My kids are nature freaks. I mean not like we know that much about nature, or have done that much camping, but giving these three unstructured time in a forest, they will find things to do and in general leave me alone (yay!…I mean I love my kids, but sometimes the “Mommy. Mom. Mama. MOM!” gets a little…um…tiring.).
We decided to check out the West Ridge Nature Preserve this week. A friend had told me it was pretty cool and with only a few weeks left before school starts I wanted to make sure we gave it a look see.
Parking is free right outside the entrance on Western which is great (#ilovefreeparking). The first thing we found was the story book trail. They have these signs up along a path (and it’s paved, so for those with strollers, it’s easy to walk!), and within the signs is a page from a children’s book. So you read one page of the book and then move down to the path to find the next one and read the next page of the story. Very cool. We learned all about snails. And that slugs might look like a snail with no shell. But it’s just a slug. Also foxes hunt snails and human like to put sharp gravel down to stop them from entering their gardens. Lucy though that sounded not too nice.
After the story book trail is an adventure playground. And here is where the place really made itself for my kids. Instantly they were in there, playing house I think. Lucy said to me, “We are just two kids alone in the woods.” I think a nice way of saying, “go away.” Also Veronica was included (eventually). I usually have a book or something with me to read and I had forgotten it which was unfortunate since they were completely completely enthralled in the area and were doing their own thing for over an hour! They had some plastic plates and a plastic tea pot which helped with all the imaginary play.
After the adventure playground we walked around the rest of the path around a small lake they have. We had to rush this a bit more because it was getting close to lunch time and Veronica’s nap and I didn’t want to have a fall asleep in the car situation.
Highly recommended from this Chicago parent. Especially if your kids can entertain themselves in the woods. Oh and we saw a giant deer with a fairly large set of antlers. So that was cool. Nature in the big city! It’s the best!
Enjoy the pictures. I included a lot in this post, because a lot of them show the story of what was happening. I love just watching kids, letting them do their own thing and seeing where their imagination takes them. For example the first two images. The first one is the first one I grabbed (pretty good!), but as always I wanted a second one, but instantly Rocky and Veronica started goofying around, and Lucy just stood there waiting for them to get it together even though she was dying to move on. There was a lot of meal prepping and eating. And a lot of Lucy saying, “Eat your dinner sweetie.” From my mouth to hers.