We love getting out into nature, especially on warm days that demand we soak up some extra little Vitamin D. If you are looking for some animal encounters as well, you will want to head to the Irvine Nature Center. Here you can meet owls, turtles, red-tailed hawks, snakes and even an opossum. Perfect for families, but also any nature lover looking to get out of the city.
It’s time to highlight the best spots to get outdoors in Maryland, so we talked to Courtney Sagal, Director of Operations at Irvine Nature Center, to share what makes this center special, why you should visit, and what you need to know before you go.
Where is the Irvine Nature Center located?
Location: Irvine Nature Center, 11201 Garrison Forest Rd, Owings Mills, MD 21117 (in Baltimore County)
What topics does the Irvine Nature Center cover?
We cover environmental education and natural history.
The Irvine Nature Center was established in 1975 in an old barn,. Today, it is the only private, non-profit nature center in Maryland. A large part of the organization surrounds educating students to be better stewards of nature and fragile eco-systems in need of their protection. The facility is now 210 acres of woodlands, wetlands and meadows, ready for you, your family and friends to explore. There is an interactive exhibit hall, as well as animal ambassadors who bring creature encounters safely to students and seniors across the community, as well as those who visit Irvine Center.
What is your nature center’s claim to fame?
We are known for our amazing outdoor classroom play space, The Nature Preschool at Irvine, and our seven miles of trails.
What is your favorite exhibit or artifact at the nature center?
I love the Native American Site, as well as the Wetlands.
What kinds of special exhibits and events do you host throughout the year?
We host weekly Tales and Tails Animal Programs for families, Nature Preschool Conference, weddings and birthday parties.
What adult classes do you offer?
There are several adult classes offered throughout the year, including:
- Trail Trekker Training
- Falconry 101
- Business Suits to Muddy Boots
- Eat, Drink and Learn
- Lunch and Learns
- Weekend Warm Up Warbler Walk!
- Nature Artisians
To sign up for a class (fees apply), go to explorenature.org
Are there guided tours available?
Yes, we do offer tours. You can sign up at ExploreNature.org.
- Native Americans
- Native Gardening
- and more
How much time should someone plan to spend at the museum?
You should plan to spend at least three hours at the Irvine Nature Center.
What should someone bring with them and what items are not allowed in the museum?
- Dogs are not allowed at the nature center.
- Bring your hiking shoes, a water bottle and a sense of wonder!
Is photography allowed inside (without flash)?
What should parents of young children know before visiting the museum?
The Irvine Nature Center is very kid friendly! Get ready to explore and learn about the world around you. Check our website for weekend programs your whole family will enjoy.
Irvine Nature Navigator Programs (members only)
- Babies in Bloom: nature walk to find baby birds, bunnies, tadpoles and more.
- Natural Egg Dyeing: Learn how different spices, fruits and vegetables can add colors to your spring Easter egg creations.
- May Flowers: learn all about the flowers of spring, and even plant a few of your own.
- Musical Summer: Learn how nature makes its’ own music throughout the seasons.
Past non-member activities at Irvine Nature Center
- Snowstorm in a Jar
- Feeding Time
- Birding 101
- Water Wonders
- Flower power
- Aquatic Discoveries
- Natural Mosaics
- Life Cycles
What’s the coolest item for sale in the gift shop?
Irvine branded logowear and water bottles, eco-friendly and locally sourced gifts.
Is there a museum cafe or restaurant?
There is a gift shop that sells organic and locally sourced snacks. There is definitely something for everyone’s palette.
What should teachers planning a field trip know before reaching out to you?
It is important to schedule your field trip early in the year as we fill up quickly.
What are your normal days and hours of operation?
We are open to the public seven days a week from 9am to 5pm.
Does the Irvine Nature Center have a bag check or coat room?
Is there parking available?
Is there an admission fee?
Admission is free for Irvine members and $5 per non-member. Credit cards are accepted.