I love a good sunset, but I am thankful that they are coming later these days. Spring is just around the corner, and this homeschool mom is ready to enjoy some outdoor learning time with the kids. Louisville is fortunate to have all the fun and convenience of a large city, but it also is home to beautiful parks and natural areas that can be wonderful places for children to explore and learn about the world around them. These are some of my family’s favorite spots for outdoor adventures and maybe even some sneaky learning experiences – 3 outdoor spots in Louisville to visit this spring.
Blackacre State Nature Preserve | 3200 Tucker Station Rd
This is one of my family’s favorite places in Louisville. We love feeding the horses, chasing the goats, and hiking the trails. Visiting often allows us to see the baby animals grow and mature, watch the way the waterfall changes with different amounts of rainfall, and observe how nature changes through the seasons. We had a wonderful time with some other homeschooling friends last summer finding and identifying dragon and damselflies at Dragonfly Pond. I never knew bugs could be so beautiful!
Blackacre is also a great place to see living history. My kids love climbing into the hayloft of the antique Tyler family barn, marveling at the seemingly ancient farm equipment, and imagining scenes from some of their favorite 18th and 19th century storybooks. The spring house is a wonderful place to see first-hand how many people kept food fresh before the use of more advanced refrigeration.
There are almost 300 acres, so it is easy to have a unique adventure every time.
Louisville Nature Center | 3745 Illinois Ave
I am embarrassed to admit that this one is pretty new to me! I attended a seed swap event here hosted by the Louisville Native Plant Society earlier this year with two of my kids, and we fell in love immediately. The nature playground, built by student volunteers from Louisville Male High School is the perfect place for young kids to enjoy messy sensory fun. The open-ended play features made from natural elements make this a wonderful spot to stretch one’s imagination muscles. My younger two are partial to the sand/dirt box that is perfect for their mud pie bakery, and my oldest happily uses all his energy jumping from log to log, pretending he is on a military obstacle course.
My favorite spot is inside the nature library. If you know me, you are well aware that I love books, and the Lousiville Nature Center has some lovely picture books with which I was unfamiliar. I’d love to spend an afternoon with the kids just reading some of them. The kids love the terrariums. Here, we can closely observe several species of reptiles and amphibians without the chance of them reasonably running away in fear from a five-year-old that just wants to hug a turtle. We also have the opportunity to see some animals much closer than we ever would outdoors in their collection of taxidermy. The current science study I am teaching is rodents in the squirrel family. The kids have several “pet” squirrels who visit out home regularly, but we made some interesting observations when the wonderful library volunteer brought their gray squirrel off the shelf for us to sketch in our nature journals.
Waverly Park | 4800 Waverly Park Rd
Our family is partial to this park because it is in a convenient location to visit often, but that does not mean it wouldn’t be high on our list of favorites if it was not. It might be near the notorious Waverly Hills Sanatorium, but this area is anything but creepy.
The five-acre fishing lake is home to several different kinds of fish, and my kids enjoy watching to see how many they can spot under the water. This lake is also home for several ducks and geese who always enjoy a treat of seeds, oats, or corn. During a visit during the chilliest part of winter, we had the opportunity to watch them walk on the ice and discuss how animals that do not hibernate cope with cold weather. We look forward to the spring and summer where we can go fishing and hopefully learn more about fish diets and anatomy.
The hiking trails here are easy enough for young children to traverse, but they still provide lots of interesting wildlife to observe. On the rare occasion that I can encourage my children to lower their voices and move slowly, it isn’t long before they can identify several different bird calls or hear the rustling and chattering of a climbing squirrel. I always bring my phone with the iNaturalist app so we can quickly ID any plants we don’t recognize before adding sketches of them into our journals.
We meet once a month with some homeschooling friends to learn about the park’s natural features, its ecosystem, and enjoy being outdoors. It is always a well-spent afternoon, regardless of the weather and temperature.
If you have visited these Louisville treasures, I hope this encourages you to visit again and support the organizations that help provide the care and maintenance needed to continue their existence. If, however, you realize that one of these is not a place you have discovered on your own, let this be the inspiration you need to take your family on an outing to what will likely become your new favorite place in the city.