Ten Best Ways for Nature-lovers to Discover the Wilder Side of Dallas

Dallas may not be near the mountains or sea, and yes, it can get quite steamy during the summers–but that doesn’t stop locals from enjoying the great outdoors. In fact, this predominately sunny city (averaging 232 days of sunshine annually) boasts more than 22,000 acres of parkland and 125 miles of hike and bike trails for nature enthusiasts to explore. One of the most popular among the crop is White Rock Lake, a 1,015-acre urban oasis offering 9 miles of running and biking trails as well as recreational activities like sailing, kayaking, fishing, and bird-watching. Located adjacent to White Rock Lake is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, a stunning 66-acre pocket of tranquillity filled with seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs and exotic plants.

Oh, and did we mention that Dallas is home to the Great Trinity Forest, one of the largest urban hardwood forests in the nation?  One of the best ways to view it is on a zipline tour with Trinity Forest Aerial Adventure Park. Those who prefer to stay more grounded can also explore the forest by foot at the Trinity River Audubon Center.

The fun doesn’t stop here. No matter what your preferred outdoor pursuit may be, this cheat sheet will come in handy for anyone looking for places to get out and about in the Dallas area.

Dallas Zoo
Photo courtesy of Dallas Zoo


Situated 3 miles south of downtown, the Dallas Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals (from roughly 400 species), including all the favorites – chimps, lions, elephants, camels, zebras, hippos and giraffes. But there's more going on here than your...  Read More

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden


Nestled along the shores of White Rock Lake, this oasis of horticultural magnificence is arguably one of the most enchanting as well as most visited botanical gardens in the country, welcoming nearly a million visitors to its grounds each year....  Read More

Dallas Running Tours
Photo courtesy of Dallas Running Tours


Want to take in the sites of Big D and burn off a few calories along the way? Then hit the pavement with Dallas Running Tours where you'll learn about Dallas' history, architecture and art on the run. Choose from 3 to 18 mile tours through...  Read More

Trinity River Expeditions
Photo courtesy of Trinity River Expeditions


Take a break from city life by exploring one of Dallas' hidden gems, the Trinity River, on a canoe. Trinity River Expeditions offers canoe and kayak rentals for those who want to explore the river on their own. But a better option is to take one...  Read More



You've heard the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." Well, before this 120-acre nature preserve and environmental education center opened in 2008, the area was home to the largest illegal dumping site in the state. Nowadays, the...  Read More

Klyde Warren Park
Photo courtesy of Klyde Warren Park


Perched atop a sunken freeway, this nationally acclaimed 5-acre oasis is just one of the examples of what makes Dallas' downtown area so dynamic. The park was opened in 2012 for the purpose of encouraging more pedestrian foot traffic to the area...  Read More

Widowmaker Trail Rides
Photo courtesy of Widowmaker Trail Rides


It may be a stereotype that all Texans own horses, but that's not to say we don't enjoy channeling our inner cowboy (or cowgirl) every now and then. And one of the best riding adventures to take is with Widowmaker Trail Rides, which provides...  Read More

Trinity Forest Adventure Park
Photo courtesy of Trinity Forest Adventure Park


Just minutes from downtown Dallas lies Trinity Forest Adventure Park, a seven acre combination obstacle course and zip line park where families can soar, swing, scramble and climb to their heart's content. Designed for ages six and over, the...  Read More

White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake Park
Photo courtesy of White Rock Paddle Company


Located only five miles east of downtown, White Rock Lake Park provides an ideal escape without having to leave the city limits. And as one of Dallas' largest parks, over twice the size of Central Park in New York City, this urban oasis truly...  Read More

Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve
Photo courtesy of Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve


Contrary to common belief, Dallas' topography is not as flat as you think. At least not at this 600-acre paradise located 20 minutes south of downtown. Situated at an elevation of 755 feet, the preserve offers restrooms, water fountains, an...  Read More


Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene