Free Access to Nature & Ecology Centers

Experience the wonders of the natural world during a day of free access to sites in greater Milwaukee that advance education, conservation, adventure and ecology. For its August Gift to the Community, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation is partnering with the Urban Ecology Center, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Riveredge Nature Center and Mequon Nature Preserve to offer free entry and an array of special programming across six different locations.


Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015

Mequon Nature Preserve

MNP-Logo-Web.jpgWhere: 8200 W. County Line Road, Mequon, WI 53097

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (trail access: dawn to dusk)

Phone: 262.242.8055

About: Mequon Nature Preserve is 438 acres of hardwood forests, wetlands, prairies and fields. Its primary mission is to be a guiding example of land restoration by returning an urban/suburban area to pre-settlement conditions. In addition, it serves 7,500 students annually through a science-based, hands‐on environmental education program. All programming is provided without fees to schools or students, and transportation is provided at no cost to City of Milwaukee schools, an area of focus. The land offers five miles of trails and is free and open to the public daily, sunrise to sunset.

Details for the day:


  • Nature’s obstacle course for walkers or runners
  • Unique activity and enrichment stations
  • Up-close with critters, including Louise, the famous resident tortoise
Riveredge  Nature Center

4458 County Road Y, Saukville, WI 53080 (All parking at Fireman’s Park, 508 Main St., Newburg. Shuttles will be provided).

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (trail access: dawn to dusk)

Phone: 262.375.2715

About: For nearly fifty years, Riveredge Nature Center has been a pioneer in engaging people with the natural world. Its 379 acres of restored wild Wisconsin ecosystems, 10 miles of trails for adventuring, and a legacy of hundreds of thousands of kids transformed by a deeply intimate interaction with nature are a testament to Riveredge's passion for this cause. That passion continues today through the building of a movement to bring the great outdoors to families, schools and neighborhoods.

Details for the day:


  • Recreational tree climbing
  • Geocaching
  • Fairy & gnome house building 
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

SchlitzAudubon-Logo-Web.jpgWhere: 1111 E. Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, WI 53217

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (trail access: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Phone: 414.352.2880

About: Once a farm for the Schlitz Brewery draft horses, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is Milwaukee’s comprehensive nature center. It offers six miles of trails that take visitors through 185 unique acres of forests, wetlands, restored prairies, ravines, bluffs and a shoreline. You will see evidence of its active and progressive management of the land, restoring habitats unique to the region and reclaiming its bountiful natural history.

Conveniently located just north of the city on Lake Michigan, it provides the full experience of nature throughout all seasons. With leading experiential, environmental education for people of all ages, Schlitz Audubon is both a destination for adventure and an oasis from the busyness of life.

Schlitz Audubon is a designated Important Bird Area because of the habitat provided by the lake for certain waterfowl. It is also a birding hot spot because of its location within a migratory flyway.

Details for the day:


  • BioBlitz – observe and learn from scientists in action – in partnership with Milwaukee Public Museum
  • Ponding and guided nature hikes
  • Raptor meet and greet
Urban Ecology Center

UEC-logo-web.jpgWhere: Three Milwaukee locations (see below)

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (all branches)

Phone: 414.964.8505

About: The Urban Ecology Center fosters ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood. Its Environmental Community Centers:

  • Provide outdoor science education for urban youth
  • Protect and use public natural areas, making them safe, accessible and vibrant
  • Preserve and enhance these natural areas and their surrounding waters
  • Promote community by offering resources that support learning, volunteerism, stewardship, recreation and camaraderie
  • Practice and model environmentally responsible behaviors

Today, the Urban Ecology Center has three locations throughout the City of Milwaukee: Its original location and organizational headquarters in Riverside Park, one in Washington Park to serve communities and schools on Milwaukee’s west side, and one in the Menomonee Valley on Milwaukee’s south side. It is a vibrant and growing organization, serving more than 77,000 people each year and protecting and restoring urban green spaces in Milwaukee.

Details for the day:


Menomonee Valley Branch
3700 W. Pierce St., Milwaukee, WI 53215

  • Birding on the bridge
  • Hands-on beekeeping workshop
  • Reptile and amphibian feeding

Riverside Park Branch
1500 E. Park Place, Milwaukee, WI 53211

  • Open climb on outdoor climbing wall
  • Kayak outing to Village Park for adults
  • Self-led science activities for kids

Washington Park Branch
1859 N. 40th St., Milwaukee, WI 53208

  • Canoeing on the lagoon
  • Guided fishing lessons for kids and families
  • Water safety classes