For the next entry in our series of reader-submitted reviews of indoor play options, Rebecca Greco visits the small “Nature Discovery Room” inside the Welcome House at Peck Farm Park Interpretative Center. She notes that while it’s a small space, it’s free and can be combined with other Peck Farm attractions to make for a fun outing.
Q. Where is the Nature Discovery Room located?
It is located at 4038 Kaneville Road in Geneva. It is part of the Peck Farm Interpretative Center, a 385-acre natural retreat that also features nature and bike trails; a picnic area; a 19-acre wetland; an observational silo; a Butterfly House and the award-winning Hawks Hollow Nature Playground. The Nature Discovery Room is located within the 1869 Italiante Peck Farm House, sometimes called the “Welcome House.” Peck Farm is owned and operated by the Geneva Park District.
Q. Is there ample parking? Can you park close?
There is a large parking lot, but it is a bit of a walk to the welcome house.
Q. How much does it cost?
It is free!
Q. When is it open?
Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Q. When is the best time to go? When it is the least crowded?
We went on a Friday morning at about 10:30 and there were a few other kids there. I don’t imagine it is ever extremely busy. It’s a small room, but there were plenty of toys, puzzles, books and puppets to go around.
Q. Are there public bathrooms? Is there a changing table?
There is a bathroom. but it doesn’t have a changing table.
Q. Is there a private space to nurse?
The main room in the welcome house has a table and chairs that you could nurse at.
Q. What was your child’s favorite part of the play area? Least favorite?
There is a carpet in the middle of the room that has picture of the Earth on it and my children spent the majority of time putting animals in the water or on land! They loved that there were animal cages but were disappointed that they couldn’t see the sugar gliders (they’re nocturnal and were sleeping!)
Q. What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
I liked that it was a smaller area that they could just play. It wasn’t a huge space, but my girls loved a chance to play with some new toys and for free, it’s a great place to go to get out of the house.
The walk from the parking lot is a bit of a hike in the winter. I’ve been a lot in the spring and summer and it isn’t bad, but when it’s cold and windy I definitely wish the walk was shorter!
Q. Is it clean?
Yes, the toys are a bit older but nothing seemed dirty.
Q. Was the staff friendly and attentive?
I only saw a staff member once when we first arrived but she was extremely nice and asked if we needed anything.
Q. Are you allowed to bring in outside food and drink? Is there a designated snack area? Is food sold there?
I don’t recall seeing any signs that food or drink weren’t allowed. I definitely would make sure any drinks had a lid and I probably would limit it to small snacks. There is not food sold here.
Q. What ages to you feel this play area is best for?
My daughters are 20 months and 4 years and they both had fun. There are blocks, little animals toys, puppets, books, and other various nature items. I think it would probably get to be a bit boring around 6 years old, maybe.
Q. Is there a designated area for babies/toddlers?
No, it’s just one room and all the toys are accessible for all ages. There are smaller items so if you do have a baby, be aware to keep a close eye that little toys don’t go in their mouths!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to say about your family’s experience?
It was a great way to break up the time between errands and give my girls a chance to play. We were only there about 45 minutes, the welcome house is pretty small and probably won’t be somewhere you will spend hours. However, definitely make sure to check out Peck Farm during the warmer months, too. Hawks Hollow Nature Playground and the Butterfly House (open late May to early September) are both worth visits on their own! During the hotter months the welcome house would be a great place to take a break from the heat and play inside for a bit before going back outside to play some more!
About the Author: Rebecca Greco lives in Aurora with her husband and two daughters, ages 2 and 4. A designer and illustrator turned mom, Rebecca spends her days with the girls looking for fun activities in the area and moonlights as a craft blogger at www.hugsarefun.com.
More photos follow by Rebecca from inside the Nature Discovery Room …