As the warmer spring months arrive, people are itching to get outside and explore the great outdoors. For teens and parents alike, there are a variety of apps that can make outdoor adventures more exciting and educational. From plant and animal identification apps to stargazing apps, there’s something for everyone. Here are some of the top picks for outdoor apps.

Plant and Animal Identification Apps

Apps like Seek and iNaturalist are user-friendly tools that allow people to identify plant and animal species. By taking photos and uploading them to the app, users can compare the organisms to species that have been seen nearby. The more photos that are uploaded, the better the app becomes at identifying the species. Seek even integrates with a user’s phone photos folder, allowing them to backtrack and identify organisms from past photos.

Magnifying Glass Apps

For those interested in examining small fungi, insects, and tiny flowers, magnifying glass apps can be a great tool. These apps magnify objects on a phone screen and allow users to take photos as well. However, users should be aware that these types of apps often come with ads that can be difficult to avoid.

Stargazing Apps

For astronomy enthusiasts or those simply interested in the night sky, there are a variety of stargazing apps available. Apps like SkyView allow users to superimpose real-life constellations on their phone screen as they point it to the sky. With clickable links to learn more about each object, these apps can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Mapping Exercise Trackers

Exercise tracking apps like How Far Did I Run, Map My Walk, and RunKeeper allow users to chart their route on a map and keep track of how far they’ve gone. Users can get creative with their walks and runs, creating “treasure maps” for friends to follow.


Geocaching is a fun activity where users hunt for hidden objects using GPS coordinates. Geocaching apps allow users to find “caches” hidden in forested areas, often containing keepsakes and artifacts. Users are encouraged to add their own objects and sign a logbook to keep track of their finds.

Merlin and Other Birding Apps

Birding apps like Merlin are great for kids who enjoy birding. With a large and updatable database of bird photos and calls, Merlin can even help identify a species based on its call alone. These apps also help citizen scientists catalog and report which species they have found, aiding scientists and wildlife agencies in the protection of species.

GLOBE Observer by NASA

GLOBE Observer is a tool that can be used to record four different protocols: clouds and sky conditions, mosquito habitats, land cover, and trees. Users can submit their observations to GLOBE, a program that encourages local investigations in five core fields: atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, soil, and Earth as a system. The app is easy to use and allows users to compare their observations with satellite data.

By using these apps, teens and parents can make the most of their time outdoors and learn more about the world around them. The observations made through these apps also contribute to scientific research and the protection of species. So, whether you’re exploring a new hiking trail or simply taking a walk around the neighborhood, consider downloading one of these apps and making your outdoor experience more interactive.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/EditorEditor-in-Chief

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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