Animal lovers will love the up close and personal views of animals at Dallas Zoo in Dallas.
When you're out and about in the area, you'll love that this zoo has a restaurant to take care of any last minute hunger.
Families will feel right at home at this zoo with its kid-friendly atmosphere.
For drivers, a nearby lot is available for use.
Nearly 7,000 native and exotic species call this zoo home, including cheetahs, meerkats, and penguins. In addition to a petting zoo that let’s kids meet and mingle with goats, an armadillo, and a Texas longhorn, there are also family-friendly attractions such as a tornado simulator, a 25-foot climbing wall, and a country-themed carousel.
When the sun shines on the inky black coat of 8-Ball, an Asian leopard, you can see the intricate pattern of spots on his fur. What you may not notice are the scars on his neck, remnants of having been chained up in a pool hall by a former owner. When the owner could no longer keep him, 8-Ball was sent to a drive-thru safari park that was later shut down by the USDA. But all of that must seem like a faraway nightmare to 8-Ball, as he now enjoys the security, ample food, and medical care at Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge. He is among the more than 40 big cats that have been rescued and rehabilitated, trading lives of abuse, neglect, and misplacement for environs that executive director Brian Werner calls a "living resort."
The facility is owned and operated by Tiger Missing Link, a nonprofit organization that Werner chartered in 1995. After diligent research, Werner began creating a big-cat sanctuary on a 25-acre property that Werner owned. He and his family lived in a small cabin with no running water, heat, or air conditioning, clearing the land themselves and going door to door to garner support for the project. It certainly wasn't easy, but through the hard work of volunteers and some big-time press—including features on Animal Planet's 2007 Tiger Week and Good Morning America—the shelter's reputation and facilities continue to grow.
The refuge aims to raise visitors' awareness of the plight of large cats in the wild, and it plans to expand to add more natural habitats and observatories. Landscapers have even built a waterfall habitat where the tigers can exercise while trying not to puncture their plastic inner tubes. This feature may have been the favorite amenity for two of Michael Jackson's tigers that, according to a KLTV 7 story, have called the space home.
Rowlett Creek burbles through Storybook Ranch, adding a finishing touch to a picturesque landscape where horses roam and the memories of the Old West burn bright. Founded by longtime horseman Wayne Kirk, the ranch hosts horseback-riding programs and events that not only keep the equestrian spirit alive, but also help keep horses themselves alive.
Wayne Kirk wanted to establish a ranch that served underprivileged kids and unwanted horses. For the latter, a horse rescue and sanctuary rehabilitates and retrains steeds so they can nuzzle with students during the ranch's riding programs. These classes and camps help aspiring riders learn good horsemanship, including how to care for a horse, how to ride properly, and where to find the horse's turn signals. Guests can also befriend the stable's horses during rides along the ranch's tree-lined trails.
A Friendly Ghost Town
On exploring the ranch, one might come across a cluster of Old West–era buildings. If so, they've found Dry Bones, a historic and abandoned town that still stands on the ranch's 19 acres. The rustic town is a prime spot for weddings, graduations, and other celebrations—as well as a place to see how people from the 1800s lived without smartphones, televisions, or the Clapper.
Head to Owens Spring Creek Farm in Richardson for a great adventure and break from the same old same old.
Owens Spring Creek Farm is located near endless parking possibilities, allowing drivers to park with ease.
Blase Family Farm creates a setting for seasonal memory-making with a bounty of fall activities. Around the 13-acre farm, hayrides meander through the woods, under leaves tinged with warm hues. Bulbous pumpkins rest at the base of tall trees, waiting for youngsters to claim them. When not searching for the best pumpkin—like the doctor who performed the Headless Horseman’s brain transplant—visitors can socialize with farm animals, such as goats and sheep, and earn their eternal love by feeding them. A farm train, for an additional small charge, also chugs around the grounds, giving its passengers a more comprehensive view of the scenery. In the spring and summer, the farm offers pick-your-own blueberries, perfect for making into jam.