With its sprawling 289 acres, the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary offers plenty to do and see including various indoor and outdoor exhibits, gardens, and over five miles of hiking trails that go through various habitats in the nature preserve.

Below are five must-do activities at the Heard, according to Stephanie Jennings, the sanctuary’s marketing and communications director. 

1. Explore the Wetlands habitat

The Heard Sanctuary features five habitats including Blackland prairie, wetlands, bottomland forest, upland forest, and white rock escarpment. Jennings says the wetlands habitat is very popular because of its boardwalk. “Over 200 different species of birds have been documented as being spotted here so that’s fairly significant within our nature preserve,” she said.


2. Zip lining and ropes course

On prescheduled dates, guests 10 years old and older can experience riding on a 487-foot zip line that goes through the sanctuary’s deciduous forest. Click here to see the upcoming zip line days.

There’s also a high and low ropes course available by reservation only for groups of 10 or more. For smaller groups or individuals, check the sanctuary’s website for "Ropes Course Adventure Days."


3. Educational programs

The Heard also offers an array of educational programs with the goal of connecting kids with nature, according to its site. Programs include guided nature trails, live animal presentations, a preschool program, homeschool science classes, summer camps, adult and teacher workshops, and more.

Adults and youth can also learn about nature during guided trail hikes, bird-watching outings, night hikes, family campouts, and more.

4. Birding

Male Cardinal feeding its baby

The Heard Museum offers a variety of birding events each year including monthly Second Saturday Bird Walks, held monthly September through June, Migratory Bird Banding, and the Annual Christmas Bird Count. All of these events allow guests to learn more about the many species of birds that both live and migrate through the Heard Sanctuary. Owl Prowl Night Hikes held throughout the year enable visitors to watch for these nocturnal birds that are abundant in parts of the sanctuary.


5. Seasonal Activities at The Heard

Enjoy the following seasonal events that allow guest to experience the museum and wildlife sanctuary at various times of the year. 

people walking among potted plants on a parking lot at plant saleSpring Native Plant Sale

This annual fundraiser for the Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary, held in April, features a huge selection of native plants, well-adapted plants, and hard-to-find herbs. For more than three decades, veteran and novice gardeners alike have anticipated this rare opportunity to purchase some of the best plants for North Central Texas gardens, including a selection of rare plants. The Heard’s plant sale also features a selection of native milkweed plants.

Volunteers from the Native Plant Society of Texas Collin County Chapter and the Blackland Prairie Master Naturalists are on hand at these sales to help guests select their new plants.


Spring Break camps at the Heard - kids standing in line on a nature trailSpring Break Mini-Camps and Summer Camps

Kids will engage with and learn about nature through behind-the-scenes looks at exhibits and education animals that handlers use to teach about how the animals are cared for at the sanctuary and give kids an up-close look. Each camp covers a different topic and include hikes, live animal visitors, storytime, and take-home projects.


Dinosaurs Live!

Dinosaurs Live! is a seasonal and annual exhibit of life-size animatronic dinosaurs. Jennings says the exhibit features 11 dinosaurs along one of the nature trails, which makes the experience feel more realistic, compared to an indoor display.

Jennings added that the exhibit is a good opportunity to get kids outside and have them learn how to appreciate nature, especially those who haven’t spent a lot of time outside and have an affinity for dinosaurs. 

There are also two life-size dinosaurs that kids are able to climb on and take pictures with, a play area with small dinosaurs, and a fossil dig.

Halloween at the Heard

Jennings says Halloween at the Heard, one of their most popular events and a fundraiser for the museum, made a comeback in 2021 after being canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic. Activities included trick-or-treating along the dinosaur trail and a family-friendly movie screening in their amphitheater.



Heard Natural Science Museum & Wildlife Sanctuary memberships offer discounts to all of the activities detailed above! They also make a great gift idea for those interested in offering their friends and family a connection to nature this holiday season. Plus, you’ll be supporting the Heard’s nonprofit mission to bring nature and people together.

Learn more about the Heard and plan your next adventure at HeardMuseum.org.

For more information on all activities and pricing, visit the preserve’s website