Countless studies show that playing outdoors and cutting television and computer time makes kids healthier and happier. That is why the Hudson Highlands Nature Museum recently celebrated the grand opening of “Grasshopper Grove”, the first nature play area in the Hudson Valley, at its 177-acre Outdoor Discovery Center. The Grove brings the wonders of the woods and fields up close and returns some of the lost wild magic to children.
“Unstructured play in nature is so good for children’s development on many levels,” says executive director, Jackie Grant. “We looked at the places in our woods where our preschool children love to play and brought them all together in Grasshopper Grove.”
Grasshopper Grove is a safe, accessible, half acre of natural elements where children ages two to ten can climb on fallen trees, dig in dirt piles, balance on boulders and create imaginary worlds with sticks, pine cones and tree bark. A water trough ends in a stream bed, and children love running up lookout mountain and crossing the log bridges. A rustic gazebo provides shade and the grove is surrounded with an unobtrusive deer fence. The wonder begins at the gateway that includes a special children's entrance which is topped by a giant grasshopper.
Grasshopper Grove is open from April through November on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Outdoor Discovery Center, 100 Muser Dr., Cornwall. Cost: Free for Museum members; $3 for non-members. For more information, visit HHNatureMuseum.org or call 534-5506 x204.