Holliday Park is an outdoor escape right in the heart of Indianapolis. The Holliday Park Nature Center welcomes visitors to the park’s nature preserve, offering a variety of hands-on and discovery-based exhibits on the area’s ecosystems. Behind the nature center, 3.5 miles of hiking trails wind through the wooded ravines of the Holliday Park Nature Preserve. The forests contain natural springs, wetlands, a pond, riverfront, and hundreds of species of trees, shrubs and wildflowers. The preserve provides refuge to native animals such as deer, fox, beaver, rabbits, squirrels and birds. For a peaceful and picturesque place to enjoy the outdoors in the center of Indy, take a hike at Holliday Park!
Last Week of Summer Fun
The last full week of summer before school resumes…also known as the week when you try to squeeze in all of the remaining summer activities that you missed in the months prior. At least for us. We had a busy summer with the birth of our 5th kid, camps, and summer swim team. Thus, we missed out on some of our favorite warm-weather outdoor activities like creek-stomping, hiking, and exploring in the woods. Since there is no time like the present to make up for lost time, we headed to Indianapolis’ Holliday Park.
Holliday Park Nature Center
While we have previously visited the park, this was our first visit to the Holliday Park Nature Center. Let me just say, we were missing out! This nature center it’s fantastic! We’ve been to our fair share of nature centers. While many of them are geared for the public as a whole, this one is definitely focused on children. It has so many fun aspects: live animal enclosures, hands-on activities, interactive exhibits, and a number of nature-related toys and games. The main exhibit area, Habitat Hall, is shown below.
The exhibits focus on the habitats of Holliday Park: the White River, the wetlands, and the forest. Each habitat area has a number of hands-on activities for learning and exploration. Joe’s favorite area was the White River water-play area. Whereas Emily liked all of the interactive stations in the forest area.
The forest area’s “Help This Fox Find His Home” is a very clever exhibit. It explains that a baby fox has wandered away from his den and he must use his sense of smell to return. Visitors open the flaps to smell a number of different scents that the baby fox might encounter along the forest floor. The scents include spicebush, skunk cabbage, mint, milkweed, and wild ginger. Although some scents are pleasant-smelling, some like the skunk cabbage are not. Joe and Emily smelled this first and then exclaimed “eeeew” after smelling each additional plant.
While the little kids played, Luke checked out the numerous live-animal enclosures. Both he and Emily really enjoyed the bees.
Holliday Park Nature Preserve
After exploring the nature center, be sure to venture out for a hike in the Holliday Park Nature Preserve. Before leaving, grab a park map. Time and time again, I’ve found that giving kids (of any age) a map, is a huge motivator when it comes to hiking. Maybe it’s that it makes them feel in control? Since they can plan their route. Or maybe holding a map makes hiking more fun, like a treasure hunt? I’m not really sure, but it definitely keeps them moving.
Most of the parks 3.5 miles of trails can be accessed from the back of the nature center. We hiked Trail 4 because it leads down to the White River.
The White River wasn’t quite as high as expected, considering the rainfall in the days prior. The area around the riverbank is perfect for exploring. The boys desperately wanted to wade into the shallower areas, but the current was fairly fast, so we saved the creek-stomping for a future visit.
Holiday Park Playground & Ruins
After spending the better part of our day in the nature center and preserve, we ran out of time for the Holliday Park Playground & Ruins. We have visited both previously, and both were huge hits with the kids. If you are interested in visiting these park attractions, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. One could easily spend an entire day in Holliday Park!