Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden: Who knew Dallas had more than dust, concrete, steel, and glass? This surprising oasis on the edge of White Rock Lake is a great spot to duck the Texas sun. Relax on 70 acres of groomed gardens and natural woodlands, interspersed with a handful of historic homes. The gardens are especially colorful in spring and fall.
Fort Worth Botanic & Japanese Gardens: A rambling, spacious showcase of 2,500 native and exotic species of plants on 100-plus acres, this is the oldest botanical garden in Texas, created back in the late 1920s. The Texas Rose Garden, 3,500 roses that bloom in late April and October, and the beautiful Japanese Garden are terrific places to hide out from the world. Bring a picnic, a book, and a flying disk.
Big Thicket National Preserve: It has been called "the American Ark" for its incredibly rich variety of plants and wildlife, all packed into 100,000 acres of watery bottomland in deepest East Texas. Explore the area on foot or in canoe, and see how the woods grow so thickly here that they all but blot out the sun, and make trailblazing almost impossible.
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: A mecca for birders, with some 300 species sighted here, the refuge is also home to snakes, turtles, lizards, mammals, and a variety of frogs and other amphibians. Aransas has become famous for being the main winter home of the near-extinct whooping crane, the tallest bird in America -- 5 feet high with an 8-foot wingspan.
Mustang Island State Park: This barrier island has more than 5 miles of wide, sandy beach, with fine sand, few rocks, and broken shells, and almost enough waves for surfing. The park is one of the most popular of Texas state parks, and is especially busy on summer weekends.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center: Few people remember that Lady Bird Johnson started a program to beautify America's highways -- and she began practicing it in her home state. This flower-powered research center is a natural outgrowth of this first lady's lifelong efforts to beautify the state.
McKittrick Canyon: The canyon is forested with conifers and deciduous trees. In autumn, the maples, oaks, and other hardwoods burst into color, painting the world in bright colors set off by the rich variety of the evergreens.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park: This 60-mile canyon, sculpted by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River over the past 90 million years, is a grand contrast to the ubiquitous, treeless plains of the Texas Panhandle. Its 800-foot cliffs, striped with orange, red, and white rock and adorned by groves of juniper and cottonwood trees, present an astoundingly stark beauty.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.