Best Things To Do in Dallas – Fort Worth
If you only have a day or two, you will have to choose whether you want the Dallas or the Fort Worth experience: The sheer distance (and traffic) between the two cities will force you to be selective. However, taking three days to a week to explore both sides of DFW will expose you to the Metroplex's true nature. History buffs should tour Dallas' Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza as well as the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. Families can enjoy a day at the Dallas World Aquarium or the Fort Worth Zoo, while art lovers should make time for both the Dallas Museum of Art and the Kimbell Art Museum. Then meet in the middle for a Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium.
Updated December 12, 2018
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If you only have a day in Fort Worth, head straight to the Stockyards. This living museum pays tribute to Fort Worth's Wild West heyday with daily cattle drives and plenty of restaurants serving up cowboy cuisine. Start your visit at Stockyards Station at the heart of this historic neighborhood – from here, you can join a guided walking or Segway tour or hop on a stage coach. If you're interested in the district's history, pay a visit to the Stockyards Museum, which is housed in the former Livestock Exchange building and now contains an extensive collection of documents and artifacts from Fort Worth's Old West era. Meanwhile, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Texas Trail of Fame will also offer insight into Fort Worth's most notable residents. If you have kids in tow, take a twirl through the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze or a ride on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad.
Recent visitors strongly recommend visiting the Stockyards on a Friday or Saturday night for the Championship Rodeo. Starting at 8 p.m., talented cowboys will show off their riding, roping and racing skills in the Cowtown Coliseum. Afterward, you can test your dancing skills at Billy Bob's Texas – at 3 acres, Billy Bob's claims to be the world's largest honky tonk. While many reviewers said this was a great activity for first-time visitors, they also cautioned that it is quite touristy.
- #2View all PhotosfreeSundance Square#2 in Dallas – Fort WorthSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
To get a sense of historic Fort Worth, pair your visit to the Stockyards with an afternoon at Sundance Square, located in the heart of the city. Named for the Sundance Kid – partner to the infamous Butch Cassidy – this 35-block district has been entertaining Fort Worth visitors since the city's Wild West days. During the 1800s, cowboys following the Chisholm Trail would stop here in town to linger in the saloons, gambling parlors and dance halls. Today, the area's red-brick buildings house a variety of shops, restaurants and bars. Sundance Square's pedestrian plaza (located along Main Street between Third and Fourth streets) also features several fountains – the jetted fountains being the most popular. Bring your bathing suit for an afternoon of ducking and diving beneath the spray of 216 jets, or bring your camera in the evening when the fountain is lit by underwater LED light fixtures.
Recent visitors to Sundance Square enjoyed the time they spent in the square, describing the ambiance as quaint and the dining options as varied and plentiful. Many say it's much more fun when there are events going on, which liven up the scene even more. Others were particularly impressed with the area's holiday displays.
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On Nov. 22, 1963, shots from Lee Harvey Oswald's gun echoed through Dealey Plaza as President John F. Kennedy's motorcade turned off of Houston Street onto Elm. Today, this scenic green space in downtown Dallas is visited every year by thousands who gather to honor the 35th president.
This tragic day in United States history has been immortalized on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository, where Oswald pulled the trigger just more than 50 years ago. The Sixth Floor Museum (which actually occupies the sixth and seventh floors of the building) houses exhibits detailing JFK's life, presidency and assassination. According to many recent visitors, one of the most fascinating exhibits is a recreation of Oswald's set-up at the southeast window, accompanied by touch screens that detail the events of that day. (If you're interested in seeing Dealey Plaza and Elm Street the way Oswald saw it that day, you can watch the live Dealey Plaza Cam, a streaming webcam set up at the very window through which Oswald tracked the presidential motorcade.)
- #4View all Photos#4 in Dallas – Fort WorthZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Since it opened in 1909, this Texas zoo has been exposing Fort Worth residents and visitors to wildlife from around the world. When it first opened, the Fort Worth Zoo contained one lion, two bear cubs, a coyote, a peacock, an alligator and some rabbits; now, it's a full menagerie with exhibits housing everything from jaguars to flamingos. Make your way to the Australian Outback to mingle with Aussie residents like kangaroos, or visit the Asian Falls area for views of the stunning white tigers. Recent visitors also highly recommend spending time in the Museum of Living Art, an award-winning facility that houses some 5,700 birds, reptiles and amphibians who live among hand-painted murals.
Those who have visited the zoo find plenty of aspects to praise, including the well-shaded pathways (lined with water misters primed to keep you cool on hot summer days) and the option to bring your own food and beverages. But heed the advice from these travelers to not ignore the other pastimes found on zoo grounds. For example, spend some time in Texas Wild!, a model Wild West village complete with a petting corral and a laser shooting gallery, as well as several snack options.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Dallas – Fort WorthMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
The Kimbell Art Museum has earned a reputation as one of the top small museums in the world. The facility itself is a work of art, complete with vaults and skylights and a sculpture garden designed by prominent Japanese-American artist, Isamu Noguchi. And despite its modest size, this museum is a must-see for any art buff: The permanent collection houses works that span history and features artists ranging from El Greco and Rembrandt to Monet and Picasso.
Although art aficionados were already impressed by the original Kahn building, which was constructed in 1972, the addition of the Piano Pavilion (named for Italian architect Renzo Piano, who helped design Paris' famous Centre Pompidou) has made the Kimbell feel less cramped, recent visitors say. Many visitors call this one of the best-kept secrets in Fort Worth, one not to be missed. The new section of the museum – which opened in November 2013 – now houses parts of the permanent collection, including Asian and European Art, as well as some traveling exhibitions.
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If you've brought the kids to the Big D, set aside some time for a visit to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This 180,000-square-foot facility is jam-packed with hands-on exhibits and educational displays that address such topics as Texas ecosystems human evolution. One particular highlight for recent visitors was the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, which features towering dinosaur skeletons and an educational scavenger hunt. The Rose Hall of Birds also captivated visitors: Here, interactive displays explain how birds fly and socialize.
Many travelers say that the Perot Museum makes an excellent respite from the hot and humid Texas weather and they were pleasantly surprised by the museum's excellent hand's-on exhibits. Reviewers also said this is a great activity for the whole family, as its attractions appeal to a wide range of age groups.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Dallas – Fort WorthMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The Dallas Museum of Art houses a collection that spans artistic eras and continents: On gallery walls and behind glass display cases art aficionados will find ancient works from Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean; European art spanning the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; and contemporary pieces by such artists as Mark Rothko and Roy Lichtenstein. The museum also plays host to various traveling exhibitions, which have in the past included works by Georgia O'Keefe and Vincent van Gogh.
If you can, recent travelers recommend taking advantage of the various educational programming offered at the museum. For example, the third Friday of each month features a "Late Nights" session that can be anything from a lecture to a film screening to a family game night. And speaking of families, the Dallas Museum of Art also runs a host of kid-friendly activities such as art classes and workshops.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Dallas – Fort WorthSports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSports, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If there's one thing the people of Dallas and Fort Worth love, it's football. So a stop by the home of the Dallas Cowboys is necessary for a true glimpse into the area's culture. The Cowboys' former kingdom in Irving was demolished in 2010 to make way for a bigger, better venue. Now you can visit "America's Team" at AT&T Stadium. The largest domed stadium in the country with a capacity for 80,000 screaming fans is located in Arlington, Texas – approximately halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Even if you're not interested in seeing a game, you might still want to take a tour of this venue, which also houses an extensive collection of art. In fact, there's a guided tour specifically devoted to the stadium's artwork. But recent visitors say that avid sports fans should tag along on the VIP tour, which leads attendees through the private suites, the press box, the locker rooms and even out onto the field.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Dallas – Fort WorthParks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
True, Dallas has plenty of towering skyscrapers and traffic-laden highways. But it's also rich in green space. For respite from the big city, head to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which occupies 66 acres in White Rock Lake Park about 7 miles northeast of downtown. Forget about the hustle and bustle with a stroll through the Margaret Elisabeth Jonsson Color Garden, where more than 2,000 varieties of azaleas blossom in the spring and several acres of chrysanthemums come to life during the fall. Several historic homes surround the lake, tucked away in numerous patches of natural forest; take some time to visit them and escape the blazing summer heat.
What some recent travelers loved the most about the Dallas Arboretum are the various sculptures placed throughout the grounds. Meanwhile, other visitors recommend the gardens for kids. If you do bring your youngsters, make your way to the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden, a massive 8-acre museum that houses 17 galleries filled with dynamic demonstrations, games and teacher-led labs focused on environmental science. The Children's Garden also contains 150 inventive exhibits that include canopied walkways and a 9,100-square-foot Exploration Center with plant and soil labs, among other features.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Dallas – Fort WorthMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Set on 23 acres in northern Dallas' University Park, The George W. Bush Presidential Library houses extensive textual, audiovisual and electronic records from the 43rd presidency. As you can imagine, the library is more of a research facility than it is a tourist attraction. Instead, casual visitors should make their way to the adjacent 14,000-square-foot museum, where detailed displays explore such events of Bush's time in office as 9/11, as well as the themes of education reform and the economic crisis. Inside the museum, you'll find interactive exhibits that put you in the former president's shoes: You can walk around a replica of the Oval Office, and in the Decision Points Theater, you can experience the Bush administration's decision- and policy-making process.
According to recent visitors, the highlight of a visit to the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum was the 9/11 exhibit, which they describe as extensive and well-organized. Travelers say that the exhibit, which contains a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, is moving, especially if you have friends or family in the military.
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Sitting across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art in the Big D's lively Arts District, the Nasher Sculpture Garden repeatedly wows locals and visitors with its striking indoor and outdoor galleries (a particular highlight for past visitors). The center houses more than 300 works of art by modern and contemporary artists like Matisse, Picasso and Rodin. Pieces here range from small marble sculptures to massive installations. Some recent travelers recommend participating in a docent-led tour, available Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 and 11 a.m., which is included in the admission price. To participate in a tour on Tuesday or Thursday, you must make reservations at least three weeks in advance.
The Nasher Sculpture Center also hosts a variety of lecture series and workshops geared toward adults interested in learning more about the museum's collection. And if you've got kids in tow, recent visitors recommend planning your visit for the first Saturday of the month when admission is free and family-friendly programs take place. There is also free admission on the third Friday of the month after 5 p.m.
- #12View all Photos#12 in Dallas – Fort WorthZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Perhaps "aquarium" isn't the right word to describe this attraction. Of course there are fish, stingrays, eels and octopuses – you'll find these and a variety of other aquatic creatures occupying the facility's expansive tanks. But the Dallas World Aquarium also houses penguins, sharks and flamingos. A living rainforest shelters manatees, crocodiles, monkeys and toucans, while the Mayan exhibit is home to a Jabiru storks and an ocelot, among other fascinating wildlife. If you can, try and plan your visit around feeding times: You'll get to see the critters feast while aquarium staff members tell you more about the species.
Recent travelers said they were pleasantly surprised by the number of animals housed in the Dallas World Aquarium, and many say that a visit here makes a great alternative to the Dallas Zoo, especially during the hot summer months. However, some do warn that the space can feel crowded, especially when schools are on break. Another sticking point for some visitors was the high cost of admission, though others say they felt a visit here was well worth the money.
- View all PhotosParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
With free Wi-Fi, weekly events, a dog park, walking trails, a children's park, several restaurants, food trucks and a performance pavilion, Klyde Warren Park is not your typical green space. Built over the Woodall Rogers Freeway and managed by the Woodall Rogers Park Foundation, the urban space in the heart of Dallas hosts events ranging from yoga and concerts to outdoor films and lectures series. The park, which sprawls across more than 5 acres, can also be reserved for public or private events – the skyline and location make it an ideal backdrop for weddings and concerts.
Recent visitors appreciated the park's close proximity to museums and art institutions, including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, and said it's a great spot to relax in between sightseeing. Parents love the variety of food trucks that congregate around the park, but some say the food is a bit expensive. Travelers also love the Ginsburg Family Great Lawn, which is a prime place for picnics. Visitors add that it's a fun spot for people-watching and the bathrooms are clean.
- View all PhotosParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, Recreation, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Travelers can embrace nature at White Rock Lake and Park, which is located about 10 miles north of downtown Dallas. Bird-watching, fishing, biking, rollerblading and picnicking by the lake are just a few of the activities people can enjoy. Active visitors and locals love to sail on the lake, as well as rent stand-up paddleboards and kayaks from a nearby rental company, White Rock Paddle Co. Keep in mind that swimming in the lake is prohibited. But with local attractions nearby like the White Rock Lake Museum, Bath House Cultural Center and Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, and amenities like a picnic area, dog park and pavilions for rent, you can find entertainment rain or shine.
Visitors often report wildlife sightings, such as different kinds of birds throughout the year. Families note that it's a dog-friendly park as well, with plenty of space for kids and pets to run around. And many recommend visiting at off-peak times, like in the afternoon and evening, to enjoy fewer crowds and take in the colorful sunset. Active travelers also say it a great spot to run, hike or bike.
- View all PhotosShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDShoppingTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
This Mediterranean-style shopping center is home to upscale stores in an open-air setting where visitors can wander for a few hours. The shopping center, which was one of the first of its kind, has restaurants, a movie theater and shops that reflect the wealthy neighborhood where it is located. Some refer to it as the "Beverly Hills of Dallas," which should be an indicator of just how high-end the stores are, and locals say it's one of the top shopping spots in Dallas. The architecture of the longstanding shopping center is also a draw, and shoppers recommend checking out Highland Park Village around Christmastime when lights and decorations transform the outdoor mall.
The shopping center offers concierge services, personal shoppers and complimentary valet parking at multiple stores throughout the village. International shoppers can acquire Texas sales tax refunds from select retail stores by presenting receipts and identification and flight information at the on-site TaxFree Shopping, Ltd.
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