Westwood Hills Nature Center, a 160-acre park that features an abundance of natural education and recreation, is just a 15-minute drive from our Uptown Minneapolis apartments, offering a quick and easy natural oasis from the hustle and bustle of city life.
This stunning nature park features prairie, forest, and marsh areas with hiking trails and an education center where people of all ages can learn more about local wildlife here in Minnesota.
History of Westwood Hills Nature Center
In the 1930s, Westwood Hills was a country club where locals would come to practice their golf swing and to enjoy the great outdoors. In the 1960s, the property transformed from a country club to a day camp for kids to learn more about nature and to swap camp stories around the fire. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the city started planning the site as an interpretive center and nature preserve. The first building at Westwood Hills Nature Center opened in 1981, and it has served as an educational mecca for nature lovers across Minneapolis for decades.
“Today, Westwood Hills Nature Center provides visitors of all ages the chance to explore the natural world – right here in St. Louis Park. Come see for yourself and create your own natural history,” says the St. Louis Park Historical Society.
Westwood Hills Nature Center Today: Enjoy a Variety of Beautiful, Natural Places, Minutes From our St. Louis Park Apartments
When you arrive for the first time at Westwood Hills Nature Center, you’ll immediately feel the stress of daily life melt away. You’ll be surrounded by the beauty of nature including the glimmering Westwood lake, more than 3 miles of hiking trails, a peaceful water garden, an interpretive center where you can learn more about local wildlife, a rental facility for parties and gatherings, an outdoor amphitheater, and a playground where little kids can get their wiggles out.
Westwood Hills Nature Center is also dedicated to educating the public about the plight of the honeybee. They have an entire Honey Bee Observation Apiary where locals can learn about the care and keeping of honeybees, and how they can play a part in protecting this endangered species.
Programs and Activities at Westwood Hills Nature Center
The Westwood Hills Nature Center offers year-round opportunities for visitors to deepen their understanding and appreciation of local wildlife. According to their website, “The Westwood Hills Nature Center is a unique, outdoor, multi-generational classroom in the middle of the city. Professionally-trained naturalists lead a variety of fun, informative and hands-on environmental education and outdoor recreation programs.”
These programs are for people of all ages, especially their Family Education Program, where parents can learn alongside their children. Their preschool programs include “The Westwood Puppets”, who tell stories about nature and science that engage kids and make them laugh. They teach children about bugs, butterflies, salamanders, squirrels, and so much more. Their Tuesday Turtles program seeks to explore and discover the world outside while on naturalist-led hikes.
The Westwood Hills Nature Center also offers education for home-schooled students. They pride themselves on their interactive science learning activities that are tailored to fit children of all ages and learning abilities. Homeschool programs include topics such as learning about tracks and signs, archery, canoeing, fire building, orienteering, reptiles and amphibians, spring birds, and more.
The Westwood Hills Nature Center is also a popular place for field trips and scout programs. Kids have the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics including autumn trees and apples, syrup tapping, birding, pond studies, phenology, honeybees and beekeeping, and so much more.
For adults, the Westwood Hills Nature Center offers evening canoeing so they can escape into a natural oasis after a hectic workday and to a peaceful evening in their Uptown Minneapolis apartments.
What the Locals Say
Westwood Hills Nature Center is beloved by locals all across Minneapolis and offers a peaceful and serene escape from city life. One local guide talks about how much her young son loved his first trip to Westwood Hills Nature Center. “Love it here,” she says, “Very peaceful with a few different trails to check out. Our favorite is the marsh trail. We took my two-year-old son today for his first trip and he loved it. He especially enjoyed the snakes and frogs in the interpretive center and the stuffed owls and ducks.”
Another local talks about how impressed she was when they hosted her child’s birthday party at Westwood Hills Nature Center. “The naturalist called a few days in advance to give us a heads up of the schedule and group plan,” she says, “She greeted us warmly the day of our party – introduced herself, offered to help carry any items in, and walked me to the party room. She asked me about who the birthday child was and their age and interests. She kept the attention of the group the whole time and included every single child. We felt that all the children gained a valuable education during their time with her. She was inclusive, knowledgeable, friendly, and experienced. Host your birthday at Westwood Hills!”
A Natural Oasis Close to Our St. Louis Park Apartments
While our Uptown Minneapolis apartments are walking-distance from upscale dining, shopping, and entertainment, we are also huge fans of our green and natural gems here in Minneapolis. Whether you love a good nature hike, a picnic on a sunny day, taking your kids to a playground in a laid-back setting, or just learning more about nature, the Westwood Hills Nature Center will not disappoint. To experience life at our St. Louis Park apartments, be sure to request a tour today by going to our website.