Jeffrey Mansion Park, the Clintonville Ravines and other places to discover nature in the city

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

This 120-acre park on the Whittier Peninsula just south of Downtown was once an industrial eyesore dominated by factories, warehouses and railroad yards. Today, the area has been reclaimed and transformed into an urban wildlife oasis alive with activity. Popular among bird-watches, it's a stopover along the Scioto River for dozens of different species that migrate north from Central and South America. The park offers great views of the Downtown skyline and features wetlands, boat launches, fishing docks and three miles of trails for walking, running and biking that connect to the Scioto Greenway Trail. The park also offers more active recreation options, such as sand volleyball courts, a playground, an obstacle course, the nation's largest free outdoor climbing wall and a dog park. New bocce ball courts are expected to open this month.

Jeffrey Mansion Park

Making up nearly 40 acres along Alum Creek in the urban core suburb of Bexley, Jeffrey Mansion Park has several wooded trails that feature sycamore and cottonwood trees, a conifer grove of blue spruces and a deciduous woodland of sugar maples and tall oaks. The nearby wooded gardens feature daffodils and hyacinths as well as flora native to Ohio prairies. Finish the day by soaking up the scenery with a 2-mile paddle down Alum Creek to Schneider Park. Anyone with a kayak or canoe can put in the here. Boat rentals are only available to Bexley residents and can be made through the Bexley Recreation and Parks Department.

The Clintonville Ravines

The two charming walking tours created by the Lower Olentangy Urban Arboretum-which aims to protect and expand the natural native beauty of the area just north of the Ohio State University campus-take participants through lovely natural areas, such as the Glen Echo and Walhalla ravines, and highlight the wide variety of native Ohio trees found in south Clintonville. Also, don't miss the community mural that features many native and migratory birds painted on both sides of the Indianola Avenue Bridge underpass next to Glen Echo Park.

Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park

This public52-acre urban researchpark along the northern rim of the Ohio State University campus is made up of experimental wetlands meant for university researchers to study restoration and conservation. The Sandefur Observation Pavilion is perfect for bird watching and viewing the experimental ponds. There's also a bike shelter to stop and have lunch. "It's cool to come in the evening and listen to the spring peepers," says Mazeika Sullivan, assistant park director. "You don't get to hear that often in the city."

Green Lawn Cemetery

Audubon Ohio has designated Green Lawn Cemetery, one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Ohio, as an "Important Bird Area." Spring wildflowers sprout among the more than 150,000 interments, which include some of Central Ohio's most famous natives, such as author James Thurber. The cemetery also serves as an arboretum with the vast majority of Ohio's native tree species located on its 360 acres.