At The Gentle Zoo, youngsters feed pigs, pat ducklings, and interact with the other fuzzy residents. Elsewhere on the zoo’s 10 acres, guests can leap about on the bounce house, blast corn from the corn cannon, navigate the maze, or enjoy a leisurely ride on the tractor train. Such attractions enthrall kids at onsite birthday parties, while the mobile petting zoo’s 12–15 staff-supervised animals offer nuzzles and create memories in children's minds. The creatures also hit the road for the animal-encounters program, which combines hands-on animal contact with educational 45-minute presentations. The Gentle Zoo donates its proceeds from the program to its Creature Connection, Inc. nonprofit, which rehabilitates rescue animals before they participate in outreach programs for foster children and at-risk youth.
Dancemasters Studio's experienced instructors—including national-competition champions and a former onboard cruise-line dance host—introduce adult students of all skill levels to the world of social dancing in a 3,200-square-foot facility with two ballrooms. The studio’s schedule of group classes spans 19 different partner styles such as the waltz, rumba, and Argentine tango. The studio also welcomes students to monthly BYOB dance parties. As a live band plays, dancers show off their new skills in the areas of salsa dancing or sequin sewing.
During private lessons, staffers train individuals or pairs on technique and ballroom etiquette. They specialize in helping brides- and grooms-to-be prepare for their wedding day, providing expert choreography set to the couples special song or epic poem.
Bessie Heard dedicated years of her life to philanthropic efforts throughout the McKinney area, helping plant hackberry trees along downtown streets and establishing an American Red Cross chapter during World War I. However, she accomplished her greatest feat in 1967 when the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary opened to the public. With 289 acres of rolling space, the sanctuary functions as a testament to the diversity of local flora and fauna, educating visitors and urging them to protect those species for future generations.
More than 6.5 miles of unpaved hiking trails wind throughout the sanctuary, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in habitats that range from tall-grass prairie to limestone slopes. The grounds shelter more than 150 varieties of wildflowers and plants, as well as more than 240 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and carnivorous shrubs. In addition to the trails, the sanctuary also features an extensive garden of native trees, grasses, and perennials, as well as a treetop ropes course (reservation required; additional fees apply). Indoors, interactive exhibits and collections impart valuable information on north-Texan geology, marine life, and venomous snakes.
Though many anthropological museums focus on peoples who are long gone, the International Museum of Cultures displays more than 10 storied exhibits on contemporary indigenous populations from around the world, including Papua New Guinea, Mexico, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Here, visitors glean insight into the respective cultures and the challenges they face. As guests peruse the displays, they can explore Lakota Sioux artifacts such as dream catchers and arrowheads, learn about the hunter-gatherer Agta from the Philippines, and listen to Drumbeats of the World, an interactive exhibit that pulsates with percussive heartbeats from Ecuador, Pakistan, and Korea.
Unlike many of its brethren, the Arlington Museum of Art does not maintain a permanent collection. Instead, it celebrates the ever-changing nature of art by featuring local artists in traveling exhibitions and curated shows. Also, since opening in 1952, the museum has been a headquarters for promoting artistic expression throughout the community. Gallery talks and artist lectures give visitors the chance to interactively learn, and summer art camps get kids motivated to create masterpieces.
Though you'd never guess it based on its white, soot-free façade, an unassuming bungalow in East Forth Worth has seen fire from every angle. The structure began its life in 1928 as a fire station to protect the area's growing population from faulty toaster ovens, and today it serves as a gallery and workspace for flame-taming potters.
Firehouse Pottery's community-driven studio enables local artists to create new work in classes for all age groups classes and then display their proudest pieces in exhibitions or among a rotating selection of paintings, drawings, and pottery on display.
Resident artist Keith Thomson creates hand-made pottery and other clay artwork under tudor half timbered gables, welcoming audiences and protégés as they enter under a gabled portico held up by thick stucco columns. The intimate space also hosts events, which range from gallery exhibitions and BYOB gatherings to book signings at which only quill pens are allowed.