Visiting the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale with Kids

There are lots of places to explore at the Greenburgh Nature Center.
There are lots of places to explore at the Greenburgh Nature Center.
4/14/23 - By Amy Growney

A day at the Greenburgh Nature Center in Scarsdale is a day well spent. The grounds are always FREE and never disappoint. The unique playground set is seemingly made out of the surrounding trees. A menagerie of friendly animals is happy to greet visitors inside and out, and a wide-ranging event schedule means there's always something new to look forward to.

Read on for the family-friendly highlights of the Greenburgh Nature Center, one of our favorite local petting zoos, and find more local nature centers to explore nearby.


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Highlights of the Greenburgh Nature Center

The Greenburgh Nature Center is hidden off the ever-busy Central Avenue in Scarsdale. A side road leads to an oasis of nature and play that's the basis of a fun-filled day for families. Spend your time climbing rocks and wooden play sets, playing pretend in the straw huts, staging an alfresco performance on an outdoor stage, or visiting farm animals in the outdoor exhibits or small animals inside.

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Meet and greet different cute animals at the Greenburgh Nature Center. 

The Manor House

Inside the Manor House is where you can find a knowledgeable staff member who is happy to help answer any questions about all things related to the Center. This is where you can also pay to view the animals upstairs. 

While entrance to the grounds is FREE, visitors who want to visit with the animals inside the Manor House are charged a nominal fee. The friendly volunteers are on hand to show kids most of the animals and even let them pet new furry or slithery friends. From snakes to chinchillas there are plenty of cute critters—and not so cute: see the hissing cockroaches—to visit.

Beware, beyond the animals and a greenhouse, the Manor House also houses a gift shop where you can purchase trinkets and small snacks. Bathrooms and a water fountain are also located inside. The rooms on the first floor have various things for kids to look at for FREE. These rooms are used for camp and other activities.

There's room to park strollers outside the front of the house on the patio, which is covered by a roof.

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Romp with farm animals at Greenburgh Nature Center. Photo courtesy of the center

Greenburgh Nature Center Animals

Two rooms full of tanks comprise the animals that kids can visit once tickets are purchased. Watch out! There's a good chance a slithery snake is out of his tank exploring the room, too. Several local turtles hang out together in a large tank. Different lizards and insects are found sleeping lazily or walking quickly around their glass homes.

In the next room, the cuteness really begins to ramp up. See a tiny hedgehog running in a little blue wheel, ferrets cozying up for a nap, guinea pigs, chinchillas, rats, and more! Kids can pet most of the animals. 

In addition to the indoor animal exhibits, there are more wild and domesticated friends to meet on the grounds. Travel along the back side of the Manor House to see birds of prey and farm animals. Birds of prey on display include many natives to New York, like eagles, hawks, owls, and a white-necked raven that can mimic human speech.

In the barnyard area, kids can marvel at sheep, goats, and chickens on display.

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Kids will enjoy exploring the center's playground.

Nature Playground and Native American Village

Greenburgh Nature Center's Nature Playground is nestled in the forest. It's a great shady playground for a hot summer day, and its nature-inspired structures lend themselves to imaginative play.

You'll also find a Native American Replica Village on the grounds. Inspired by the Eastern Woodland Indians, the village includes a life-sized wigwam and longhouse, plus a canoe and hide-drying rack to explore. Who needs a screen when you can be the star of live entertainment?

Exploring the Greenburgh Nature Center Grounds

Beyond the exhibits and the playground, the Greenburgh Nature Center grounds include 33 acres of walking trails to explore. Its longest trail ticks in at just 1/2 mile, making the Greenburgh Nature Center one of our favorite spots to go hiking with preschoolers and toddlers nearby.

Also located on the grounds are a Native Plant Meadow and the Great Lawn, where you can lounge, relax, and even enjoy a picnic lunch.

The annual Run Wild event is among the center's family-friendly programming. Photo courtesy of the center

Annual Greenburgh Nature Center Events

In addition to being a great place to explore in all seasons, the Greenburgh Nature Center hosts a wide variety of family-friendly programs year-round. We love its summertime butterfly arbor exhibit that's a pure wonder when you step inside and hundreds of butterflies flutter around and land on your body.

Seasonal festivals abound in the spring, fall, and during maple sugaring season, while a holiday train show and holiday market are highlights of the winter. Bookmark its event calendar to stay up to date on all the happenings at the Greenburgh Nature Center; events can happen one season and skip the next.

Know Before You Go to the Greenburgh Nature Center

  • The Greenburgh Nature Center's grounds are open daily from dawn to dusk and are FREE to enter.
  • The Manor House is open Tuesdays through Sundays.
  • Most of the nature trails are not conducive to strollers; plan to bring along a carrier for little ones or let them toddle on your hike!
  • Summer camps, nature classes, and birthday parties are all available at the Greenburgh Nature Center. 
  • The Greenburgh Nature Center is a carry-in, carry-out facility. Please clean up after yourself during your visit.
  • Dogs, balls, bicycles, and scooters are not allowed on the grounds.

Unless noted, photos by the author

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