Nature Center moving into new, more convenient location

The Nature Center is getting settled in its new location with plans to open by June 1.

Crews have moved the center’s contents and display cases from its longtime home on Lovestone Drive to the new, more convenient location behind Sandy Mart. 

The center’s new building, a former lake house, has been renovated, including new floors and a fresh coat of paint on the inside and outside. New Nature Center signs are already up as crews put the finishing touches on the building.

While the heavy lifting is over, teammates are busy building the new displays and filling the glass cases with shells, fossils and other natural wonders for guests to enjoy and learn about. 

The new center is on track to open in time for the busy summer season.

The Leonard Raker Nature Center Discovery Lab is getting a new home so it will be more conveniently located near the hub of activity at the Camptown Center. The Nature Center – known for its hands-on exhibits and knowledgeable staff – has operated off Lovestone Drive in the southern part of the campground. The Nature Center opened in 1993.

“This is a much better spot,” said Craig Culbreth, Ocean Lakes Recreation Director.

The new Nature Center will keep the mainstays that visitors love while adding some new features. The popular sea turtle exhibit will be expanded. A new hurricane display will be installed. And the alligator exhibit will be overhauled.

And the new location boasts a feature not found in the center’s former spot: green space alongside a lake. The new center's back deck fronts Magnolia Lake, which lends itself to more outdoor activities and hands-on demonstrations.

“We’re so excited about this new location. Not only is it more convenient for guests to access, it opens up so many more opportunities to take our already popular Nature Center to a new level,” Naturalist Brandy Cloos said. “I’m eager to get moved in, set up and get ready to greet guests starting this summer.”

An opening date for the new Nature Center hasn’t yet been set. Stay tuned. Hours this summer will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Parking will be available at the center. To get to the new center, take Ocean Lakes Drive to Magnolia Lake Circle, turn left at site Z67. The new center will be on your right.