$10 per participant (Children under 3 are Free) *NN Discounts Apply

There’s magic in our trees! Join Irvine’s naturalists in a quest to make delicious syrup. Learn to identify maple trees, properly tap a tree to collect its sugary sap and convert the sticky fluid into syrup. You’ll even get a taste of this liquid gold as a reward for all the hard work! All ages (with adult).

Carrie Murray

Family Hike

Saturday, January 30, 2021 1:00pm-2:30pm Saturday, January 30, 2021 1:00pm – 2:30pm. $15 per family (up to 5 people). Limited to 2 families.All ages.

Bundle up and hit the trails! This is an invigorating way to experience nature in winter and ask questions with a naturalist. Warm hats, coats, boots, and mittens recommended.

Nature Mobile Making

Saturday, February 6, 2021 1:00pm-3:00pm.

Come out for a make-and-take crafting session inspired by nature! We’ll head out on the trails to gather materials for our nature mobile. All other supplies will be provided. $5/person. Ages 12+

Dried Flower Arrangements

Saturday, February 20, 2021 1:00pm-3:00pm

Join us to decorate a recycled vase and create a beautiful floral arrangement from plants found in the park. We will go on a short hike to learn how to identify and collect natural materials. All other supplies will be provided. $10/person. Ages 12+

Eden Mill

Plan an outing and take a StoryWalk®! In partnership with Eden Mill Nature Center in Pylesville (1617 Eden Mill Road), HCPL created this fun, educational, and self-guided activity that places the pages of a children’s book out in nature! Now through mid-March, follow the trail beginning at the Nature Center parking lot to read Winter, Winter, Cold and Snow by Sharon Gibson Palermo.

Robinson Nature Center

NEW! Frozen Fest at Home

When Fri, January 22, 5pm – 5pmWhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description. All ages. $30 per kit. 

Bring some of the beloved activities of Frozen Fest to your home! We provide the materials you need along with recorded educator presentations you can access on your family’s time. Create your own winter sensory bins with instant snow; make ice cream with rock salt; take a winter constellation tour; experiment to see how animals survive the winter and more. Pick up your kit at Robinson Nature Center. Register by Jan 22 at 5pm.  Material pick up: Jan 30, 10:30am-12:30pm  
Material pick up: Jan 31, 1:30-3:30pm  

To enroll, click here or call 410-313-0400.

Kid’s Wednesdays Out at the Nature Center

January When: Wed, January 27, 1pm – 4pmWhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description Ages 5-12yrs. $30 per day. 
Each Wednesday, join us to explore the wonders of nature, play outdoors with friends, learn outdoor skills and have an afternoon away from home! Kids enjoy nature walks, games, investigations and more. This program is held outdoors with COVID safety guidelines observed. Children should dress for outdoor winter play. Call 410-313-0400 to sign up (no online registration) for the number of days you would like your child to attend each month. Additional dates may be added. Please check our registration system monthly. Enrolled children will be divided into groups of no more than 8 participants and 2 staff. Please note, this program will run in accordance with state and local recommendations for COVID safety precautions. Face masks are required.   January Dates: Jan 6, 13, 20, 27. No online enrollment, please call 410-313-0400 to register. More info here

Family Friday Planetarium Show:

Titans of the Ice Age When:Fri, February 5, 6:30pm – 7:30pmWhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description7 yrs+. $8 per ticket. 

Friday nights with your family should be stellar! Come enjoy unique shows in Robinson Nature Center’s recently upgraded planetarium. Each program features a full-dome movie preceded by a live, family-friendly planetarium presentation where you discover what’s in the night sky that month.  Please call 410-313-0400 to reverse your tickets; no online registration available. We highly recommend that you call ahead of time. Tickets will be released 5 minutes prior to the program for “no-shows.” If still available, tickets will be sold at the front desk on the day of the program. Click here for more information.

Friday Late Night Planetarium Show:

Passport to the Universe. When:Fri, February 5, 8pm – 9pmWhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description 18yrs+. $8 per ticket. 

You don’t have to leave Howard County for an out-of-this-world Friday night experience. Treat your partner or friends to top-notch astronomy and entertainment at the Robinson Nature Center. This program is held in our state-of-the-art digital planetarium and features a full-dome movie preceded by an adult-level planetarium presentation about current happenings in our night sky and space science.  
Please call 410-313-0400 to reverse your tickets; no online registration available. We highly recommend that you call ahead of time. Tickets will be released 5 minutes prior to the program for “no-shows.” If still available, tickets will be sold at the front desk on the day of the program. Click here for more information.

NEW! Outdoor Saturday Puppet Theater

(10AM Section)When: Sat, February 6, 10:00am – 10:30am / 11:00-11:30 /WhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description 2 yrs+. $5 per person. 

Join us for nature-themed, outdoor puppet theater presentations! Each show portrays a different nature story. Afterwards, enjoy an interactive activity or craft. Seating is limited to ensure physical distancing between families. Please dress for the weather. Masks are required for all participants.  Call 410-313-0400 to reserve your spot, no online registration. ActiveNet link here

NEW! Spring Has Sprung Trail Adventure and Egg Hunt

(Sat)When: Sat, February 27, 9:00am – 2:30pmWhereRobinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Ln, Columbia, MD 21044, USA (map)Description 4 yrs+. $7 member; $10 nonmember. 

Delight in an outdoor, guided adventure on the grounds of the Robinson Nature Center! At each stop, enjoy spring-themed activities, games or fun, nature interpretation stations. End your adventure with an egg hunt in our Nature Place. All participants must register in advance. Sign up for a time slot with friends to enjoy the fun together. Please arrive promptly as your group will stay together during this experience. Mar 27 9-10:30am, Mar 27 10-11:30am, Mar 27 11am-12:30pm, Mar 27 1-2:30pm  

No online registration; call 410-313-0400 to reserve your spots. Info: 

Check out my other blog post about my favorite Baltimore County parks

Featured Categories