There are many things to do while in Edmonton, Alberta. Some of those things are a little less known but still very cool to check out, especially if you’re hanging around the city for a longer period of time. One of those places is the John Janzen Nature Centre, right next to Fort Edmonton Park I imagine that it commonly gets overlooked by tourists. While it may not be a destination spot, it does provide some fun and learning opportunities!
Inside the building, they have a wonderful indoor playground that is set up to replicate things that you would find in nature. Things like a beehive, a beaver dam, and a tree with a tunnel system underneath. Children can run through this imaginary nature scene and pretend they are animals, fairies, or even little hobbits, it provides so much fun! There’s even a little water feature that acts like a little stream by the beaver damn that the children are able to play at! It’s a great place to escape the cold winters while still feeling like you’re playing in nature! If you’re here during the summer the play space has something truly amazing to offer, a living beehive to look at! It’s also there in winter but the bees are sleeping so it’s all covered up and you can’t see them, in the summer though, it’s something magical!
Also when you are inside the nature centre you will have the opportunity to see some very neat things in the season’s exhibit room that they have set up. They have the room set up to show how nature will change through the season and what the plants and animals do during those seasons. My children love the area that shows how the gophers live, they have a human-sized gopher tunnel that they really love to go through. Along the one wall, there are a few tanks with some of the natural animals that you might find in the area, a couple of snakes, frogs, and a salamander. They really are fun to see up close and the kids love to look at them so that they can try spotting them in the future when we are out and about!
Obviously, with this being a nature centre they also have some pretty awesome things to offer outside as well! There are several fantastic walking paths, one in particular leads to a nice little footbridge that crosses the river. This makes for a great place to take pictures or even just take in the view of the river! A beautiful garden surrounds the building showcasing all of the native plants of the area, we enjoy coming here to talk about Alberta’s natural plants and to get ideas for our watercolour paintings. It truly is a beautiful place to spend a nice summer day, pack a lunch and have a picnic, just get away from the business of life for a little bit.
- Family friendly, wheelchair and stroller accesable
- Places to bring and eat a packed lunch
- Things for learning and fun
- Activities held in the summer and camps
- Usually pretty quiet on the weekdays
- Great little giftshop
- Flushing toilets inside, compostable toilet outside