Get Curious: Play and Learn at the Texas Discovery Gardens

July 13, 2017

This past Saturday we visited the Texas Discovery Gardens and had an incredible time. I laughed and I cried, and it was tears of JOY, not exhaustion or frustration! The Texas Discovery Gardens is a public garden located in Fair Park. They specialize in organic, native flora and fauna, and have a large butterfly house to explore.

Their excellent programming includes Crafty Mondays, story times, a Butterfly House Discovery Tour, Garden Explorers Walk, the daily Butterfly Release, and Critter Meet and Greet. Click here to check out their events page for children and families. A wonderful selling point of the Texas Discovery Gardens is that it is only $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11. For our family of four, it was just $20 to visit. I loved our experience at TDG so much that if I lived closer, I would pay for a membership.

In the entrance to the Texas Discovery Gardens there are little displays with exotic insects such as tarantulas, orchid mantis, hissing cockroaches, centipedes and more. I’ve grown up loving creepy crawlies (thanks, Mom!) so I enjoyed looking at the bugs with the girls and teaching them what I knew.

There’s also a small art gallery as part of the Texas Discovery Gardens museum. The exhibition on display when we visited was a gorgeous collection of textile art by Lisa Covert, who is a Dallas-based fiber artist, dyer, and bookbinder. The small gallery was a good way to expose the girls to art in a safe and confined environment, and teach them the basics of viewing art in galleries.

We went on the second Saturday of the month and spent a couple hours at TDG, starting with a guided walk through the garden with Alan, a Master Gardener. I would not recommend the walk and talk for very young kids. While family friendly, it is much more geared towards older children and adults. Clay as a love for Texan botany, and so it was right up his alley and he thoroughly enjoyed the garden tour.

Alan, the Master Gardener who led our guided walk through the gardens. He was an excellent tour guide.

My girls, 2 and 4 1/2, much preferred exploring the garden at their own pace. Even though it was July in Texas (aka temperatures of hell), we had a great time smelling flowers, listening to birds, spotting butterflies, taking pictures, and taking our shoes off to run in the grass and cooling our feet in the fountain. Please note: I do not know if this is allowed at TDG, we were just being sneaky and cheeky!

Moments before Iris tossed Stella’s shoes into the pond.

The tropical Butterfly House is magical. You’ll start on the second floor, and walk down a curved walking path that descends to the first floor. The glass house is warm, I suspect you should be prepared to sweat regardless of whether you visit the Texas Discovery Gardens during the summer or winter. As you walk down the path, you’ll push through overhanging tropical leaves and flowers as butterflies dance all around you everywhere you look. I was as wide eyed and full of wonder as my daughters. It was so special and spectacular that I cried.

Inside the emerging chamber.
Clay loved the TDG! Look at all those gorgeous tropical leaves behind him. It was a dream world.

The best part of the afternoon was the Butterfly Release, which happens every day at noon. During the release, the entomology team releases the newly emerged butterflies into the Butterfly House, and does a kid-friendly talk about the butterflies. Iris was eager to run around some more and attempt to destroy things, but what else is new with two year olds? But Stella LOVED it. Arguably my favorite part of the whole day was when she piped up in the middle of the entomologist’s talk:

“Um, excuse me? When I grow up, I’m going to be a butterfly doctor and care for the butterflies in sickness.”

She is an absolute darling—my heart was a puddle.

The entomologist who gave the butterfly talk.

Clay and I learned just as much as Stella did during the talk, and overall the Texas Discovery Gardens was a great educational experience for all of us!

If you’re interested in a fantastic book to aid your children’s nature exploration and learning, check out this post, part of my Library Book Parade segment, about Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman.

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By Kellie

Kellie is a redeemed woman pursuing vulnerability, color, and hygge. She loves to write, take photographs, play, and learn. She's a marketing specialist by day, a blogger at night... and a mom all the time. Kellie lives in Denton, Texas with her husband, Clay, and their young daughters.

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