Dallas is not only one of the most popular cities to live in Texas it’s also the biggest tourist destination in the Lone Star State, and it’s easy to see why. It’s filled with public art, beautiful parks and lakes, great shopping districts, top restaurants, and much more.
Spring and fall are the best times to visit Dallas-Fort Worth. If vacationing in Dallas during the summer, plan to spend most of your time indoors, because Dallas summers are blisteringly hot. Fortunately, there is no shortage of indoor shopping and dining complexes, as well as all the performance options in the Dallas Arts District. Make time to try out Bob’s Steak & Chop House, rated the 3rd best steakhouse in the United States by the USDA.
Yet for all its sophisticated city draws, Dallas is also a place of nostalgia. Fans of JR Ewing and the prime time show “Dallas” can tour Southfork Ranch.
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Things to do in Dallas with Kids
The Perot Museum is a kid’s museum on steroids. There is so much to do here it will take all day if you like. You can race a T-Rex, learn about space and dinosaurs.
Hawaiian Falls The Colony
One of our family’s favorite water parks is Hawaiian Falls The Colony. If you are visiting during the warmer months you will definitely want to visit a water park or two. Hawaiian Falls has many water parks throughout the state of Texas. This one is located north of Dallas in The Colony. This water park has all of our favorite things plus some.
Hawaiian Falls The Colony has the craziest water ride I’ve ever been on. You gotta go on it at least once when you visit.
On a more somber note, the Sixth Floor Museum chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Today, the Dealy Plaza District is a National Historic Landmark. You can visit the sixth floor of the Dallas County Administration Building in downtown Dallas, Texas, overlooking Dealey Plaza at the intersection of Elm and Houston Streets. This is where the shooter was when he shot JFK. We found this to be highly educational.
Located at 411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202.
Reunion Tower is a great place to take in epic views of Dallas.
Free Things to Do on Vacation in Dallas, Texas
Dallas has a range of free attractions to enjoy, from traveling on vintage streetcars to holding a meteorite or touching a piece of Mars, free festivals, and more.
For tourists on a budget, a lot of Dallas attractions can be enjoyed for free. Here’s where to go and when.
Free Museums in Dallas:
History buffs could spend days happily lost in The Hall of State, which is home to the Dallas Historical Society. The Hall of State is found in Dallas Fair Park and has more than three million historic documents and objects in its collection.
Stargazers will love the opportunity to touch a piece of Mars and hold a piece of the solar system in their hand at another free museum in Dallas, the Monning Meteorite Gallery. Visitors can marvel at more than 1,450 meteorites, learn how to identify a meteorite, and have fun creating their own terrestrial impact crater.
The Dallas Museum of Art is filled with incredible sculptures, paintings, and other media from around the world, and opens its doors for free on the first Tuesday of every month. For those who are unable to time their trip for the free day, the museum is only $10 for the rest of the month and worth a visit.
There is also a range of smaller galleries and museums, including the Interurban Railway Museum, and the Crow Collection of Asian art to explore.
Largest Model Train in the United States
While a hospital wouldn’t usually be on a tourist’s To-Do list in a new city, that changes in Dallas, where the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas is home to the largest permanent model train in America. The train display is found in the lobby of the center and has eight trains running simultaneously over two stories of train track.
The Medical Center also has a full-size ultra-light glider hanging from the ceiling of the atrium in the Bright Building, along with four model planes. The Children’s Medical Center of Dallas can be found at 1935 Motor Street, between Stemmons Fwy. and Harry Hines Blvd. Please keep in mind if you or anyone in your group is at all not feeling well do not go.
Plane Spotting at Dallas Airport a Fun Free Thing to Do
Meanwhile, plane spotters who like to watch the real thing can join like-minded souls at the observation area known as Founders Plaza at Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport. Here they can use long-distance binoculars and a graph board to track the different aircraft, complete with speakers sharing audio from the Control Tower.
There are even picnic areas to enjoy with friends or family while watching some of the 2,300 daily take-offs and landings at one of the worldís busiest airports. The observation area can be found at 2829 30th St. (Carbon Road) at DFW International Airport.
Free Transportation on the Vintage M-Line Trolleys
One of the most romantic ways to get around Dallas is also free to the public. The historic M-Line streetcar uses four vintage trolley cars to take people uptown and downtown. Visitors can ride the historic streetcars to Cityplace West Village, the McKinney Avenue Area, and to the Arts District, hopping off at trolley stops near tourist attractions including the Dallas Museum of Art.
The cars ride along some of the original trolley tracks, and the drivers are more than happy to share stories about the streetcars, and educate the public on the role they played in helping Dallas become the city it is today. The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority has tips on how to enjoy free transport on their vintage Dallas streetcars on their website. They are currently working to restore another three cars, to expand this precious service.
Free Dallas Festivals and Concerts to Attend
Depending on what time of year visitors are enjoying their Dallas vacations, there are a number of free festivals and parades held in and around the city. A lot of the festivals are based around the holidays and include food, music, and live entertainment. Due to the pandemic, I do not have a current list.
Where to Eat in Dallas
You cannot visit Dallas without eating some delicious BBQ and some spicy Tex-Mex.
Pecan Lodge is in trendy Deep Elum and home to the best BBQ in town.
Iron Cactus Mexican Restaurant and Margarita Bar
Iron Cactus is downtown and a solid option. Located at 1520 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201.
El Jordan Cafe
El Jordan Cafe near downtown Dallas in the Bishop Arts District is one of my personal favorites. It’s a hole-in-the-wall kind of place and just steps away you could dine somewhere much nicer, but the food wouldn’t be as good!
Meso Maya is such a treat. If you can, and it’s not too hot outside, sit out on the patio. They have a few other locations in the area as well.
The Dapper Doughnut
The Dapper Doughnut cranks out little mini gourmet donuts that are simply delightful. They have a lot of options so get a dozen so you can try a bunch.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse
Del Frisco’s is always a good choice. If it seems bit too spendy, hit the bar. The bar menu is priced less. Located at 2323 Olive St, Dallas, TX 75201
Jose has fantastic Mexican food and one of the best margaritas I’ve ever had. The guacamole is incredible too. On the weekends they also have a delicious brunch.
Cane Rosso serves authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas in Deep Elum at 2612 Commerce St., Dallas, TX 75226. They use high-quality ingredients, handmade dough, mozzarella made in-house daily, fresh pasta, and unique takes on both traditional and modern Italian dishes.
Texas de Brazil
If you enjoy Brazilian steakhouses you will really love the experience here. The salad bar is extensive, the meat choices are aplenty and the desserts are so good. The strawberry mojito is a must.
HG SPLY Co.
HG SPLY Co. has great locally sourced food and a super fun place to hang out. They got an indoor/outdoor space with cornhole, shuffleboard, and more. They have several locations.
You can basically customize your burger any way you like at Twisted Root. The Dallas location is in Deep Elum. They also have salads and shakes.
This country spot is perfect for those who want a true Texas atmosphere. Not only is the food outstanding – we’re talking melt-in-your-mouth pecan pie and perfectly cooked steaks – but the staff is friendly and welcoming, too. It’s a great place to catch up with friends over a cold beer or to bring the family for a tasty and filling meal.
The Truck Yard The Colony is a super fun place to hang out. They always have live music and it’s ok to bring your kids. They’ve got an assortment of food trucks, plus a cheesesteak restaurant.
Where to Stay in Dallas
Dallas has every type of lodging you could ever need from upscale to party to budget.
Hilton Anatole is a great place for families to stay during the warm months. They’ve got a small water park on-site and lawn games like corn hole. They let anyone come to the water park so at times it is insanely crowded.
Residence Inn Dallas Downtown
Just don’t pay for parking here. There’s a cheap parking lot behind the hotel. Eventually, there will be a pool and hot tub but when we stayed it wasn’t done. Check current rates.
Do not stay here if you have kids with you. It’s definitely a party hotel. The rooms are cute and the mini-bar is substantial. Check current rates.
Do you have a favorite place in Dallas? We would love to check it out. Leave your recommendations in the comments below.