Dallas runs plenty hot on summer days, but in other seasons you’ll savor mild weather and very few rainy days — making it a great place to head outside and enjoy its green spaces. Even for days that do get scorching hot, and there are some in the summer months especially, Dallas has plenty of lakes and waterways to help you cool off. And, this being Texas, getting on horseback almost seems a requirement. Here are the city parks and natural escapes in Dallas you need to know.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — The Dallas Arboretum is regarded as one of the best of its kind in the world, attracting more more than a million annual visitors. Located on Dallas’ White Rock Lake, this lush attraction fills 66 acres with gardens and groves. With 19 distinct and impeccably tended gardens, the arboretum is among the most popular outdoor areas in DFW. It also has an excellent events calendar, which includes summer concerts and a massive fall pumpkin patch. It’s a great outdoor activity option in any season, and comes complete with lovely views of the lake and city skyline.
Trinity River Audubon Center — Tucked into the whopping 6,000-acre Great Trinity River Forest, the Audubon Center is home to a diverse range of plants and animals. Take a short drive south from Downtown Dallas, and you will be transported to another world surrounded by nature. Here you can hike trails through wetlands, forests, and prairielands; go birding to see over 200 species migratory birds; spot a wide variety of animals; go kayaking; or even have a picnic.
Klyde Warren Park — Klyde Warren Park, or KWP, is one of the best examples in the country of a next-generation green space. Built in place of what used to be a concrete-filled highway overpass, this 5.2-acre park is now a major social gathering place connecting Uptown with Downtown in the heart of Dallas. KWP is growing fast and offers great urban vistas, as it’s surrounded by modern, glistening architecture. The park offers something for everyone with food trucks, restaurants, playgrounds, concerts, dog parks, exercise classes, ping pong, and other games. Even better, it’s all free — except the food and drinks.
Widowmaker Trail Rides — This is a taste of the Texas you may have imagined. Widowmaker Trail Rides offers appointment-only guided horseback rides on several trails throughout the metroplex. While you can set up rides on multiple trails, the primary trail is as picturesque as it gets — set along the sandy shores of Lake Grapevine and through its surrounding meadows and forests. It can accommodate groups up to 10 people at once. All rides are designed to be like a lesson in horse riding, costing $90 per person and lasting about two hours.
Panther Island Pavilion — A visit to Panther Island Pavilion is a great way to beat the heat in DFW. This Fort Worth mainstay is a venue with a multitude of options. It’s not just filled with waterfront activities ranging from kayaking and paddle boarding to tubing and fishing. It also serves as one of the best waterfront music venues in Texas, where you can watch a concert while relaxing in your inner tube or floatie. From mid-November to mid-January, Panther Island Ice becomes a center for outdoor ice skating. The cherry on top is the scenic Fort Worth skyline as the backdrop.
Lake Lewisville — Lake Lewisville is one of the largest lakes in the region and a popular party spot in the summer months. As the temperature goes up, so does the number of people looking to escape it. Many folks find Lake Lewisville to be the perfect getaway for fishing, swimming, watersports, and recreational boating. On any given summer weekend, you’ll see plenty of boats and party barges headed over to Party Cove, where the scene is always bumping. Whether you’re looking for a raging scene or a relaxing cruise — Lake Lewisville has something to offer you.