The half marathon I planned on doing in Ashland, New Hampshire on Sunday didn’t work out. It didn’t prevent me from having a wonderful day with the kids at one of my favorite seasonal nature centers in New Hampshire.
The Squam Lake Nature Center is located in Holderness New Hampshire near Ashland New Hampshire. It’s at the north end of lakes country and just south of the Whites Mountain region so it’s easy to work in to a New Hampshire Vacation. They are open from May 1 to November 1.
There’s always been plenty of parking when we have visited. And the parking is free.
We used a museum pass to help pay for the visit. With the pass, the first two people are $3 and an additional 4 people are $10. It’s worth checking with your library if you want to visit because its normally $19 for adults and $14 for kids 3 to 15.
One of thing I love the most about the center is that it’s mostly outdoors with shelters at each of the exhibits. This means that you get to walk on a trail and enjoy nature. I’ve heard the trail is anywhere between 3/4 of a mile to 1 mile. It’s easily done with a stroller (I used my double Bob but my kids are almost ready to get out of it). Last time I visited I saw a lot of collapsable wagons (like this one), I think I need to get one before my next visit with the kids.
The exhibits are domestic animals that are found in New Hampshire (with the exception of the Mountain Lion which is mostly extinct). Animals we saw included turtles, fish, red fox, a skunk (in an educational presentation), deer, bobcat, otters, black bears, and various raptors.
Each exhibit has information about the animal and often, how the animal fits into the Eco system. While you do have to brave the elements to go on the trail, there’s plenty of opportunity for recovery while reading the signs.
There’s also many play areas in the center. My kids loved the water table. I think they spent half an hour building “dams” and splashing in the stream. I love the outdoor playscape. If you follow the instructions you can pretend to be a squirrel. Climbing, balancing on ropes and sliding. My kids are really starting to be able to fully enjoy the area.
Next to the outdoor playground is a barn full of play areas. My kids especially like pretending to be spiders.
In addition to the animals, the center has exhibits about the environment and New Hampshire Geology, There’s a section of floating boardwalk over a pond. My kids spotted a turtle peaking it’s head above the surface. The Geology exhibit is small, but it’s a good place to regroup after the loop.
As a bonus, half way through the loop, you have the option of leaving the center to go visit Fuller Gardens. It’s a beautiful community
garden and a great place to have a picnic.
There’s also a gift shop of local artists there.
Overall I think we spent 5 hours there on Saturday (my kids are 4 and 2), I pretty much had to drag them away. It was a great outing for us.
I’ve made a little video of the trip. It can be found here.