Located near the Philadelphia airport, the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge in Tinicum Township is one of Philly's many free wildlife spots perfect for a family visit. As one of the last remaining freshwater tidal marshes in Pennsylvania, the refuge serves as a stopping point on the migratory route up and down the East Coast. The refuge is also a permanent home for 80 species of birds, along with deer, foxes, muskrats, turtles, and frogs, along with the home of a pair of young Bald Eagles.
The main part of the refuge is a trail that runs around a freshwater pond called the Impoundment area. A few years ago, a wheel-chair accessible viewing platform was built across the water, and just recently, a wheel-chair accessible trail was added to connect the platform to the parking lot next to the visitors center. About a mile walk from the parking lot is a two-story bird watching tower which provides an almost complete view of the pond.
I have been taking my kids to visit the refuge for over ten years. When my kids were small, I would push them along in a jogging stroller. As they got older, we started bringing bikes along though I still walked. We always reviewed the "rules of the trail" to make sure the kids didn't run into other riders, walkers, or runners.
The refuge is open from sunrise to sunset. The main parking lot by the Visitor's Center closes at 9 p.m. Additional parking at the other end of the refuge is located near the entrance/exit ramps to 95 on Route 420. For more information visit the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge site.
If you're interested in taking your kids to other local wildlife spots, I've written about several of our favorite nature walk spots.
Barb is a mom of five kids who spends her day keeping track of socks, stuffed animals, library books, and a four year old when she isn't writing about all the frugality, gardening, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the chaotic moments. She can be found at A Life in Balance, Frugal Local Kitchen, or on Twitter with daily doses of life in 140 characters or less.