Sections of this post are sponsored by Groupon.
Looking for your next Texas family adventure? Lace up those cowboy boots and head to Dallas, where popular family-friendly attractions are offered all year-round. From the Perot Museum of Nature and Science to Six Flags, Dallas is jam-packed with activities that will keep the kids entertained and the parents impressed.
Dallas is also home to the largest art district in the country (everything really is bigger in Texas). Peruse art museums, ride a vintage street car, see wildlife at the Dallas Zoo and feast at food trucks. Even better, some of these attractions are free — which is always the right price for families!
In the past, I thought of Dallas as one of those business travel destinations—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. Here’s a list of our 26 favorite things to do in Dallas.
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!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Looking to make the most of your travel budget while maximizing the fun? With a wide range of deals on local activities, dining, and experiences, Groupon helps you stretch your budget by offering discounted options near you.
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.
SheBuysTravel Tip: If you’re planning to visit 2 or more Dallas attractions, there are a couple of great options for saving money. 1) Buy a Pogo Pass from Groupon to save money on the admissions to 25+ entertainment venues for kids. 2) Purchase a Dallas CityPASS through Groupon. It will save you money on the largest Dallas attractions (Perot Museum and Dallas Zoo, for example). Plus, Groupon guarantees it has the lowest price on CityPASS or the company will refund the difference. Even better, you’ll get mobile tickets delivered right to your phone so you’ll be able to skip the long ticket lines and get right to the fun!
2. Ride a Vintage Street Car
On McKinley Avenue. Look for a maroon sign labeled M-LINE Trolley.
My kids never tire 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 check the trolley route here. And riding is free!
3. 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. 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.
Former Texas resident 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 hassle or fee. 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.
SheBuysTravel 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. Dallas CityPASS works for this one too.
Read More: How reciprocal membership programs work.
1290 E Interstate 30
If you’re looking to let the kids run off some energy we suggest taking them to Shenaniganz. The perfect place for your fun-seekers with a bowling alley, laser-tag arena featuring jungle ruins and a 3-story indoor playground, kids of all ages are sure to have the best time! Shenaniganz is located outside of Dallas off 1-30 but can be a great place to stop on your way out of the city.
You can purchase discount tickets at Groupon or, if you’re planning to visit several places in Dallas, consider the Pogo Pass that gives you access to more than 25 kid-friendly fun spots (including Shenaniganz). SheBuysTravel contributor Breeze Leonard says she will buy a Pogo Pass the next time she plans a long weekend in Dallas with her kids. It means the kids will get to do more than just choose one or two attractions. For the same price, the family will have access to more than 25.
5. 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. Still, the mesmerizing schools of fish always made up for it.
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. SheBuysTravel contributor Catherine Parker says her kids’ favorite is the two-toed sloth.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Even if you don’t make it to this family-friendly aquarium, you can still see the animals via the Manatee Cam.
Looking for a dinner spot after the Aquarium? Nasreen says Rodeo Goat is a fun spot that everyone will love and it’s less than 10 minutes away. Check out some of our favorite Dallas area restaurants here.
6. Altitude Trampoline Park
2434 South Interstate 35 Ste 140
Located north of Dallas in Denton, this Trampoline Park is a great option if you get rained out of any outdoor attractions. With 26,500 square feet of space, you’ll find dodgeball courts, basketball, tumble track, and more. One of my favorite things about Altitude Trampoline Park is that it appeals to both kids and adults. Plus, it’s a great way to wear out the kids before a long road trip back home!
SheBuysTravel Tip: Purchase tickets through Groupon to save money on your visit.
7. 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 the Dallas’ Reunion Tower, another Dallas CityPASS attraction. 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. Also be sure to check out the 52-foot-long array of interactive touchscreens known as the Halo.
8. 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, free movies and an interactive water feature. Take the kids to the Sheila and Jody Grant Children’s Park, a multi-dimensional play space which includes a 35-foot climbing tower, a tree-top lookout and a climbing wall.
The park is surrounded by food trucks, so grab a bite and take your dinner to one of the numerous green bistro tables.
9. 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.
This is one of the best free things to do in Dallas with kids.
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. The park is also home to more than 100 trees, and more than 10,000 individual ornamental grasses, making it the place to be for a little natural retreat.
11. 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.
12. 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. Two steel beams set upright 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.
SheBuysTravel Tip: This is another of the best things to do in Dallas with kids that is included in the Dallas CityPASS.
13. 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.
SheBuysTravel 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.
14. Galleria Dallas Ice Rink & XD Ride
An ice skating rink in the basement of a shopping mall? Who wouldn’t love that? The admission is $10, with an additional $5 for skate rentals. The best part? 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.”
15. 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.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Rent a boat and take a spin around the lake.
16. 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 collection showcases more than 24,000 works including 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.
On nice days, plan to spend at least part of your visit wandering around the outdoor Sculpture Garden. Stroll the gardens while learning more about this much loved Dallas gem.
17. 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.
18. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
8525 Garland Road
This 66-acre wonder is a collection of beautiful public gardens that showcase stunning water fountains, seasonal flowers, tropical plans and lush green lawns. Our favorite garden 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 $3 admission charge, but the programming includes daily science experiements 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.
19. Stroll the Streets of the Bishop Arts District
Located southwest of downtown Dallas in the North Oak Cliff area.
With a collection of over 60 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.
20. Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum is Dallas’ nightlight and entertainment district, known for its live music, comedy, stand-up and thriving party-scene. 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
21. Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark
2970 Epic Place
The largest waterpark in Texas, Epic Waters is known for its giant retractable roof and truly epic water slides. Float the lazy river, get competitive on the E-Racers water slide and learn to boogie board on the FlowRider at this 80,000 square-foot facility.
There’s something for kids of all ages at Epic Waters. Older kids and their adults can race down the slides and laugh in the wave pool (open in the summer months) while the little ones play in Racal’s Roundup. There, the family fun activities include tamer slides, and a play area with geysers, splash pads and sprinklers, while parents relax nearby as they watch their kids play.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Epic Waters is a day trip near Dallas. If you’re looking for a water park where you can stay overnight, choose the Dallas area Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine instead.
22. Six Flags Over Texas
2201 E Road to Six Flags St.
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.
Aquaman, a 63-mile-per-hour water coaster that “launches riders backward and forward, travelling on more that 2,000 feet of track up two 150-foot towers. Riders dive 90° at 63 miles per hour into a massive splashdown.” Count us in!
23. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
3000 Grapevine Mills Pkwy.
inside the Grapevine Mills Mall, Grapevine
This is a sort of mini version of the LEGOLAND theme parks in Florida and California. When SheBuysTravel contributor Breeze Leonard took her three girls to LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Grapevine they made things out of LEGOs (and made their own LEGOs!), watched the 4D movie over and over, learned how LEGOs are made 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.
Breeze recommends LEGOLAND Discovery Center for ages 3-10. You can read her full review of LEGOLAND Discovery Center. And here are more fun things to do in Grapevine with kids.
SheBuysTravel 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.
24. The Crayola Experience
6121 W Park Blvd.
The Shops at Willow Bend
Who can resist the urge to melt and mold crayons, create your own crayon label and explore a colorful space? When SheBuysTravel 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.)
With 60,000 square feet of attractions, the Plano site has enough things to do to keep kids creative and busy for half the day. They’ll watch a video about how the Crayola colors are made, play on a two-story paint-splattered climbing structure and, yes, make their own crayons.
25. Heritage Farmstead Museum
1900 West 15th St.
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.
The Heritage Farmstead is open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10am-2pm.
26. Billy Bob’s Texas
2520 Rodeo Plaza
The “World’s Largest Honky-Tonk,” Billy Bob’s Texas, 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. SheBuysTravel contributor 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.
27. The Fort Worth Stockyards
131 E. Exchange Ave.
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, held every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.. 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.
The Fort Worth Stockyards offers a host of other free activities, like free live music all season long. On Fridays, children under 12 can attend the Stockyards Championship Rodeo for free, if accompanied by a paying adult.
28. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
1720 Gendy St.
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, the 33,000 square-foot museum 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.”
SheBuysTravel 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What’s the best time of year to visit Dallas with kids?
A: Dallas is a great destination for families year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. If you’re looking for cooler weather and fall activities, October and November are great months to visit. If you’re looking for warmer weather and outdoor activities, spring and summer are ideal.
Q: Are there any free things to do in Dallas with kids?
A: Yes! Dallas has a number of free attractions for families, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Klyde Warren Park.
Q: What’s the best way to get around Dallas with kids?
A: Dallas has a number of transportation options, including public transit, ride-sharing services, and rental cars. If you’re traveling with young kids, a rental car or ride-sharing service may be the most convenient option.
Q: What’s the best way to save money on Dallas attractions with kids?
A: If you’re planning to visit multiple attractions in Dallas, consider purchasing a CityPASS, which offers discounted admission to some of the city’s top attractions. Additionally, some attractions offer free admission on certain days or times, so be sure to check their websites for more information.
Q: Are there any kid-friendly restaurants in Dallas?
A: Yes! Dallas has a number of family-friendly restaurants, including the Twisted Root Burger Co., the Katy Trail Ice House, and the Rustic. Be sure to check out local food trucks for even more options.
Q: What’s the best way to find kid-friendly accommodations in Dallas?
A: There are a number of family-friendly hotels in Dallas, including the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, the Omni Dallas Hotel, and the Westin Galleria Dallas. Be sure to check their websites for family-friendly amenities and activities.