5 ways to explore nature in Austin with your family

Zilker Botanical Garden’s Woodland Faerie Trail opens on Saturday. Credit: Zilker Botanical Garden

Get out of the house and explore what’s around you and what makes Austin a natural wonder. Here are five easy things to see and do that will help kids appreciate what’s around you?

  1. Zilker Botanical Garden opens its Woodland Faerie Trail Saturday. The trail is full of homes people have created for the fairies. Maybe you’ll see a fairy. The trail is open through July 30 during regular hours, and on June 9-10, you can see it at night from 8-10 p.m. for $6. Learn to make a home at the Forts and Faerie Homes Workshop, 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. June 24. $18. Zilker Botanical Garden, 2220 Barton Springs Road. zilkergarden.org

    David Mazariegos, 5, looks over at the Texas Rat Snake that was passed around during the Reptiles edition of Nature Night in 2010 at the Wildflower Center. Thao Nguyen/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

  2. Wildflower Center. It’s beautiful to explore the gardens, arboretum and prairie trails any time of year, but in summer, the free Nature Nights at 6 p.m. on Thursdays give us even more reasons to head here. Reptiles and Birds of Prey, June 8; Habitats, June 15; Pollinators, June 22; Water, Rocks and Mud, June 29. You also can find hands-on programs for preschoolers through its Sprouts program, 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, and during the Nature Play Hour, 11 a.m. Saturdays. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. wildflower.org

    The Zilker Zephyr train leaves the station across from Barton Springs in April during the park’s 100th anniversary celebration. TAMIR KALIFA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

  3. Find a new-to-you park. We love the trails of Mary Moore Searight Metropolitan Park, 907 W. Slaughter Lane; the peacocks of Mayfield Park, 3505 W. 35th St.; the playground and Zilker Zephyr train at Zilker Park, which doesn’t look a day over 100, 2100 Barton Springs Road; the splash pad and hill to climb at Bulter Park, 1000 Barton Springs Road; and the accessibility of Play for All Park, 151 N. A.W. Grimes Blvd., Round Rock.

    Kids dig in the dinosaur pit at the Austin Nature and Science Center. American-Statesman 2004

  4. Texas Nature Challenge. Register your “team,” aka family, for this challenge and start exploring. One great stop is the Austin Nature and Science Center, where you can go on a scavenger hunt. Find more information and sign up at austintexas.gov/page/ansc-programs-exhibits.