The Bronx Zoo? Try The Greenburgh Nature Center

Maisie is absolutely, totally, and completely head-over-heels in love with our dog, Digby, a beautiful mixed breed who was born in a shelter. For the longest time, Maisie’s only other word besides the very pedestrian “Mama” and “Papa” was “Digby.” Every morning, the first thing my darling does is look for the dog and shriek “Digby.” Even as I write this, she’s chasing the poor dog around the house screaming her name. Digby’s a very good pup.

So the girl obviously likes animals, which is why I thought a visit to the Greenburgh Nature Center (99 Dromore Rd, Scarsdale) might be a good call. The center is a 33-acre woodland preserve that offers trails, a museum, a hands-on discovery room, and live animals. It also has seasonal programs like maple-sugaring and a naturalist staff that lead programs. We just went for an afternoon last fall, no special program involved. We actually went twice, once on a Friday. Turns out, the place is closed on Fridays, so be forewarned. (I can’t even blame that on being pregnant or baby brain, since it was before I was pregnant. Sigh.)

The indoor part of the exhibit isn’t all that huge, but it’s still a nice way for the kids to actually get close up and personal with the animals while staying warm. There are 100 specimens all told, including snakes and lizards and all things creepy and crawly. Maisie got to touch a turtle and pet a chinchilla, which she loved. The chinchilla wasn’t too happy as Maisie almost choked it.

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The outside part of the Greenburgh Nature Center is what really makes the place. It’s a massive, beautifully planted lawn for kids to run free. There also are a ton of other animals outside like prairie dogs, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and bald eagles even, which were a thrill to see up close.

Maisie and her BFF, Bradley, had fun, but my guess is this place is even better for older children. The various nature programs, such as one that shows how beehives work, would be fascinating to a kid who “gets it.” And I also think the place is best for the warmer months when you can take full advantage of the fabulous outdoor activities. I imagine it’ll be fabulous in the fall. Then again, if you are desperate for a winter outing, choking the chinchilla is always a great option and so is the greenhouse.

Want to know something funny? It’s here that I discovered that Maisie thought all animals were named Digby, not just our dog. Of course, now she knows all the animals and the sounds they make, too. I wonder what Maisie’s baby brother, Hudson, will think. So far, he only stares at Digby and cracks an occasional smile when she licks his head. I think Digby thinks his head is a tennis ball since it’s so round and a bit furry. That’s fine—as long as she doesn’t try to play catch with it!

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