Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- 1. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
- 2. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
- 3. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
- 4. Ride a Vintage Street Car
- 5. African American Museum of Dallas
- 6. Dallas Zoo
- 7. Dallas World Aquarium
- 8. Reunion Tower GeO-Deck
- 9. Klyde Warren Park
- 10. Belo Garden
- 11. Medieval Times Dallas
- 12. Galleria Dallas Ice Rink & XD Ride
- 13. Picnic at White Rock Lake
- 14. Dallas Museum of Art
- 15. Walk the Stalls at the Dallas Farmers Market
- 16. Museum of Geometric and MADI Art
- 17. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
- 18. Stroll the Streets of the Bishop Arts District
- 19. Deep Ellum
- Best Things to Do Near Dallas with Kids
- 20. Six Flags Over Texas
- 21. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
- 22. The Crayola Experience
- 23. Heritage Farmstead Museum
- 24. Billy Bob's Saloon
- 25. The Fort Worth Stockyards
- 26. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
From hands-on science fun to tranquil outdoor spaces to heart-thumping roller coasters, there are plenty of fun things to do in Dallas with kids. Our kids’ favorites include the Perot Museum, Klyde Warren Park and Six Flags Over Texas. But those are just three of the great Dallas spots on our favorites list. Even better, some of these attractions are free — which is always the right price for families! Read on for the best things to do in Dallas with kids, no matter the season.
Dallas is one of those cities I always thought of as a business travel destination — until I visited with my family. I headed there with my two teens, husband, and his mom and aunt for a family wedding and we stayed on to make a week of it. We found the city to be easy to navigate (we were driving a gigantic Cadillac Escalade which didn’t seem big at all in Texas!) and we found plenty of fun things to do in Dallas that entertained all of us, from the 13-year-old to the 80-year-old.
TravelingMom Tip: Opening day, hours, and rules for visiting, including face masks and social distancing requirements, are subject to change without warning. Always call or check the website before heading out for the day. And consider buying tickets online before your visit in case capacity limits lead the attraction to sell out on the day you plan to go. Finally, bring your own water bottle. Drinking fountains are closed in many places to stop the spread of coronavirus.
1. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
2201 N. Field St.
You don’t have to be a science buff to find something to love at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This hands-on museum is where I experienced what it’s like to be in an earthquake. It was terrifying. And we were just standing on a shaking platform, holding on to a handrail!
It’s not surprising that the Perot Museum is the top Dallas museum for families. Even if you don’t allot time to go inside (although you should go inside!) at least drive by to see the stunning architecture of the museum.
Admission includes the Moody Family Children’s Museum, which is the place for little ones to play.
TravelingMom Tip: If you’re planning to visit 2 or more Dallas attractions, buy a Dallas CityPASS. Yes, you’ll save money on the admissions, which is a good reason to buy one. But the best reason to buy a CityPASS: You get to skip the long line of people waiting to buy tickets. Less time in line=more time having fun!
2. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
411 Elm St.
We allotted just two hours in our very busy schedule to visit this museum. It wasn’t nearly enough time for us or for my husband’s mom and aunt who shared their memories of where they were the day they heard President Kennedy had been shot. Like a generation with 9/11 seared in our memories, the assassination of the 35th president is seared in theirs.
The sixth floor of the book depository is where Lee Harvey Oswald hid, waiting for the president’s motorcade to drive past Dealey Plaza. We found it particularly moving to listen to the dramatic news reports of the events of that day as we looked at the photographs. We then walked to the window where Oswald perched with his rifle.
This museum is one of the best things to do in Dallas with kids, but it is for mature viewers only. I was glad my kids were teens when we visited. It would have been far too much for younger kids.
Admission to the Sixth Floor Museum is included in the Dallas CityPASS.
3. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
2943 SMU Blvd. on the Southern Methodist University Campus
I love presidential libraries! Before I visited the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, I had only been to ones that honored presidents who served long before I was born. So visiting this library, with the Sept. 11, 2001, attack at its core, was a fascinating look at the way presidential libraries attempt to tell history from the perspective of the man who was in charge.
The 9/11 Nation under Attack exhibit is incredibly moving. Its centerpiece is the two steel beams set upright to mimic the Twin Towers of New York City. There was hardly a dry eye among the strangers who stood near me remembering that fateful day.
While that portion of the museum is best for tweens and older kids, there are lots of other parts of the museum that are decidedly young-kid-friendlier. You can get a photo taken sitting behind the president’s desk in the replica of the Oval Office. My teens spent a lot of time reliving their childhood by reading aloud their favorite books in the Kids Clubhouse. Those books were chosen by Mrs. Bush, a former librarian.
If you work up an appetite, have lunch at Cafe 43 (so named because Bush was the 43rd president). It’s a lovely setting overlooking the grounds and the food is fabulous.
TravelingMom Tip: This is another of the best things to do in Dallas with kids that is included in the Dallas CityPASS.
4. Ride a Vintage Street Car
On McKinley Avenue. Look for a maroon sign labeled M-LINE Trolley.
My kids never tired of the fun of riding a train — any train. Bonus points here for the vintage styling of these M-LINE trolley cars that run between the Dallas Museum of Art and Klyde Warren Park.
Even better on a too-hot or too-cold Dallas day: The cars might look vintage, but they’re air-conditioned and heated for comfort year-round. You can track the trolley cars to see when the next one should arrive. And riding is free!
5. African American Museum of Dallas
3536 Grand Ave. in Historic Fair Park
This is the only museum in the Southwest devoted to the preservation and display of African American artistic, cultural and historical materials. It has one of the largest African American Folk Art collections in the US. The museum exhibits and preserves the history and culture of African Americans in Dallas. For example, the “Facing the Rising Sun” collection features photos, found objects and historical documents from the North Dallas community called Freedman’s Town.
Admission is free.
6. Dallas Zoo
650 S R L Thornton Freeway
It never mattered what age my kids were, a zoo was always a hit, in any city and at any time of the year. The Dallas Zoo is no different. Plus, we’re suckers for a mini train (and the teens are willing to humor us with just a few exaggerated eye rolls). The T-Rex Express Mini Train at the Dallas Zoo is an additional cost per rider.
Open since 1888, the Dallas Zoo is the oldest and largest zoo in Texas. It covers 106 acres and is home to more than 2,000 animals from 406 species.
TravelingMom Nasreen Stump says to take advantage of the DART Red Line if you’re staying downtown. It will take you straight to the Zoo with no parking (or road construction) hassle. There’s even a $2 discount on Zoo admission if you show your same-day DART pass on Mondays and Tuesdays. You can buy passes for all day or specific day parts and even use the contactless GoPass app to make things easy.
TravelingMom Tip: The Dallas Zoo is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Reciprocity program. That means if you’re a member of your local zoo, you might be able to get in free at the Dallas Zoo. Check with your local zoo to find out or download the list here. Also, the Dallas Zoo admission is included in the Dallas CityPASS.
Read More: How reciprocal membership programs work.
7. Dallas World Aquarium
1801 North Griffin St.
Aquariums are another can’t-miss kid favorite, although my daughter used to find the dark galleries scary when she was little. But the colorful fish swimming around were always mesmerizing.
The Dallas World Aquarium in the West End Historic District makes our list of favorite things to do in Dallas with kids because it has so much more than just marine animals. It’s also home to endangered land animals, like the Orinoco crocodiles. TravelingMom Catherine Parker says her kids’ favorite is the two-toed sloth.
8. Reunion Tower GeO-Deck
300 Reunion Blvd.
There’s something about being on top of the world that gets kids (and adults) excited. That’s what happens at the top of Dallas’ Reunion Tower. The GeO-Deck is 470 feet above the ground and the 360-degree view of the Dallas-Fort Worth area is breathtaking, especially at sunset. And for tweens and teens, it’s infinitely Instagrammable, especially from the outdoor observation deck.
Kids can create their own light show with interactive touch screens called the Halo. Admission is included in the Dallas CityPASS.
9. Klyde Warren Park
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Bridging Uptown and Downtown Dallas, Klyde Warren Park is a 5.2-acre greenspace with regular activities, including yoga and exercise classes and free movies in the park. Take the kids to the Children’s Park, a multi-dimensional play space, or the Imagination Playground where they can play with kid-sized foam blocks.
The park is surrounded by food trucks, so grab a bite and take your dinner to one of the numerous green bistro tables.
10. Belo Garden
1014 Main St.
This downtown garden was formerly a parking lot. Today, it’s the place to be on a sultry summer day in Dallas, thanks to the interactive fountain that sprays cool water on the sweltering crowd.
11. Medieval Times Dallas
Medieval Times is one of those kid-friendly places that also amuses the adults. The first time I took my kids to a Medieval Times, they were 8 and 10 and it was a group outing with a club. It surprised all of us. The kids were surprised (and thrilled) that they would be able to eat dinner with their hands, no utensils allowed. The adults were surprised that the food was actually quite good and the show was entertaining. So, win-win-win.
TravelingMom Tip: Be prepared for the pre-dinner sell-a-thon. We weren’t the first time we took the kids to a Medieval Times and it turned into a stressful half hour of saying “no, you can’t have that (fill in the blank) someone is trying to sell you” before the doors opened and we were led to our seats. On subsequent visits, we gave each kid $20 and let them figure out how to spend it. I’m pretty sure my daughter spent hers in 3 minutes flat and my son still hasn’t decided what to buy.
12. Galleria Dallas Ice Rink & XD Ride
An ice skating rink the basement of a shopping mall? Who wouldn’t love that? Even better, the rink is nestled in the middle of the food court area so once the kids work up an appetite on the rink, they can take a break and get some lunch or at least a little gelato.
Or, if your family is more into gaming than skating, head to the rink level and take them to XD Ride, a virtual reality theme park. We haven’t tried this yet, but we want to, based on this from the company’s website:
“XD Ride brings the thrill of a roller coaster and the 7D interactive simulation of a video game right to you to create an exhilarating experience for the whole family. All guests are strapped into a motion seat that gives you the feeling that you are really falling, crashing and flying.
“Along with the motion effect, there is state of the art surround sound, wind, and light effects that make you feel like you are a part of the game. The best part of the experience is that you will be equipped with a laser blaster to fend off the enemy attack and compete for the high score to beat your family and friends.”
13. Picnic at White Rock Lake
8300 East Lawther Dr.
Off Mockingbird Lane east of downtown Dallas, enjoy the day exploring White Rock Lake. A 9.9-mile walking path, built in 1911, circles White Rock Lake. Bring the dog and a picnic lunch and make a day of it.
TravelingMom Tip: Rent a boat and take a spin around the lake.
14. Dallas Museum of Art
1717 North Harwood
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in America. (Hey, it’s Texas! Everything is bigger here!) The impressive 25,000-piece collection showcases a range of cultures, from Islamic art to Texas art. Admission is free, although special exhibitions are extra. The DMA is part of the Dallas arts districts with several art museums within walking distance.
When the kids need a break, head to the Center of Creative Connections for a space just for families. Take little ones (under 4) to Arturo’s Nest. That’s where they can touch, crawl, climb, and interact with art.
On nice days, plan to spend at least part of your visit wandering around the outdoor Sculpture Garden.
15. Walk the Stalls at the Dallas Farmers Market
920 S. Harwood St.
Farmers Market is open Saturday and Sunday
Market shops and restaurants are open 7 days a week
Remember what we said about everything in Texas being bigger? The Dallas Farmers Market is no exception! It’s been operating since 1941. The market is in an outdoor, open-air pavilion right in the middle of downtown Dallas.
Local farmers sell seasonal fruits and vegetables, pasture raised meats and farm fresh eggs. If all that shopping makes you hungry, pick up breakfast or lunch from one of the artisanal ready-to-eat food vendors on site.
16. Museum of Geometric and MADI Art
3109 Carlisle St.
First off, what’s MADI? It’s non-representational, hard-edged 20th century art bursting out of the frame. And Catherine Parker says her kids understand this medium better than she does, thanks to all those hours the kids spend building kingdoms of blocks in Mind Craft.
But even those of us who are not Mind Craft experts can marvel at the geometric works of art hanging in this free museum.
17. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
8525 Garland Road
This 66-acre wonder has more than 20 distinct gardens. Our favorite is the Margaret Elizabeth Jonsson Color Garden, which is best to visit in the spring when the azaleas are in bloom, or fall, when the chrysanthemums take over.
Families will want to spend plenty of time in the Rory Meyer’s Children’s Adventure Garden. There is an additional admission charge, but the programming includes daily science lessons and puppet shows. First Adventure is a walled garden where little ones can play in a caterpillar maze, sandbox, giant acorns and insects, mushroom seats and tables, a potting shed, a tree house, a babbling brook and a plant petting zoo.
18. Stroll the Streets of the Bishop Arts District
Located southwest of downtown Dallas in the North Oak Cliff area.
With a collection of boutiques, restaurants and galleries, stroll this eclectic neighborhood with your teen. The nearby Texas Theatre is the place to introduce your older kids to a classic movie.
19. Deep Ellum
This is the nightlight and entertainment district. It’s best for teens, or for the nights when you leave the kids with a sitter for an adults-only evening.
Best Things to Do Near Dallas with Kids
20. Six Flags Over Texas
2201 E Road to Six Flags Street, Arlington
This amusement park is in Arlington, the town in between Dallas and Fort Worth. But if you have theme park-loving kids, you won’t likely get away with skipping Six Flags. My teens love the thrill rides — the higher, faster and more loopy the roller coaster, the better. But hubby likes things tamer. Luckily, Six Flags has everything from a merry-go-round to the 50-mile-per-hour Batman coaster.
Coming in 2022: Aquaman, a 63-mile-per-hour water coaster that promises to “launch riders backwards and forwards, straight up colossal 148 feet twin track towers and then send them plunging straight down more than 700 feet of track” before the ultimate splash. Count us in!
21. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, inside the Grapevine Mills Mall, Grapevine
This is a sort of mini version of the LEGOLAND theme parks in Florida and California. When TravelingMom Breeze Leonard took her three girls to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine, they learned how LEGOs are made, the girls all made things out of LEGOs (and made their own LEGOs!), they watched the 4D movie over and over and walked around MINILAND to see all of the local attractions built out of LEGO bricks.
She recommends bringing bathing suits for the kids in the summer. There’s a seasonal outdoor play space with water play activities called Pirate Beach. There are changing rooms available.
TravelingMom Tip: There is a Sea Life Aquarium across from LEGOLAND Discovery Center in the mall. Make a day of it by buying a combo ticket and seeing both attractions for a discount.
22. The Crayola Experience
6121 W Park Blvd. at The Shops at Willow Bend, Plano
Who can resist the urge to melt and mold crayons, create your own crayon label and explore a colorful space? When Anuja DeSilva’s son was a preschooler she took him to the Crayola Experience in Easton Pennsylvania and they had a blast! (There also are Crayola Experience sites in Chandler AZ, Mall of America in Minneapolis MN, and Orlando, Florida.)
The Plano site is bigger than a football field and has enough things to do to keep kids creative and busy for half the day. Watch a science show that talks about how the Crayola colors are made, play on a two-story paint-splattered climbing structure and, yes, melt and mold crayons.
23. Heritage Farmstead Museum
1900 West 15th St., Plano
About 20 miles north of Dallas, Heritage Farmstead is a 4.5 acre living history museum. My daughter always said history is boring — until I took her to Colonial Williamsburg. Living history museums bring history to life for kids.
At Heritage Farmstead, kids can learn what life was like on the Blackland Prairie of North Texas from 1890 to 1920.
24. Billy Bob’s Saloon
2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth
Billy Bob’s Saloon is only 45 minutes from Dallas and worth the drive, especially if you’re traveling with preteens. That’s because of the mechanical bucking bull. TravelingMom Nasreen Stump took her then-10-year-old son and he couldn’t wait to ride and see how long he could stay on before being bucked off — all to the roar of the appreciative crowd.
25. The Fort Worth Stockyards
131 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth
Fort Worth is only 45 minutes away from Dallas, if you’re lucky and traffic cooperates. The big draw for us the first time we visited was the promise of the Fort Worth Stockyard’s twice-daily cattle drives. We lined up eagerly with all of the other tourists and waited… for a handful of long horn cattle to walk a block down the street.
So, it was a little disappointing, but it’s still one of the fun things to do in Dallas with kids. Seeing those imposing animals up close was worth the wait, even if the name “cattle drive” is a little inflated.
We visited on a weekday so we couldn’t take advantage of the “Herd Experience with The Fort Worth Herd.” Available Saturday and Sunday afternoon from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the free program allows adults and kids to interact with the cattle Drovers while they use tools that were used during the Cattle Drive Era. You can watch as they groom and saddle a horse, practice roping and branding, hear chuck wagon stories, and take photos.
26. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
1720 Gendy St., Fort Worth
I’ve been to this museum twice. The first time I was by myself and the museum was relatively new. While it showcased some really impressive women who won the West, it wasn’t all that engaging for kids.
Then the museum grew up.
Today it still showcases some really impressive women. I am still in awe of the cowgirl who was bucked off her horse and broke her back, then GOT BACK ON HER HORSE AND RODE IT BACK TO THE HOUSE! But now there also are enough interactive options to keep the kids engaged. On my return trip, I was accompanied by my teen son and daughter and they both were as impressed as I am with these incredible women.
It’s still the only museum in the world dedicated to “honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage in their trailblazing effort.”
TravelingMom Tip: Don’t miss a stop in the Bucking Bronc Room where the kids (and you) can hop on the back of a bucking bronc. The image will be superimposed into real rodeo footage for an instant souvenir.