A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Hidden Gems: Looking to take your kids for a good time, try Florence Nature Park or BCM’s NaturePlay

By Jill Morenz
Special to NKyTribune

If you’re looking for a new place to take your young kiddos, let me recommend some special spots at two of NKY’s Hidden Gems: Florence Nature Park and Behringer-Crawford Museum’s NaturePlay@BCM.

A favorite of the younger visitors, the menagerie of cement animals that now lives in the park once resided inside the Florence Mall. There’s an alligator, a rhino, a giant turtle and a hippo, which is trailed by a smaller animal that is either a baby hippo or a baby rhino (opinions vary). They provide wonderful climbing opportunities for kids and captivating photos for parents.

The Nature Park also has a paved trail that allows visitors to explore nature, hunt for acorns and enjoy the colors of fall. The trail is 6 feet wide, about three-quarters of a mile long and is rated “easy.” The asphalt surface makes it perfect for wheelchairs, bikes and strollers—leashed dogs love it, too.

Adjacent to the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Devou Park, NaturePlay@BCM is open all year and is fenced in to keep kiddos safe. It was designed to be accessible to children of all abilities. There are swings and a slide, space to run, a hillside to explore and a plant tunnel to crawl or roll through.

NaturePlay’s outdoor, immersive experiences are an extension of the exhibits inside the museum. Kids can travel through time, from the pre-historic days of the wooly mammoth to the arrival of early settlers in our region. In the pre-history area, young archeologists can dig for fossilized bones or climb on a giant trilobite.

Two child-size cabins and a flatboat encourage imaginative play inspired by families homesteading here more than a century ago. The museum often hosts educational programs inside NaturePlay, such as storytime by the primitive hearth, sensory tables and outdoor art creation.

If you follow the path on the hill, you will discover the Kentucky Heritage Sculpture Garden, populated with mosaics of Ice Age mammals, created by local middle and high school students. Native grasses and flowers thrive at NaturePlay and are often the focus of the museum’s educational programs.

This fall, take advantage of the cooler weather and explore some playful Hidden Gems.

For more information on the Florence Nature Park, click here.

To learn more about NaturePlay@BCM, click here.

If you have ideas for future NKY’s Hidden Gems articles, please email them to Jill Morenz at jmorenz@thecatalyticfund.org.

The NKY’s Hidden Gems articles were inspired by Kathy Witt’s book, Secret Cincinnati. To purchase an autographed copy, along with a checklist bookmark, please visit www.KathyWitt.com.

Jill Morenz is the Director of Community Initiatives and Communications at the Catalytic Fund. As a transplant to the region, she enjoys exploring NKY.

Florence Nature Park

Florence Nature Park

The Cabin at BCM

BCM: Slide anyone?

BCM: Just swingin’

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