Family Fun in Dallas, Texas: The Must-Do’s and Must-Have’s
It’s true. Everything IS bigger in Texas—and even bigger in Dallas! I’ve been fortunate enough to call this city my home for the past 24 years. Despite moving away for college and graduate school, I always knew I eventually wanted to meet my future husband and start a family here. And that’s exactly what happened! Being the overly proud Texan that I am, it makes me exceptionally happy to be able to say my children were born and raised in Dallas.
Now that our twins are approaching their 2nd birthday, they’re old enough to start appreciating some of the fun attractions around our own stomping grounds. So, this summer we’ve been busy exploring all of the exciting things to do in our city as a family! Fun fact: One of my 2019 resolutions was to experience at least 1 new activity per month outside of the house as a family (and we are fully succeeding at it so far!).
All that said, I’ve put together a list of my top 8 “Must-do’s” around town as I know there are many new Dallas parents reading along (or some that might be thinking of visiting one day!). I’ve also listed my top 8 “Must-haves” to bring along with you on your family outings to keep the kids happy and healthy during your Dallas adventures.
1. Klyde Warren Park
This is our number 1 favorite place to take the kids! We’ve been bringing the twins here since they first started walking around a year old. Klyde Warren Park is a gorgeous park on top of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway that sits between Uptown and Downtown. Within the park, they have a children’s playground, a large field for playing sports or having a picnic, a variety of food trucks with delicious food, a restaurant, and a stage for live music. It’s also surrounded by a variety of great museums! It’s my go-to when anyone ever asks me what to do with their kids in Dallas.
2. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Not only is this place educational and huge, it’s extremely kid-friendly. Their exhibits are often exciting for kids (for example, they recently had the world’s largest LEGO exhibit!) and they even have a kid’s playroom inside on the bottom level with a kid’s make-believe campsite, farmer’s market, a water play table, and tons of things for climbing. You could spend an entire day at this museum playing and learning about dinosaurs, the earth, robots/innovations, and the human body.
3. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
This stunning 66-acre garden that sits along White Rock Lake is a flower haven. Every time we go there, we see photographers snapping the perfect family/wedding/senior portraits. They have quite a large outdoor children’s play zone with plenty of space for the kids to explore. The Arboretum is known not only for their year-round flower displays, but they’re also known for their huge Autumn pumpkin patch, Christmas displays, and summer lawn concerts.
4. The Dallas Zoo
…Because every city needs a zoo to teach our kids about animals! I remember going to this same zoo as a kid and it’s awesome to now take my own kids there. Its known to be the LARGEST zoo in Texas and has a variety of activities and animals to see for all ages!
5. The Dallas Aquarium
Located in the West End Historic District downtown, the Aquarium has an indoor rainforest, exotic birds, and fish of all kinds. We took the twins here this past 4th of July and we really enjoyed ourselves. The penguins, sloths, and sharks were our favorites! The walkways inside the Aquarium were large enough for us to cruise through with the kids in the double stroller. This is a nice option for a hot day when you want to see some cool animals but not be outside.
6. The Dallas Museum of Art
Naturally, I had to plug this one into the list, because Rob and I got married at this museum in 2016! They have some of the greatest art exhibits. It’s somewhere you could go with kids or for a date. Aside from their amazing exhibits, from September–May on the first Tuesday of each month, they have art activities for babies and toddlers. They also have daily hands-on family art experiences in their Center for Creative Connections. By the way, it’s right across the street from Klyde Warren Park!
7. Frontiers of Flight Museum
We take our kids here about once every other month. Located right next to the Dallas Love Field Airport, this small (but fun!) aerospace museum has a variety of airplanes to learn about and see up close. What our twins love the most about it right now, though, is the indoor play area for kids. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s a well-known fun spot for kids. They have little kid-sized airplanes to climb into (one has a slide out the back!) and a little jungle gym to climb. It’s a popular place for kids to have their birthday parties, too.
8. Crayola Experience of Plano
Okay, so this isn’t technically within the city limits of Dallas—it’s right outside in the suburbs--BUT it’s so unique that it’s worth having on the list. It’s located within the Willow Bend Mall in Plano and consists of 60,000 square feet of interactive Crayola fun. You can color, star in your coloring page, name and wrap your own crayons, and watch a live manufacturing show of how crayons are made. There are only 5 locations like it in the country. We took the kids here this summer and it was a blast; and it will be even more fun when they get a little older (like 3 or 4 years old)!
The Must-Have’s (to bring on the days of the Must-Do’s):
Keep all of your baby/kid to-go essentials together in one, convenient place! To be totally honest, it’s the diaper bag that I’ll want to keep using even after we are done with diapers—because it’s so stylish! We used to have a regular messenger diaper bag that went over one shoulder. Not only was it not as comfortable to carry, but it was small and never held enough for twins. This JJ Cole bag has made life so much easier! With it being a backpack, it’s just easier to carry--and it has 15 pockets for all of our twin essentials!! You can find the JJ Cole Brookmont Backpack here.
You never know where you’ll be when a diaper needs to be changed. Instead of laying your kids down on the dirty public surface, you can keep things clean with this changing pad that folds up into a clutch. It has a little slot built in that you can slide in diapers and keep a pack of wipes. Also, it fits perfectly inside the Brookmont backpack! You can find the JJ Cole Changing Clutch here.
This water-resistant mat comes in 7 different patterns (this one is the peruvian). If you’re going to be outdoors, it’s great to lay it down and sit on it at the park or in the lawn. One of my favorite features is that it has a carrying strap to put over your shoulder when it’s all folded up for transport. You can find the JJ Cole Outdoor Mat here.
4. Snacks and fluids, fluids, fluids!
Hydration is key in this triple-digit Texas weather! I always put ice water in the kids’ sippy cups before we go anywhere. Even if they’re not acting thirsty, I keep offering them some fluids to stay ahead of the game. If our twins ever get cranky in public, food is typically a quick fix for us. I usually pack WAY MORE than enough. Nobody likes listening to a hangry toddler!
5. Hand Wipes
The pediatric nurse practitioner inside me had to say it. Germs-- be gone! Plus, kids always find a way to get sticky, don’t they?
6. Distractions (Smart phone, iPad, bubbles, or a new toy)
I can’t tell you how many public meltdowns we’ve had where I’ve had to take charge as the CMO (Chief Meltdown Officer). Turning on a quick cartoon usually resolves crying fits a little faster. I ALWAYS keep my phone/iPad charged right before we leave the house just in case! Along the same lines, I like to also keep bubbles or a new and interesting toy on hand for those public crying fits.
7. Stroller or Wagon
Your little ones might get tired more quickly than normal if they’re playing/exploring outdoors in the sun and heat. Make sure you have a place for them to rest and have shade.
When it’s 100 degrees outside in Dallas and you’re at Klyde Warren Park, the Dallas Zoo, the Arboretum, etc., then it goes without saying that you’ll need to protect everyone’s skin with broad-spectrum sunscreen. No thanks, sunburn!
Hopefully, those families that are looking to mix some education and fun together in Dallas find these lists helpful. As I always say to those that don’t live in Dallas: there’s something here for everyone, y’all!