Monday, March 20, 2023

Seven Southlake Spring Break Staycation Ideas

Spring Break is next week, and if you aren’t jetting off on a tropical adventure, you may be feeling restless.

Thankfully, Southlake has a myriad of activities to plan an idyllic staycation right in your backyard. If you’re feeling stuck at home next week, here are a few things to do to liven up your week!

Staycation Activities for the Art Lover

Enjoy the Strokes of Art in the Square Exhibit
Museum entry fees can be pricey. If you enjoy looking at unique artwork from nationwide artists, the Strokes of Art Exhibit is a must-see. Pop into the Southlake Town Hall lobby to get a glimpse of the 2023 Art in the Square featured artists. This free art exhibit is just a glimpse of the incredible art that will be on display during the award-winning Art in the Square Festival in April. Once you take a look around, take 5 minutes to vote for your favorite piece via QR code or paper ballot in the lobby!

Explore Southlake Public Art
Southlake is a city that takes public art seriously. You can’t help but pass by an impressive statue anywhere you go. However, if you are in the mood for a scavenger hunt, here’s an idea for a self-guided public art walking tour in Bicentennial Park.

There are three impressive pieces of public art scattered throughout Bicentennial Park. Start at The Marq and head towards the Aria Amphitheater. The stunning, “Southlake Constellation” by Kathi Caricoff rests to the left of the amphitheater. The celestial-inspired work represents the magnificent Texas night sky!

Stroll to the other end of the park, past the water tower and come face-to-face with Seth Vandable’s beautiful “Prairie Winds.” Time travel to centuries past as you observe the details of this piece representative of the early settlers and wagon trails that were common during the westward migration. While you’re there, walk over to the Log Cabin to learn more about the early settlers of Southlake.

The final piece is tucked away within the tranquil Liberty Gardens. Be on the lookout for “Children at Play,” which depicts the relaxed nature of three small children playing in a tree!

Take a picture with all three pieces and tag Experience Southlake with #SouthlakeStaycation!

Enjoy a Concert in the Park
Spring Break is the perfect excuse to enjoy a free concert in the park! The Masterworks Concert Series brings incredible entertainment to the Southlake community each year. Mark your calendars for Friday, March 17 at 7:00 PM at Rustin/ Family Park, and jam out to Escape, DFWs premier Journey cover band. Don’t forget your lawn chair, bug spray, and snacks!

Staycation Activities for the Naturist

Explore the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve
We know we hype up the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve a lot, and it’s because we love this gorgeous piece of the Cross Timbers ecosystem. If you have never ventured out to explore the over 20 miles of hiking trails at the Nature Center, this Spring Break is the time to do it! Don’t forget to visit the pollinator garden while you’re out there! Head out early in the morning to catch the incredible wildlife that calls the Nature Center home!

Go Fishing at Bob Jones Park Fishing Pier
There’s nothing more relaxing than a quiet morning or afternoon fishing by the pond. The Bob Jones Park Fishing Pier sits next to a 6-acre pond that offers a first-class fishing experience. The Fishing Pavilion also offers a shaded picnic area for an afternoon snack!

The park also offers Boo Boo Buddie’s Dog Park, equestrian trails, a playground, and a cricket pitch!

Staycation Activities for the Sports Enthusiast

Visit the Southlake Tennis Center
The Southlake Tennis Center is in Bicentennial Park. This beautiful facility has 19 lighted, hard courts available for rental on an hourly basis. Residents can reserve the courts up to one week in advance for $4.00 for two hours of court time, and non-residents can reserve the court for $5.00. Spring is a wonderful time to catch a game with friends!

Spend the Day at Champions Club
Last but certainly not least, one of the best things you can do during your Spring Break Staycation is paying a visit to Champions Club! If you’re already a member, we know we’ll see your face this week. However, non-members can enjoy a complimentary Day Pass to experience all the hype firsthand.

Relax in the sauna at our world-class Aquatics Center, try our new elliptical machines, or check out a popular group fitness class. Whatever your fitness style is, we have something for you. Become a member during your staycation to reap the full benefits during our Member Appreciation Week in April!

There you have it! Seven staycation ideas for seven days of Spring Break! We hope to see you out and about enjoying your beautiful community next week!


Monarch Madness is Coming to the Nature Center: Don’t Miss the Fourth Annual Monarch Festival!

The Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is all about celebrating the gifts of our natural Cross Timbers ecosystem. Fall is the best time to come to the Nature Center and participate in the incredible monarch migration phenomenon.

The fourth-annual Monarch Butterfly Festival is happening on Saturday, September 17, 2022, and you don’t want to miss it. Join us as we release hundreds of Monarch Butterflies into the wild and interact with them first-hand! This community favorite program helps our butterfly friends as they make their epic annual journey into Mexico. Our Nature Center staff is ready to make this an event to remember!

The Monarch Festival is split into three one-and-a-half-hour sessions. Each session has the same activities, including crafts, monarch-related games, snacks, a butterfly house, and more! Please arrive on time for your registered session (8:30 am, 10:15 am, 12:00 pm). Stick around after your session to enjoy the beautiful miles of hiking trails at the Preserve!

Please note that if you are later than 30 minutes to your check-in time, we cannot guarantee a butterfly will still be waiting for you to release.

Registration is required for all participants ages three and up. All ages are welcome! Children ages two and under are free (registration is not required).

Session 1: 8:30am – 10:00am

Session 2: 10:15am – 11:45am

Session 3: 12:00pm – 1:30pm

We’re so excited to celebrate the magnificent Monarch Butterflies with you and your family!

Fall into Fall Recreation: Registration Opens in August!

It’s scorching hot in Texas, but we are already gearing up for a Fall season full of outstanding recreation programs.

If you like to plan as we do, mark your calendars for Fall Registration:

  • August 1st for Southlake Residents
  • August 15th for Non-Residents

The change of season will bring about exciting new programs and community-loved classics. Nature lovers rejoice! Our programming at the Bob Jones Nature Center has something for everyone. Athletes can sharpen their skills with brand-new athletic clinics such as Soccer Sparks and Run, Jump, and Throw- Intro to Track and Field! Let’s not forget our Fall Youth Athletics Leagues. Whether it’s a kid’s first season, or they are a seasoned pro, the fall sports leagues are sure to be a slam dunk! There are brand new STEAM programs to look forward to like iCode Tech Club, STEAM LAB, and Pokemania for the creatively curious!

It’s not all about the kids, however! Our Fall recreation programming includes something for adults of all ages. If you’ve always wanted to master iconic Bollywood dance skills, then our two new Adult Bollywood Dance classes are for you! Our free Adult Outdoor Education programs at the Nature Center are on the roster again! Let’s not forget our 55 and better community. The Senior Activity Center has some world-class programs coming up in the fall that are sure to fill up fast!

This Fall season will be one for the books! Don’t miss out on your chance to register for these incredible programs. Do you want to get priority registration and a 20% discount on all programs offered at Champions Club? Join Champions Club today to snag your spot and save!

We can’t wait for another season of forming life-long memories with you! Preview our upcoming programs today.

Grab Your Hiking Boots and Join Us on the Trails!

The Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is Southlake’s hidden gem. With over 20 miles of trails and an award-winning pre-school, there’s no better place to enjoy an early morning stroll.

The Nature Center is not only a paradise for our littlest Dragons, however. Our dedicated Nature Center Staff works hard to make the Bob Jones Nature Center an oasis the entire community can enjoy. This month’s free Adult Outdoor Education class is one you don’t want to miss!

Join local naturalist, Dr. Ray Chancellor, for a morning hike on the Preserve trails! With access to more than 700 acres of natural Cross Timbers habitat, exploring the Preserve is one of the best ways to unplug and connect with nature. Dr. Chancellor will focus on the flora and fauna found throughout the BJNCP trails. Get in a peaceful workout while learning something new at the same time!

Participants should remember to bring a water bottle, dress for the weather, and wear suitable shoes for uneven and possibly muddy terrain. Binoculars are a great way to enhance this class but are not required.

Are you ready to get your nature on? Register today!


Cross Timbers Forest Preschool- Meet the Teacher

Spring is in full swing at the Bob Jones Nature Center, and there’s nothing better than our award-winning Cross Timbers Forest Preschool!

Cross Timbers Forest Preschool is a unique early education opportunity in Southlake. The Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is not only a fantastic home for wildlife but an immersive outdoor classroom. Inquisitive toddlers spend over 80% of their day outside learning about our local environment through hands-on exploration. Forest Preschoolers are no strangers to hikes, critters, and respecting nature, and that’s largely thanks to our world-class teachers at the Nature Center.

This semester, our fearless Forest Preschool leader is Delaney Garcia! Delaney is the new Lead Teacher at Forest Preschool, and she brings a wealth of knowledge and compassion to the job.

“Delaney is incredibly kind, sweet, hardworking, and passionate. I am so grateful for her and love dreaming up program ideas together. She makes me excited about our programs because she is very invested in them. She puts her whole heart into everything she does. She is loved by staff, preschoolers, campers, and families alike!” exclaimed Nature Center Supervisor Hannah Nyquist.

Let’s get to know the Forest Preschool Lead Teacher a little better.

When did you start working for the Community Services Department?
I started working for Southlake in December of 2019 as an Athletic Recreation Attendant.

What are you most looking forward to in Forest Preschool?
I am most looking forward to teaching so many different kids about the importance of a nature preserve and all the diverse animals that call the Nature Center home.

What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I like to go to the zoo as much as I can. When I’m not at the zoo, I like to paint.

What do you wish more people knew about the Nature Center?
I wish people knew more about the history of Bob Jones Nature Center! I learn something new every day, and I encourage everyone who visits the Nature Center to read about Bob Jones.

Cross Timbers Forest Preschool meets Tuesday-Friday mornings from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Keep an eye out for upcoming summer opportunities and fall registration!

Home-Grown Staff: From Outdoor Experience Coordinator to Nature Center Supervisor!

It’s no secret that the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve is one of the best places in Southlake. Those who have experienced the world-class programs offered at BJNCP know that Hannah Nyquist is the secret ingredient to the Nature Center’s programming success!

Hannah is the latest example of our incredible home-grown staff. She joined the Community Services Division as the Outdoor Experience Coordinator in June of 2019. In that role, Hannah spent most of her time at the Bob Jones Nature Center leading hikes, training staff, teaching preschool, being a camp counselor and director, and coordinating all the outdoor programs. Community-favorite events such as Forest Preschool, Nature Camp, the annual Monarch Butterfly Festival, Family Campouts, Community Hikes, and Adult Outdoor Education Classes were all coordinated by Hannah!

Hannah has accomplished major accolades since she arrived in Southlake. Her tenure as Outdoor Experience Coordinator exponentially increased enrollment numbers for Forest Preschool. They often canceled programs due to low enrollment when she first started. Now, registrations are so high they frequently have a waitlist! Hannah’s enthusiasm for the environment has cultivated a staff equally as passionate about the Nature Center and its offerings. Her hard work culminated in November when she received the Excellence in Programming Award from TRAPS North Region!

Earlier this month, Hannah stepped into her new role as the Nature Center Supervisor. As such, she will be responsible for managing a growing staff and extending outdoor programing opportunities to our community.

“Hannah has done a fantastic job over the past few years building relationships and outstanding programming opportunities for Southlake in her current role as the Nature Center Coordinator. Her hard work and dedication have helped position the nature center for further growth with this new facility. She will now continue her great work as the new Nature Center Supervisor!” exclaimed Director Chris Tribble.

Nothing makes us happier than watching our world-class staff grow and develop their career. As the new Nature Center Supervisor, Hannah has big plans! Her goals include improving trail system markers and maps, adding more community-based programs, and increasing community awareness of the Nature Center!

Congratulations on your promotion, Hannah! We can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!

Celebrate Black History Month at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve

February is Black History Month. It’s a time to recognize and celebrate the achievements of African Americans in local communities and throughout the U.S.

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Black History Month this year, then look no further than the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve. The Southlake Historical Society’s Bob & Almeady Chisum Jones: A True Story of Resilience, Courage & Success exhibit is displayed in the nature center lobby. Discover Bob Jones, his family, and their impact on Southlake.

The exhibit does a fabulous job of detailing the life and achievements of the man whose name is on Southlake’s largest park, a road, and the city’s nature center and preserve. Learn more about the Jones family and the legacy they left in Southlake through this exhibit which recently won the American Association for State and Local History’s Award of Excellence.

If you don’t have time to make it to the Nature Center this month, fret not! You can experience this exhibit virtually on the Southlake Historical Society’s website.

We hope to see you at the Nature Center!

Cross Timbers Forest Preschool Wins Texas Recreation & Park Society North Region Excellence in Programming Award

A few weeks into the Fall Semester, Cross Timbers Forest Preschool won the Texas Recreation & Park Society North Region Excellence in Programming Award!

Cross Timbers Forest Preschool is an explorative, hands-on preschool experience focused on connecting students to nature. Hosted at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, the curriculum highlights our local ecosystem and includes hikes, storytime, arts and crafts, imaginative play, and discovery. Forest Preschool allows students to build knowledge of the world around them, develop confidence and self-esteem while inspiring connections with nature. With two 15-week semesters in the fall and spring, students spend more than 80% of their day outside learning through exploration. Cross Timbers Forest Preschool is a community-favorite program that maximizes 700 plus acres of preserve to instill an appreciation for nature and a sense of stewardship in our youngest community members.

Forest Preschool staff is honored to receive this award, especially after working so hard to make Forest Preschool the premier preschool experience in DFW. When we first started operations in 2019, we only held classes three days a week and had about 11 students. Since then, we have added an extra day and have increased our student roster times three! In the last three years, Forest Preschool has become a favorite community recreational program. We often see multiple generations of siblings go through Forest Preschool, and watch our kiddos move to Nature Camp after aging out of preschool. Our classes are consistently full, and the growth we witness in our students fuels us to continue making this the best preschool program around. Our curriculum is unique due to unparalleled access to nature. The skills our students gain prepare them for success in kindergarten and beyond!

“I’m so thrilled about winning this award! My staff and I work hard to make Forest Preschool a world-class program that is safe, fun, and educational. We take a tremendous amount of pride in our work and being recognized for it feels wonderful! We are honored to accept the award and can’t wait to continue growing Forest Preschool!” Hannah Nyquist, Programs Coordinator.

Congratulations to all Cross Timbers Forest Preschool staff for your world-class work! The TRAPS North Region Excellence in Programming Award (Class II) will be presented to the City of Southlake Community Services team on Friday, November 5, 2021, at the TRAPS North Region Conference in Allen.

Our Parks and Recreation Story: The Faces of Southlake Programs

Park and Recreation Month may officially be over, but it’s never too late to celebrate the world-class programming team behind all your favorite community activities.

Let’s get to know them a little better as they share Our Parks and Recreation Story:

Hannah Nyquist, Programs Coordinator

This summer, we hosted our third Cross Timbers Nature Camp at the Bob Jones Nature Center! When I started in 2019, I spent my first day learning the ropes of camp. Two years later and Nature Camp has grown in so many ways. We have a steady following of return campers that we have seen grow over the years and got to know dozens of families. This summer, I was thrilled to have a team of experienced counselors- including our beloved Camp Director, Madeleine Mott. We expanded Nature Camp from a concept to a family, and I am incredibly proud to be a part of that. Together we were able to serve over 200 campers!

Hiking to Grapevine Lake, having weekly presenters teach our campers, and watching staff blossom into remarkable counselors are some of my favorite memories this summer. We also have the pleasure and responsibility to share the importance of stewardship with our campers, along with the Jones Family’s remarkable story.

This summer, we added Forest Preschool classes outside of our fall and spring semesters. I served as Lead Teacher for these classes and taught alongside our incredibly gifted and passionate preschool teachers. Our Friday Forest Preschool days meant hours playing outside, hiking, and exploring with almost 100 preschoolers. We focused on different animals who live at BJNCP, the word “habitat,” and how important it is to respect nature.

Gretchen Morgan, Programs Coordinator

I started as a counselor in 2019. Summer Camp Mania changed my life for the greater good in various ways. I learned to be a listener, role model, creator, achiever, and leader. I got to enhance my skills through special events and programs. In 2020, I applied to become a full-time employee. This year, I received the full-time position of Programs Coordinator. I could not be prouder and more honored to step into this role for the City of Southlake.

This summer, Camp Mania was located at Durham Intermediate School. Games, crafts, and activities filled each day. Some days guests would come to share their talents with our campers. These guests were from the City of Southlake Fire Department, Airbrush Tattoos, Kona Ice, and Martial Arts. On Thursdays, we would explore Bicentennial Park and swim in our Aquatics Center at The Marq. We take each moment we have with each camper to impact them positively.

We also manage our Club Metro program located at Legend’s Hall. Club Metro is an adaptive recreation program that welcomes adults with special needs. These participants come twice a week to socialize, eat, and have fun. Some activities we do are scavenger hunts, basketball tournaments, and crafts. We also meet once a month every Saturday for Sports Saturday. This program gives the participants a chance to learn volleyball, basketball, dodgeball while moving their bodies and learning new skills.

Overall, our programs create a place to learn about a sport, play a game, and socialize. They also provide a safe and fun environment for participants to learn, grow, and become their amazing selves.

Madeleine Mott, Camp Director

I love when people ask me what I do for a living because I get to answer in so many unexpected and fun ways. For example, I hike for a living, am a mad scientist, am an entomologist. I mass-produce future tree huggers, make a lasting difference in children’s lives, and am a snake charmer. I play games all day, am a medic, a forest preschool teacher, a butterfly whisperer. I am an edible plants taster, a steward, an artist. I am a nature camp director.

Working at the Bob Jones Nature Center and Preserve, I have the opportunity to wear so many different hats. I love our programs, their participants, and the enthusiastic individuals I get to work with every day. I enjoy how working for the Programs Division allows me to explore this beautiful preserve and teach future generations how to love and take care of it and its inhabitants. At the BJNCP, I truly live out the “Life is Good” motto. “Do what you like, like what you do.”

Emma Blight, Camp Director

The Programs Division creates a space for people of all ages to learn, grow, and connect with our staff and other participants. While working in our programs, I have built relationships and made memories that will last a long time. From programs such as Camp Mania, Club Metro, to Breakfast with Santa, one of my favorite things we do is provide hands-on experiences for everyone involved. Whether that is playing against the Southlake DPS in a game of dodgeball at Camp Mania, or getting to play with a baby kangaroo at Club Metro, the experiences we provide are truly exciting.

Courtney Duplechin, Programs Supervisor

This team never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud of each person who has contributed to the success of the Programs Team! My favorite part of Programs is that each team member is so incredibly passionate about what we do. Whether they are playing games with kids or planning the next big event, this talented team thinks through every detail and how it connects people to nature, friends, family, new hobbies, the community, creativity, and more! Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to give our participants a special moment to remember.

I started working for Southlake Parks and Recreation in 2015 as a Camp Mania counselor. A favorite part of my job is seeing kids who were once campers or volunteers in my group grow up to volunteer or work for the Programs team. It is so special, even though it confirms I’m getting old, to know that we are making an impact in a child’s life and that years later, they want to join the team to do the same for others.

We love what we do, give our all to providing exciting and educational programs, and care deeply for the people we serve.

Thank you to the Programs Team for being so committed to creating life-long memories for the Southlake community!