The Chula Vista Nature Center is a unique and fun place to visit with kids. It’s located at the Sweetwater Marsh Wildlife Refuge, which occupies 316 acres. Since it’s located on a refuge, when you arrive you park and wait for a bus to take you on a short ride to the Nature Center. Don’t worry if you have a stroller, you can bring it along.
Once at the Nature Center you’ll find some great aquariums, as well as a shark and ray exhibit, sea turtles, and rescued birds, including owls, hawks, and even a bald eagle! Much of the marine life found at the Nature Center can be found in San Diego Bay.
The Nature Center operates an endangered species breed and release program for the Light-footed Clapper Rail. This particular species is one of California’s most endangered water birds. There’s lots of information about the Light-footed Clapper Rail here, so be sure to walk through the outdoor aviary devoted to them.
One other neat thing about the Nature Center is that they have a good number of displays of art, and offer arts and crafts as an option for kids most days of the week. When you arrive, be sure to ask the person at the front desk for paper and crayons for their crayon rubbing tables (located outside near the shark & ray exhibit, and the life-sized nest). Look around, and you’ll see mosaic benches, an outdoor sculpture, and other displays of art in and around the area.
Nature Discovery Tours are free with admission or membership, and are held at 2pm on Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays. Call to verify time and days prior to attending. You might also enjoy exploring the 1 1/2 miles of walking trails. Also, be sure to check out their native plant gardens and composting areas. Perhaps we’ll see you there!