Wow! That is the first word that comes to mind when I think about our recent visit to Quarry Hill Nature Center! We had so much fun learning and exploring in this amazing park.
Rochester is about a 90 minute drive south from the Twin Cities. Quarry Hill is located within the Rochester city limits. The park was easy to find, and the parking lot is large. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon when we visited, and the park was pretty busy but since there is so much to see there we never felt crowded.
We started our visit in the nature center building. It was by far the most exciting nature center building we have visited. I was so impressed! There are numerous live animals to see including snakes, turtles and a really impressive fish tank. There is an awesome bee hive display; the hive is in the building with a tube connecting to outside where you can watch the bees coming and going. They have a bird watching room with large windows, comfy chairs, binoculars and bird books. Not to mention the many great hands-on displays for the kids.
After checking out the building, we headed outside. Again, there was so much to see! There’s a pond where you can fish and a butterfly garden. As you walk further into the park, it gets really interesting! What is now the Quarry Hill Nature Center used to be the Rochester State Hospital. They have 8 miles of trails to explore and it seems like you come across something interesting around every corner. There are old building remnants, a cave that you can go on a tour of, and the limestone quarry. One of the reasons we picked Quarry Hill as our destination is that you can hunt for fossils in the quarry, and if you find any, as long as they can fit in your palm you can keep them! We didn’t have any luck finding fossils, but just looking for them was fun, too! The park has done a really nice job with the signs along the trails describing what you are seeing.
This park was a huge hit for my kids and me. The park offers many different programs throughout the year, so if you are planning a trip then be sure to check out their calendar to see if there is a program that interests your family. The trails around the nature center and the pond are good for any age. If you are going to go out to the quarry, it’s best for those preschool and up– and even then be careful! A few of the stretches of trail are along pretty steep hills.
While in Rochester here are some other things to explore!
- Mayo Park
- Pipsqueaks Indoor Playground
- History Center of Olmsted County
- Cascade Meadow Wetland Environmental Learning Center
- Bounce World
- Flapdoodles Homemade Ice Cream
Find these and more by searching our website, or clicking here.