When you start noticing your baby’s rapidly growing curiosity in his surroundings, it may be time to pack up the diaper bag for a change of scenery. Visit these Dallas-area destinations for stimulating activities that are both adventurous and comfortable, including smelling fragrant flowers and petting animals on dry land and in the water. Consider it a start to showing your baby all the world has to offer, not to mention an opportunity to show off your little one.
Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden
No place will ignite your baby’s senses quite like the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum. Once inside, head first to the First Adventure gallery, located immediately to your left after the entry plaza. This walled garden introduces science concepts to its youngest visitors through play in natural settings: caterpillar maze, a sandbox, giant acorns and insects, mushroom seats and tables, a potting shed, a tree house, a babbling brook and a plant petting zoo.
Children’s Museum at the Fort Worth Museum of Science & History
The Children’s Museum provides a multisensory experience for even the tiniest tots. Your baby will ogle at the live reptiles and amphibians, giggle at the water play stations and learn through exploration in the infant developmental space, all housed in a colorful, kid-pleasing environment. A family restroom and nursing room are provided for mommy’s convenience.
Fort Worth, 817/255-9300
Moody Family Children’s Museum
This area inside the Perot Museum of Nature and Science fills up quickly with rambunctious kids, but you can find respite with your little ones inside the Baby and Toddler Park, an enclosed, gazebo-style area with a mole hole to crawl through, knobs and levers to turn, and stories to read from the book bench. On your way out, show them the brightly colored giant leap frogs and the xylophones in the outdoor musical forest.
Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo at Dallas Zoo
Though babies cannot appreciate how rare and exotic the animals are inside the Dallas Zoo, petting, feeding and looking eye-level at wildlife will thrill their little hearts. For a full-on animal experience, prop your little one on your hip and feed leaves of romaine lettuce to giraffes with outstretched tongues, let them hold a cup of nectar or a birdseed stick to attract friendly birds, and pet the ponies, rabbits, African pygmy goats or baby doll sheep inside the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo.
Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park
The aquarium, originally opened in 1936 and remodeled again in 2021, brings youngsters up to eye level with the stingrays, sharks, turtles and more fish inside the tanks and interactive zones. Visit the coastal touch tank for your baby to touch horseshoe crabs, sea urchins or sea whelks with the help of a volunteer, or guide them in turning a knob to change the colors inside the glowing jellyfish tank.
Children’s Park at Klyde Warren Park
Note that the Children’s Park is currently under construction and is expected to reopen in mid-summer 2022 with a larger play place.
On Dallas’ so-called front lawn near the Dallas Arts District, Klyde Warren Park includes a special place for young children to roam – a 15,000-square-foot playground built with soft sidewalk material, mounds to climb and plentiful seating by the grass, real and Astroturf. The misting water from the caterpillar-inspired fountain comes in handy during the hottest days, and the spacious family restrooms with changing tables, outdoor sinks and long counters allow for an easy diaper change.
For moms on the go, you’ll get your time’s worth at NorthPark Center, the four-in-one stop for shopping at children’s boutiques and toddler story times at the Bookmarks library (on Tuesdays at 10:30am). Show them the ducks and turtles wadding in the shallow indoor pond at Neiman Marcus Court and visit the adjacent sloped planters, perfectly shaped for a short slide.
Texas Discovery Gardens
No matter the weather outside, you can see hundreds of exotic butterflies housed year-round at Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. Visit the indoor butterfly house, open 10am–5pm daily, for a guaranteed sighting. Come for the butterfly release each day at noon, bring a blanket for a peaceful picnic on the outdoor garden lawn and explore the rest of the 7.5-acre gardens.
Arturo’s Nest at the Dallas Museum of Art
Note: Arturo’s Nest is currently closed due to COVID-19 safety precautions. Check back in the future for updates.
The rule in most fine art museums is look but don’t touch – not so at the DMA. Inside the Center for Creative Connections, the hub of activity for families, you’ll find Arturo’s Nest, a “please touch” learning area for children up to age 4. Take the youngest of your brood to enjoy toys, games, puzzles and books; to expand their motor skills with activities based on monthly themes; and to meet Arturo, the museum’s family mascot.
Irving Bible Church
When the nondenominational church built its children’s playground, the planners’ intention was to open it up for the entire community. Any time the church doors are open, feel free to take your youngest kids to its two play areas: an outdoor playground with climbing structures, slides and swings suitable for heights up to 52 inches, and The Tubes, an indoor playground of colorful crawl tubes, open 9am–9pm daily. Need a break? Take advantage of the church’s free Wi-Fi.
Prestonwood Baptist Church
A Promised Land-themed play place at Prestonwood Baptist Church’s Plano campus, one of the largest churches in the country, welcomes nonmembers and members alike to bring their preschoolers for playtime. You’ll find Noah’s Ark with a ladder, slide and crawlspace underneath as well as seating for adults on the log-, tree- and fishing pier-shaped benches. Come on Sunday–Friday mornings or all day Wednesday when the adjacent Main Street Café is open, and don’t miss the children’s bookstore and up-front parking for expectant mothers.