Texas is somewhere I would love to visit one day so I am really pleased to have a guest post today featuring things to do in Dallas, Texas with children. An Orlando native, Kalyn writes about USA travel at All-American Atlas.
Dallas, Texas is one of the best places to visit with kids who want to experience the great outdoors, see some Texas culture (stockyards all around!) and feel like they have space to run and play.
Unlike some cities, Dallas is more spread out and includes the metro Forth Worth area, giving you a lot of land to explore. There is a dedicated downtown area, but not just one single “center of town” for you to hang out in.
Instead, you’ve got everything from quaint lakes to bustling city streets to historic cobblestone thoroughfares with cattle and cowboys – a truly diverse and fascinating place to be. From free things to do in Dallas to paid-for attractions, we’ll cover it all.
Check out this guide on the best things to do in Dallas with kids to make sure that you’re not going to hear “can we leave yet?” over and over in your ear throughout your trip.
Instead, you’ll probably hear “do we have to leave?!” when you’re trying to get them off the playground, out of the aquarium, or to leave the park – and that’s what we want!
Tips for Visiting Dallas with Kids
- Dallas, like most of Texas, is a driver-friendly city. The best way to see it is to rent a car. There are a few public transportation options downtown, but really nothing you want to make use of. Bringing or renting your own car will ensure you can see as much as possible, maybe take some day trips from Dallas, and pack more on a day out than just what you can carry.
- Especially if you’re traveling to Dallas in the summer months, be prepared for sweltering Texas heat and pack lots of water bottles and short-sleeve shirts!
- Dallas attractions will often have special kid’s events on certain days of the months, so check the calendars before you travel to see if there are extra things you can take part in
- Always ask about children’s prices before paying, as most museums and experiences in Dallas will have a discount for children or a “family” ticket that enables you to pay less when you buy one ticket as a family instead of individually
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Everyone loves a nature and science museum, particularly one like the Perot Museum of Nature and Science that even includes a dedicated children’s museum as part of its offerings.
In the “all ages” exhibits, you’ll find themed rooms on everything from engineering to weather to dinosaurs, sure to keep any kid fascinated for a few hours with the interactive displays.
If you’ve got toddlers, the Children’s Museum features everything from a water table where they can splash around to a mock Farmer’s Market they can play in. It’s a great place to take them where they can engage in gentle play with those their age instead of fighting for space on the “bigger kid’s” play areas.
There is also a free one-acre outdoor plaza that is wonderful for taking a break-in.
The kids can run and play in the water features or try their hand at the musical instruments, while you sit back and watch them from your picnic blanket (don’t forget the snacks!)
The museum itself is air-conditioned, which is a huge bonus on a hot Dallas day.
The Dallas Zoo is a beloved part of the Dallas community and a great thing to do with kids in Dallas. It’s one of the largest zoos in all of Texas, and the number of animals you can discover as you wander around is staggering.
You’ll start your experience wandering across the Flaming Pond, where so many of these fascinating pink creatures live, and you’ll soon encounter a children’s zoo for petting, lots of primates, and even “otter outpost.”
Head over to the “Giants of the Savanna” land where you’ll find elephants, lions, and giraffes, or experience Chimpanzee Forest, which is full of these adorable primates. Check out the gorgeous okapi as they strut through the savanna, or spend time in the forest aviary to see colorful birds and listen to them squawk.
There are also Nile crocodiles, meerkats, gorillas, giant anteaters and so much more. You’ll also find talks by keepers on at various animal exhibits as the day goes on.
There are places to eat, as well as bathrooms, located throughout the zoo, and it can truly be close to an entire day visit so make sure everyone has their walking shoes on and a hat to keep off the sun.
While the Dallas Aquarium might be a smaller building than you’re used to for aquariums, they jam-pack the fun in and have designed it to make the most of their space while still providing a fantastic visitor experience.
Here, you can get up close and personal with everything from sloths to birds to fish, and you can easily spend a good two to three hours here.
There are regular feedings and talks by enthusiastic zookeepers to help teach the kids about the natural world and how the animals are taken care of.
Stop off by the otter exhibit or spend some time watching the penguins waddle around. Test your knowledge of ocelots, or head to the Caribbean creature’s habitat.
The aquarium also offers three full sit-down restaurants on-site that serve a family-friendly menu, which means you don’t have to worry about packing any food or figuring out what’s for lunch.
It’s right in the heart of the West End Historic District, with plenty of other things to do nearby.
470 feet off the ground, Reunion Tower is the best view in all of Dallas, and the 360 degree observation deck is a great place to take the kids to see the Dallas skyline, get some family photos, or learn more about the tower’s engineering or Dallas’s landscape. One of the best parts of Reunion Tower for families is the GeO-Deck where there are plenty of interactive activities to help you make sense of what you see down below and learn some new things. They also host kid’s birthday parties and scouting events, if you want to hold an event here for the kids.
Try out the 360 Degree Video Experience, or get a free photo from the photo booth.
If your kids are afraid of heights, definitely take that into consideration before heading up here as it is the highest attraction in Dallas, but curious and daredevil kids will absolutely love the feeling of shooting up on the elevators into the viewing platforms (and the funny feeling in your stomach when you take it back down!)
River Legacy Park
I love River Legacy Park, just a short drive from the center of Dallas, as this open area has everything from forests to wetlands.
Take the kids to explore all of the habitats, whether by walking or on a set of wheels! Bring the mountain bikes to try out the mountain bike trail, or strap on some rollerblades and explore the paved trails that way. All types of transportation, from walking to biking, are allowed and encouraged as long as you keep an eye out for other people and share the trails kindly.
You’ll see tons of wildlife, as well as miles of beautiful forests along the way.
If you want to pack lunch and enjoy food in the great outdoors, there are plenty of picnic areas for you to enjoy.
You can also find spots to overlook the river while you take a breather from all of the activity.
There’s also a playground in River Legacy Park which is a great way for kids to burn off the last of that energy before you head home and hope for a good night’s sleep.
With plenty of outdoor things to do like bird watching, hiking, and fishing, Benbrook Lake has everything you need for a nature-filled day out with the kids near Dallas and Fort Worth.
Because the lake is located further into the countryside, you will want a car to access it, but it’s a fantastic option when you all just need a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Dallas or want to take advantage of some good weather and smell some fresh air.
Here, you’ll find plenty of space to spread out with a picnic in the prairie meadows, as well as the option to go camping if you want to turn it into a weekend trip.
You’ll see other families also enjoying the great outdoors, so ditch your screens, get moving, and enjoy the idyllic backdrop that Benbrook Lake provides.
Fort Worth Water Gardens
When the weather gets hot and the kids are antsy, there’s no better place to take them than the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Just a short drive from downtown Dallas, this is seriously the number one thing to do in the heat. They’re known as the “water gardens,” but it’s more like a natural water park, with a really lovely park surrounding awesome pools of water and flowing water fountains for everyone to play in. You’ll also find places in the shade to just sit and cool off, as well as mist areas. You can’t actually swim in the water gardens, so you don’t have to worry about bringing the little ones who don’t know how yet, but you can splash around, wade, and use it to cool off.
It’s got an interesting design history as well, as it’s done in a modernist style and was opened in 1974 to provide a new type of landscape for local residents.
Lake Worth Castle
While you can’t go inside it, I’ve included Lake Worth castle as a great thing to do with kids in the Dallas and Fort Worth area because, hello, it’s a castle! Where else can you find those in the US? Far away from the traditional castle grounds of Europe, this Texas castle was built in the 1920s on the shores of Lake Worth by some very wealth local residents.
It’s a really fun thing to drive past and snap some pictures to remember, and one of the most unique things to see in the Dallas area.
Fort Worth Stockyards
The kids are about to learn what a rodeo is with a trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards, part of the Dallas metro area. This is basically a scene straight from the Old West where cowboy boots and cowgirl hats are encouraged!
The history of the stockyards goes back to Texas cattle trade, as this is where cattle was sold and traded to farmers from 1866 to 1890, giving the area the nickname “Cowtown.”
Today, it’s a mixture of shopping areas, Old West themed gift shops, the rodeo, live entertainment on the sides of the pedestrian street, pony rides, and the daily “cattle walk” where they walk through the center of the stockyards.
This is a truly Texan thing to do, and you can also take some really nice walks from the stockyards to the surrounding areas, where you’ll see cactus, railroad tracks, and a river.
You can also check out the Old West themed restaurants and saloons, sure to impress any wannabe cowboy.
Fantasy Landing at Kiest Park
In today’s busy world, sometimes we feel like we need something grand and magnificent for the kids to do to take them away from their technology and screens, but sometimes what we really need is an old-fashioned playground.
Okay, Fantasy Landing isn’t actually old-fashioned: it’s very modern, beautifully themed with fantasy images and filled with colourful climbing and balancing equipment. But it does take you back to the days when all there was to do with the kids was let them run around on the playground, and your kids will fall in love with this enchanting play structure.
It was especially designed for accessibility so that kids of all physical abilities could laugh and play together, and it’s one of the best playgrounds in the Dallas area.
Also check out, things to do in New York with kids.