One reason we love living in Cedar Park is its proximity to some of Texas’ best nature preserves. There are acres of outdoor recreational spaces nearby that native animals call home, and the whole family will enjoy taking in the beautiful scenery while you keep your eyes peeled for critters. If you need some destination inspiration, here are six places close to home where you can see local wildlife.

Brushy Creek Lake Park

Small boy sitting next to geese at the pond.
Image via Flickr by cmeaux Licensed CC BY-ND 2.0

If you’re looking to share more nature-filled experiences with your little ones, head to Cedar Park’s own Brushy Creek Lake Park. This 90-acre oasis offers active families loads of opportunities for sightseeing wildlife. It opens a half-hour before sunrise and closes at 10 p.m. daily.

Brushy Creek has a little bit of everything, including a 38-acre lake, hiking trails, a playground for the kids, a fishing pier, plus numerous dedicated wildlife viewing areas. So hop on the looping Brushy Creek Regional Trail for a nice walk around the park and down near the water. You can also launch a kayak and explore the shoreline or cast some bait and see if you can hook a bluegill, catfish, or largemouth bass.

Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

Its founders set Mayfield Park around the site’s historic buildings and beautiful gardens. It features towering palm trees, stone ponds with koi fish, and stunning peacocks that roam the property. In addition to these colorful creatures, there’s also a 21-acre nature preserve on the grounds. Take advantage of your local library and learn more about Texas’ nature species before you head out to this wildlife habitat.

Mayfield Park is on the National Register of Historic Places and is also the perfect destination for a scenic hike. Animal lovers will enjoy wandering down the park’s trails. You and the kids may catch a glimpse of bullfrogs, turtles, herons, egrets, and snakes while exploring the woods.

Capital of Texas Zoo

The Capital of Texas Zoo on Jenkins Road is a privately-owned wildlife park. It’s home to more than 500 animals, from domestic critters like guinea pigs to exotic species like ring-tailed lemurs. Your family will love checking out the zoo’s captivating creatures with animal feeding and an intimate encounter experience. You may get to meet Tank the 4,000-pound hippo or pet a giant tortoise here.

Lake Travis

Scenic Lake Travis spans over 62 miles, and it’s just 10 miles from Cedar Park. Enjoy some fun and relaxation on the water with all your favorite outdoor activities. This waterway is a favorite destination for families to go boating, fishing, swimming, and photographing wildlife.

The fish populations in the 18,622-acre Travis Reservoir include bass, crappie, and catfish. You can also spot bluegill and sunfish in the shallows. It’s also an exciting place for four-legged critter sightings, and not just the usual residents, like squirrels. Your Lake Travis animal adventure may include Blackbuck Antelopes with their corkscrew-shaped horns and Rio Grande turkeys with their fantastic display of plumage.

Austin Nature and Science Center

Since 1960, the curators at the Austin Nature and Science Center have brought families and nature together in an inspiring way. This amazing local institution will take your children’s love of animals to the next level with a wide variety of hands-on exhibits, education programs, and recreation activities. Everyone in the family will leave with a renewed appreciation for our natural world.

This 80-acre nature center really does have it all. Discover the outdoor and indoor exhibits where kids can tour the birds of prey enclosure, the small wonders room, and wildlife habitats. They can touch items like bones, plants, and insects in the Naturalist Workshop or go on the Pond Walk to look for turtles.

In the visitor’s pavilion, you can see inside a living beehive or examine the scales of a butterflies wing in the Nano exhibit. Then, get a behind-the-scenes look at feather fowl from the camouflaged bird blind or watch the butterflies float around the Pollinator Gardens.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

The Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge provides a place for numerous varieties of local wildlife to call home. The country’s Fish and Wildlife Service established the preserve to safeguard rare birds like the black-capped vireo and endangered species such as the golden-cheeked warbler.

It’s the ideal place to unplug and reconnect with your natural surroundings. Go for a hike along 10 miles of footpaths through the rugged landscape, look for signs of wildlife, and smell the flowers along the trail. Spend some time on one of the observation decks, and remember to bring your binoculars and a camera to capture the moments.

Twin Lakes Park

If you’re looking for a hidden gem in Cedar Park, discover Twin Lakes Park on East Little Elm Trail. Take the kids and check out its beautiful 50-acre grounds. It’s an ideal place to spot wildlife, thanks to its shaded greenbelts and sparkling lake.

The YMCA of Greater Williamson County operates this 50-acre park. The Y is a community-focused nonprofit that has provided Cedar Park families with all-age recreational programs for more than 175 years. It offers the area’s premier summer camp program on Twin Lakes. Staff work in collaboration with Texas Parks and Wildlife to provide a magical experience for our city’s youth. Its outdoor education course offers plenty of opportunities for exploration in a natural environment during this meaningful week-long adventure.

Twin Lakes Park is also the first stop along the 6.75-mile Brushy Creek Regional Trail and offers a waterfall, sports fields, an archery range, and a beach. You’ll also appreciate Twin Lakes Park’s clean, modern restrooms and spacious parking lot. It’s open from sunrise to sunset every day. So come enjoy the great outdoors here whenever the mood strikes you.

So, there you have it. Crème de la Crème of Cedar Park put together this guide to places where you can see local Texas wildlife. What do you think of our picks? Let us know if we forgot your family’s favorite place to see animals? Send us a note so we can add your ideas to our next guide.