Visitors to Raleigh, those returning home to visit friends and family, and local residents alike will delight in the wealth of aquatic life inside Raleigh’s institutions and throughout the surrounding waters, here in the heart of North Carolina. Read on for some of our favorite aquarium and aquatic life experiences around The City of Oaks.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences
The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and its intriguing exhibits have fed the curiosities and imaginations of North Carolinians for over 140 years, covering a wide variety of topics and sciences. The world of aquatic life is one of these topics, with a collection of exhibits showcasing North Carolina’s natural beauty, from the Appalachians down to the Outer Banks. This includes preserved specimens and live animals, such as seahorses, common snapping turtles, eastern box turtles, Cape Fear shiners, and grey tree frogs.
Visitors can tour the state from the Barrier Islands to the Coastal Reefs, up through the lowlands, and to the mountain streams of North Carolina, in an educative journey through the biomes of North Carolina. In addition, there are also displays of North Carolina’s native insect life, a charming garden, and a resident two-toed sloth! Visitors who are more interested in veterinary sciences and the behind-the-scenes of the museum can also watch scientists at work, and locals can even volunteer to help! For an educational and relaxed visit to North Carolina’s native flora and fauna, come to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.
William B. Umstead State Park
The tranquil and verdant world of North Carolina’s wilderness is just a fifteen-minute drive from downtown, here at the William B. Umstead State Park. Here, North Carolinians have returned these grounds to nature, and the end result is an enchanting mix of rising trees and vegetation reclaiming a once inhabited area, a unique historical touch. The more outdoorsy inhabitants of North Carolina have since moved in, including populations of belted kingfishers, great blue herons, beavers, raccoons, and deer. With the introduction of non-native plant and reptile species, there is so much to see at William B. Umstead State Park, and what better way to get to see North Carolina’s native wildlife than in their natural habitat?
Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve
A twenty-minute drive from downtown Raleigh is Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve, a famously fickle portion of North Carolina’s wilderness with notable events occurring year-round for birdwatchers and animal enthusiasts alike. In the early year, vernal pools give a rare glance into the inland stays of a variety of native frogs and amphibians such as spring peepers and upland chorus frogs, in full display (and song!) during this precarious season. Muskrat, beavers, and a number of aquatic species also thrive here in this dense habitat, and during migrations, scores of bird species pass through. Combined with the relatively small size and proximity to neighboring Cary, Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve is as accessible and calming as it is convenient. For a glimpse of North Carolina’s dynamic flora and fauna without having to go far, come to Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserve.
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