The Nature PlayScape

The Nature PlayScape

A graveled trail running under a sign that says "PlayScape". There is a large sculpture of a monarch caterpillar to the right.
Photo of two children playing in a water feature at The Nature PlayScape

Welcome to the Nature PlayScape, where natural features are designed for open-ended creative play. Plants, soil, and water can be touched and manipulated, not just observed, to stimulate the senses and promote a sense of wonder. Picnic on the grass or relax on a bench while your children play.

We ask that you remain in the Nature PlayScape and be responsible for your children at all times. Please note that dogs are not allowed in the Nature PlayScape.

Questions or comments? Email us at

Sign up for the Nature PlayScape e-newsletter today!

Click here to view a map of the Nature PlayScape.

We're deeply grateful to our PlayScape Sponsor

The logo for Jungle Jim's International Market
Graphic for the Nature PlayScape logo

Frequently Asked Questions about The Nature PlayScape

What is a Nature PlayScape?
Cincinnati Nature Center’s Nature PlayScape is intentionally designed to provide children with opportunities for unstructured play in a resilient version of local natural habitats. Native plants, fallen logs, boulders, rocks, water and soil create forest and field habitats for children to explore. The Nature Center’s Nature PlayScape contains very few man-made structures (swings, slides, etc.) and strives to re-create the kind of childhood experience many parents and grandparents had in nature when they were young.

Where is the Nature Center’s Nature PlayScape located?
The Nature PlayScape is located on 1.6 acres of forest, field, stream and wetland habitat within Rowe Woods. It is a short walk from Visitor Center. There is also a parking lot close to the PlayScape.

Why does Cincinnati Nature Center need a Nature PlayScape?
Part of the Nature Center’s mission is to “inspire passion for nature.” A Nature PlayScape helps fulfill the mission by giving children the opportunity to explore and play freely in nature. Research indicates that children who play frequently in nature may develop a comfort and familiarity with the natural world that reaches into adulthood. Because children are not permitted off-trail elsewhere on the Nature Center’s property, and few families have a diverse natural setting in their own backyards, the Nature Center provides a place where children can explore nature without compromising the rest of our 1,020 acres of habitat. The Nature PlayScape concentrates the impact of play to one small area and protects the more pristine parts of the property.

Is the Nature PlayScape safe?
The area is entirely fenced so that children and parents are aware of its boundaries. Dogs and other pets are prohibited in the area. Just like everywhere else at the Nature Center, adults are responsible for their children.

Who can use the Nature PlayScape and when?
The Nature PlayScape is designed primarily for ages 11 and under with adult supervision. Both members and visitors paying daily admission fee to Rowe Woods will have access. The Nature PlayScape is open during normal operating hours.

What facilities are located at the Nature PlayScape?
Since this is intended to be a natural play area, there are few facilities. Restroom facilities with an outdoor rinse-off shower are located adjacent to the Nature PlayScape. Benches made from natural materials and a small storage shed for play equipment are located near the entrance. Families should plan to bring their own water and snacks as no services will be provided.

Can I leave my children at the Nature PlayScape while I go for a hike on my own?
The Nature PlayScape is a place where families interact with nature together. Parents are solely responsible for their children at all times. Children may not use the PlayScape without adult supervision.

Is the Nature PlayScape staffed?
The Nature PlayScape is designed for self-led family adventures. Children are invited to play under the supervision of their parents, grandparents or adult caregivers. Occasionally, staff or volunteers will be available to provide special programs or to encourage families to play in creative new ways.

Are dogs allowed in the Nature PlayScape?
Dogs are not allowed inside the Nature PlayScape boundary.