Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary, McKinney

After an EPIC fail visit to Airfield Falls in Fort Worth yesterday, I was due to have a day where everything went just right, and we really did during our visit to Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary in McKinney!


Upcoming Events

Dino Days at the Heard runs from September 17th – February 19th.

National Fossil Day  on October 9th from 1:30 – 4pm  Come explore the exciting world of fossils with members of the Dallas Paleontological Society. Learn about ancient teeth, see casts of animals, and become a member of the “PIT” Crew (Paleontologists in Training). You can even bring in your own fossils and have them identified. DPS will also be giving away free fossils (while supplies last)! Event open to the public 1:30-4 p.m.


They quickly replied and asked if we could be at the Heard this morning!  Hooray!!!


We arrived at 10am, and had a little time to play in the Living Lab!


The new Cave Room houses many different fluorescent minerals and rocks.  The lights turn off so you can see how they glow!

Turtles, native snakes,  lemurs, flying squirrels, sugar gliders and tarantulas are some of the Animal Ambassadors that live inside the center.


My little boy’s favorite is the Dinosaur Dig!  There are toy dinosaurs to play with, as well as large, permanent fossil replicas to uncover with paintbrushes, just like a real paleontologist.  But what I really appreciate is that real fossil, such as ammonites, gastropods and echinoids are also buried in the sand.  They have a chart above the dig site, and he was able to identify all that he found (and he didn’t want to leave until he found them all)!  I love anything that makes my children excited about learning!


Then it was time for our interviews!  We walked down to the Science Technology Center, which houses classrooms, a large dining area and this beautiful balcony overlooking the lake!  This center is used for their programs and camps.  For more information, click HERE.

They interviewed all four of us, asking our favorite activities at the Heard.  I got to tell my story of our very first visit, 6 years ago when the kids and I played hooky from school, and spent the day at the museum!  Dinosaurs Live!  was on exhibit, which are life-size animatronic dinosaurs placed throughout the Heard’s Nature Trails.  We spent our “sick day” pretending they were real, and trying to sneak past them, although they always roared, leaving us running for our lives!

(Dinosaurs Live! is off exhibit until Fall 2014).


It took us about 30 minutes, and then we were off to explore the rest of the Heard!


The Pioneer Village has 8 little buildings filled with furniture, tin dishes, baskets and other items.  The village is shaded by many trees, and I sat down and watched and my children joined in with others as the ran from house to house “trading” items.  It was a terrific, child-led game that they played for 2 hours!


A boy of about 10, who introduced himself as the sheriff of the “town”, explained to me that of all the items found in the houses, apples were the most valuable.  I love what kids can do when they aren’t sitting in front of a screen!


After promising we would return to the Pioneer Village before we left, we eventually walked over to the Animals of the World exhibit.  It houses 2 raccoons (one of which is an albino named Albus – Harry Potter reference I believe!), a grey fox, 2 white-tail deer that have been injured and a capybara.


The Bluestem trail is one of 6 trails.  It is 1 mile long, round trip.


It takes you down through wetlands on a boardwalk to a small pond and an outdoor classroom!


We also hiked the Sycamore Trail, which is 1.5 miles long, and curves through a heavily forested area.


The highlight of the trail is the Perkins Sycamore, a 150 year old tree which reaches above the forest floor to the blue sky above.


Sometimes my children get a little whiny, as they did on this last trail.  They were tired, they were hungry, if you have children you know the script.  So we played a favorite game of ours.  A favorite because it rewards money they can spend in the gift shop.  I paid $1 for the first to find a turtle, a woodpecker, a squirrel, a bur oak acorn and an animal track.  Money well spent…


We also found the largest Bur Oak on the sanctuary.  It’s over 250 years old!


Several squirrels were running around the tree, whose large, furry capped acorns are a favorite!

We finished the trail with about 10 minutes to spare before they closed, which we spent back at the Pioneer Village.  Such. a. good. day.

My Mommy Tips:

Pack your lunch!  They don’t sell food, but there are MANY picnic tables just outside the main building!  

Wear close toed shoes, and remember your sunscreen! 

Because you will be in contact with sensitive ecosystems, leave your bug spray at home.  Choose DEET free products or opt for natural insect repellents, such as an essential oils bug repellent.  Click HERE for more information.       

Things To Do in McKinney


Downtown McKinney is filled with fun shops, restaurants and more!  Click HERE for more information.


Heard Science Museum and Nature Preserve  

1 Nature Place, McKinney

Click HERE to visit their website.        


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