On the trailSpring in Connecticut is perfect for outdoor family travel adventures. The Audubon Nature Center in Sharon, Connecticut, serves up free environmental education for families.

Thinking about expanding your environmental education – there is a place perfect for you! Here are my family’s five top picks for endless fun inside the Audobon Nature Center and out on the trails:

Try bird-watching

Settle down in one of the observation chairs inside the Nature Center and watch for hairy woodpeckers, chickadees and other birds at the outdoor feeder. Your kids can use the handy information cards to identify the birds as they swoop in for a snack.

Say hello to “Princess”, the talking crow.

The Center regularly takes in and cares for injured or abandoned reptiles and birds. Believe it or not, “Princess” has developed her own signature way of communicating with visitors!

Get up close and personal with turtles, lizards, snakes and insects.

The Center’s displays and habitats – in particular, the open-topped turtle pond – are really kid-friendly. Our kids had a blast watching the antics of the four resident turtles.

Visit the gift shop

There you can check out the puzzles, eco-games, children’s books, field guides, plush animals, birding paraphernalia and other kid-friendly items available for purchase. The best find? At seventy-five cents a pop the miniature turtles, birds and other assorted critters can’t be beat.Measuring_Wings

Take a short walk

A great place to take a walk is along the marked trail to the outdoor Raptor Center, home to a variety of raptors and birds, such Great Horned Owl, the Bald Eagle, the American Kestrel and the Barred Owl. There is also a fun feature where kids can spread their arms and see how their own “wing span” compares to the wing span of actual birds.

The Audubon Nature Center is located at 325 Cornwall Bridge Road in Sharon, CT 06069. The Raptor Center and Trails are open dawn to dusk. The Visitor Center and Nature Store are open Tuesday through Saturday 9am-5pm, Sunday 1pm-5pm. Admission to the Nature Center is free. There is a nominal fee for using the trails.

Justine Ickes, a contributing writer for Washington Parent, writes about travel, culture, education and people making a difference.