If your kids love animals, you’re in luck. The area in and around Fishers boasts a huge array of opportunities to check out various species. Whether you’re looking for parks and preserves where you can spot animals in their natural habitat or places like zoos to see creatures from around the world, you’ll find it close to home. Crème de la Crème of Fishers put together this list to get you started.

Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve

A deer standing in the forest in Fishers, IN

two brown deers standing on green grass” used with permission via Unsplash by cindie_photographer

You don’t have to leave Fishers to check out wildlife with the kids. Just head over to Fishers’ own Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve, home to an abundance of wildlife in a kid-friendly area perfect for spending some time outdoors. You can spot animals like deer, squirrels, rabbits, and more. Look to the creek for turtles, or delight the kids with some fun birdwatching. You might just spot species like owls, flickers, cardinals, robins, woodpeckers, and red-tailed hawks.

All in all, Ritchey Woods Nature Preserve is the place to go in Fishers when you want to unplug and indulge in nature. One of only two state-designated nature preserves in Hamilton County, Ritchey Woods spans around 127 acres. Nine picturesque nature trails make the perfect setting for walking and looking out for wildlife. In fact, the nature trails are some of the best places in the area for birdwatching or wildlife spotting. So, pack a lunch and settle in at one of the picnic tables, then go for a leisurely walk while you watch for your kiddos’ favorite species.

Connor Prairie Animal Encounters

You may already know Fisher’s Connor Prairie as a fun and educational experience that lets you step back in time, but Connor Prairie Animal Encounters is also the place to go with kids who want to see farm animals. This one-of-a-kind experience makes the perfect treat for the animal lovers in your family

Rare historical breeds of livestock like English Longhorn cattle and Ossabaw Island hogs make a visit to Connor Prairie unlike any other place to see animals. Connor Prairie helps preserve these animals, too, so you can rest assured your visit supports a good cause.

Strawtown Koteewi Park

Head over to nearby Noblesville for another great adventure looking for local wildlife with the kids. That’s where you’ll find Strawtown Koteewi Park, Hamilton County’s largest park. The park sprawls over 800 acres, including 3 miles along the White River, offering various opportunities to watch for wildlife while enjoying the great outdoors. You’ll also find 8 miles of multi-use trails for exploring, not to mention an equestrian center and equestrian trail that translates to tons of fun if your kids love horses.

A huge array of species call Strawtown Koteewi Park home thanks to the biodiversity of the area. The park includes prairie, wetlands, and woodlands. One highlight? The birdwatching opportunities here. You can even join an organized event for beginning birdwatchers with older kids. Naturalist staff and other guest leaders guide birdwatchers on how to identify different species, so check the park’s calendar, grab those binoculars, and get out for some fun.

Cool Creek Park

Cool Creek Park, located in Carmel, offers another great opportunity to get out and see wildlife out in nature. The 90 acres are chock full of activities, nature, and fun for the whole family. Whether you’re into walking, jogging, hiking, or simply birdwatching, the 4 miles of wooded trails have you covered. You can also check out paved roads for cycling and rollerblading while surrounded by gorgeous scenery. If you’re looking for a place to learn more about wildlife in the area, you’ll want to reserve some time to visit the Cool Creek Park Nature Center as well.

You’ll find the Nature Center right in Cool Creek Park, so you can expand your adventure or just plan an outing with a visit here in mind. You’ll find more walking trails around the Nature Center, not to mention educational games and a viewing area perfect for birdwatching. Play binoculars take the experience to the next level for younger kids. You might spot squirrels and chipmunks along with the birds, too! Several species of tortoises and turtles also call this area home.

Some other highlights include a library, a coloring station, and interactive learning stations. Kids are sure to love learning about different species of birds and how they construct their nests.

Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center

If it’s birdwatching that interests your kids, you’ll want to have Eagle Creek Park’s Ornithology Center on your list of local places to check out as well. Just minutes from downtown Indianapolis, Eagle Creek Park is considered a birding hot spot. The Ornithology Center is close to the 71st Street entrance.

Situated on top of a bluff that overlooks the bird sanctuary and surrounded by a diverse habitat including deciduous woods, grassland, wetlands, streams, and ponds, the Ornithology Center makes a great place to look for birds any time of the year. Kids will love trying to catch sight of bald eagles, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, grebes, loons, and more at this unique place close to home.

Indianapolis Zoo

Finally, no list of local places to see wildlife would be complete without a mention of the Indianapolis Zoo. Kids can see and learn about a wide range of animals in one easy-to-reach place. The Simon Skjodt International Orangutan Center, an award-winning facility home to one of the largest groups of orangutans in any zoo in the country, is just the start.

Want to learn more about bugs? The lush White River Gardens feature honeybees, butterflies, and more. Ready to get up close and personal with lions, zebras, and wildebeests? Head over to the Plains exhibit to see iconic species from arid savannahs in Africa. You’ll also find penguins, dolphins, and eels in the Oceans exhibit, not to mention snakes, skinks, and “monsters” in the Deserts exhibit, and so much more. If you want to visit one place to introduces the kids to an abundance of different species, you can’t go wrong with this local zoo.There you have it! Crème de la Crème of Fishers just gave you some amazing places to explore close to home when your kids want to see wildlife. Does your family have another local place we missed? Let us know so we can add it.