Enjoying Some Outdoor Fun: Audubon Sanctuaries


I recently moved to Boston, and now that I'm living in a city I find myself extra grateful for any opportunity that leads me directly into nature. For the past 4.5 years, I lived in an area surrounded by small mountains, woods, trails, and farms. Day long nature hikes were never more than 20 minutes away, and some of my favorites were only a 15 minute walk down the road. Because of this landscape, I was never short of free outdoor activities. But even in the city, there are going to be at least a handful of nearby outdoor activities which won't cost  a whole lot of money.

No matter where I live,  I'll always find ways to take advantage of fun and affordable outdoor activities. This past weekend I visited the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, Ma. If you are ever unsure about where to start looking for some outdoor fun, great places to consider are local Audubon Sanctuaries.  The goal of any Audubon Sanctuary centers  around its mission "to conserve and reserve natural ecosystems, focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the earth's biological diversity" ("About Audubon." Audubon. 26 April 2010 <www.audubon.org/nas/>). As a result, these wildlife sanctuaries are perfect for explorations into the natural world. Depending on its size, there may be a handful of trails to choose from, and if you're anything like me, you might even get lost.

One of the best aspects of making the trip out to these sanctuaries with friends or family is that it's not going to cost much money. Many locations act on a donation basis, so you would just give what you can. Some places do charge a small admissions fee, but it's nothing compared to other afternoon family activities, like going to the movies. When I went, it was $5 for adults and $4 for children.  There is also the benefit of knowing your money is going to help sustain these wonderful places.

Another great way to save money if you do decide to spend a day at a wildlife sanctuary is to bring along a picnic lunch. Most locations have designated picnic areas, but if you wanted to be adventurous,  you could always go exploring and find a more quiet and private place to eat. Just remember to pack up everything you brought with you.

To learn more about the many different established Audubon Societies across the country, check out the National Audubon Society's website. And don't forget to do a general internet search of Audubon Sanctuaries in your area, because not all of these places are officially registered with the National Audubon Society. Once you find a website for a sanctuary in your area, you can find out about different organized events that are happening, as well as learn some general information about where you are going.

Summer is also just around the corner, which for many families means camp. If you are someone who sends your kids to camp, check out the summer camp that the Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary offers every year. Even if this isn't local to your area, it still gives you an idea of what other wildlife sanctuary camps are like, and maybe you'll find that it's something you want your children to experience.

This upcoming weekend, when your trying to think of fun things to do with your family and friends, or even by yourself, don't rule out visiting a wildlife sanctuary. As long as the weather's on your side, you're sure to have a fantastic time.

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