Located about 20 miles north of Madison, WI is the MacKenzie Center. As part of the State Park System, the Mackenzie Center is described as an Education Center. There are many trails, exhibits (including a wild life exhibit), and museums.
Katie here :: It was a nice day recently and my kids were home and off school so we decided to head out on an adventure and get out of the house. I asked the kids what they wanted to do and I got two answers, go to a beach and see animals. With that, I decided to take them up to the MacKenzie Center to see the wildlife exhibit. After that, we went a little further north to Pardeeville, WI to try a new beach that I had been wanting to see.
The MacKenzie Center | Poynette, WI
We visited during the week and it was not at all busy and so peaceful. There is a parking lot located just across the street to the wildlife exhibit. My GPS took me right there.
My daughter is an animal lover and enjoys learning about animals, so she decided to bring a notebook and pencil to write down what she observed with the animals and research more when she came home (we’ve been reading a Jane Goodall book). The wildlife exhibit is small but nice and spread out. It feels like you are just out in the woods. A neat fact is that all of the animals are native to WI and were rescued for various reasons. While we were there we saw gray wolves, a red fox, bison, a lynx, and some other birds.
Just before the wildlife exhibit, its an 80-foot relocated fire-tower that is now used as an observation tower. We did not do this because I’m afraid of heights, ha.
Also near the wildlife exhibit is a short “nature trail” that is only a 0.4 mile loop. We walked around this trail which brought us past the the “Maple Area” which includes an old logging museum, Wallen Sugar House, and a Sawmill Exhibit. The Logging Museum was not open on the day we went but it was still neat to see from the outside.
Also on the property is a study pond and some more trails. All of the hiking trails are relatively short and mostly loop trails. There are even some wheelchair accessible trails. This is a great spot to visit to do some light nature walks with kids and/or adults who aren’t up for a longer more strenuous hike.
For more information about the MacKenzie Center, click here.
Chandler Park and Beach | Pardeeville, WI
Chandler Park is connected to Pardeeville Park. There is a small beach there, but it is nice because the water is shallow and sandy. Perfect for little kids. The lake opens up but the swimming area is roped off. Across the street from the beach was a nice playground. There were lots of spots for fishing and one little fishing dock that I noticed near the beach. I think this would be a great lake to come back to and try our SUB board and take the kids fishing. The park is big with a couple shelters and a baseball diamond near the entrance.
There were some picnic tables that came in handy because I packed a picnic lunch for the kids. We didn’t go because we ran out of time but there was an ice cream shop right near the park, Carol’s Cones that looks nice with plenty of outdoor seating and views of the lake.
All in all it was a nice beach that I will go back to, but next time I’ll make sure to get some ice cream!