Dallas might not be the first destination to pop into your head when you think of the great outdoors, but perhaps you should reconsider. It might not be near the mountains or the sea, and yes, it is a city–but this sunny city hosts over 20,000 acres of natural spaces for you to enjoy. Whether you’re a hiker, biker, adventurer, or just general wilderness lover, there are plenty of must-visit outdoor spots in Dallas.
White Rock Lake is a man-made lake in the heart of Dallas, providing a relaxing oasis in the bustling metropolitan area. The 1,1015 acre lake provides looping trails for running, walking, and hiking, as well as a great spot for water sports. Picnic facilities are available, as are rental cabins for canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards.
On the shores of White Rock Lake sits the Dallas Arboretum. The Arboretum was named “One of the Most Breathtaking Gardens in the World” by Architectural Digest, and was ranked as one of the “18 Best Gardentastic Adventures To Embark On” by LawnStarter Lawn Care. The Arboretum features different blooms for every season. In the spring, the arboretum features nearly half a million blooming bulbs, three thousand azaleas, and hundreds of cherry blooms. In the summer, the gardens host an outdoor concert series, and in the fall, a Pumpkin Village featuring 90,000 pumpkins and other gourds.
Trinity River Audubon Center features dozens of activities for the adventurous and the more reserved. Over five miles of trails wind through varying ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and prairies. It’s also a great spot for birding and picnics, showcasing one of the largest hardwood bottomland urban forests in the United States. The center also has an indoor exhibition hall featuring native animals like snakes, turtles, and fish. The center offers butterfly gardens, conservation classes, architecture tours, and exhilarating expeditions on the Trinity River.
The Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve spans over 600 acres, providing ten miles of scenic hiking trails. This preserve’s waterways, traveling from the mouth of Lake Leelanau to the village of Cedar, are protected and open to the public. It’s a great spot for canoers and kayakers, as it has virtually no current, and provides a great spot to view native vegetation and wildlife.
This park serves as an urban gathering space for Dallasites. It is a 5.2 acre deck park, built over the recessed Woodall Rogers Freeway between Pearl and St. Paul streets. The park’s website claims it to be the ‘front lawn for the Dallas Arts District’ – the largest urban art district in the nation. It features a variety of daily programs, from yoga to concerts to lecture series, along with walking trails, dog parks, children’s parks, and games areas.
Dallas Running Tours are one of the more unique ways to visit the city. They allow energetic tourists to view the city while getting a workout. A tour guide takes visitors on a four-mile running loop of downtown Dallas, allowing them to view some of the greatest landmarks and points of interest in Dallas.
7. Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Zoo offers the largest zoological experience in Texas, coming in at a whopping 106 acres. The zoo is home to a herd of five female elephants and eleven giraffes, albino alligators, the only koalas in Texas, and many other unique creatures. The zoo also features conservation exhibitions and a feeding area for up-close experiences.
Big Cedar is the only area with high wooded hills and views in North Texas. The trails are at the highest elevation in the city of Dallas and wind through cedar and hardwood forest before descending into a valley. It’s an ideal spot for mountain biking, hiking, and walking.