Anita Purves Nature Center

Anita Purves Nature Center

Location: 1505 N. Broadway, Urbana IL 61801
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Phone: 217-384-4062
Public Hours:

Monday - Friday: 8am - 5pm

Saturdays: 9am - 4pm

Please contact the Anita Purves Nature Center for the most up-to-date information: 217-384-4062. 

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Facebook @Anita Purves Nature Center
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Twitter @urbanaparks



The Anita Purves Nature Center, at the north end of Urbana’s Crystal Lake Park opened in 1979 and underwent an expansion in 1995. Today, we welcome more than 50,000 visitors a year.

We offer environmental programs on site and at other locations and staff members can answer questions during open hours. Join us in every season to experience something new. Request a program here.

The Anita Purves Nature Center has classrooms for programs that are also rentable for public and private events. Find out more about renting this facility.

Don’t forget, before ending your visit, be sure to stop in the Nature Shop, where you can find unique nature-related gifts. Proceeds from this store support local environmental education. Educators get a 10% discount.

The Friendship Grove Nature Playscape is located right outside the nature center and is open daily from sunrise to sunset!


At the Field Station, visitors are encouraged to step into the world of the naturalist where you may observe live animals, solve problems, and learn about nature that is as close as your backyard. 

Learn more about the Field Station and see popular exhibits translated into Spanish here.

Obtenga más información sobre Field Station y vea exhibiciones populares traducidas al español aquí.


The Wildlife Observation Room is a quiet space for viewing wild life, contemplation, or reading. An outdoor parabolic sounds system brings the sounds of the woods indoors.


Suspended until further notice. The Educator Resource Room houses a reference library, environmental education resources, and a variety of natural history loan materials. Loan boxes include curriculum guides (K-8th), natural objects, pictures, reference books, equipment and activities. Nature Discovery packs are ideal for exploring local parks and natural areas and include magnifiers, binoculars, and field guides. IDNR loan kits are also available.


Open 9am-4pm Check out the great new selection of nature-related items including bird-friendly coffee, pocket guides and other books for adults and children, re-usable water bottles and straws, local crafts and educational toys. All proceeds support district environmental programs. Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, cash and checks accepted. Educators get a 10% discount.


Bring your group on a self-guided free visit. Groups of 10 or more are encouraged to complete a group visit request or call 217-384-4062 so we can help schedule the best visit possible. Picnic tables around the nature center can be reserved with enough notice.


A boardwalk trail allows you to explore Busey Woods during wet periods. Interpretive exhibits invite you to explore Busey Woods throughout the seasons. A self-guided booklet is available at the trailhead to assist as you hike.

In 2011 grant funding helped to reconstruct and replant the path leading from the nature center to Busey Woods. The Busey Woods Gateway Trail offers an accessible link between park and woods and helps visitors transition from open to wooded space. Indoor and outdoor interpretive elements explore the unique habitat Busey Woods and the Saline Creek/Crystal Lake provide to wildlife, specifically birds. Explore the wildlife habitat garden as you approach Busey Woods, or observe the outdoor feeding areas from inside the inside the Wildlife Observation Room.

Why No Dogs?
Dogs–on leash or off–are a threat to wildlife. Wild animals perceive dogs as predators. This interrupts their normal behaviors, like feeding or resting, and causes them stress. Repeated stress can result in long-term decreases in growth, reproduction, and protection against disease. A dog's scent repels wildlife even after the dogs are gone. Dog urine "marks” territory, which can make it undesirable for wildlife. 

Why No Bikes?
Bikes disturb wildlife habitats. Many of the District’s natural areas are seasonally wet environments, so the impact of bikes on the soft trails can make paths unusable for walkers.


The landscaped area around the center are Habitat Gardens. They demonstrate a number of ways to attract wildlife such as butterflies, hummingbirds and songbirds. The area outside the Wildlife Observation Room is planted with native Illinois species and includes wildlife feeding stations and a water feature.


Celebrate a birthday at the nature center with a themed program! Available September - May (not available during summer camp season)

$135 (1-12 guests), $5 each additional guest, 24 max.

Parties include a 45-60 minute kids' program packed with games, activities, and sometimes a live animal. Following the program, use the room to open gifts and eat treats you bring. Standard party length is 2 hours total. The birthday child will receive a gift certificate to the Nature Shop.

To request a party, fill out the Birthday Party Request Form or call 217-384-4062 at least three weeks before your desired party date. $100 refundable damage deposit required at the time of booking.

Wish you could have more party time? Add more rental time at a discounted rate!

Mud Kitchen Party Age 4+
Venture outside to the Friendship Grove Nature Playscape to make mud pies, mud stew, and nature art. Remind your guests to dress for mess! (Available April-October, weather permitting)

Reptiles Party Age 4+
S-s-s-slither into another year with a visit from the center’s live snakes and box turtles. Discover what makes reptiles different from other animals.

Dino-Mite Party Age 4+
Dig into the past as you explore the lost world of dinosaurs, uncover fossils, and make your own dinosaur fossils.

Creepy Crawly Party Age 4+
Head into Busey Woods to search for slugs and bugs. Uncover their hiding spots, and catch and release these creepy crawlers. (Available April-October, weather permitting)

Owls Party Age 5+
Have a hoot discovering owl adaptations when a live owl visits your party.

Nature Scavenger Hunt Party Age 5+
Explore the nature playscape, Busey Woods or the nature center in search of wildlife and more!

Going Batty Party Age 6+
Delight in crafts and games that reveal the special lives of bats, the only flying mammal!

Campfire Party Age 9+
Learn how to build your own campfire, then sit back to roast marshmallows as you learn about nocturnal animals. (Available April-October, weather permitting; additional fees apply for after-hours)

Custom Party All Ages
Perhaps your child has a special nature interest – we can create a party themed with your idea in mind. Additional fees apply, and at least four weeks' notice is required.


A great gift for yourself or a family member, you can support the education animals that live at the nature center and provide for their food and medical care. See our animal adoption brochure here.