Knoch Knolls is one of the most idyllic spots in Naperville, and the new (in 2014) nature center makes it even better. We visited on a rainy afternoon and enjoyed all the hands-on exhibits!
320 Knoch Knolls Road
Naperville, IL 60540
See the website for current hours, which vary by season.
What You’ll Find at Knoch Knolls Nature Center
Knoch Knolls is home to two rivers, a creek, and miles of hiking over varied terrain from woods to prairie. The nature center is right outside the woods, making it a great “home base” to explore the trails or the fantastic mud-free playground.
Inside the Knoch Knolls Nature Center
The nature center itself includes hands-on activities that are changed out regularly. There’s also a huge aquarium, small animals including a turtle and snake, and displays about sustainable design, local wildlife, and history.
The Knoch Knolls Playground
Outside the nature center, you’ll find a playground with a mud-free springy surface that’s divided into two areas: one for 2–5 year olds, and one for 5–12 year olds. The playground is unique with equipment like a huge climbing structure for older kids and a log-shaped tunnel for tots to climb through. There’s a shady pavilion perfect for supervising parents or a picnic lunch, too.
My two-year-old really enjoyed the hands-on activities at the nature center, especially the play table stocked with nature-themed toys, twigs, and books. Older kids and adults will find plenty to explore, too, through interactive exhibits and information about the local wildlife. The building itself has a LEED Platinum certification. It was interesting to see and read about features like the solar panels, cistern, living wall, grass roof, and more.
We visited when my son was about one year old, and he wasn’t really old enough to enjoy the center yet. I would recommend the center for ages two through elementary school. Science-minded middle schoolers and high schoolers may also enjoy a visit before or after a hike, but won’t need much time to tour the exhibits.
Food and Water
There is no food available at the center. Water fountains are accessible both inside and out. You can bring your own for picnics at the picnic tables, some of which are beneath a covered pavilion by the playground.
The bathrooms inside the center are very nice and include a changing table. They are also accessible from the outside.
It’s always free to visit the nature center!
Best Days/Times to Visit Knoch Knolls Nature Center
The center is busier on days when the weather is nice, as families often stop in during a visit to the playground or trails. It also tends to be busier during drop-off and pick-up for the preschool classes hosted in the building.
Check out our giant list of nature centers in Chicagoland to learn more about all the kid-friendly nature centers in the west and south suburbs!