Nature Center Discovery Lab

Nature Center Phone: (843) 828-4837|

Take Magnolia Lake Circle, turn left at Site Z-67. Located behind Sandy Mart. Read more about it on our Blog.

A one of a kind facility in this area, the Ocean Lakes Leonard Raker Nature Center Discovery Lab focuses on marine life. It all began with Leonard Raker, Founder, and Curator, he traveled extensively during our off-season gathering items for exhibit. Today our Certified SC Master Naturalist, Brandy, helps our guests (0f all ages) learn about the ocean. She has a degree in Marine Biology and loves to answer questions and assist our guests (and teammates).

The Nature Center offers exhibits and information on shells, fossils, sea life, Ocean Lakes history, area wildlife, and ecology of coastal South Carolina. Our knowledgeable team is on hand to identify items discovered on our nearly one mile of the Atlantic Ocean beach and answer any questions you may have.

They also know where all the good “shell” spots are located along the Grand Strand. Download the Shell ID Cards (linked on the right).

Join them on a beach walk or for an educational program. It will be enjoyed by the entire family! Stop in to meet our live baby alligators, Mike and Sulley. They arrived in March 2021.

For our younger guests with upcoming science projects, the Ocean Lakes Nature Center is a great place to gather information and get a head start. Brandy would love to assist you with ideas and marine life info. Make sure to follow up with them next summer and let them know how your project turned out! If you are at Ocean Lakes this summer please check out our hands-on, educational nature-based activities in the Summer Activities calendar.

Families enjoy the interactive “Dig and Discover” located outside adjacent to the building. Check out our new playground for 2021! It features a more shaded location under the trees. Enjoy the outdoors near Magnolia Lake while your little ones dig in!

Hours of Operation:

In Season 2021 | June – August

(June 1 – Labor Day): Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 5 PM* |  Saturday-Sunday, 10 AM – 4 PM*

* unless otherwise posted on the door of the Nature Center due to unforeseen circumstances.

Off-Season Hours:

[Please note that all hours are subject to change due to staffing.]

February/March |
Monday – Saturday: 9 am- 4 pm
Sunday: Closed

April/May |
Monday – Saturday: 9 am- 4 pm
Sunday: 10 am – 4 pm

September |
Monday – Friday: 9 am – 4 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 4 pm
Sunday: Closed

October | 2021
All Saturdays: 10 am – 4 pm
All Sundays: CLOSED
Weekdays (Oct 1, 4-6, 14-15, 21-22, 25-29): 9 am – 4 pm

Adjusted Weekdays:
Oct 11, 13, 18, 20: CLOSED
Oct 7: 1:30 pm – 4 pm
Oct 8: 1 pm – 4 pm
Oct 12: 10:30 am – 4 pm
Oct 19: 10:30 am – 2 pm

November |
Monday – Saturday: 9 am – 4 pm
Sunday: Closed

December/January |
Monday – Friday: 9 am – 4 pm (exception – Christmas Eve: 9 am – 2 pm, Christmas Day: Closed
Saturday – Sunday: Closed

**All hours are subject to change and changes would be posted at the Nature Center**

Learn | Participate in Activities | Become a Jr. Naturalist!

Check our monthly Activities Calendar for details.

Nature Center Activity for Kids

Become a Jr. Naturalist (ages 5-8) or Sr. Naturalist (ages 9-12) in 2021!

Programs are available from June 7 – August 14, 2021

The Official Ocean Lakes Family Campground Naturalist Program is a nature-based badge program hosted by The Leonard Raker Nature Center Discovery Lab. Participants must complete specific activities from the Nature Center Summer Activities Guide to earn a badge and become an Official Ocean Lakes Naturalist. Our young guests can complete the program annually and will earn an additional badge each year they complete the requirements (4 badges available). Jr. Naturalists must be ages 5-8, or Sr. Naturalists must be ages 9-12. Sign up at the Nature Center, $5 per child, cash only at sign up. Naturalists will get the opportunity to participate in a select free activity each summer, only available to those registered that calendar year, and will also get a Naturalist gift at sign up. Registered Naturalists are offered many additional opportunities within the Nature Center once they complete the program including behind-the-scenes activities, borrowing Sandy’s Adventure Packs, and more!