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We moved to the Dallas suburbs when our first baby was 8-weeks-old. We lived there for 10 years and had three more babies. So, I know a bit about what to do with kids when you’re in Dallas. Whether you make a special trip to Dallas, perhaps for a football game, or you are visiting family, or just passing through, here are some wonderful family-friendly places to build into your Dallas itinerary. And, if you’ve never been here before, be sure to check out TPG‘s 10 things no one tells you about Dallas before you arrive.
Free Family Fun in Dallas
Let’s start with a few spots that are free to visit and enjoy.
Klyde Warren Park
Located between Uptown and Downtown Dallas (2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway), this park is more than 5-acres of urban space. It’s free and open to the public daily. There is a Children’s Park that includes a playground and a splash pad, just right cooling off on a hot Texas day. You can grab a bite to eat at the food trucks on-site, and you may even catch story time. Check the calendar for upcoming activities.
NorthPark Center’s Children’s Library
One of Dallas’ best malls also happens to be home to Bookmarks (8687 North Central Expressway on Level One between Nordstrom’s and Macy’s), a children’s library run by Dallas Public Library. There are regular story times and lots of books to snuggle up with as a family, along with games, puzzles and computer learning games. Like all good malls, there are a ton of snack options and a good food court to grab lunch in when you’re all caught up on your favorite reads.
Educational Fun in Dallas
If you’d like to learn a little something while in the city, here are some solid educational options that kids enjoy.
The Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Zoo (650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway) is home to more than 2,000 animals and incredible exhibits, like the Giants of the Savanna, where elephants roam with other species. In 2017, the Simmons Hippo Outpost opened, bringing hippos back to the Dallas Zoo for the first time in 16 years. The Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo is the perfect spot for kids to explore, get dirty in Nature’s Play Space and then cool off in The Stream. Tickets are $15 per adult and $12 per child ages 3 to 11. Parking is $10 per vehicle.
The Perot Museum (2201 North Field Street) opened at the end of 2012, and it’s home to the Moody Family Children’s Museum, where kids can go on a scavenger hunt, an indoor nature hike and play at the water tables, along with so much more. Dinosaur lovers of all ages will be dazzled by the Paleo Lab, where you can watch in real time as dinosaur research is done. General admission is $20 per adult and $13 per child ages 2 to 12. Some exhibitions and films may cost extra. Parking is $10.
GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower
You can’t look at the Dallas Skyline and not notice the distinct shape of “the ball” on the top of Reunion Tower (300 Reunion Blvd. E.). If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll point at it and say, “WOW! Let’s go THERE!” And guess what? You can! You can take them all the way up 470 feet to the GeO-Deck, an indoor/outdoor observation deck with 360-degree views of the city. Look out for miles via telescopes, high-definition zoom cameras and interactive touch screens. Cloud Nine Cafe serves light food and drinks seven days a week, so you can refuel while taking in the revolving view. Tickets start at $17 per adult and $8 per child, ages 4–12.
Dallas World Aquarium
The Dallas World Aquarium (1801 North Griffin St.) is home to far more than just fish. Observe an ocelot and other mammals, birds and fish in the 8-story, immersive Mundo Maya exhibit. The aquarium is a 20,000-gallon walk-through tunnel, home to a variety of colorful sea life. You can find manatees, sea otters and anteaters, along with much more in the 7-story Orinoco Secrets of the River exhibit that highlights the diversity of the South America rainforest ecosystem. Tickets are $21 per adult and $15 per child, ages 2–12.
Family Activity Splurges in Dallas
And, if you want to go all-out, these pastimes are sure to please your little ones (and grown-ups, too).
Texas Horse Park
For an authentic Texas experience, you’ve got to include horses. Head to the Texas Horse Park (811 Pemberton Hill Rd.) for horse and pony fun for the whole family. Children 9 and older are welcome on one-hour, guided trail rides that start at $55 per person. For younger family members, check out the pony rides for children 3+ and up to 100 pounds, starting at $15 for 10 minutes. Everyone in your group can enjoy the petting zoo together.
Six Flags Over Texas
Situated on more than 200 acres in Arlington (2201 E Road to Six Flags St.), between Fort Worth and Dallas, you’ll find Six Flags Over Texas. This massive theme park is home to some of the best roller coasters in the Lone Star State and more than 45 rides and attractions. You and the kids can easily spend the whole day exploring the park, and there’s plenty to do for all ages. The Superman Tower of Power, one of the highest free-fall drop towers in the world, is my thrill-seeker 10-year-old’s favorite ride, and the Yosemite Sam’s Texas Tea Cups are the littles’ ride of choice.
Six Flags Over Texas tickets at the park start at $67 per child under 48-inches tall (2-years-old and under are free), and $82 per adult or child taller than 48 inches. But you can save up to $20 per ticket by purchasing admission online at least one day prior to your visit or sleuth online for discounts that are periodically available. Be sure and charge the tickets to the right card to earn bonus points on the entertainment charge.
Texas Rangers Baseball Game
If your family likes baseball and you’re in Dallas during baseball season, consider a trip to Arlington to watch the Texas Rangers play a home game at Globe Life Park (1000 Ballpark Way). Maybe you’ll go there to watch the Rangers play ball, but I won’t judge if you really go there for your family to try all of the over-the-top ballpark food. It’s a selection that is said to rival what you can find at the Texas State Fair, including the Dilly Dog —a deep-fried pickle stuffed with a hot dog, and the Cheetos jalapeno bacon dog. Game tickets start at $7.
American Girl Doll Store
If your child is already a fan of American Girl Dolls, or if you’re looking to get him or her a first doll, you won’t want to miss stepping into the store in Dallas (13464 Dallas Parkway). It’s one of only 19 locations across the country. After you get your doll’s ears pierced, or head to the doll hair salon, you can enjoy brunch, afternoon tea, lunch or dinner. There are even tiny doll seats for your newest family members to join you. It’s free to get inside the store for a look, but your day will get exponentially more expensive once you start buying dolls, adding accessories, services and meals. For an American Girl Doll aficionado, though, this could be a very special day out.
Great Wolf Lodge
Technically, Great Wolf Lodge is north of Dallas in Grapevine (100 Great Wolf Drive), but it is inside the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex area. This hotel features a year-round indoor water park and an outdoor water park during the summer months, along with an arcade, 3-D theater and so much more. With restaurants, pizza takeout and even a Starbucks on-site, there’s no need to leave for your entire stay, though you can certainly find plenty to visit and places to eat in the surrounding Grapevine area.
Water park admission is only granted to guests who have booked a room. You will have access to the water park from the day you check-in through the day you check-out. Room rates vary based on availability and season. Water park admission is included in the price of the room, but add-ons like the ropes course and MagiQuest, an interactive wand game, cost extra. Check out how easy it is to celebrate a birthday at Great Wolf Lodge!
Dallas Restaurants Kids Will Love
You will, of course, need to rest and refuel during your trip to Dallas, so check out these family-friendly dining venues.
To a family with young kids, and parents who just want to relax and enjoy a little adult conversation over dinner and drinks, The Lot (7530 E Grand Avenue) is magical. It’s in the heart of East Dallas, and the food ranges from mini quesadillas or cashew butter and honey sandwiches on the kids menu, to roasted Brussels sprouts, burgers and fish tacos for more mature palates on the regular menu.
Beyond having a great variety of food and a fantastic drink menu, there is a glorious outdoor play area for kids that is fenced and can be viewed directly from many tables. Enjoy your meal in relative peace while you easily keep an eye on the kids safely playing nearby. Kid’s meals are $7.50 and include a side and a drink. (Here are our credit card recs for families who like to earn rewards while eating out.)
Steel City Pops
This Popsicle company wasn’t established in Dallas, but it’s one of the few cities where you can find them. It’s worth a visit for the generously sized gourmet Popsicles made with organic cane sugar and fresh fruit. Flavors like strawberry lemonade, vanilla and dairy-free banana are tame enough for the pickiest in your crowd, and the more adventurous popsicle eaters can enjoy flavors like rhubarb, avocado and oatmeal cream pie.
Dallas has a huge footprint and you could spend weeks exploring each corner of the city — always finding some family-friendly fun. And, another great thing about the city is that there are plenty of points hotels like the Hyatt Regency Dallas (from 12,000 World of Hyatt points) or Hyatt Place Dallas/Park Central (from 8,000 points per night), Homewood Suites by Hilton Dallas Downtown (40,000 Honors points) or Homewood Suites Dallas-Market Center (30,000 Honors points), Embassy Suites by Hilton Dallas Market Center (30,000 Honors points) and the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas (50,000 Marriott Rewards points). That way you can use your points to cover lodging and spend your money at some of the best things for kids to do in Dallas!
What are your favorite places to take the kiddos in Dallas?
Featured image of Klyde Warren Park via Shutterstock.
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