2020 Dallas School Guide :: Outdoor Learning Spaces


Get some Vitamin D, connect with nature, and learn a little something while you’re out there. Dallas has lots of nature preserves and trails, both in the city and just a short drive from home. Check before you go to make sure they’re ready for ya (a good rule of thumb in general these days).

dallas nature preserves

Dallas Arboretum :: Pick up a WalkSTEM guide when you arrive and experience the Arboretum through the lens of math and science. Be sure to take a look at their new temporary guidelines and Know Before You Go FAQ so you can stay informed of the changes.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve :: This Plano preserve is comprised of 3 distinct ecoregions and about 3 miles each of paved and unpaved trails. Please visit the link for information on trail maintenance closures before you go.

Cathy’s Critters :: In the past they weren’t open to the public on a daily basis, but with the current school situation, they’re becoming more available for gentle child/animal experiences and education. Check their calendar for Open Farm Days and other activities like pony rides, petting zoos, presentations, etc.

Cedar Ridge Preserve (formerly the Dallas Nature Center) :: 600 acres and about 9 miles of trails await you at this slice of Hill Country just 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. See the link for maps and trail guides plus updated info and regulations. Closed Mondays.

Coppell Nature Park :: Be sure to check out their Educational Resources section before you go for Field Guides and help with species identification.

Dallas Zoo :: Now open and with significant changes to ticketing, entry, and daily operations in order to maximize safety. Please check out ‘What to Expect’ so you are prepared! If visiting in person is not in the cards, take a look at their new virtual offerings: Animal Adventures Outreach and Bring the Zoo to You.

Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center :: Now re-opened, with restrictions. See link for all the details; admission is still free but on a reservation-only basis. For now, they are only open on Fridays & Saturdays 8am-2pm. You can also stay connected with their fun and educational Distant Engagement activities.

Heard Natural Science Museum :: Explore the 289-acre McKinney sanctuary on your own or participate in one of their ongoing programs like Night Hikes, 2nd Saturday Bird Walks, 3rd Saturday Nature Talks, and more.

Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area :: A 2,600-acre classroom where you can hike, camp, kayak, visit a log cabin from 1870, and more. Entry is $5 per vehicle, season passes available.

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve :: Besides the open space, they’ve got 8 miles of concrete trails and 5 miles of soft surface trails at this Plano park. Fishing info and trail map at the link, too!

Spring Creek Forest Preserve :: You’ll find maps to these trails at the link along with information on participating in “Collections from the Field,” a community-based project that serves as an online field notebook/gallery.

Trinity River Audubon Center ::  They’ve re-opened with a few changes, namely advanced ticket purchase for specific time slots. See the link for other COVID-related changes. If visiting isn’t an option for you, you can find regular updates on Facebook and YouTube with nature-themed activities for children. And check out Audubon for Kids, available in both English and Spanish. Looking for another hike in the area? The Texas Buckeye Trail would be a good option.

Twelve Hills Nature Center :: Near Bishop Arts, this free nature center has bird and flower charts to give some structure to your visit. Challenge the kids to see how many they can spot!

From the archives:
Finding Creature Comforts Near Dallas
4 Best Places to Hike With Kids Near Plano


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