Dallas-Fort Worth is a prime destination for family wildlife encounters, be it observing the Blue Penguins of Borneo or the Madagascar Lemurs.
Here are our top picks for fun, educational and family-friendly sites where you can get up-close and personal with wildlife.
Dallas World Aquarium
Located in downtown Dallas, right by the vintage trolley stops and Klyde-Warren Park, Dallas World Aquarium takes you on a journey through the wonderful plants and animals of the ancient Maya, South American rainforest ecosystem, 20,000-gallon tunnel exhibit, and through the path of the exotic Borneo. More than just exhibiting underwater creatures, DWA also shelters different types of birds, reptiles and mammals from various different continents, making it a very diverse wildlife encounter experience. Make time to digest it all over a family meal at their their Eighteen-O-One café with menus varying from British Columbia to Fiji.
Fort Worth Zoo
Nominated as one of USA Today’s 10 Best Zoos this year, Fort Worth Zoo offers unique entertainment experiences on top of its incredible exhibits, such as Yellow Rose Express Train, Tazmanian Tower rock climbing wall, and the crowd favorite: the Texas Wild! exhibit. All across the Texas-inspired exhibit, you get to dine, shop (stop by the candy shop and the ice cream parlor) and even pet corn snakes or Texas tortoises at the petting corral. There, you can also enjoy an interactive laser target game at the Wild West Shooting Gallery. To add to all the fun, encourage your little ones to explore the outdoors and collect rocks, plants and fossils to then exchange them for points at the Nature Traders building. The points can be traded for something from the zoo’s collection (which makes a pretty cool souvenir, if you ask my kids!).
Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium
Conveniently situated in the Grapevine Mills mall, Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium offers one-stop education and entertainment for all ages. Explore sixteen interactive zones along the aquarium, watch the daily stingray and seahorse feeding or get to know starfish and sea urchins at the interactive Rockpool. Parents, I know what you’re thinking…the cleaning station is available right next to the exhibit! Don’t forget to stop by the Shark Mission at the Shark Walk area, to learn about sharks and their features while playing games on state-of-the-art touchscreens. If your little ones still have the energy to play, the indoor playground will be waiting for them, just above the Ocean Tunnel.
Recognized as one of the 2014 Top 10 Zoos by USA Today, Dallas Zoo offers unique wildlife encounter experiences, informative keeper talks and educational play spaces for kids. Stop by the Giants of the Savanna exhibit and feed the giraffes, dine while lion-watching at Serengeti Grill and ride the Wilds of Africa Adventure Safari monorail! You sure wouldn’t want to miss the chance of touring six different habitats that are not accessible by foot, on this air-conditioned transport ($5/person). And when the kids are ready to play, head over to the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo and the baby-friendly JCPenney Discovery House. Top off the experience with a ride on the T-Rex Express Mini Train!
From the awareness of the planet they’re living in today, to the legacy they’ll leave behind, there are so many incredible lessons for kids to learn when they experience nature and all its wonders. What’s even more amazing? They can do it all here in DFW.
Photos Courtesy: Debora Manusama