Even though we live in one of the largest urban areas in the United States, sometimes you need an escape, and oasis, a trip into nature.  Luckily for you, the oasis isn’t that far away.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

7171 Mountain Creek Parkway
Dallas, TX 75249
(972) 709-7784

Cedar Ridge Preserve offers visitors a scenic view of nature just miles from downtown Dallas, the 600-acre preserve features nine miles of natural hiking trails, where you can spot butterflies, birds, mammals and reptiles. Open November 1 through March 31 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 1 through October 31 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Cedar Hill State Park

1570 F.M. 1382
Cedar Hill, TX 75104
(972) 291-3900

Adjacent to Joe Pool Lake is Cedar Hill State Park, an urban nature preserve offering bird watching, mountain biking, boating, camping and a host of other outdoor activities. Area wildlife includes armadillo, bobcat, coyote, raccoon, squirrel and fox. The park also features picnic areas and three playgrounds for the kids. Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary

1 Nature Place
McKinney, TX 75069
(972) 562-5566

Located in McKinney, the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary features rotating exhibits and a living lab, where students enjoy a hands-on scientific experience. Outdoors, kids and adults alike enjoy a variety of nature trails where birds, turtles, snakes, squirrels, rabbits, owls, opossum and armadillos are not uncommon. Admission fee: $9 for adults, $6 for seniors and children 3-12. Hours: Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

(credit: Gordon Reid/Wikimedia Commons)

Dinosaur Valley State Park

P.O. Box 396
Glen Rose, TX 76043
(254) 897-4588

Walk where the dinosaurs walked 113 million years ago in an ancient seabed and explore dinosaur tracks and other evidence left behind from these ancient rulers of the animal kingdom. Apart from its paleontologic theme, what makes Dinosaur Valley State Park one of the best wildlife areas are the many animals seen in this nature preserve, including birds, bobcat, lizard, coyote, deer, snake, opossum, beaver, wild turkey, raccoon and armadillo. Admission fee: $5 per person, 13 and over (under 12 admitted free). Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

2299 Country Road 2008
Glen Rose, TX 76043
(254) 897-2960

Take a guided tour of Fossil Rim or explore on your own and see bison, rhinoceros, cheetah, deer, antelope, giraffe, birds, bison, wolf and zebra. Stay in The Lodge or rent a rustic cabin. Admissions fees vary by age and season. Open March 14 through September 30, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; October 1 through October 3, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; November 1 through March 13, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.