Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens

| April 3, 2009 | 0 Comments

lake-katherineAhh, April.  The time of year when we’re all itching to spend more time outdoors, but when the weather still sometimes sends us indoors looking for shelter.

Enter Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens in Palos Heights.  There’s great fun to be had outdoors and indoors with the whole family.

The lake itself is a 20-acre human-made lake with an accompanying waterfall.  It serves as a habitat for several species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, and birds (of course, the cute ducks are also a big draw).  The lake also serves to filter storm water and release it into the nearby Cal-Sag channel.  There is a one-mile hiking trail around the lake.

The “botanic gardens” part includes an impressive 12 gardens.  My favorite is the butterfly garden though, according to the website, you have to wait until June for the return of the winged creatures.  There is also an herb garden, a wildflower garden, and many other gardens that you can enjoy come spring!

There is much for kids to enjoy at Lake Katherine!  There’s a children’s forest with a frog pond.  Children’s programs are offered throughout the year through the Little Explorers Program (ages 3-6, with caregivers) and the After-School Program(grades K-5).  All programs are $5 per child and require pre-registration with this mail-in form.

Lake Katherine also offers a variety of family programs.  Again, use this formto pre-register.  Prices vary, but most are under $10 per person.  Some are free.

Should you need some indoor time, you can head over to the truly awesome Frank Passerelli Nature Center.  The upper level of the center houses the Nature Discovery Center, where kids can learn about nature through hands-on activities.  There are puzzles, rubber stamps, a puppet theater, books, artifacts to touch, and a collection of no-longer-living animals that are mounted on display.  The facility is clean and all of the learning materials are in good shape.

The lower level of the nature center is the Wildlife Discovery Center, a collection of live animals in cages and terrariums.  I liked the cute bunnies, Cookie and Lucky.  The boys I was with liked the snakes and the cast-off snakeskins they were allowed to touch (eww, eww, eww).  There are also frogs, fish, a guinea pig, a ferret, and various insects.  All the cages are clean and the animals are well-cared for.

Parking at Lake Katherine is free and easy, and all the facilities are free except for the aforementioned children’s and family programs.

And should you need a little sugar after all that healthy natural recreation, head over to The Plush Horse Ice Cream Parlour in nearby Palos Hills.  They’ve been making homemade ice cream since 1937, and you get to enjoy it in a cute setting with the eponymous life-sized plush horse.

This is an original Chicagonista article.

Shannon Capanna is a writer, editor, and mom who lives in south suburban Homewood with her husband, toddler son, and cat. She blogs at ChicagoMoms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown’s Closed.

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Category: See & Plays

About the Author ()

Joining Shannon Capanna in Home Sweet Homewood are her professor husband, toddler son, and giant cat. Career-wise, Shannon worked as an elementary school teacher for three years before becoming an editor for math textbooks. She quit that job to try to achieve that elusive work-life balance, and she is now trying to cobble together some kind of career as a writer, editor, and mom. Shannon enjoys swimming, watching quality television, and cat-watching.She also blogs at Chicago Moms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown's Closed.

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