Free Things To Do in Dallas – Fort Worth
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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.
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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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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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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.
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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.
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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.
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