Tucked in a scenic area just west of Alliance, Beech Creek Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve is an enchanting space to discover nature, offering a breath of fresh air for people of all ages.
“We often talk about Beech Creek as a nature exploration paradise,” says Eric Ginanni, marketing director. “What we have created is more than a botanical garden with plants and flowers; it’s also a nature preserve with trails and animals, a butterfly house, a playground made of natural materials, and more. It’s a place where kids and families and individuals can come and get lost in exploring nature.”
The 181-acre nonprofit Beech Creek started 24 years ago with a grassroots effort to bring the community together to interact with nature. “We are always finding new ways to foster creativity in people — especially children — by giving them areas to explore and discover,” Ginanni says. “We’re huge on education, making our spaces an opportunity to learn something new or just uncover fun tidbits about our natural world.”
Beech Creek’s multiple gardens, trails, exhibits, and events — from life-size Lincoln Logs and treehouses in the playground to a caterpillar nursery and annual butterfly parade — are enjoyed yearly by more than 40,000 visitors.
Here are a few of our favorite spaces.
The Amazing Garden
The Amazing Garden Plant and Animal Science Center is “the mainstay of all our gardens. It has a little bit of everything: plant life, critters like turtles and snakes and lizards, and lots of educational activities,” Ginanni says. The 2,000-square-foot conservatory uses hands-on learning stations to integrate nature with literature, math, music, art, and science.
The Butterfly House
The family-friendly Butterfly House is a hands-on indoor space where visitors can interact with — and even feed — native butterflies. A caterpillar nursery lets visitors observe their life cycle. And outdoor gardens are filled with native plants and flowers that attract wild butterflies. Each summer, native butterflies are released back into the wild during a popular celebration that includes a parade and a butterfly release.
The newly opened Woven Outdoor Art Museum is made entirely of natural materials woven together. It’s designed for visitors to walk through, explore, and see both into and out from with a view of the surrounding landscape.
“My favorite spot here is definitely Nature Playce,” Ginanni says of the 2-acre natural playground that includes life-size Lincoln Logs, treehouses, a giant bird’s nest, a mud kitchen, a mini zip line, a music area, a sprinkle pond, and more. “I not only enjoy being a kid again,” he says, “but it’s fun to see our guests use their imaginations, get creative, and have so much fun running around and exploring nature. I can’t imagine Beech Creek without Nature Playce.”
Don’t miss the four hiking trails that meander through Beech Creek preserve: Fern Ridge Trail, Spicebush Trail, Oakview Trail, and Creekside Trail.
Beech Creek Botanical Gardens and Nature Preserve, 11929 Beech St. NE, Alliance, OH 44601. Open year-round for a general admission fee. Memberships are available. www.beechcreekgardens.org.