Family Adventure Garden

One of the most compelling components of the expansion is the Family Adventure Garden, a 2.5 acre nature play and learning place for families. Explore the regions of South Texas, from an urban backyard to the Texas Hill Country and South Texas Plains. Discover ephemeral creeks, thundering ridges, beckoning hills, and tranquil pools. Let your imagination soar in fairy huts, forests, tunnels, and streams.  The Family Adventure Garden will be a place to return to again and again.

Different “galleries,” each with its own unique nature and play components, make up the Family Adventure Garden. Gallery themes create teachable moments that help children relate plants, water, and wildlife to their own lives. See below for a list and description of the galleries.

adv garden labeled

Adventure Gateway – A covered entrance draws you from the grandeur of the new garden promenade into the child-scaled Family Adventure Garden.

The Watering Hole, Acequia Tank and Tumble Hill – Settle in a tree-filled courtyard full of colorful drought-tolerant plants before exploring all the Family Adventure Garden has to offer.  Kids will enjoy running and rolling on Tumble Hill.  Check out the dramatic harvesting of recycled water moving from an acequia to an elevated tank, and connecting a low runnel to a dry creek. Children will know this place is fun and built for them – and they may not even realize they are learning about south Texas landforms and the water cycle along the way.

Backyard Explore – Mimicking the elements and scale of the home landscape, the Backyard Explore is a place where kids will learn about the soil, sand, plants, insects and animals found in a backyard environment.

The Field – This open space can accommodate changed exhibits, but also provides children space to run, jump, skip and join in group games.

Dry Rock Creek and Cypress Spring – A winding dry creek bed provides a place to play with rocks, sand, sticks, and plants, and demonstrates the ecology of the South Texas Plains. Cypress Spring provides opportunities to observe and learn about aquatic plants, wildlife and biodiversity.

Muhly Maze – Let the kids lead the way through this billowing maze of native muhly grasses.  They’ll engage in nature play, exploration, problem solving, and confidence building along the way – while also learning about the importance of native grasses and ranch lands.


Adventure Gateway


Limestone Ledge, Thunder Ridge and No Name Creek – Play in the rain as a “thunderstorm’s” raindrops collect in rivulets and flow into a stream, creating authentic opportunities for hands-on exploration and engagement with the rocks, water, plants and animals of the Texas Hill Country.

Retama Recharge – What happens after a storm?  The Retama Recharge is a working demonstration of how our aquifer system works.  At this shrubby wooded area, visitors can watch as a shallow stream disappears into a recharge hole, and gain a better understanding of where our water comes from.

Prickly Pear Peak and Bluestem Bluff – How high can you climb?  Bluestem Bluff will feature seasonal wildflowers, native grasses and trees and shrubs of the Texas Hill Country. Prickly Pear Peak creates a dramatic pinnacle to climb, “hike,” and explore the hill country and learn about wind patterns and soil erosion.

Huisache Way – This wooded nature play zone includes materials for building and playing in forts, using nature as an artistic canvas, engaging in outdoor acoustic and sensory experiences, dramatic play, and constructing with loose natural parts.

Pecan Grove – With pecan trees as cover, the Pecan Grove creates a gathering space for interpretation, events, or programs.  Tunnels, slides, and a tree trunk structure will promote balance, challenge, and nature play, while promoting Texas’ state tree.

Prickly Pear Pavilion – This signature structure provides a venue for outdoor classes, restrooms, a place for shade, and event rentals. A rooftop featuring prickly pear cactus will highlight a conservation message.

Prickly Pear Pavilion


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For more information, please contact Karen Kimbell, Director of Development, at 210-536-1406 or