Anita Purves Nature Center

Anita Purves Nature Center

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

Staff are available through appointment only.

Please contact the facility for the most up to date program information. For more information about the Anita Purves Nature Center, please call 217-384-4062. 

Follow us on:
Facebook @Anita Purves Nature Center
Instagram @urbanaparks
Twitter @urbanaparks

Please use social distancing!

The Anita Purves Nature Center, at the north end of Urbana’s Crystal Lake Park opened in 1979 and underwent an expansion in 2005. 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.

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 Audubon Nature Shop, where you can find unique nature-related gifts. Proceeds from this volunteer-run operation fund local conservation and environmental education efforts.

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


Open by Appointment Only starting October 1, 2020 – stay tuned to our social media and district website for updates about registering for a timed visit. 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. A field station activity guide can enhance your experience when you visit.


Open by Appointment Only starting October 1, 2020 – stay tuned to our social media and district website for updates about registering for a timed visit. 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.


Access by appointment only, please call 217-384-4062. 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.


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.


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.


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.