Fall In Love With Dallas – Big Family Adventures

By Nora Heston Tarte

Dallas is the biggest metro in the biggest state where everything is, well, bigger. Packed with family-friendly activities for all ages, the Dallas Metropolitan Area boasts everything from sporting events to amusement parks, museums to medieval shows. Check out our list of the top 10 family-friendly things to do and see in Dallas, and then book a trip to visit before the romping state fair closes for the season on October 22. After all, October is the ideal time to visit the South, when temperatures have cooled, and the weather is perfect for exploring both indoors and out.

 Taste Grub from Celeb Chefs at the State Fair

Only in Texas would the state fair offer up eats made by celebrity chefs from across the state. The Celebrity Kitchen is a mainstay of the event, inviting guests to watch cooks perfect their craft in front of a live audience. Pick up some free tips—and some free bites—while you watch the masters at work. The Kitchen is hardly all the state fair has to offer. Live entertainment includes some of the biggest names in music (Maren Morris and Flo Rida are both scheduled to perform), fair food rivals fare from gourmet restaurants, exhibits are museum-worthy, arts and craft fairs turn out winning works of art, and Xpogo, a team of pogo professionals, show off their skills with gravity-defying tricks, flips, and spins on one of the state fair’s many entertainment stages. (BigTex.com)

Root for the Home Team at AT&T Stadium

Not far from Dallas Proper in Arlington, AT&T Stadium is home to the famed Dallas Cowboys. The state-of-the-art facility stays true to the “everything is bigger in Texas” motto, able to hold 105,000 roaring fans (or non-fans). See the retractable roof in person, watch games in the open-air stadium, and grub from on-site restaurant Stadium Club, offering a premier modern dining experience with all of the comforts of your favorite sports bar. In October, the Dallas Cowboys take on the St. Louis Rams (Oct. 1) and the Green Bay Packers (Oct. 8) at home. During baseball season, the Texas Rangers play mere steps from AT&T Stadium at Globe Life Park. (DallasCowboys.com/Stadium)

Go Back in Time with Medieval Times

Ever wanted to slip back in time to visit the world of brave knights and trusty steeds? Visit the 11th Century at Medieval Times, where families enjoy an old-timey dinner show with plenty of action. Each guest is seated in the castle’s stands, given the name of a fighting knight to cheer for. As you tear through roasted chicken and drink from goblets, you’ll witness a series of duels and contests performed by resident knights. Not to mention, displays of expert horsemanship and falconry. (MedievalTimes.com)

Visit the Animals at the Dallas World Aquarium

Located in the West End Historic District of Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium is home to underwater creatures and assorted zoo animals. The top level of the aquarium was created to mimic the Orinoco Rainforest in Venezuela. It houses free-flying birds and other wildlife native to the rainforest, including three-toed sloths and Antillean manatees. Water-dwelling creatures include electric eels and Orinoco crocodiles. The lower level is home to the aquarium—featuring sea anemones, jellyfish, coral, and other sea creatures from around the world. The tanks house organisms from Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, British Columbia, the Bahamas, Fiji, Palau, Southern Australia, Lord Howe Island, and the Solomon Islands. If your brood wasn’t satisfied with this collection, take them to the Dallas Zoo, a 106-acre park that more than 2,000 animals call home. The zoo recently welcomed two of its rarest animals, two wild ass babies (you read that right) from Somali. In August, these foals were born ten days apart to a pair of mamas inhabiting the zoo. (DWAZoo.com, DallasZoo.com)

See the Whole Town From The Reunion Tower

The Reunion Tower observation deck is the best place to catch glimpses of the entire city, 560 feet in the air. In addition to 360-degree city views, the tower features two restaurants, a gift shop, and eye-catching light shows the kids will love! Every month the GeO-Deck hosts a new line-up of games and activities for families, including bingo games, science experiments, and storytimes, so you can partake in all of the activities your kids typically enjoy, with a view that rivals any you’ve seen before. On the deck, use the interactive constellation software to leave a permanent mark that says, “we were here,” in the form of a star (reminiscent of the city locks in Paris). When you’re ready to eat, Cloud Nine Café offers light fare Monday-Friday and hot meals on the weekends. Five Sixty, the other sky-view eatery, takes it up a notch. The fare is re-imagined Asian cuisine, and the restaurant revolves as you eat to deliver the best dinner view in the city. (ReunionTower.com)

Scream Your Head Off at Six Flags Over Texas

Ever wanted to soar 16 stories through the air at speeds of 60-80 mph? In this ultimate skydiving experience, no parachute is needed. It’s just one of the thrill rides offered at Six Flags Over Texas, located near Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Many of the rides have a Marvel theme, with super-hero names like BATMAN: The Ride, Catwoman Whip, and Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. But what will really make you scream has nothing to do with the rides at all. In October, Six Flags presents FrightFest, where zombies and ghouls take over the park to hunt and haunt guests once the sun goes down. During the day the spookfest continues, with costume contests, scary-oke, and spooky performances by park residents. For the faint of heart, there are some old-school roller coasters to appease, plus activities and shows primed for the family. (SixFlags.com/OverTexas)

Plaza

It may be a somber walk, but Dealey Plaza is one of the most visited attractions in Dallas. The site of JFK’s Assassination, committed as the President rolled through the plaza during a parade, has been named a National Historic Landmark, so both the plaza and the buildings that surround it (thought to be both possible spots the shooter acted from and witness areas) have been untouched, giving a true look back at that day in history. One block from the Plaza sits a centograph to honor JFK, and the sixth and seventh floors of the Texas School Book Depository, located in the plaza, is home to The Sixth Floor Museum, which examines the life, death, and legacy of the late President John F. Kennedy. It is located at the exact spot the government believes Lee Harvey Oswald shot Kennedy from. (DallasParks.org)

 Continue Your Historic Journey at The Dallas Holocaust Museum

Its full name is The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance, and it’s home to some shattering displays and lessons of this dark period. For older kids, the museum offers a better look at the events they learn about in their history books, while younger children are encouraged to become an upstander—someone who stands up for what is right while learning about tolerance. At the museum, survivors come to speak about their experiences and share their stories with visitors. The Core Exhibit (the permanent exhibit within the museum) focuses on one day in history—April 19, 1943—and three events that took place that day to illustrate wartime heroism, Jewish resistance against all odds, and government and diplomatic indifference to the fate of Europe’s Jews. Rotating exhibits offer more in-depth looks at various aspects of the war and the lives of those involved. It’s a harrowing experience that visitors celebrate as a humanizing look at the Holocaust. (DallasHolocaustMuseum.org)

 See Large Longhorn Cattle at Pioneer Park

Looking for some of that iconic Western culture promised in Texas? Pioneer Park—a heavily visited tourist site in Dallas—may be your best bet for such a sighting. Inside the 4.2-acre park—the largest open space in Dallas’ business district—sits a large, iconic sculpture of cattle, created to commemorate the nineteenth-century cattle drives that took place along the Shawnee Trail, frequented by Texas’ longhorn cattle. The statue stays true to Texas’ promise to be big—with 49 bronze steers standing six-feet high and three trail riders amongst them, it is the largest bronze monument of its kind in the world. Outside the park, restaurants are aplenty, the Pioneer Park Cemetery offers another fascinating look at the area’s history, and the Convention Center houses large events and collections.

Stop to Smell the Roses at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

There are few places more beautiful to walk than inside an arboretum and botanical garden. With rows upon rows of blooming flower gardens set in a 66-acre park featuring fountains and manicured grounds, the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden is one of the best. There is always tons going on at the Dallas hotspot, including weekend wine tasting, after-hours sunset viewing, and traditional three-course garden teas offered in the on-site, DeGolyer House—the garden’s centerpiece. The mission of the Arboretum is to preserve history and nature while also acting as a public venue dedicated to horticulture and education. Within the gardens, children will most enjoy the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Overlooking White Rock Lake, the eight-acre section of the arboretum is dedicated to education, teaching children and their families about Earth science through 150+ kid-friendly activities, including The Texas Skywalk, The Moody Oasis, A Walk in the Clouds, and more. With children’s galleries and a café primed for family meals, it’s the ideal place to spend a family day in Dallas. (DallasArboretum.org)

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