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Located right next to the picturesque Professorville neighborhood, the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo has been a reliable source of family fun since 1934, when it was established as the first children's museum west of the Mississippi. The zoo houses around 200 species of animals, including snakes, reptiles, tortoises, sharks, raccoons, bats, a red-tailed hawk and two bobcats. A total of 14 hands-on museum exhibits are designed to educate children about physics, earth science and math. It is also a popular destination for field trips and birthday parties.
The EcoCenter is managed by the Environmental Volunteers, a non-profit institution that spreads awareness about science and nature among the general public. Acting as the headquarters of this organization, the EcoCenter has been constructed using non-toxic and recycled material, green design principles and eco-friendly practices. This center has interactive exhibits and touchscreen displays through which visitors can learn about climate change, the sky and earth. It conducts tours of the building to educate visitors about sustainable methods of construction and maintenance and also conducts numerous summer camps, classroom and school programs. Boasting of some of the best educational activities in Palo Alto for kids and adults alike, the themes covered include bird watching, hiking, programs and lectures on nature art and natural sciences as well as research training in which visitors generate data that actually helps scientists. Nature lovers can also volunteer at this center or donate money to support its endeavors.
The Baylands Nature Preserve is known for its birdwatching and is considered one of the best birdwatching areas on the West Coast, offering both tidal and fresh water habitats. This park boasts of a total of 1940 acres (785 hectares) of swampland, which is the largest tract of undisturbed swampland remaining in the Bay Area, and 15 miles (24 kilometers) of trails. Besides birdwatching, visitors can also enjoy canoeing, kayaking or windsurfing in the ponds and lakes. Educational signs have been put up in place to educate visitors about natural habitats. Kids will love Baylands too as it is home to the Palo Alto Duck Pond and the trails too vary in difficulty levels. This park is open daily from 8a till sunset.