On a cloudy and gray weekend summer day we typically like to go somewhere outside that doesn’t entail the beach and water, because those, naturally, we like to save for sunny days. But when it’s warm out, and you want the kids to be outside moving their legs, a good place to head is the woods. We recently, on such a day, decided to spend the morning at the Audubon Center in Greenwich (in Connecticut). From where we live in Westchester, it’s a 20 minute drive up the Hutch and Merritt Parkways, so not far at all. But those quick 20 minutes take you to back country Greenwich, where the rolling fields and long, windy roads are a totally different feel from where we live in our urban suburb.
People often associate Greenwich with the Long Island Sound, Todd’s Point or Greenwich Avenue, with all of its ritzy stores. But Greenwich is a big town, and “back country” Greenwich is a big part of it. If you are a nature lover like myself, then you will be drawn to the lushness of the landscape and the open land and woods; it’s hard to believe you’re only 45 minutes from New York City. The Greenwich Audubon is located in the heart of back country, and is the main Audubon sanctuary in Greenwich (there are seven of them). Containing 285 acres of hiking trails, woods, wetlands, a lake, vernal ponds and fields, it is actually the National Audubon Society’s first environmental education center, having opened in 1942. Never knew!
We have taken the kids a few times before and this time we met my brother and nephew for a morning of hiking and adventuring. We decided to take a trail that winds around and eventually goes to Mead lake, where we circumvented the lake and made our way back again, crossing over a stream and waterfall and spotting all sorts of birds and little creatures. It definitely entailed some uphill traversing at times, and by the end my youngest daughter was pretty beat. (In her defense, we took a long trail…but there are shorter trails we could have chosen). My husband resorted to the carry-on-the-shoulders rescue trick, which is always a god-send for me, who would otherwise be in a bind. Even so, the kids had a blast as we walked through the many different parts of the Audubon. The woods felt like a forest (maybe they technically are) and the lake was quite serene. I think what struck me the most though was how green and bright the foliage was against the grayness of the sky. It was so unbelievably lush that at times it didn’t feel like Connecticut, but some place more exotic. That’s what I really love about this Audubon – it’s a quite beautiful and unique spot, and when you’re in it, you feel like you’ve been whisked away.
In addition to the seven miles of trails, there is the Kimberlin Center, which has a children’s learning center, a gallery, exhibits and conservation events. The Audubon has a calendar full of children’s activities, including a Family Adventure and Campfire Night. Fun! There is a lot to show your little ones. If you and your kids enjoy spending time in nature, definitely head to the Audubon Center in Greenwich. It’s an easy escape that can take as long or little time as you want.