Top Things To Do In Dallas With Kids
The Dallas World Aquarium is fun for adults and kids alike, with dozens of exhibits featuring exotic birds, mammals, and fish. The facility is beautiful and well-kept, and the food is even reasonably priced. Houstonians may liken the experience to a combination of the Moody Gardens pyramids. It's not to be missed!
One step inside the stunning Dallas Arboretum is all you need to see why the arboretum touts itself as an "urban oasis." Its children's area, the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden, is truly whimsical. And while the eight-acre section is beautiful, it's also perfectly safe for children and geared toward interactive play and adventure. Kids can walk under waterfalls, soak in great views on the Texas Skywalk, and track animal prints in First Adventure, an area geared toward toddlers and preschoolers.
Cooling off at the splash pad at Klyde Warren Park. Photo by Carrie Taylor
Our family has spent many hours at Klyde Warren Park, whether it's in the fenced-in play areas for kids, playing tag in the huge green space, or grabbing delicious food from local food trucks parked along the curb. This unique urban park is literally on top of a freeway, so you may do a double-take when looking at Google Map's directions. It opened in 2012 and is a fun spot to relax and play.
Visit the home of more than 2,000 animals (more than 400 species) and one of the country's best African exhibits, which is a 36-acre, beautifully designed arena housing the six habitats of Africa. Other highlights include the Lacerte Family Children's Zoo complete with a splash pad, nature play space, and more, as well as Cheetah Encounter, home to a famous pair of animal friends, cheetah Winspear and his Labrador retriever buddy, Amani.
A must-see for any train enthusiast, the vintage railroad offers a peek back in time and a ride on a 1920s coach. Its route travels between Grapevine and the Fort Worth Stockyards. There are also special events, like occasional appearances by Thomas and friends.
Technically, Six Flags is in Arlington, which is about 15 miles west of the city. It's home to some seriously killer thrill rides, including wood-and-steel hybrid coaster New Texas Giant, La Vibora, which sends visitors down in a bobsled, and The Joker. But don't worry, there are plenty of family rides and kid-friendly attractions as well.
This indoor entertainment center is complete with rides, exhibits, and Duplo Village. Yes, it's exactly how it sounds - filled with Duplos and thus a guaranteed hour or more of fun for your young ones.
COVID-19 Safety: All LEGOs in shared play areas are disinfected daily and before each playtime. Tickets can be purchased online, and capacity is limited.
Epic Waters is located in Grand Prairie, just southwest of Dallas, and is an 80,000-square-foot facility open year-round. There are 11 waterslides, an outdoor wave pool, indoor pools and lazy river, and Rascal's Round Up inside, which is perfect for preschoolers and smaller swimmers. just southwest of Dallas.
Related: Top Things To Do in Galveston with Kids
Great Wolf Lodge's indoor waterpark has attractions for kids of all ages. Photo courtesy Great Wolf Lodge
Another Grapevine gem, this family hotspot is a few minutes northwest of Dallas. The resort has themed rooms your kids will love, and is jam-packed with activities (it's not just a water park!) for your kids. You could say this place is a kid's Las Vegas! In the outdoor water park arena, there is Bahama Beach, a modestly-sized facility with lots of fun rides, and Hawaiian Falls, which has a great (and huge) wave pool and lazy river.
We were pleasantly surprised by the Dallas Museum of Art, not because we doubted its impressive collection or presentation, but we weren't sure how our kids would do. We found solace in the Center for Creative Connections, which in turn houses Arturo's Nest - a play area for 0-4-year-olds - and the Young Learners Gallery for ages 5-8. Creative Connections allows you to create your own works of art and let your imagination run wild. The rest of the museum is equally as impressive and worth a visit as well.
Important info: While the Museum is free, you must still reserve tickets in advance.
The Perot is a must-see for any true fan of science. A variety of exhibits cover a wide range of topics including space exploration, geology, paleontology, and sports. One of the most popular exhibits for kids is the Moody Family Children's Museum, geared toward kids ages 5 and under.
Important info: Your admission tickets will have a timed-entry. Arrive as close as possible to the time on your ticket.
Taking in the views from the GeO-Deck on Reunion Tower. Photo by Tracy Locke/Courtesy VisitDallas
Soak up the city's skyline from 470 feet in the air at the top of Reunion Tower. The GeO-Deck features interactive experience Reunion Tower Constellation where visitors can add their name and where they are from to a star. There's also a cafe where you can enjoy a casual lunch in the sky (closed for renovations until Spring 2023).
COVID-19 Safety: Read Reunion's full safety measures and procedure changes on their website.
This museum chronicles and memorializes the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. It's a sobering but well-done museum dedicated to JFK. Exhibits explore his life as well as the assassination and the culture and history of the 1960s. Don't miss the nearby John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; a stunning monument erected in 1970.
Important info: The Museum recommends that you purchase tickets in advance. Tickets are timed-entry.
Just north of Dallas in Plano is the Arbor Hills Nature Preserve. You can easily spend all day here (if you bring a picnic). The 200-acre park has miles of hiking and biking trails, a playground, and lots of opportunities for spotting wildlife, from coyotes to woodpeckers.
While you're in Plano, you have to go see the Crayola Experience. Part museum part indoor playground, this massive facility is bursting with color and fun. I may have enjoyed it more than my 4-year-old. I think it was harder for me to walk away from the gift store than it was for him.
For families who don't take themselves too seriously, Medieval Times is for you. Enjoy a four-course (and utensil-free!) meal while watching jousting and horsemanship in a restaurant that is shaped like a castle. Check the website for discounts and promotions, as you can often get children's tickets for free for weekday visits.
17. Sports Games
Dallas is professional sports heaven. First, the city is home to "America's team," the Cowboys, and thus home to the Texas-sized AT&T Stadium where the team plays and practices. If your visit happens outside of football season, you can still take a tour of the team's practice facility, The Star, or even an art tour inside AT&T Stadium. And it's not just football in Dallas: Depending on what sports are in season during your visit, there's the Rangers (baseball), the Mavericks (basketball), FC Dallas (soccer), and the Stars (hockey).
Tired little feet will appreciate a break on the old-world McKinney Avenue Trolley that runs through the downtown area and arts district. Rides are free, so it's a great way to get around, and if kids enjoy the antique interior of the country's oldest operating street car, there's no reason to stop riding.
KidZania Dallas is a 100,000 square foot indoor city run by kids. Here, kids ages 4-14 can practice 100+ professions and explore 50 buildings, streets, and vehicles, and complete activities created by professional educators. Be sure to budget lots of time for KidZania—the website states that the average visit time is 5 hours.
Spreading over 289 acres in McKinney, Texas, the Heard Museum is a combination of indoor natural science exhibits surrounded by outdoor exhibits, nature trails, and gardens. General admission includes permanent and seasonal exhibits and access to the gardens and nature trails within the sanctuary. The Museum is about a 40 minute trip by car from downtown Dallas and makes a great half or full day trip. Just pack a picnic lunch for one of the outdoor tables.
HAPIK is a climbing gym located in Garland, and while it has some climbing activities just for adults, most of the facility is very kid-friendly. There's a minimum weight of just 35 lbs., colorful and fun climbing walls, and a beginner's area for the smallest kids (or anyone else who wants an easier first experience).
Grandscape is a giant shopping center full of entertainment. If the weather is fair, head straight to the Grandscape Wheel, where you can get a 360-degree view of North Texas from the top. Then have an outdoor lunch at Truck Yard and ice cream at Kilwin's. And don't skip Grandscape if it's raining—kids can spend all day in Andretti Indoor Karting and Games.
This indoor attracting has 14 Peppa-themed play areas, including Peppa Pig's Treehouse, Grandpa Pig's Train, and Peppa Pig's House. This attraction is located inside Grapevine-Mills Mall, and is best suited for toddlers and preschoolers. Tickets are good for 2 hours of play.
Big Tex is a State Fair staple. Photo courtesy VisitDallas.
If you're visiting Dallas during October (the state fair runs the last Friday of September for 24 days) then you must go to the State Fair of Texas. Eat your share of fried goodness (my husband's term for anything deep-fried) from savory bites to desserts under the watchful, and smiling, eyes of Big Tex, the fair's infamous and huge statue. The fair has taken place annually since 1886 and shows no sign of slowing down. Not only will you get your fill in delicious food, but also in Texas history and culture.
A white Christmas is a rare treat for south Texans. Seeing snow in the winter typically means a road trip, including a trip here to Dallas where, if the weather isn't cooperating, the Gaylord Texan Hotel offers an over-the-top festive Christmas experience with faux snow, ice skating, and new events and activities every week during the season.