My Metro Parks Summer Bucket List

Seasonal Naturalist, Blacklick Woods

The temperatures are rising, the wildflowers are blooming, and the birds are singing. Summer is in full swing, and Metro Parks is here to help you make the most out of your summer. As a seasonal naturalist at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, I have seen many incredible things so far this season. Last week, I spotted three juvenile barred owls screeching near the Maple Trail. At the nature center, I watched as a red-tailed hawk swooped down at a group of squirrels. I’ve loved everything I have encountered at Blacklick Woods so far, and I plan to see more of the amazing nature that Metro Parks offers. There are 20 Metro Parks, all with different experiences to have. How will I ever see it all?

Baby barred owls sitting in a tree at Blacklick Woods Metro Park. Photo Dan Ferrin

One way that I like to plan out my summer is to create a bucket list. A summer bucket list is a list of activities a person wants to achieve before summer ends. Creating a Metro Parks summer bucket list will help me experience a lot this summer, and hopefully inspire you to try something new and explore nature. There are many special programs and opportunities that Metro Parks provides for Columbus and Franklin County residents, and summer is the perfect time to explore these activities.

Participate in the Metro Park 75-Year Challenge

As Metro Parks is celebrating 75 years since its first park opened, visitors can participate in the 75-year challenge to explore the 20 different parks. The 75-year challenge is a great way to experience the vast variety of activities that Metro Parks offer and win prizes in the process. The activities cover different interests like checking out a historical place, relaxing in a hammock, going fishing, trying rock climbing and much more. All of the challenge’s activities can be found on the Metro Parks 75-Year Challenge blog post, and Metro Parks’ programs can be found on our website. This challenge works well on my summer bucket list because it encourages me to explore activities I have not done before. I am especially looking forward to taking a tram ride and checking out a historical place! When the challenge is over, you can celebrate all of your achievements at Slate Run’s Fall Fest on October 14.

Visit all of the nature centers

Nature centers are an incredible resource to learn about Ohio’s wildlife and experience nature. Naturalists at these nature centers put on educational programs that are fun and a great way to learn about the outdoors. Metro Parks has four nature centers: Blacklick Woods, Blendon Woods, Battelle Darby Creek and Highbanks. Each center has its unique attractions, and I’m going to visit each one this summer. I particularly want to see Battelle Darby Creek’s 53-foot living stream which runs through their nature center, and Highbanks’ large sycamore tree that you can play inside. I have seen a lot through Blacklick Wood’s observation window so far this summer, and now I want to go check out the wildlife hanging out by Blendon Woods’ nature center. Seeing all of the nature centers is a great activity to escape the summer heat and learn more about Ohio’s incredible nature.

Highbanks Nature Center features a giant American sycamore tree. Photo Rob Clements

Go to a night program

Summer nights are filled with twinkling fireflies, frogs singing and stunning sunsets. Metro Parks naturalists are creating summer night programs where visitors can witness how lively nature can be when the sun goes down. Specifically, Blacklick Woods is having a program called “Moths and Mammals Mayhem”’ on July 21 from 10-11:45pm. This late-night program will showcase the behaviors of nocturnal insects and wildlife like raccoons, bats and flying squirrels. There are also several night hikes at different Metro Parks throughout the summer. Attending a night program is a great activity to put on my summer bucket list because I want to see the unique nature that can be seen only at night time.

A male io moth displaying its prominent false eye spots. Photo Jim McCormac

Learn how to use a standup paddleboard with Outdoor Adventure

Metro Parks’ Outdoor Adventure hosts programs like kayaking, fly fishing, climbing and standup paddle boarding. Throughout the summer, these programs provide hands-on experience for outdoor skills. Outdoor Adventure’s “Try It!” programs provide the materials and equipment needed to learn a new skill, making it accessible to try the new skill without spending money. One of these “Try It!” programs is standup paddle boarding, a great water activity for the hot summer. I have done many water activities like kayaking and canoeing, but I have never been standup paddle boarding. I hope to get to explore more outdoor activities with Outdoor Adventure throughout the summer.

A woman paddle boards at Prairie Oaks’ Darby Bend Lakes. Photo Melissa Turpening

Overall, there are tons of fun summer activities to do at the Metro Parks. I can’t wait to finish my summer bucket list and explore the parks this summer. I challenge you to create your own Metro Parks summer bucket list and get out to discover and experience nature.

3 thoughts on “My Metro Parks Summer Bucket List

  1. I would like to try kayaking and stand up paddle boarding but I don’t know how to swim. Is it necessary to know how to swim?

    1. Hi Rose – everyone is required to wear a life jacket for the entire length of the program while they’re kayaking or paddleboarding, so no one is required to have to know how to swim. Safety is always our prime concern. Please join us and enjoy the fun.

  2. You’ve inspired me Sarah! I’m going to ensure I get outdoors often this summer. Thanks for all the good info and tips!

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