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Out With the Kids: Padilla Bay center offers fall classes

Padilla Bay nature center aquarist Mark Olson shows visitors some of the creatures in its aquariums during a summer 2015 presentation.
Padilla Bay nature center aquarist Mark Olson shows visitors some of the creatures in its aquariums during a summer 2015 presentation. The Bellingham Herald

Free fall classes have been announced for toddlers and school-age children at the Padilla Bay nature center in coastal Skagit County.

Plenty of openings remain, but the classes are highly popular and tend to fill quickly.

Find a list of classes and events at padillabay.gov/calendarofevents.asp. Click the link to register online or join a waiting list. Call the center at 360-428-1558 if you don’t have Internet access.

Many of the Junior Ecologist classes for ages 6-9 have a waiting list, but space remained this week for Mini Explorers aged 3 to 5. Those classes include “How Animals Eat,” “Cider Pressing,” and “How to Have a Habitat.”

Older children and teens might enjoy adult programs, such as an upland hike on “The Sounds of Fall Migration” and a lecture on “Great Blue Herons,” which features research conducted on a nearby nesting colony.

A free, behind-the-scenes tour of the center’s aquarium is set for 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 17. Padilla Bay aquarist Mark Olson offers information about creatures of the Salish Sea that live in Padilla Bay’s tanks. He explains how they live and what they eat, and participants might get a chance to help with the feeding.

Breazeale Interpretive Center, at 10441 Bayview-Edison Road, in the village of Bay View, features natural history exhibits and small aquariums that illustrate life in the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. A special activity area is set aside for toddlers. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, except state holidays.

Admission is free, but donations are accepted. The center has a couple of picnic tables, clean restrooms and plenty of free parking. There’s beach access via a short trail and a faucet to rinse your hands and feet. There’s also an easy trail through the wooded uplands at the center, which is on a homesteaders’ former dairy farm.

Find driving directions at padillabay.gov, or try a scenic route from Whatcom County either along Chuckanut Drive or exiting southbound Interstate 5 and heading west at Bow and taking the back roads through Bow and Edison, which feature small shops, bakeries and restaurants. Bring cash or checkbook; many of the stores don’t accept debit or credit.

Reach Robert Mittendorf at 360-756-2805 or robert.mittendorf@bellinghamherald.com. Tweeting @DressLikeADuck..

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Find Robert Mittendorf’s Out With the Kids column online at BellinghamHerald.com/out-with-kids.

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