The New Canaan Nature Center is located on a 40-acre site which features unusual habitat diversity, including wet and dry meadows, two ponds, wet and dry woodlands, dense thickets, an old orchard, and a cattail marsh. Two miles of trails criss-cross the site (including a 350-foot marsh boardwalk), and two observation towers overlook the wetlands and cattail marsh. The property has both developed and undeveloped areas, offering a variety of horticultural experiences for the visitors.
Visitors Center: The Visitors Center, which opened in 1999 houses program registration, the Nature Gift Shop, Discovery Center exhibits and the Sturgess Room where we feature the work of local artists and hold many events. The Administrative offices are located on the second floor of the building. The Visitors Center is open from 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday.
Greenhouse: The 4000 square-foot Greenhouse and adjacent Lath House features living exhibits, including exotic species, along with work areas and a classroom. Many of the Nature Center's horticultural programs are presented in the Greenhouse space. The Greenhouse is open is open from 9:00 A.M. – 4:00 P.M. Tuesday through Saturday.
Education Building and Annex: These buildings are used for Preschool, Summer Camp, Birthday Parties, Group Programs, and Special Events. The Education offices are located on the second floor of the Education Building.
Animal Care Building: This building houses our collection of more than 40 species of teaching mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds of prey. The north side of the building has an amphitheater used for many events and the south side of the building houses the Birds of Prey Exhibit. The Birds of Prey Exhibit features seven aviaries and is open to the public from dawn to dusk everyday.
Apple Cider House: Fall is a busy time for the Apple Cider House. School groups from the area attend education programs teaching them about how apples are grown and cider is made. Each year the Nature Center hosts "Cider Saturday" a one day program open to the public, designed to educate families about cider making through hands on activities, crafts and games.
Sally Waters Herb Garden and Cottage: Learning to grow and use the plants from these gardens of scent and texture is important to the volunteers who take care of them. They propagate, research, compost, dry, cook, dye, craft, arrange and find fascination in the long histories of these plants from our own and foreign cultures. The Herb Garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk daily. A self-guided tour brochure is available in the Visitor Center and the Herb Garden.
Two Observation Towers: The 40-acre New Cannan Nature Center site is criss-crossed by two miles of trails, including a 350-foot boardwalk that traverses the wetlands. Two observation towers overlook a cattail marsh.
Staff Residence: The original caretakers' cottage on the Bliss estate is used as a residence for several of our Environmental Educators.
Arboretum: Susan Dwight Bliss, former owner of the Nature Center property, planted a small arboretum which includes magnificent specimens of native and non-native trees.
The Swallen Wildflower Garden: The Wildflower Garden, which won the 1997 Homer Lucas Landscape Award from the New England Wildflower Society, has an enchanting appeal of its own. The garden meanders along a stream on one side and ascends a stone stairway into the woods along another. The central lawn area, under the canopy shade of a cork tree, has several memorial benches. A recent extension, a colorful transition planting into the wildflower meadow attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. The Wildflower Garden is at its peak in March and April and is open to the public year round from dawn to dusk daily.
The Hanson Naturalist's Garden: Opened in 1991 the 85' x 100' Naturalists' Garden was planted as a "model backyard" designed to show homeowners how their property could be maintained for positive ecological effects. This garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk daily.