Hidden in Dallas, some surprising green gems

By Trust for Public Land
Published March 23, 2016

Hidden in Dallas, some surprising green gems

Better known for big hair and big hats, the city of Dallas has a park system more on the modest side: #40 out of the 75 on The Trust for Public Land Parkscore® index in 2015. But if you know where to look, you’ll find some one-of-a-kind parks in this sprawling Texas metro—including these five kid-friendly favorites:

Wander the woods at … Trinity River Audubon Center

Believe it or not, Dallas is home to the nation’s largest urban hardwood forest: the 6,000-acre Great Trinity River Forest, just 10 miles south of downtown. The Trinity River Audubon Center is the best place to start: once the site of rampant illegal dumping, the site has been beautifully restored to host thriving wetlands and a Children’s Discovery Garden, which introduces kids of all ages to concepts from conservation to composting.

Cast a spell at … Dragon Park

This one’s for the Game of Thrones fans. Tucked away in the Turtle Creek neighborhood, this tiny park conceals statues of dragons, gargoyles, griffins, and fairies. Though it’s privately owned, Dragon Park is open to the public. Assuming you can find it (it’s easy to miss), this park is the perfect backdrop for some creative selfies or a quiet hour with your favorite fantasy novel.

Get a bear hug at … Lakeside Park

If you prefer cuddlier creatures, visit the giant—and we mean giant—teddy bear statues at Lakeside Park (“Teddy Bear Park” to locals). Go for a run around the large, lily-filled lake, picnic on the lawns, or cross the trussed bridge for a view of the waterfall. Expect to encounter hungry ducks and a few bridal photo shoots—but don’t worry; there’s plenty of room for everyone.

Play on a freeway at … Klyde Warren Park

This innovative urban park is one of only 25 deck parks in the United States. The five-acre green space boasts a dog park, botanical garden, arts boulevard, fountain, and the “Great Lawn”—all perched above the Woodall Rodgers Freeway on a platform. Kelcy Warren, the park’s billionaire funder, named the park for his son Klyde—and committed him to helping with monthly park cleanups as a lesson in civic responsibility. 

Step back in time at … Old City Park

As much a museum as a green space, the Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park is home to 37 historical structures—dating back to between 1840 and 1910—that were relocated to the park from across northern Texas. The Dallas Heritage Society gives tours of this fascinating historical district, which includes a Greek Revival mansion and Queen Anne houses as well as an old bank, school, general store, and train depot.

Old City Park is (no surprise), the oldest in Dallas, established back in 1885. Part of the site came from the family land of Edward Browder—whose descendant Robert Browder Kent heads The Trust for Public Land’s Dallas office today. Kent is heading the effort to improve the city’s ParkScore rating through the “Smart Growth for Dallas” plan, which aims to put every Dallas resident within a 10-minute walk of a park or green space. 

“It’s a proud feeling to know I’m continuing the work of my ancestors to build a better city,” says Kent. “Neighborhood parks are about so much more than just recreation and beauty—they can grow the local economy, connect our communities, improve our health, and protect our city’s most important natural places.”

We’ll keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, we’d love to hear more park recommendations from Dallas locals: leave us a comment or join us on Facebook!

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