Looking for fun ways to get your kids outside and away from television screens and tablets? Look no further than the many parks and nature preserves located in and around Colleyville, Texas. Explore a butterfly garden, hike a nature trail, teach your little one to fish, or just relax on a park bench. When you visit one of these local treasures, you’ll find a variety of activities that are sure to make your entire family happy.
Colleyville Nature Center
Image via Flickr by Travis Isaacs
Want to take your kids hiking or introduce them to fishing? Head to the Colleyville Nature Center. Located in the heart of Colleyville, the center provides a unique opportunity to experience nature within an urban area. Encompassing 46 acres of natural refuge, the nature center houses nine ponds, 3 miles of nature trails, and a playground. A large pond, conveniently located near the parking lot, has a wooden pier that’ll let you get a closer look at the ducks, geese, and herons that frequent the area. The pier is also a great place to teach your kids how to fish.
During your visit, take a walk on the paved trail that leads to Little Bear Creek, a small creek that flows through the area. Once you reach the creek, the trails are unpaved, but they’re well-maintained. You’ll find benches and picnic tables along the walking trails that provide opportunities to rest, grab a snack, or enjoy a picnic lunch. It’s common to see hummingbirds, egrets, owls, woodpeckers, and other native wildlife on the center’s grounds, so tell your kids to keep an out for them. The center opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
River Legacy Park
River Legacy Park in nearby Arlington is a sprawling 1300-acre park located next to the Arlington River. During your visit, explore the park’s mature hardwood forests, sprawling grasslands, and swampland. Several paved trails are located throughout the park, making it an ideal location for strollers and bikes. When your kids get tired of walking, take them to the park’s playground and natural playscapes. Picnic tables and pavilions are available if you’d like to eat lunch while you’re there.
Don’t miss the River Legacy Parks Science Center located across the street from the park’s entrance. This educational complex encompasses 12,000 square feet and offers a variety of exhibits and educational programs for both children and adults. Visit the center’s Discovery Room and take some time to enjoy its aquariums, terrariums, and 30-foot interactive technology screen. There’s a small fee to enter the Discovery Room, but everything else is free.
Visit during the fall and see if you can spot a Devil’s Cigar, a small fungus found only in Texas and Japan. Sometimes called the Texas Star, thanks to its star-shaped appearance, this fungus has the unique ability to produce a hissing sound. Show your kids a picture before you go, and challenge them to find one. They’re located in the decaying cedar elm stumps found in the park’s swampier areas. The park opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.
The Molly Hollar Wildscape
Teach your kids about the importance of caring for the environment at the Molly Hollar Wildscape in Arlington. The wildscape encompasses about 4 acres of the Eastern Cross Timbers, a narrow strip of timbered land that runs from southeastern Kansas to Central Texas. Much of the Eastern Cross Timbers is developed, so visiting the wildscape allows you to explore a rapidly shrinking habitat. Trails wind through the area, allowing visitors to see the native plants and wildlife that live there.
The 5-acre wildscape operates as a living lab, where nature provides the setting for classes, tours, and more. Stroll through the butterfly garden that houses a variety of butterfly species, hummingbirds, and lizards. Then take a walk on the boardwalk that crosses over a wetland area to a pavilion where you can sit and observe the wildlife. Hours vary, so check the website before you go.
Southwest Nature Preserve
If your family is interested in birdwatching, don’t miss Arlington’s Southwest Nature Preserve. Over 135 bird species have been identified at the preserve, and Cornell University’s eBird program recognizes it as one of the best places in the area to bird watch. If you’d rather hike or bike, the preserve features four trails, one of which is ADA-accessible.
When you arrive, take the concrete walkway that runs from the parking lot into the preserve and keep an eye out for the wildlife that lives in the area. As one of the few surviving expanses of the Eastern Cross Timbers in Central Texas, the preserve provides a safe haven for many animals, including whitetail deer, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and others.
Four ponds, one with a wooden fishing pier, are located on the grounds. Fishing is allowed, but you must release anything you catch. If you need a place to sit and rest, take advantage of the terraced outdoor seating area. Finally, don’t miss the high bluff located on the grounds. It has spectacular views, and on a clear day, you can see all the way to downtown Fort Worth. The preserve is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Bob Jones Park
Bob Jones Park in Southlake features a dog park, an amphitheater, and a 6-acre pond. The 500-acre park contains several trails, both paved and unpaved, that are perfect for pushing a stroller, biking, and even horseback riding. Beds of colorful wildflowers grow alongside the trails, attracting scores of butterflies, and the open woodland habitat provides a home for native wildlife, including deer and owls. You’ll find plenty of picnic tables and public restrooms during your visit as well as a playground and soccer fields. Park hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Whenever you’re ready, these favorite outdoor activities of Crème de la Crème of Colleyville are waiting for you. Which one will you explore first? If we missed somewhere amazing, let us know so we can add it to our list!