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 is 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.

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 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 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 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.

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.

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.

Along with natural elements of rocks, dirt, plants and water, creatively designed play elements, — a Stage, Botanical Weaving Looms, and Forts — designed by local craftsman, Attie Jonker – engage the imagination and encourage your children to explore, pretend, discover and create.

Four Shade and Education Stations within the Family Adventure Garden provide you with more than protective resting places or meetup spots. They serve as strategic learning zones where Play Leaders and educators can enhance your self-directed experience with lessons that bring the space to life. Instruction in the Family Adventure Garden is meant to facilitate spontaneous play while teaching how to safely engage in nature play beyond the Garden. Play Leaders throughout the Family Adventure Garden are there to provide prompts for play and tools for discovery. They may encourage you to investigate using a magnifying glass, prompt you to listen or smell, or engage you in building activities using natural materials. More formalized programs may show you how to build a bee house, use natural elements for art, or start a sketchbook or journal. When you leave the Family Adventure Garden, you’ll be more confident to explore nature wherever you go.


donate now


For more information,please contact the Development office, at 210-536-1408.