One of my favorite things to do with the kids is go to Hideaway Woods and Museum of Life and Science in Durham. I think I’m living vicariously through them; I wish I had a place like that to explore when I was a kid! It’s 2 acres of treehouses, hammocks, a nature trail, and more. It’s got something for everyone. Look at that. Isn’t it magical?
I had the opportunity to speak with Michelle Kloda, the Exhibition Developer, to learn some more about the space I already knew and loved. For instance, I was surprised to learn that most of the trees from the exhibit came from all around the Triangle. Like all those trees that were majorly trimmed/cut back down Gregson Street and around Duke’s East Campus? The majority of those trimmings now have new life in Hideaway Woods. There are also these giant willow oak trees at the entrance of Hideaway Woods that are meant for climbing and exploring; they were already needing to be removed from E.K. Powe and Forest Hills who decided to donate them.
So, let’s get to some of the highlights. There are eight treehouses that are just amazing. They range from 6-20 feet high and look spectacular. They are perfect for hide and seek, tag, and all sorts of other games. There is also a separate little treehouse for kids 6 and under. Since I have a toddler, this is where I spend the majority of my time. This space also has a slide, a fort underneath the treehouse with chairs, and a little table and chairs made out of tree stumps. The other great thing about the little kid space is that there is only one entrance in and out of the area, so it’s nice to let my son run free and know that he’s not going to escape easily. There is a little freshwater stream that encourages kids to see how water interacts with other elements such as cutting around little stepping boulders.
If you want to explore this space, my recommendation is to bring a change of clothes and water shoes. If your kid is anything like mine, they won’t be able to just look at it passively, especially when the weather is nice. It’s really neat to see this group of kids crouched around this stream, picking up rocks and running their hands in the water. And if your kid accidentally takes a sip (or two, or three…), not to worry! The stream has a saltwater treatment making the water safe enough for just in case instances.
My other favorite area is the Sweetgum Thicket, a sculpture created by Patrick Doughtery that is made entirely of maple saplings, sweetgum, and responsibly harvested sticks donated by the Triangle Land Conservancy. This area isn’t made for climbing, but rather some of the best hide and seek games imaginable. You might be wondering if there is anything to look forward to now that Hideaway Woods is completed. As the Exhibition Developer, now that the space is open, Kloda’s job is to look at treehouses and the thickets to see if there is anything that can be done to enhance the visitors’ experience. She is always on the lookout for little things to add for people to notice or engage with. On the horizon, we can look forward to special hands-on experiences along with pop-up educational programming led by facilitators. More information about that will be coming out in the near future. What’s Kloda’s favorite part of the exhibit? “Just the feeling that is evoked when you’re in the space and being able to watch people enjoy something that was such a joyful thing for us and a labor of love and intention. Its realized over such a team effort that gives us a great satisfaction. And the recycling!! We did a lot of repurposing.”
I have to agree that you can feel the joy in there. Even more, I love how you see so many kids just enjoying being outside in nature- sometimes for hours at a time. It’s really just one of the best places ever.
So, here’s the exciting news. The giveaway. Our friends at the Museum of Life and Science are giving away a Museum Family Pass, which provides one-time admission for up to 4 individuals. The pass is valid for one year from date issue so winners have quite a bit of flexibility on when they would like to visit. But how do I win?! To enter- leave us a comment at the bottom of this page telling us your favorite thing at the Museum of Life and Science. If you’ve never been, let us know what you would be most excited to see/experience? It’s that easy. One entry per email address. It sometimes may take a little bit for your comment to show because we approve/read each comment individually. Also, we won’t use your email address for anything other that to contact you if you win- promise. We hate spam too. This giveaway will run until Thursday, April 14th at 8pm. We will announce the winner Friday morning on the 15th.
Edited to add: This giveaway is now closed and no longer accepting entries. The winner is announced here.