Rain or shine, winter or summer, kids always want to be outside exploring, and what better place to take them to do just that than Chattahoochee Nature Center in Roswell, GA, where nature and exploration meet in an explosion of discovery and excitement.
Located next to the Chattahoochee River, this nature center is a natural playground on 127 acres that you want to be sure to visit. You’ll love exploring this amazing Georgia nature center, and all it has to offer.
Here are 19+ reasons why it is tops in our book!
Tickets to the Chattahoochee Nature Center
You can purchase your tickets online in advance for the Chattahoochee Nature Center. You’ll pick a date and a time slot, and will have access to the grounds, the permanent and seasonal exhibits, and special programming.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $11 for seniors, $11 for teens 13-18, $9 for kids 3-12, and kids 2 and under are free.
CNC also offers Annual Memberships.
Parking is free.
Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures
Eco Zipline Canopy Tour
Take to the skies and get a bird’s eye view of the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Designed for children ages 8 to 208!
Their Zip line Canopy tour will take you through a 1-1.5 hour tour of the fabulous and stunning aerial ecosystem of the Nature Center, while zipping twice over Beaver Pond. Get up to 55 feet in the air on one of the 7 zip lines that stretch up to 500 feet.
The Eco Zipline Canopy Tour offers up to 12 challenging elements as you explore the landscape of the Nature Center.
Aerial Adventure Course
Take a 1-1.5 hour adventurous trek around the treetops on the NEW Aerial Adventure Course. Designed for children ages 6 to 206!
Harness up in cutting-edge safety gear and experience up to 28 challenge elements. Challenge elements include up to 4 zip lines, suspension bridges, ropes, and much more! Children 6-9 must be accompanied by an adult.
Leave Your Mark
In the Discovery Center, you can contribute to a real-life message board, which my kids loved.
Leave a note answering one of the questions they are asking like, “How can you enjoy Chattahoochee in Columbus?” or “How does Trust For Public Land help conserve the watershed?” Read what other visitors have to say and see what the experts think. (My 8-year-old answered, “To help the environment stay healthy!”)
Leaving a note for others to read is not only encouraged, but filled with positivity and hope, and helps connect people — and we all could use that!
Mountain Top on the Rooftop
Next, you want to head outside the Discovery Center, keeping your eyes open for plants you might see, like Spiderwort, Hairy Lip Fern, Georgia Rush, and Stone Mountain Daisy. These are more than just awesome names, they are also only found in a few places in Georgia, and this green roof was created to mimic their unique growing conditions. Spend some time picking out the incredible species growing here.
Bonus activity: Hop up on one of the provided chairs, look through the free viewfinder, and see if you can spot what the two bald eagles are up to in the Bald Eagle Aviary!
Paddle the Chattahoochee
Lesli and her husband did this one fall season and loved it. If you are going to canoe Atlanta, then this is the tour to take! Their guide took them along the Chattahoochee River, past the towering rock/stone walls, and into parts of the Chattahoochee that you can only see by water. He pointed out various birds and other critters, and told them stories about the changing watershed. It was calm and peaceful, informative…but he wasn’t too chatty. It was a perfect balance.
If you want to make it a family date, then a third seat can be purchased for 1/2 price. Kids 6 and older can be in a canoe as long as an adult is also in the canoe. There are also Family Canoe classes, too!
Wildlife in the city? The Chattahoochee Nature Center wildlife department focuses on environmental education and rehabilitation of injured animals, and receives thousands of calls a year from people who have questions, ranging from animal identification to habitat destruction to animal rescue.
Many of these animals, who they have determined cannot be released back into the wild, can be seen along the Wildlife Walk. It’s a great opportunity for educating others on the great work the Chattahoochee Nature Center does. From Great Horned Owls to Barred Owls to Barn Owls, Red-Shouldered Hawks to a Cooper’s Hawk, this walk helps you to decide “whooooo” is your favorite and also see these amazing birds up close.
Bonus activity: Find the games along the way, and see if you can figure out the answers to these nature-based questions!
In keeping with their eco-friendly grounds, the butterfly gardens include native flowers and plants which provide both nectar for the butterflies and leaves for the caterpillars, which is really like watching a life cycle right before your eyes!
In the winter, the Chrysalis, larva, eggs and butterflies find hiding places to survive the colder weather, but the rest of the year you can find them all in this amazing area of beauty.
Get Your Hiking Shoes
With six trails at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, you can spend the day hiking or choose one to tackle at a time, and leave the rest for a return visit. Trust us, you will want to conquer every one of them!
There is something special to look for on all of them, so take your pick or do them all.
Once the home of an old cabin, the Homestead Trail is slightly over 1/4 mile. This trail gives you the chance to find native species of plants and animals, and also to search for all the remains of the house.
The house dates back to the 1940s, and included a chimney and a concrete drive. Imagine life back then, and how you would have lived, nestled in the forest.
Stone Cabin Trail
Another 1/4 mile loop that starts close to the Discovery Center, the Stone Cabin Trail leads you first to the remnants of an Old Stone Cabin. Once used as part of Camp Chattahoochee, it now provides a picnic area and a great overlook to the Beaver Pond. (You can bring your own food and picnic supplies to CNC!)
If you’ve packed a lunch this is an easy, and scenic, spot to take a rest and eat!
Kingfisher Pond Trail
Another trail that works for beginners and children is the Kingfisher Pond Trail, which runs parallel with the Kingfisher Pond. See if you can find the variety of wildlife who make this pond their home, from turtles to Kingfishers to Herons to frogs and lizards. It also makes a pretty spectacular photo opportunity!
This .3-mile trail leads to the highest point on the Chattahoochee Nature Center property and is truly a forest explorers dream.
This land, which was once used mainly for farming and owned by the Kelpin Family, is considered a young forest but still provides trees that we can all be in awe of today. Hike to the top and find the gravesite which belongs to Charles Kelpin, a son of the land owner, who died during the Civil War.
River Boardwalk Trail
The most diverse trail at CNC is a .5-mile-long boardwalk, taking you between two different wetland marshes. The marsh platform is a viewing area for migratory birds, Herons, Mallards and more.
Watch the river and see if you can find fish or ducks, and watch as people canoe or kayak by.
Make your way back into the Discovery Center and head down the stairs, where you can easily spend the rest of your visit! Start off with the exhibits of animals and insects, with skulls and bones galore, remnants of the wildlife that once walked these grounds. Grab a feather and check out the microscope, looking at the beauty of what lies beneath. Search through the rocks and minerals to see which one is the sparkliest, shiniest or just your favorite.
Bonus Activity: Don’t miss a chance to check out a Discovery Backpack for fun adventures around the nature center. They are FREE for members (and a nominal fee otherwise).
The Nature Exchange
If collecting rocks and sticks are as big of an activity in your house as they are in ours, then the Nature Exchange is a stop you can’t miss!
Natural objects from all over the world are here, and you can bring them home by bringing in natural treasures of your own and trade them in for points. There are rules that must be followed, but with enough points you can bring home up to 3 items per visit.
This is a great way to encourage collecting and trading and discovery of new things!
Explore Your Watershed
The Explore Your Watershed exhibit is a hands-on section of the CNC that brings the plants and animals of the Chattahoochee River to you. Learn about everything from fish to healthy water (and in turn healthy fish!); play the river flows water game and discover all the things that can affect a river’s flow, from sunny skies to rainy days and more! See what it’s like to walk under a beavers dam; what happens when the wetlands release stored water back into our river, and how adversely it can keep the rivers from flooding when high.
Further into the exhibit you will find a Virginia Opossum, nestled tight in its home, and a faux worm bin, where kids can see how creating a worm bin turns organic material into healthy soil. Look up and see if you can spot the Eastern Screech Owl. Climb on the giving tree, and try to find 10 things to love about the tree. We bet you can find more!
Bonus Activity: Play the food chain game. Take a provided piece of paper, and see if you can correctly choose which of the plants and animals make a food chain!
Cowie Weiss Theater
This theater can hold private and corporate events, shows informative movies, programs, and speakers, and even live performances. Check out the calendar of events to see what is going on there during your visit.
Have Fun Learning
While Chattahoochee Nature Center is an amazing place to visit, they shine with their educational programs for kids of all ages. From in-house educational programming to highly trained naturalists who can come to your business or school with their outreach program, they’ve created a way to engage, entertain and educate at the same time.
We love their Pee Wee Naturalist class for 3 and 4 year olds! It is THE BEST! CNC Homeschool Days are another great opportunity for kids to learn about animals, conservation and more.
While the festivals at CNC may not be as big as some of the festivals found in other parts of Atlanta, these festivals are not to be missed, including their annual Butterfly Festival, which has been held for over 20 years.
Watch as butterflies fill the air with their beauty, and help raise money for this important center at the same time. Other festivals include Halloween Hikes and their popular Holiday Market.
CNC not only has their day-to-day activities, but they are known for its special events, from their after-hours events to family fun days to birthday parties and scouting events.
Listen, do you hear that? That is the sound of wedding bells – you can even get married here!
You’ll want to be sure to visit at Christmas when you can see and pet live reindeer. It’s a perfect Christmas treat.
If raising money for great causes or road races are more your speed, the CNC has a variety of fundraisers throughout the year that appeal to everyone, from the wine drinker to the runners to a garden party tasting event! You can feel good while having fun and who wouldn’t want that?
So put on your comfortable shoes, pack up a picnic, don’t forget your young naturalists, and head over to the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Prepare to explore, discover and be amazed!
Chattahoochee Nature Center FAQ
What is the history of the Chattahoochee Nature Center?
The Chattahoochee Nature Center was founded by citizen activities in the mid-1970s. Over the years, hundreds of people have volunteered and raised money to make it the awesome nature center it is today.
Where does the Chattahoochee River start and end?
The Chattahoochee River starts in Union County, GA, in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and flows through Atlanta, all the way down to Lake Seminole on the Georgia-Florida border.
Can I bring my dog to the CNC?
Sorry, only service dogs are allowed at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The nearby Chattahoochee National Recreation Area and the The Roswell Riverwalk are both great places to hike with your pet!
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- NATURE CENTERS: 13+ Atlanta Nature Centers Near Me for Enjoying Special Time Outside
- DUNWOODY NATURE CENTER: 22 Things To Do at Dunwoody Nature Center
- FERNBANK SCIENCE CENTER: Fernbank Science Center: Free Fun for Inquisitive Minds
- FREE ATLANTA: 50+ Free Things To Do in Atlanta (That Don’t Suck)
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