For families that enjoy falling from high places, the Zero Gravity Thrill Park will provide an unforgettable adrenaline rush. You can bungee-jump and drop seven stories. Or you could opt for Nothing but Net, which can’t really be described as a ride; it simply drops you 16 stories into a large net. The other attractions—Skycoaster, Blastoff, and Skyscraper—are all equally exhilarating.
Founded in 1888, the Dallas Zoo is the largest in Texas, spread out around 95 acres. You may not be able to see it all in one day, but don’t miss the Giants of the Savanna section. On an elevated deck, you can feed lettuce to giraffes. In the Serengeti Grill, you can eat right next to a large window that offers an up-close view of the lions. The area near the window is cooled to encourage lion lounging. In the kid’s zoo, children can watch mole-rats crawl through burrows, and then they can crawl through their own kid-sized tunnels. There are also pony rides available and an area where overheated kids can splash through a cool creek.
Travel Back in Time at Medieval Times
Feast on an 11th century-style meal and watch knights joust and sword fight at the Medieval Times Dinner Theater, a rousing, entertaining dinner and show held in a castle that truly takes you back to the Middle Ages. Kids are free Sundays through Thursdays, and though it may sound like cheesy entertainment, we’re betting that the adults in the crowd will end up enjoying Medieval Times just as much as the youngsters.
Go for a Hike at White Rock Lake Park
Dallas’s beloved White Rock Lake Park is over twice the size of Central Park, with a 9.33-mile hike-and-bike trail, an Audubon Society-designated birding area, a dog park, fishing piers, and a kayak concession. We highly recommend packing a picnic and taking advantage of the park’s scenic little picnic areas scattered around the lake—the Stone Tables picnic area, on the easternmost corner of the park near Buckner Blvd. and Poppy Drive, is one of the most popular spots (you can reserve one of the tables or pavilion ahead of time, if you’d like).
Kids will love riding the McKinney Avenue Trolley, which operates 365 days per year and provides a fun, unique way to see some of the best sights in the city. There are plenty of fun stops along the way, including sidewalk cafes, the Dallas Museum of Art, antique stores, and art galleries. Drivers are well-versed in Dallas lore and will keep the children entertained as well as informed about the city's history and fun facts.
At the Perot, kids can roam around five floors packed with dynamic exhibits that include the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, the Moody Family Children’s Museum, the Rose Hall of Birds, and more—children of all ages will love meeting giant dinosaurs, stargazing, studying ancient animal bones, checking out gems and minerals, playing around in a 3D animation lab, and, at the Hoglund Foundation Theater, watching thrilling movies that transport you to other worlds and dimensions.
Dallas’s famed theme park, Six Flags Over Texas, is home to some thrill-inducing coasters, like the New Texas Giant, a wood-and-steel hybrid scream machine, and The Joker, a freestyle-coaster with stomach-churning drops. Got younger kiddos? There are plenty of tiny tot-friendly rides at Six Flags, as well. The whole family can participate in the Roaring Rapids ride, which is basically a large, round bumper boat that splashes through man-made whitewater. For a mellow ride with a great view, head to the Cloud Bouncer, where you slowly spin as you climb higher and higher in the basket of a pretend hot-air balloon.
From 1866 to 1890, more than 4 million cattle were driven through Fort Worth, on their way to points further north. In 1876, the railroad arrived, and Fort Worth became a major shipping hub for cattle sent by rail. The Fort Worth Stockyards were built to support this booming industry, and restaurants, bars, and hotels sprang up around the stockyards. Today, it’s a National Historic District and entertainment complex. There are still daily cattle drives, but they’re just for fun. Every Friday and Saturday night, there’s also a rodeo, complete with bull riding, roping, and barrel racing. Don't forget your cowboy boots!
Located next to the Fort Worth Zoo, this living history museum allows kids to take a peek at life in the mid-1800s in Texas. Costumed historical interpreters make candles, work in the blacksmith shop, and tend an herb garden. Each of the seven cabins includes authentic pieces from the era. The log smokehouse, with sausages hanging from the rafters, demonstrates how meat was prepared before refrigeration. Even if you’re not a history buff, you can take a relaxing stroll through the beautifully wooded grounds.
Cool Off at the Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark
For water-loving kiddos, nothing beats Epic Waters Indoor Waterpark. This 80,000-square-foot, indoor waterpark lives up to its name, featuring a retractable roof, 11 waterslides (including the tallest indoor Aqualoop in the country), an outdoor wave pool, a surf simulator, and one of the longest lazy rivers in America. It’s easy to spend the whole day at Epic Waters, so be sure to allow for enough time here. (Kids 3 years and younger get in free.)
Go on a Family Hike in Cedar Ridge Preserve
Though there are a number of great, family-friendly hikes in and around the Dallas area, Cedar Ridge Preserve is easily the best. This 600-acre urban oasis is a slice of the Hill Country, with its rolling hills, thick forest, wildflower-covered meadows, and abundant wildlife. There are 9 miles of walking trails that range from easy to difficult, so you can pick which is best-suited for your family.
Eat Lunch at The Lot
Grab lunch at The Lot, a family-friendly beer garden and eatery in the heart of East Dallas. Parents can sip craft beers while keeping an eye on the little ones in the children’s play area. Plus, the kids’ menu here has more options than most, including a mini-burger, cheese quesadillas, and bowtie pasta with butter, while the regular lunch menu features tasty sandwiches, burgers, salads, and tacos.
Spend the Day at Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park is the crown jewel of the Dallas cityscape and an ideal spot to hang out with the kiddos. This innovative 5.2-acre urban green space sits perched right above the freeway, sprawling over five acres, with the glittering skyline in the background. Klyde Warren isn’t just your average green space, though—there are areas for chess, croquet, a dog park, a children’s park, and ping-pong, plus walking trails and a rotating selection of delicious food trucks.
Play Around at the Arboretum
Just minutes from downtown, on the banks of White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is the picture-perfect place to spend the day with kids. This 66-acre park is brimming with colorful display gardens, spacious stretches of lawn, and thick groves of pecan trees, magnolias, cherry trees, and azaleas; it’s a beautiful, well-designed spot. The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is chock-full of educational and interactive activities, like science labs, world weather talks, an edible garden, water features, and more.
Soar Above the Trees at Trinity Forest Adventure Park
Trinity Forest Adventure Park is Texas’s first aerial adventure park—there are over 20 zip lines and 70 other outdoor elements here (including a rock climbing wall and Indiana Jones-style bridges). The ropes course features three different levels of elevation; all the courses are color-coded with varying degrees of difficulty, so you can pick which you’re most comfortable with. Trinity Forest also has tons of amenities for those who’d prefer to stay on the ground, like a pool, fishing ponds, sand volleyball, pedal boats, a petting zoo, and more.
See a Play at the Dallas Children’s Theater
The Dallas Children’s Theater is consistently ranked as one of the best youth theaters in the country. Typically offering around 10 productions per year, the DCT is a wonderful place to bring children and watch their eyes light up as their favorite stories—like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," "Peter Pan," and "The Wizard of Oz"—come to life. Buy tickets for upcoming shows on their website.