Family Travel 5: Amazing ways to explore the natural world |

There are many ways to explore our natural world. Here are five to consider.

Explore the National Water Trails System

It is a network of 22 river, lake, and other waterways, designated as such by the US Department of the Interior. The system provides families with vacation and recreational opportunities in the scenic regions of the United States

In southwest Ohio, families can access 291 miles of kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching on Three Rivers and its many smaller tributaries, including the mighty Miami River, Stillwater River, and the Mudd River, as well as the Twin, Greenville, and Buck Creeks.

The Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail also includes whitewater and kayak parks, world-class fishing and more than 100 nature and urban parks in the area. Maps are available to help families locate the 117 public access points, as well as bike path information and plan an adventure.

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Visit Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota

Visitors to this scenic landscape have the option of discovering two worlds – one above ground and one below ground. Under the vast skies, families can explore 44 square miles of prairie and pine forests, a landscape that, according to park rangers, is brimming with wildlife. Below, Wind Cave, the seventh largest cave system in the world, is known for its rare formations, particularly the grid-like structure called “boxwork”. The candlelit cave tour is much appreciated. Reservations are required.

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Explore the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn, New York

Infused with colour, scent and texture, gardens are a gift from the natural world. Toddler Discovery, Tree Lab, and Family Weekend programs combine to make Brooklyn Botanic Garden a great place to inspire young naturalists and encourage families to explore science and nature together.

Equip a plant or create a nature craft to take home with the help of volunteer discovery doctors and teen apprentices. Created for the park’s youngest guests, the Expanded Discovery Garden provides hands-on opportunities to explore flora and fauna in an immersive landscape. Don’t miss the winding paths and the unique beauty of Japanese gardens, referred to as BBG.

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Explore the natural heritage area

Visit the National Heritage District, one of 55 designated places where historical, cultural, and natural resources combine to form nationally significant landscapes.

Home to some of the most influential crossroads in Alaskan history, the Kenai-Turnagen Mountains National Heritage Area offers historic, cultural, scenic, and outdoor recreational opportunities for those venturing into the last frontier. Explore mountains, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and fjords in an area made up of a north-south road, railroad passes, and trails from Bird to Seward as well as Girdwood, Portage, and Moose Pass. There’s also plenty to discover at Cooper Landing, Whittier, and the wild waters of Prince William Sound. The area offers a wealth of wildlife viewing, history, nature tours, hiking, biking, fishing, and countryside options.

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Catch the post

Discover the bustling world of bees during a self-guided visit to the intriguing bee garden. Your family can safely learn about the importance of honeycomb, nectar, honey and pollen and why we need to conserve the bee population during a visit to the West Seattle Bee Garden. Take time to walk around the nearby garden and talk about plants and their role in the pollination process. Ask about their annual festival, which includes children’s activities, music, and enhanced educational programs.

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Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert, and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more information about travel on Twitter Tweet embedor Facebook or via

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