If you’re planning a weekend or vacation in Dallas, Fort Worth, or any surrounding cities, you can do and see many things in the DFW area. There is a lively nightlife, a plethora of attractions and amusement parks, beautiful lakes, fantastic golf courses, good camping, restaurants, shops, etc.
Whether it’s flying fast on thrilling rides, enjoying the Dallas art district, or getting your two-step on, here are 25 of the best things to do in DFW.
State Fair of Texas
The State Fair of Texas, a major celebration with a longstanding tradition dating back to 1886, is Dallas’ event of the year. The fair is held in Fair Park, a massive venue with many entertainment venues, museums, amusement rides, landmarks, gardens, etc. Every year, for about three weeks, Fair Park is overrun by visitors loving the most diverse types of entertainment, ranging from art exhibitions to food tastings and livestock competitions to live music shows.
Two notable highlights are a full-fledged, grand car show and the Red River Shootout, a football game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. Big Tex, the event’s 55-foot-tall iconic mascot installed in the park, is in charge of it.
Fort Worth Water Gardens
The Fort Worth Water Gardens, located on the south end of downtown near the Convention Center, is a one-of-a-kind urban oasis surrounded by shade-giving trees and high walls. Philip Johnson designed the urban plaza, which includes 4.3 acres of waterfalls, three pools, and fountains.
The most famous sight is the active pool showcased in the 1976 sci-fi film Logan’s Run though there are three pools. You can feel the power of falling water all around you as you move down the terraced steps. The gardens are illuminated until 10 p.m., so visit them at night.
Dallas Museum of Art (DMA)
The Dallas Museum of Art, founded in 1903, is a prestigious and large art museum in Texas. Besides its program of rotating exhibitions, the DMA offers its visitors an international and varied range of permanent art collections.
The African Art collection focuses on artwork from the Sub-Saharan region. Meanwhile, the Contemporary Art collection features a diverse range of sculptures and paintings from contemporary artistic movements like minimalism and abstract expressionism.
The Pacific Islands Art collection, on the other hand, consists of textiles and sculptures created on Indonesian islands. Many other collections, temporary and permanent, are on display, showing an impressive grasp of international and American art.
The Fort Worth Stockyards
Nearby Fort Worth, about an hour’s drive from downtown Dallas, offers an authentic Texas cowboy experience. The Fort Worth Stockyards is located in a national historic district that has the feel of a Western film set and hosts a twice-daily cattle drive.
This is the place to go if you want to go back in time, complete with brick walkways and wooden corrals. Daily rodeos, the world’s largest honky-tonk, horse-drawn carriage rides, and various BBQ joints render this the Texan experience that many tourists seek.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
The stunningly beautiful Perot Museum of Nature and Science was designed by Thom Mayne, a Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has 11 permanent exhibit halls that provide hands-on science experiences for children, such as activities focusing on fossils, minerals, energy, geology, and technology. Other ways the Perot Museum engages visitors include speakers, architecture tours, and family experiments.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
On November 22, 1963, the 35th president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated at the Dallas Dealey Plaza. Dealey Plaza is now a memorial site for the late president and home to the Sixth Floor Museum, where visitors can learn about that historic day and the president’s life and death. Watch short films, learn about artifacts, hear firsthand accounts, look at photographs, and more.
The museum also has a reading room and full library for additional literature on the subject and information about other aspects of Dallas history. Remember to look into the available youth, educational, and teaching programs.
Cedar Ridge Preserve
This is a place dedicated to wildlife and the environment. It is maintained by the Dallas Audubon society and is open to the public for free. There’s a lot of hiking on here, and many people come to let their dogs join in on the fun with their trails.
There’s something for everyone on the nine miles of trails, from easy to difficult. It’s peaceful and cool, thanks to the trees’ shade. Year-round, many people come to watch birds. It’s a favored destination by tourists and locals.
The Kimbell Art Museum
Even casual art fans will be impressed by Kimbell’s scope. Kimbell’s collection is world-class, ranging from 20th-century works to ancient art. It houses Michelangelo’s first painting and works by Picasso, Rembrandt, and Monet, making it among the best small museums in the country. The building is filled with natural light and has an open floor plan, making it a prime example of modern architecture.
The permanent collection at the Kimbell Art Museum can be seen in a single visit, but high-profile traveling showcases are worth going back to. Enjoy lunch at the museum’s well-prepared buffet of salads, sandwiches, and quiches while sitting in one of the city’s best museums’ manicured courtyards.
Six Flags Over Texas
A classic theme park, but an absolute must-see, Six Flags Over Texas, located about 15 miles outside of Dallas in Arlington, offers thrilling roller coasters, carnival-style games, great entertainment shows, and various restaurants. There is something for everyone, from rides like the Texas Giant and the Titan for teens and adults to softer rides like Bugs Bunny Boomtown and Daffy Duck Bucket Blasters for toddlers and small children.
With more than 45 rides, including five water rides, an all-access THE FLASH pass is required to enjoy everything Six Flags Over Texas offers.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
The arboretum and botanical garden encompass 66 acres of gardens, ranging from ornamental to colorful and sunken. This beautiful, serene location is a year-round attraction that is enjoyable for people of all ages. Over 150 activities await children in the 8-acre Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, including The Texas Skywalk, a Walk in the Clouds, The Moody Oasis, and much more.
Grab a take-out lunch from one of the many restaurants and enjoy a lawn picnic while soaking up the rays, or relax and delight in a summer evening concert. Discover why the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is among the best family-friendly attractions in Dallas, with a scavenger hunt, outdoor and indoor learning galleries, and tons of interactive exhibits. Remember to take a camera; there are many photo opportunities.
Dallas Cowboy Stadium
It is unnecessary to be a Cowboys fan to enjoy the Dallas Cowboy Stadium. As the world’s largest domed structure, the AT&T Stadium is brimming with facts and entertainment. You can walk through the tunnel, tour the locker rooms, or admire the contemporary art on display. Guests can choose from four daily tours: self-guided, art tour, VIP tour, or educational tour.
Shop the official gift shop, grab a quick bite at the café, or play football (bring your own) on the field for as long as you like. The AT&T Stadium in Arlington is an experience that is sure to please everyone.
The Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff is a hidden gem that served as a haven for Lee Harvey Oswald after he murdered Officer J.D. Tippit. He was then apprehended. Later, Oswald would assassinate JFK.
It has withstood the test of time and has become a famed and charming theater for the ardent filmgoer. A director’s hall of fame shines brightly, honoring both new and established directors in the theater lobby. It’s almost like a mini-film museum, with old cameras and classic relics on display.
Independent films, independent screenings, film festivals, old classics, documentaries, and 35mm films are all shown at the theater. Any film buff would feel at ease here. They also have a full-service bar serving smaller batch boutique products, cheap Mexican and Texas beers, and a variety of homemade cocktails inspired by movies that you can take into the theater with you.
The Reunion Tower
The Reunion Tower is a 561-foot (170-meter) observation tower with a panoramic view of Dallas. The observation deck level includes digital and interactive experiences, such as information about the Reunion Tower, Dallas history, and more, along with numerous telescopes for a close-up view of the skyline.
Visit the Cloud Nine Café for a cool drink or snack, or dine at Five Sixty, a fine dining restaurant on the top, rotating floor. Enjoy a delectable gourmet meal while taking in the breathtaking views of the city. The tower is also linked to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, making it ideal for visitors who want to stay near this Dallas attraction.
Klyde Warren Park
Most parks are open green spaces where people can wander to get some fresh air, but not Klyde Warren Park! This public space is situated at the top of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway and serves as a hub for events and activities.
Enjoy Wednesday night Zumba, Sunday morning yoga, or Saturday afternoon boot camp and Tai Chi for your body. Attend a relaxing outdoor meditation session or a guided tour of the downtown skyline while learning about Dallas’ history. There are various food trucks at the park almost every day, including an ice cream truck!
You can also attend a concert or a free art class, and if you prefer a more traditional park experience, you can sunbathe, bring your dog to the dog park, play chess, or participate in a group sport.
Toyota Music Factory
Toyota Music Factory is poised to become one of Dallas Fort Worth’s most thriving entertainment concepts. The Pavilion, a concert stage that has hosted speakers and big-name acts like Hillary Clinton, Ringo Starr, and Trevor Noah, is the centerpiece. In addition, there is an Alamo Drafthouse and 25 restaurants.
Big Beat Dallas will be a key component of the Toyota Music Factory, providing daily live music, an open container beverage mandate between Big Beat Dallas restaurants, a morning farmer’s market, and late-night hours.
White Rock Lake
The lake (and adjacent park), once a privately-owned reservoir on over 1,000 acres of land, is a fantastic place to spend the day. The lake is popular for mild water activities such as sailing and kayaking, and the park has a 10-mile biking and hiking trail and is an excellent place for bird watching.
The lake has picnic areas and a dog park, and it is close to the Bath House Cultural Center, White Rock Lake Museum, and Dallas Arboretum. Rent a pavilion for a private family event or walk around the scenic waterfront to stay active.
Pioneer Plaza is a park with artificial cliffs and trees, but the park’s centerpiece is a life-size sculpture of a cattle drive, complete with three cowboys on horses and bronze longhorn cattle. Visitors frequently pose for photographs with the longhorn sculptures, hike around the cliffs, and stand in awe at the waterfall.
The Trinity River Audubon Center
This center, which opened in 2008 along the Trinity Riverbank, is located at the 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest’s entrance. The Trinity River Audubon Center lets people explore miles of trails that showcase local vegetation, birds, and wildlife, along with public programs such as bird watching classes, guided hikes, and the opportunity to learn more about the four owl breeds native to Dallas.
There is also an indoor exhibit hall with native animals such as fish, lizards, snakes, etc. Visitors can also sample local honey from the six beehives, tour the eco-friendly buildings, and watch a film about the Trinity River and its history. The center also provides school field trips, such as the four-hour eco-investigations, including a guided hike, pond study, and nature study.
A two-hour guided trip down the Trinity River is ideal for a quick weekend getaway. The Trinity River Audubon Center educates Dallas residents about the natural habitat and the instability of the world’s largest urban forest ecosystem.
The Trinity River Audubon Center is a fantastic place for volunteering, field trips, and fun. This is thanks to its scenic wooded trails, educational opportunities, and extensive visitor activities.
The Lone Star Park
Although casinos are illegal in the state, Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie has a Class 1 horse track and offers some gambling fun. It attracts 800,000 visitors per year and features a sports bar, horse racing on weekends during the season, and year-round events such as weddings, concerts, and meetings. With a one-mile track and seating for 8,000 people, you’re sure to have a good time here.
Nasher Sculpture Center
Raymond Nasher, the developer of NorthPark Center mall, was an avid art collector who amassed a jaw-dropping sculpture collection with his wife Patsy. Much of this was displayed (and still is) at the mall until they could build a more fitting permanent home.
To make these treasures available to the public, the Nasher Foundation secured funding for a Renzo Piano-designed museum with a 2-acre garden at the turn of the twenty-first century. The Nasher Sculpture Center stands out even more against the backdrop of downtown Dallas.
The center’s collection includes works by Alexander Calder, Barbara Hepworth, Giacometti, Richard Serra, Henry Moore, Gauguin, Matisse, Joan Miró, Claes Oldenburg, Picasso, and Rodin. Because they can only showcase a portion of the foundation’s holdings at one time, the exhibition at the center is rotated every few months.
Deep Ellum, just across the I-345 from downtown Dallas, is the place to go for live music, awesome bars, great food, and one-of-a-kind shops. Since the 1880s, this has been an entertainment district, and blues legends such as Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, and Blind Lemon Jefferson have all entertained crowds in their twenties and thirties.
The name is derived from the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, Elm Street, and appears in the Grateful Dead’s song “Deep Elm Blues” and the old blues song “Take a Whiff on Me.” The live venues and clubs are too long to list, but Trees Dallas has seen performances by Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Nirvana, and Pearl Jam.
There is a slew of craft distilleries/breweries and the trailer park-themed Double Wide for concept bars. During the day, you can explore the street art and eat ramen (Oni), sushi (Nori), tacos (Tiki Loco), or southern comfort food (Get Fried, Brick & Bones).
Fort Worth Zoo
Fort Worth Zoo began modestly in 1909 with only a few animals. It is now a well-known facility throughout Texas and even the country.
With 7,000 exotic and native animals, Fort Worth Zoo is the state’s oldest one. This is among the most exciting Fort Worth attractions for the whole family, with clear and easy-to-navigate pathways, a nice shade to walk under, and modern amenities.
Sixteen permanent exhibits dot the zoo, each with a different themed habitat designed to make the animals as comfortable as possible. It’s fun to go through them, and each location feels like it transports you somewhere new! The zoo frequently seeks to educate visitors on animal conservation so that everyone can benefit from it.
The most popular area of the zoo is probably Texas Wild!, an eight-acre area with seven different exhibits inside, each of which is dedicated to a different aspect of the state’s animals and plants. Other popular exhibits include Meerkat Mounds, Parrot Paradise, Raptor Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, World of Primates, and the Museum of Living Art.
Cowtown Cycle Party
Taking part in the Cowtown Cycle Party is among the most exciting things in Fort Worth and a unique and excellent way to explore this Texas city today!
Each Cycle Party is a massive bar on wheels with a maximum capacity of 16 people, built to be rented in big crowds and taken to roam Fort Worth and see the best offers. The tour takes around two hours, though there aren’t any fixed routes.
Nonetheless, it includes some of the city’s most popular attractions and favorite spots, such as Sundance Square, Water Garden, and Magnolia Avenue. You’ll learn about the city’s history and culture, see beautiful architecture, and discover some restaurants and bars to visit later.
Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge
You can see a bison up close and personal at the Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge, a wonderful area with 3,000 acres of wetlands, forests, and prairies teeming with wildlife, including a fenced-in section for bison. Launch a canoe down the river, hike for hours, or observe a bison herd from a safe distance. It’s well worth the money.
The Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Zoo, located across the Trinity River from downtown Dallas, is a worthwhile family outing even without its main attraction. The Giants of the Savanna habitat is not something you’ll come across very often.
This $32.5 million habitat, which opened in 2011, houses reticulated ostriches, giraffes, impala, zebras, and guinea fowl. The zoo’s African elephants, warthogs, South African cheetahs, African lions, and African wild dogs live on the same site.