two children sitting on concrete alligator with their hands in the air, enjoying playing at Florence nature park in Florence ky

If you’re looking for a new place to take your young kiddos, let me recommend some special spots at two of NKY’s Hidden Gems: Florence Nature Park and Behringer-Crawford Museum’s NaturePlay@BCM.

A favorite of the younger visitors, the menagerie of cement animals that now lives in the park once resided inside the Florence Mall. There’s an alligator, a rhino, a giant turtle and a hippo, which is trailed by a smaller animal that is either a baby hippo or a baby rhino (opinions vary). They provide wonderful climbing opportunities for kids and captivating photos for parents.

three children enjoying playing on concrete hippos at Florence nature park in Florence ky

The Nature Park also has a paved trail that allows visitors to explore nature, hunt for acorns and enjoy the colors of fall. The trail is 6 feet wide, about three-quarters of a mile long and is rated “easy.” The asphalt surface makes it perfect for wheelchairs, bikes and strollers—leashed dogs love it, too.

nature play at Behringer-Crawford Museum swing with three people on it

Adjacent to the Behringer-Crawford Museum in Devou Park, NaturePlay@BCM is open all year and is fenced in to keep kiddos safe. It was designed to be accessible to children of all abilities. There are swings and a slide, space to run, a hillside to explore and a plant tunnel to crawl or roll through.

NaturePlay’s outdoor, immersive experiences are an extension of the exhibits inside the museum. Kids can travel through time, from the pre-historic days of the wooly mammoth to the arrival of early settlers in our region. In the pre-history area, young archeologists can dig for fossilized bones or climb on a giant trilobite.

miniature log cabins for kids to play in at nature play at Behringer-Crawford Museum in covington ky

Two child-size cabins and a flatboat encourage imaginative play inspired by families homesteading here more than a century ago. The museum often hosts educational programs inside NaturePlay, such as storytime by the primitive hearth, sensory tables and outdoor art creation.

slide built into the side of a hill at nature play at Behringer-Crawford Museum in covington ky

If you follow the path on the hill, you will discover the Kentucky Heritage Sculpture Garden, populated with mosaics of Ice Age mammals, created by local middle and high school students. Native grasses and flowers thrive at NaturePlay and are often the focus of the museum’s educational programs.

For more information on the Florence Nature Park, click here.

To learn more about NaturePlay@BCM, click here.

This article was originally publlished in The NKY Tribune.  Read the original story here.