For the last few years, Dallas and its surrounding suburbs have consistently been ranked as one of the most family-friendly cities in Texas. So it makes sense then that Dallas is brimming with kid-centric activities that the whole family will love. From amusement parks to museums and nature spaces, there are plenty of things to do and see that will have both parents and kids thoroughly entertained, educated or inspired. Grab the little ones, slather on some sunscreen and hop in the car – there’s adventure to be had in Dallas.
Visit the oldest and largest zoo in Texas on a trip to Dallas. With over 2000 animals and more than 400 species, the whole family will have a blast learning about animals and conservation at the Dallas Zoo. Bring your walking shoes because the Dallas Zoo is 106 acres, and you want to be comfortable as you dart from the gorillas to the giraffe feeding area and everywhere in between. For a behind-the-scenes tour of the Dallas Zoo operations, sign the family up for a 90-minute guided tour called the Backstage Safari.
Legoland Discovery Center
When the summers get hot in Dallas, it’s nice to have some indoor fun with the kids. Check out the Legoland Discovery Center, where the whole family will be inspired to create and play with LEGO Bricks or take pictures with their favorite characters from LEGO films. Relax in the 4D Cinema and watch some stellar short, action-packed films. Grab a quick snack at the on-site cafe before letting the kids run wild on the Legoland Discovery Center playground.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Take the family to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden to walk through 66 acres of beautiful parkland, creative nature displays, and an ever-changing selection of art. Children will love exploring the Rory Meyer’s Children’s Adventure Garden. In addition to an adventure bridge that leads through a tree canopy, the garden has various interactive exhibits that teach kids about the science of nature, water, geology and space. Families with older children might enjoy cooking classes or Thursday night concerts in the arboretum.
Cool down with a trip to Hurricane Harbor, the premiere waterpark of Dallas. Let the kids splish-splash in the 1-million-gallon wave pool while you get a proper tan floating on the lazy river. Enjoy big thrills on such rides as the Tornado, Tsunami, or the brand-new Banzai Pipeline, a three-story-tall water slide tower with three slides. With over 50 acres of food, pools and slides galore, the whole family will have a great time.
Dallas World Aquarium
Dallas may not be anywhere near an ocean, but that doesn’t mean the family can’t learn about the fish and mammals that call it home. At the Dallas World Aquarium, which is housed in a couple of old warehouses in Downtown Dallas’ West End Historic District, the family can admire colorful fish, sharks and sea animals while walking through the aquarium. The aquarium recreates both fresh and saltwater ecosystems from around the world and particularly South America, including a a cloud forest like the ones found in Costa Rica, the Mundo Maya in El Salvador, the Orinoco River in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as an assortment of South African amphibians and lizards and other land critters like penguins, a sloth, and tropical birds.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
When the Perot Museum of Nature and Science opened in 2012, it became a favorite spot for families to spend the day. Explore 12 different permanent halls and exhibits the likes of which teach the whole family about the universe, birds, dinosaurs, energy and sports through hands-on interactive activities. The museum focuses on inspiring children to learn about topics like the science of robots, the historical connections between humans and birds or what an earthquake feels like. Watch your kids gain a new appreciation and a deeper understanding of the world around them.
Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park sits atop of a highway that’s nestled between downtown Dallas and the Uptown neighborhood. Bring the kids to this park for a unique and free playdate. It’s outfitted with a jungle gym-like playground and large fields where kids can run around. Food trucks line the park, and are a popular stop after the nearby museums of the arts district. On weekends, you can enjoy outdoor movie nights, free concerts or community events like yoga and dance classes for all ages. There are also lawn games available on Saturdays and Sundays, including giant Connect 4, cornhole, frisbees, and put putt.
Museum of Illusions
Pull out your camera, parents – the Museum of Illusions is a place you’ll want to document. This funky space has 60 different visual and sensory illusions that will make the kids say, “How does that happen?” Snap tons of photos as the family stands on the ceiling, shrinks to different sizes like Alice in Wonderland and plays with light and color on a walk through the Vortex Tunnel – a tubular walkway that uses swirling projections to affect how you feel moving through space. The Museum of Illusions will bring smiles and laughs to the whole family.
Six Flags Over Texas
Six Flags Over Texas is for the family that loves chills and thrills. Pre-teens and teenagers can join their parents on the biggest and fastest rollercoasters and rides in the world. That’s not to say that smaller children won’t have a good time as well – the 10 different rides in Bugs Bunny Boomtown are mild enough for younger kiddos, and there are other family-friendly rides throughout the park. Add on games, shows, concerts and delicious food, and there's a lot to keep all ages busy.
Trinity River Audubon Center
You might be surprised to find out that Dallas is home to the largest urban forest in the United States. You can explore a 120 acre corner of the 6,000 acre Great Trinity Forest at the Trinity River Audubon Center. Take the family on a leisurely hike along five miles of trails that wind from overlooks down to the river. Or spot dozens of bird species who call this park home, and even more who migrate through each spring and fall. Kids of all ages will love to peep butterflies on site, or while older children and teens might like to take advantage of monthly programing like guided nature walks led by experts. Don’t forget to stop in the Children’s Discovery Garden or check out the educational exhibits for children on-site, too.