Outdoor Fun For Every Season at Blandford Nature Center
My kids live their best lives outdoors.
They are happiest with a little sun on their cheeks and some grass between their toes. Blandford Nature Center is an awesome place to take kids for some fun, outdoor learning that always changes with the seasons. One of the most popular attractions here? The Blandford Nature Center trails!
If you’ve never visited Blandford before, it can be hard to know what to see and how much you can realistically tackle in one visit.
We broke it down into sections by season and added some bonus tips to make sure you have the best visit ever!
Blandford Nature Center Fun in Every Season
There are parts of a visit to Blandford that are fun no matter what season it is. Here are some things you can do on any visit:
1) Visit the Star Schoolhouse. Always entertaining to explain to a child that this one room was the entire school!
2) The Wildlife Trail is always a favorite stop for my family!
3) Blandford is always offering interesting workshops and events for both children and adults–it’s worth checking their calendar to see what’s coming up.
4) Teaching your child how to use a physical map!
Sugar Bush Festival at Blandford is an Annual Spring Rite of Passage
My family stopped by there last weekend for their annual Sugarbush Festival, and we got all sorts of knowledge dropped on us about the making of maple syrup, Native American peoples, and primitive life.
If you’re looking for a fun, affordable early spring outing for the family, this is it.
My kids aged 2, 5, and 7 all enjoyed themselves, and the grownups did, too!
Tips for Attending Blandford’s Annual Sugarbush Festival
There are food and music and horses and more in the open area between their buildings, but you’ll want to start your tour around the left side of the welcome center. (The welcome center is also where you can buy your tickets.)
As you walk the path through the woods you’ll encounter volunteers giving various lessons about maple trees, syrup, Native peoples, and wild animals along the way.
Many of the lessons are hands-on.
My kids loved trying to tap for syrup.
I enjoyed the archaeology lesson.
Volunteers regularly pointed out the hard work that children did hundreds of years ago in this kind of woods.
They had to work just like the adults.
On our way home I asked my daughters if they’d like to live long ago like that.
While the allures of being outside all day and interacting with animals were strong, they declined an ancient lifestyle. They preferred the carefree life of a kid who gets to be outside all day playing instead of working.
You Can Go to School at Blandford
My favorite part of the Sugarbush Festival was the Blandford middle school students. These sixth graders clustered in different stations around the wigwam and taught visitors about early maple syrup making and Native American life.
They were so exuberant in their presentations! And so knowledgable!
Maple Syrup, Treats, and More!
Past the wigwam are more presentations, as well as the maple syrup making barn, where you can get a taste of the liquid gold. And in a little window at the back of the barn is the very important maple cotton candy. Your kids will love it. You will love it.
Continue past the barn to the open area where you can try maple beer, Native American fry bread (with lots of topping choices), white pine tea, sap dogs (hot dogs cooked in sweet sap), and more.
At this point in our adventure, we popped into the welcome center for a warm-up.
It was quite cold that day and we foolishly wore late fall gear, and not mid-winter gear. Thus, my daughter’s hatless heads were cold. Check the weather before you head out and dress for the temps and wind!
Listen to the Sounds of Spring at Blandford
If you’re visiting Blandford Nature Center in the spring after the snow has melted, a chorus of frogs will greet you as you walk up to the nature center.
Spring is the season to take a walk around the Wetland areas near the parking lot and see who you can spot peeking out from the water.
Around this time of year, you can also see the lovely wildflowers. Blandford is packed with some of Michigan’s most prominent and beautiful wildflowers. The Trout Lily is a favorite of mine!
Are You Visiting Over the Summer? Then it’s Time to Drop the Kids off at Blandford for Summer Camp!
Did you know that Blandford offers Summer Camps? They have a wide variety of camp offerings for children ages 4-12 years old. I’m signing my preschooler up for one of their half-day camp options and I don’t know who is more excited–he or me!
And while the weather is working in your favor, you may as well hike around a little after you drop off your child for the day. I think Blandford is just as enjoyable without my kids in tow.
Fall Color in Full View at Blandford
Fall at Blandford is simply beautiful!
This is the perfect season to get out and explore all those acres of trails while the weather is just right. Take an afternoon and enjoy the fall colors. There is a short hike that will lead you from the main parking area over to the school and farm–autumn is a great time to check both of those out!
Fall also means Blandford’s annual Harvest Festival which is a must-do for family fun. This is an opportunity to experience autumn during simpler times: candle making, wagon rides, and scarecrow assembly are all offered.
Winter Exploration is Indoors and Out
As winter is winding down, a stop at Blandford to check out their Sugarbush operations is always a treat. Kids can see how real maple syrup is made! I would also suggest letting them taste some Maple Candy…you know, for the full experience.
Winter is the perfect season to spend some time indoors learning about Blandford’s Wildlife Rehab program. You can find all those animals and much more inside the newly built Visitor Center.
About Blandford Nature Center
Located at 1715 Hillburn Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504.
The Visitors Center is open from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Saturday and it is closed on Sunday.
Rates and Membership information can be found here.