The Darien Nature Center began as a fledgling summer program in 1979 at the Darien Community Association. Founded by a group of committed citizens who wanted to open the eyes and minds of Darien citizens to the natural beauty surrounding them while teaching respect for and understanding of the environment, the first Board of Directors was composed of Darien residents active in the Audubon Society, the Conservation Commission, the Darien Community Association, and Darien Public Schools. In the early days, the Nature Center operated summer programs in Darien public schools. As interest grew, the search for a permanent home launched.

In 1988, Cherry Lawn neighbor Mrs. Virginia McGregor donated three and a half acres of undeveloped woodland to the Darien Nature Center. Over the next decade, as programs improved and expanded, the Board of Directors launched a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new facility in the park. Thanks to the support of the Board of Selectmen and families throughout town, the Darien Nature Center opened the doors to its new building, a beautiful, light-filled barn, in February of 2002.

Today, a quarter of a century after its inception, the Darien Nature Center is a thriving community center, home to robust environmental educational programs, a diverse collection of live animals,and seasonal exhibits, films, and lectures.