Local outdoor spots to inspire your children’s imaginations

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The Thanksgiving Point Gardens provide an educational outdoor experience for the family. (Photo courtesy of Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau)

The Children’s Discovery Garden at Thanksgiving Point provides an educational outdoor experience for the family. (Photo courtesy of Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Weather-wise, it’s hard to find a more beautiful month in Utah Valley than September. The cooling temperatures and blazing fall colors mean it’s the perfect time of year to enjoy the great outdoors. While you’re out, why not pick a place to inspire your children’s imaginations?

“There certainly is plenty to discover in Utah Valley, and doing so with children can be very entertaining,” said Charlene Christensen, director of services and marketing for the Utah Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau. “There’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure.”

Here are a few local outdoor attractions that take an interactive approach to learning. By providing exercise AND an educational experience, you’ll feel like a super parent at the following locations:

Children’s Discovery Garden at Thanksgiving Point

Located next to Thanksgiving Point’s stunning 55-acre Gardens, the Children’s Discovery Garden features dozens of hands-on ways to learn about nature and science. You can tromp through Noah’s Ark, a water feature with a pool of water and shooting fountains, or wander through the hedgerow maze. There’s also a bear cave (don’t worry — the statue animals won’t bite), eco pond and large sandpit area with wooden blocks for building.

Address: 3900 N. Garden Dr., Lehi

Dates of operation: March 31–Oct. 26

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Sunday

Prices: $6 adult, $4 children and seniors, Monday through Thursday; $8 adult, $6 children and seniors, Friday and Saturday; free for children ages 2 and younger and Thanksgiving Point Members

Info: (801) 768-4999, www.thanksgivingpoint.org

Discovery Park at Manila Park

Manila Park in Pleasant Grove has four baseball diamonds, six lighted tennis courts, a soccer field, walking path and the inventive Discovery Park. The latter is large wooden play area that literally puts scientific learning at a child’s fingertips. Along with traditional swings and slides, it features whisper dishes, music tubes, a dinosaur sandpit, rocket ship, earthquake platform and wooden beehives.

Location: 1550 N. 100 East, Pleasant Grove

Price: Free!

Info: (801) 785-6172, www.plgrove.org

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Elyssa Andrus has worked as a journalist for 14 years, most recently as the lifestyle editor at the Daily Herald newspaper in Provo. She is a contributor to the KSL-TV show "Studio 5" and is co-author of the book "Happy Homemaking" (Cedar Fort, 2012) with Natalie Hollingshead. She lives with her husband and four young children in Utah Valley.

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