Animal Fun! Sulphur Creek Nature Center, Hayward

I’ve been wanting to write about the Sulphur Creek Nature Center for a long time now.  When my son was two and three, we visited the center regularly for their awesome toddler wildlife classes (for 1-3 year-olds).  I found it was the best place in the San Francisco East Bay to give my son hands-on wildlife experiences.  In each class, the children are introduced to three animals (each child is given time to individually touch and meet each animal), while the naturalist tells fun stories and provides facts about the animals.  Each class has a theme, such as “animal homes”, “body part fun”, or “diggers”.   Then the kids make a theme-related craft to take home.  Similar classes are offered for older children (and adults), in which classes head outside to explore nature hands-on, either in the small woods behind the Center or in the creek that flows through the grounds. Class sizes are limited, so children have time to truly meet the animals, and the prices are affordable, at less than $10.00/class.

The Nature Center is located in a natural park-like setting in the middle of a Hayward neighborhood.  Visiting the park and the Discovery Center (when open) is free.  The Center takes in injured wildlife for rehabilitation and care.  Many animals are on display, such as coyotes, foxes, and a wide variety of birds (my son is especially fond of the hawks).  The enclosures are mostly located outside, so visitors are free to walk around and see the animals.  Inside the Discovery Center, you’ll find amphibians and reptiles.  The grounds have picnic tables and a large grassy area, perfect for running around and playing.  There is also a hill with a short trail through the trees, perfect for hiking with little ones.

Yesterday, we attended a birthday party at the facility.  The child was turning five, and, for his birthday, he wanted to pet a tarantula.  And he did!  How cool is that?  See below for a couple photos of my son holding the tarantula.  The children were also introduced to a gorgeous king snake and a chinchilla. They made owl masks, and then headed outside for free playtime.  The perfect party for any nature-loving kid!






Photos taken July 20th, 2013

Interested in going?  The Sulphur Creek Nature Center is located in Hayward, at 1801 D Street.  Park Hours are 10:00am-5:00pm daily.  For current Discovery Center hours, I recommend you check the website…  Check out the website for upcoming classes and events!


For a similar facility in the San Francisco East Bay, you may also enjoy the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek…  Visit Report:  Lindsay Wildlife Museum


  1. What a great photograph of your son holding the tarantula. Brings back memories when I actually got to hold one a couple of years ago in Colorado. The tarantula’s name was Rosie and it was a great experience, she was so gentle.


    1. How cool you remember her name! This one had a name, too, and I can’t begin to remember the name… and it was only two weeks ago. 🙂


  2. mmtread says:

    Much as it shames me to say, I’m a bit of an arachnophobe. I’ve gotten better with age, but unexpected arachnid encounters still set me screaming. I had no idea that this was right in Hayward. Next time we’re in town I’m definitely going to take the kids. Thanks, as always, for sharing this info.


    1. I, too, have quite a fear of spiders, which I’ve done my best not to let my son see (he’s only seen me scream, I think, once or, maybe twice?). But when my son was three, when I took him to his first tarantula class, he was terrified of touching the huge, furry spider. I had to get over myself and let the darn thing crawl up my bare arm to show him how totally unscary it was (ha!). And, well, it wasn’t so bad! My little guy let the tarantula crawl up his arm, and he’s been OK with spiders ever since. But beetles are another story…. for some reason, my kid is terrified of beetles. Especially stink bugs.

      You and the boys will love Sulphur Creek! If it fits into your schedule during a visit, I highly recommend attending a class.


  3. Alex Jones says:

    This is a good introduction to nature. Your son has done something I have never done, held a huge spider.


    1. I’m sure you’re not alone. 🙂


  4. LB says:

    I now the tarantula is the focus of that first shot with your son, but I keep looking at his sweet face and long eyelashes!
    But I did enjoy the post about the Nature Center


    1. He was super calm, totally focused on the tarantula and how it felt (“tickley”). He loves this kind of stuff!


  5. Olivia May says:

    lovely spider the tarantula!


    1. It’s actually kind of pretty, isn’t it?


  6. Jodi says:

    Wow, that’s an awesome tarantula – kudos for the kid being brave, most would freak out. Well, at least mine would… Sounds like a delightful place.


    1. It really is a beautiful tarantula. I think the naturalist said it was from South America (someone owned it as a pet before it came to Sulphur Creek). The ones we see on trails around here are blacker and seem to be just a little bit smaller.


  7. Beth says:

    We love that place and happened to be there yesterday too. I make sure to bring my son’s (he’s 3.5 years) rainboots so he can stomp in the creek. He also loves the small play theater stage inside the discovery center and uses the puppets to put on “plays.”


    1. I saw some little kids playing with the theater stage…. so cute!


  8. Pam says:

    That is so wonderful he held a tarantula!


    1. He was looking forward to it. 🙂


  9. Isn’t the tarantula dangerous or are they taught how to handle it before?
    I would’ve been terrified 🙂


    1. No, they are actually quite harmless. They just seem so scary to us because they’re so huge! 🙂


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