We here at GuideLive love helping you plan your week. Whether a special holiday is coming up or you're simply aiming for a great weekend, we sift through thousands of events in search of things like top concerts and top family fun — events we think might float your party boat.
But, sometimes, the journey is the destination. Here's a guide to some of the most fun places in North Texas. These picks aren't cutting-edge hot-spots so much as standards we expect will remain awesome for years to come.
We've categorized them loosely and added searchable keywords, free being an important one whenever applicable. Jump to any section by clicking on the links below:
Murals and street art
Galleries and collectives
Performing arts venues
History and science museums
Music, pop culture and comedy venues
Places to stretch your legs
If you're looking for annual events you can count on, check out our master calendar.
Think we missed something important? Let us know. We'll do our best to keep this girthy list in good order.
Now, get out there and plan the best day you never knew you would have.
It's the iconic home of the Texas Giant and the place Garth Brooks likes to hang out when he gets a day off. In 2018, the park plans to open its first new roller coaster in six years: the Joker, a very scary looking "free fly" coaster that "includes two 90-degree drops and up to six head-over-heels spins." Not into death-defying thrills? Check out Looney Toones Land, live music and seasonal shows.
You'll find about 25 different ways to slide, surf, swim and, yes, sweat at Hurricane Harbor. It's the area's O.G. large-scale water park, and the Black Hole — a.k.a. "the most awesome slide in the universe" — still looms over Interstate 30, beckoning commuters to pull over for a drop through darkness. See also: Hawaiian Falls (there are five locations), NRH20 and Bahama Beach.
For more water fun, see:
Whether they are live-streaming a baby giraffe's birth or catching Zola the Break Dancing Gorilla on camera, the Dallas Zoo and its clever social media team are all about bringing animals to the people. Luckily, it's also pretty easy to bring yourself to the zoo via public transportation: The zoo has its own DART Station. Here are upcoming events.
Often considered the creme de la creme of local animal attractions, the Fort Worth Zoo is the oldest zoo in Texas and generally tops national zoo rankings as one of the best in the country. (It snagged the No. 4 spot in 2017.) Bonus: It's open 365 days per year. Check out these upcoming events.
Visually, this three-story rain forest design is one of the most interesting animal sanctuaries in North Texas. There are penguins and sloths, plus a walk-through tunnel where you can feel like just one of the fish. Check out its special events.
See also: Amazon Aquarium in Fort Worth, The Children's Aquarium at Fair Park (associated with Dallas Zoo, this one is big on conservation programs. Plus, you can feed sharks!) and Sea Life Grapevine (where you can sometimes spot a Scuba Diving Santa in December).
General admission is free every day, which is exciting, seeing as how the DMA has been the largest arts district in the country's hub of cultural exploration and education since 1903.
Check out current exhibitions and upcoming events. On the third Friday of every month, the museum stays open until midnight to present special concerts, readings, film screenings and more during its Late Nights program.
The Second Thursdays with a Twist invites patrons to explore with a cocktail in hand, and the Arts and Letters Live series features talks by literary giants, politicos and other acclaimed speakers like Mary Karr, Anthony Doerr and Rainn Wilson.
This small but mighty museum in Fort Worth focuses on excellence over quantity. Its nimbly curated permanent collection features a range of works from Rubens, Cezanne, Picasso, Matisse and other masters, as well as rare antiquities and Asian, African and ancient American art.
Admission to the permanent collection is free and special exhibitions are half price on certain Discount Days. Browse current and upcoming exhibitions and check out special programming, including lectures, film screenings, late nights, workshops, family and teen events and more.
Daily admission is free to this collection of artwork from China, Japan, India and Southeastern Asia with a mission to "bridge the cultural gap between East and West." On top of its permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, the museum also focuses on creating a quiet and reflective space in the hustle and bustle of the Arts District. Its Wellness Program features workshops on self-care and breathing meditation, as well as tai chi and yoga. Check out current exhibitions and upcoming programming.
A "serene urban retreat for the enjoyment of modern art," the Nasher Sculpture Center, and its gardens in particular, is a quintessential date spot for a romantic stroll on a balmy afternoon. It's romantic, it's elegant, and it's one of the foremost collections of 20th-century art. Here are current exhibitions and upcoming programming.
Don't forget about regular free events: the 360 Speaker Series (lectures featuring artists, critics and academics), Target First Saturdays (children's programming), and Til Midnight at the Nasher (live outdoor concerts and film screenings).
Leave it to Dallas to fit an extensive art collection into a high-end shopping mall. Developed by the same Raymond Nasher responsible for the Arts District's Sculpture Center, NorthPark features a collection of pieces by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella and Jonathan Borofsky, who created those unforgettable Five Hammering Men. Request a complimentary map with descriptions of each piece of art from the concierge office.
See also: It's worth noting that, while anyone can stroll through NorthPark, those within security checkpoints at Love Field Airport can view a substantial collection of public art and hear Texas singer-songwriters play music on its performing arts stage. Cool, right?
The Modern features "3,000 objects including paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs and prints" dated after 1945 to promote "collecting, presenting and interpreting international developments in post-World War II art," according to the website.
One of the largest African-American folk art collections in the U.S., permanent exhibits feature African art, African-American fine art, and "magazine, historical, political and community archives." The museum has also presented the annual Fair Park Blues and Jazz Festival each Labor Day weekend since 2014.
General admission is free, docent guided tours for groups of 10 or more are $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-17. Self-guided tours are $2 for adults and $1 for children ages 4-17. Here are current exhibitions and upcoming events.
See also: Remembering Black Dallas, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and promotion of local African-American history and culture.
Cowboy collectors and lovers of Wild West culture will find a niche at the Amon Carter, which expands on its eponym's original private collection and features artists such as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell.
General admission is always free. Here are current exhibitions and regular programming, like the Americans Outdoors lecture series, artist talks, and sessions for infants, children with special sensory needs and adults with Alzheimer's disease.
Murals and street art are, by their very nature, rarely around forever. Here are some places to catch ephemeral favorites:
Nolan Ryan's infamous punch in Deep Ellum
A shoutout to the Dallas Police Department in Deep Ellum
Eye-catching artwork in Fort Worth's WestBend
"Provocative" murals by Shepard Fairey in Trinity Groves
Flora and fauna in Bishop Arts
The Bonton Blessing fence in South Dallas
The free wall at the Fabrication Yard in West Dallas
Wheron's take over of Fort Worth, Downtown Plano, Bishop Arts ... frankly, everywhere
Like restaurants, bars and other entertainment spots, art galleries come and go. But gallery rows and neighborhoods tend to stick around a bit longer.
If you're looking for current collections on display, check out the Dallas Art Dealers Association. An affiliation of independent gallery owners, the organization hosts a seasonal Gallery Walk on Dragon Street in the Design District, as well as artist talks and art tours. Also consider the Deep Ellum Arts Festival, held annually each spring, and regular neighborhood wine walks in the Bishop Arts District, Frisco and downtown Plano.
See also: Kettle Art, a 12-year-old stalwart of the Deep Ellum community, "run by artists, for artists on a purely volunteer basis."
Brand new: Deep Ellum Art Co., a newcomer in the neighborhood next to downtown Dallas, plans to host a monthly "outdoor street art gallery" featuring only local artists.
Located mostly in the Dallas Arts District, with a few exceptions, this complex features 11 venues where you will find the Dallas Opera, Texas Ballet Theater, Dallas Theater Center, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Turtle Creek Chorale, off-Broadway productions and nationally touring musicians, comedians and speakers.
The AT&T center includes:
The Winspear Opera House is where you'll find high-culture productions in a high-end setting.
The building was designed by Pritzker prize-winning architect Norman Foster as a "21st-century reinterpretation of the traditional opera house," according to the Dallas Opera's website. It's wrapped in a 60-foot glass facade, which highlights the "vibrant red glass panels" of the McDermott Performance Hall, which seats up to 2,200. A smaller space, Hamon Hall, can also be accessed independently through Sammons Park. Here are upcoming events.
Oh, have we mentioned the 40-foot-long retractable chandelier?
If you were impressed by the details of the Winspear Opera House (and, truly, who wouldn't be?), take a gander at the Wyly Theatre. The 10-level building can be mechanically manipulated into a variety of shapes befitting everything from classical arts performances to experimental theater.
Designed by Joshua Prince-Ramus and Rem Koolhaas, the theater's resident company is Dallas Theater Center. A notable space within is Studio Theater on the sixth floor, "an intimate black box style space that can seat up to 200 people," according to attpac.org. Here are upcoming events.
But, back to the shape-shifting building: You really must see it to believe it.
Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, the Meyerson Symphony Center is home to resident company the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Dallas Wind Symphony and the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, according to attpac.org.
Check out this photo timeline of the Meyerson's construction and earliest performances.
Named for late former Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss, this outdoor lawn venue within Sammons Park includes a pavilion and porch area for performances by a diverse selection of artists, from internationally touring folk bands to classical instrumentalists, dance troupes and more (like seasonal festivals and outdoor yoga, for example). Here are upcoming events.
This 10-acre park connects the AT&T center venues in the Dallas Arts District. It includes a reflecting pool and "outdoor verandah seating" on its lawns, according to attpac.org. There, you'll find outdoor performances, including a Lunch Jam Concert Series featuring students from Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
(FWIW: Booker T. has educated Erykah Badu, Norah Jones and almost half of the male dancers admitted to Juilliard in 2017.)
Formerly called Dallas City Performance Hall, this space features "small and midsize cultural organizations representing all artistic disciplines and the diverse heritages of the Dallas community," our staff reports. It is "the place to discover our next generation of great arts organizations," according to attpac.org.
It includes a 750-seat multipurpose theater, and a front lobby for small performances to "encourage social and cultural interaction from the street to the stage," the site says.
Located in the Oak Lawn neighborhood, this Frank Lloyd Wright-designed venue is the former home of Dallas Theater Center, prior to the company's relocation to the Wyly. Opened in 1959, just months after Wright's death, the theater is named in memory of an actress who died in a plane crash, according to attpac.org.
The gorgeous theater is semi-retired; it's final full season was 2007-08, and it was named as a historic Dallas landmark in 2007. Today, it hosts occasional performances by Dallas Theater Center, Second Thought Theatre and the Uptown Players.
Located in downtown Dallas, this former vaudeville theater maintains the elegance of 1921.
With red velvet accents and sweeping staircases, the Majestic was reconfigured into a movie theater in the 1930s and closed in the 1970s, according to the website. It was renovated and reopened as a performing arts venue by the city of Dallas in 1983. Today, the Majestic hosts concerts, performing arts, comedy and lecturers. Here are upcoming shows.
Located on the Southern Methodist University campus in the Park Cities area, McFarlin Auditorium doubles as a haven of academic celebration and home to popular performances.
Originally designed as a chapel that could accommodate the entire SMU student body, McFarlin Auditorium opened in 1926, and its proscenium-style theater seats 2,386, according to attpac.org.
When it isn't hosting SMU ceremonies or the university's stellar Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series, it also provides a stage for famous rock bands and comedians as an AT&T PAC satellite venue. Here are upcoming events.
Beyond AT&T PAC:
While the Arts District has a high-end performance for almost everyone, so do these other stalwart spots in D-FW.
Called the "crown jewel" of the nation's third-largest cultural district (Dallas holds the top spot), Bass Hall is where you will find the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, the Fort Worth Opera, the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition and Cliburn Concerts, special performances from Casa Mañana Musicals, and nationally touring musicians, comedians and speakers.
Founded in 1958, this Fort Worth theater company was named "The House of Tomorrow," and it has for more than 50 years remained dedicated to forward-thinking performing arts in North Texas. At its venue in Fort Worth's Cultural District, you'll see Broadway musicals and children's theater, and can attend summer camps and classes. Bonus: Parking is free, on a limited, first-come basis.
DCT's programming is focused on young minds, but its performances are of the highest professional caliber. It is the only children's theater in the U.S. that tours nationally. In addition to carefully chosen plays (usually, two running concurrently), you'll also find summer camps and acting classes.
Home to Dallas Summer Musicals, this Spanish Baroque style venue is just under 100 years old. It's where you'll find national touring Broadway productions and other dance and music shows. Here are upcoming events.
See also: Sammons Center for the Arts, The Eisemann Center, McKinney Performing Arts Center, Arlington Music Hall, Courtyard Theater of Plano, Levitt Pavilion for Performing Arts in Arlington, Irving Arts Center, The Frisco Arts Center and Trinity River Arts Center.
Learn more about your heritage or others' traditions and experiences through visual and performing arts, festivals, and community programming.
Founded by David Wong, this Richardson center emphasizes classical music performing arts. Wong is also the founder and music director of the Plano International Youth Orchestra. Contact the center for more information.
Programming includes music, art, education and spirituality. Contact the center for more information.
Serving Dallas communities west of downtown, OC3 provides movie nights, holiday festivals and celebrations, art exhibitions and more, including the Art 214 program that showcases DISD student work. Check out upcoming events and current visual arts exhibitions.
Just east of downtown Dallas, the Latino Cultural Center stands out thanks to its vivid purple and orange exteriors, designed by architect Ricardo Legorreta. Programming includes bilingual theater, music and cinema productions, in addition to other educational and community programming. Check out upcoming events, senior programs and youth after-school and summer camp programs.
Situated on the east shore of White Rock Lake, this center features an art gallery, a black box theatre, public art and an outdoor amphitheater. Check out upcoming events, the Muralism Program for students of visual art, after-school arts and theater training for students grades 3-8, and performing arts programming, including the 2017 season for One Thirty Productions and the annual Festival of Independent Theatres. Please note that White Rock Museum has relocated.
Located across from Fair Park, this 34,000-square-foot facility features a black box theater, visual arts gallery, studios for dance and visual art-making, and a full service digital recording studio, according to the city of Dallas. Check out upcoming events and Summer Arts programming for children.
This North Dallas center features a massive gymnasium complex with an emphasis on physical fitness. In addition to group fitness programming and sports opportunities, the JCC provides educational and social programming for youth and seniors, volunteer opportunities, book signings and lectures and arts programming — most notably, the Jewish Film Festival of Dallas.
This museum chronicles "the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy through photographs, videos, artifacts, and preserved evidentiary areas of the former Texas School Book Depository," says the website. Here's more information about the permanent collection, plus special exhibits and upcoming educational events.
Founded by a local group of Holocaust survivors, this museum's mission is "preserving the memory of those who survived, honoring those who perished and teaching moral and ethical responsibility."
Nestled on the bucolic SMU campus, this library houses "millions of records" from the administration of President George W. Bush, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration. It sits next to the George W. Bush Institute, the "nonpartisan, public-policy arm of the Bush Center."
The museum features permanent exhibits detailing the 43rd president's life, family and time in office including pieces honoring those lost during the September 11 terrorist attacks, the "Decision Points" theater (an interactive, LED screen-based exhibit where visitors take on the role of a U.S. president), a full-sized replica of the White House Oval Office and more.
In addition to special exhibits — such as the notable "Portraits of Courage," which featured the president's paintings of members of the U.S. military — the museum also hosts a summer camp for high school students who are interested in public service. Surrounding the building complex is a 14-acre Native Texas Park, open year round, designed to foster a "native habitat for birds, butterflies and other wildlife."
The museum's full-service restaurant, Cafe 43, is open daily, and it offers "locally sourced, organic dishes that change seasonally, with complex interpretations of Texas-influenced dishes and classic favorites." Admission to the museum is not required to dine at Cafe 43 or the more casual Courtyard Cafe.
An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, this 100,000-square-foot airspace museum at Love Field Airport features artifacts and archival materials from the collection of the late George E. Haddaway, an aviation historian and founder of Flight magazine. Permanent exhibits feature the Apollo 7 command module, historic biplanes, a World War II exhibit and an exhibit on Southwest Airlines.
Here are special and upcoming events. Throughout 2017, Love Field celebrates its centennial with a special "100 Years — 100 Artifacts" exhibit and other special programming. General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens (over 65), $7 for children ages 3-17, and free for children under 3. Parking is free.
With five floors and 11 permanent exhibit halls, the Perot Museum is a big deal — in fact, the building itself is a marvel of engineering. Once inside, you'll learn about Being Human, our Expanding Universe, how rare dinosaur fossils can tell us about Life Then and Now, and so, so much more.
Regular programming includes discovery camps during school breaks, social science happy hours for adults over 21 years old, and sleepovers — yes, actual sleeping-bag-and-pajama sleepovers in a science museum. Check out upcoming events such as family experiments at Klyde Warren Park and the National Geographic Live speaker series. Note that many Perot Museum special programs sell out quickly, sometimes months in advance.
See also: Perot Museum of Nature and Science Fair Park Campus — formerly the Dallas Museum of Natural History, which features historic exhibitions. It is open Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m., and admission is considerably less expensive, at $1 per person.
Dedicated to preserving the history of Dallas County, this museum in the historic Old Red Courthouse features a bit of everything, from a mammoth tusk to the original plat of Dallas and Clyde Barrow's gun. (That's to say nothing of Tom Landry's fedora and J.R. Ewing's Stetson, also on permanent display.)
Here are current and upcoming special exhibits. General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, students and military members with I.D., $7 for children ages 3-16, and free for children under age 3. Purchase tickets before noon on Sunday for special early-bird pricing. Get called up for jury duty? Save your information — it's worth reduced admission on the day of your duty.
Dedicated to one of the city's most influential civil rights leaders (President Lyndon B. Johnson and Martin Luther King Jr. reportedly visited her home in South Dallas), this museum sits in Craft's renovated wood frame home on Warren Avenue. The museum is open by appointment.
See also: Remembering Black Dallas, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and promotion of African-American history in Dallas.
Located in downtown Irving, this museum features "fascinating artifacts and music memorabilia from Texas musicians of all genres" focusing on legends like Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Selena and more. There's live music each weekend in the Texas Music Garden — check out upcoming performances here (most shows are free, but some are ticketed) — and it is complemented with food (and craft beers, wine, margaritas and Bellinis) from Smokin' Joe's restaurant. Plan a visit with information on hours of operation and other logistics.
Inside the Frisco Discovery Center, this museum promises to be "built by gamers," so you know it's instilled with both love and a lot of pedantic specifications. Here's our profile from when the museum opened in 2016. Check out special events, programming and exhibits here.
It's heralded in the opening credits of virtually every Dallas-set television show known to humankind. And for good reason: Reunion Tower is an iconic piece of the city's celebrated skyline. (Dallas' skyline was voted "best in the world" back in 2014, and we're never letting that go ...)
The Ball cost just $35 million when it was built in 1975 (here are other fascinating facts about its origins), and today it is a quintessential Dallas tourist, um, opportunity. "Trap" seems too harsh a term, and that's because locals love it, too.
It's been called "the most romantic spot in Dallas," thanks largely to the fact that more than 700 couples get engaged there every year. (It's where Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus popped the question). Plus, it's a great place to take a selfie. And, we think its clever social media team is one of the best in Texas.
Take in the view from the revolving observation deck on any given day, or grab a bite at Wolfgang Puck's Cloud Nine Cafe for lunch or Puck's four-star Asian-fusion restaurant, Five Sixty, for a fancier dinner affair. Or, enjoy the view from below at Reunion Lawn Party, a free festival that takes place the last Saturday of each month during summers.
The sculptures sit near the site of mourned tunnel murals that were demolished in 2007 to make way for the light-rail station. (While that original gateway to the city's celebrated neighborhood will never be replaced, here's a look at how one organization seeks to restore its artistic vibrancy.)
The Traveling Man is flanked by four friendly birds, which sculptor Brad Oldham's website explains "represent the artistic souls who have been and will be in Deep Ellum."
Featuring one of the largest bronze sculptures in the world, this 4.2-acre green space in downtown Dallas is covered with 49 larger-than-life steers and three cowboy trail riders to represent the 19th-century cattle drives that took place along the Shawnee Trail.
Dedicated to wellness and healthy eating, the Dallas Farmers Market has provided a space for local vendors to sell farm-fresh vegetables since 1941. It's a good place for an outdoor stroll, shopping and even a hot lunch since a food hall with multiple restaurants opened in late 2015.
They call it "Cowtown" for a reason, and Fort Worth claims the brick walkways of its National Historic District are "where the West begins." That's just part of the reason why the city has been called one of America's most underrated cities. As for the Stockyards, the 98-acre cultural area features historic sites and museums, as well as places to eat and shop. And, don't forget the charming-as-all-get-out daily cattle drive at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The Stockyards district is also home to the "world's largest honky-tonk," Billy Bob's, a must-stop for fans of country music. On top of headliner acts, it's known for line-dancing classes, a mechanical bull, The World's Largest Karaoke Fest and decades of country music trivia. Just be sure to call ahead first; the 35-year-old venue's owners are having some, um, managerial differences. Here's the latest on the Billy Bob's family feud.
Why is a mythical winged horse the unofficial mascot for the city of Dallas? It's a long story, which you can read in full here.
In this case, we're talking about the original neon Pegasus — Pegasus I, as Dallas News reporter Michael Granberry lovingly calls her — that flew atop the old Magnolia building from 1934 until 1999. Rusted, she sat in storage until 2015, when she was renovated and given a place of street-level prominence before the city-owned Omni Dallas Hotel.
Dallas has a taste for luxury, and the Joule Hotel's art collection is no different; its lobby features more than 70 preserved mosaics, as well as breathtaking pieces worthy of any high-end art museum.
It's the artwork just outside The Joule, however, that really makes a ... statement. Artist Tony Tasset's Eye was installed in the hotel's garden in 2013. The 30-foot-high fiberglass piece was reportedly created for a temporary 2007 exhibition in Chicago and spent a few years in storage before moving to its permanent home.
It's weird, it's funky, and it gives downtown a bit of needed vibe. On any given day, you might see unnerved folks hurrying past its glare or indulging in a bit of outdoor yoga before it. Kind of depends on how much one has to hide, perhaps?
As a recent analysis from Dallas Morning News critic Mark Lamster points out, "the jury is still out" on this controversial public project's success or failure.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the bridge is both beautiful and extravagant. Residents wondered about its expense, and what that said about the city's priorities. Others worried about the impact of gentrification on surrounding neighborhoods. Read more about that here.
Pop culture has seemed receptive of its place in recent years; the bridge has increasingly appeared on folk renderings of the Dallas skyline. Its pedestrian footpath (formerly the Continental Bridge, renamed the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix H. Lozada Sr. Gateway) features a playspace for families and plays host to frequent special events, such as outdoor yoga sessions, festivals, movie nights and other activities. Here are upcoming events.
Here's a secret most native Texans already know: Southfork, the real, yet kind-of fictional ranch from TV's Dallas, is not in Dallas. Neither is the home there a sprawling mansion ... at least, it's not as grandiose as fans of the show might remember. But we're not here to burst your bubble — Southfork Ranch is absolutely worth a visit for both fans of the world-record-breaking television show and those simply interested in North Texas ranching history. And it's just about a half-hour drive from Dallas proper.
Located in Collin County, the ranch's owners were inundated with requests for visits and special events as "the world's most famous ranch" began to develop into a tourist attraction, according to the website. The owner opened the Ewing Museum to the public and expanded the ranch into an event center in 1985. There's also a rodeo arena, and you can take horseback-riding lessons or go on trail rides there. (The Day on the Ranch package, which includes lunch at the mansion, is pretty swank.)
Moved by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, a group of business and civic leaders banded together to create a space in downtown Dallas to transform the city's identification with the tragedy into "gratitude in action." Since 1977, the park "continues to serve as a common ground where people of all cultures and religions are welcome."
The space includes a garden, which is open every day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.; a chapel, open most days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and the Hall of Thanksgiving for special exhibits, lectures and performances, open by appointment and during special events.
Admission is always free, but donations are appreciated. Here are upcoming events.
Big Tex counts, of course, as an iconic Dallas landmark ... but he's only around a few weeks each year during the State Fair of Texas. Take an interactive look at how he works: Inside Big Texas.
Can't make it to the State Fair this year? Fair Park itself is nothing short of iconic all year long.
From the Woofus that guards the Swine Building (what's a Woofus? you ask) to one of the world's largest collections of art deco art and architecture, Fair Park's unique assets reportedly draw more than 7 million visitors to its 277-acre oasis each year.
Here's a comprehensive list of D-FW's large-scale music venues, with each venue's pros and cons. (Don't forget Toyota Music Factory, which was just a sparkle in concertgoers' eyes when that first list was drafted.) Want the music but not the crowds? Here's a rundown of Dallas' top small music venues.
Looking for comedy? There's Dallas Comedy House (which puts on the annual Dallas Comedy Fest) in Deep Ellum, ComedySportz Dallas in a brand new space in McKinney, The Improv in Addison, and The Improv in Arlington, to name a few.
This preservation center offers regular events and festivals, as well as two-hour kayaking "river adventures." There are also miles of walking trails. (No bikes here, but it connects to others where they are allowed.)
The vision of North Texas philanthropist Bessie Heard, the museum opened in 1967 to preserve natural beauty and resources in Collin County. Throughout the year, the Heard offers guided trail tours, canoeing, a ropes course, story times, summer camps, nature talks, workshops and more. Among noted recurring exhibits are Dinosuars Live! — a collection of life-size animatronic dinosaurs stationed through the sanctuary — and the Native Texas Butterfly Garden and House.
Located on the shores of White Rock Lake, this 66-acre park features 19 gardens and space to roam among seasonal displays. Events throughout the year include art exhibitions, holiday programming, live music after-hours, summer camps and more.
The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden features a treetop-level skywalk (with a "bounce house in the air," the website teases), discovery trails, a labyrinthine secret garden and exhibits that teach life sciences. Here are upcoming events and regular educational programming.
In Fort Worth's Cultural District, this is "the oldest botanic garden in Texas, a 110-acre tapestry of dappled shade and vibrant splashes of color." It features 23 specialty gardens, including the renowned Japanese Garden, which blooms only in spring due to the practice of Mono No Aware.
The Fort Worth Botanic Garden is open 365 days per year, and 90 percent of the regular exhibits are free, as is parking. Check out upcoming events, including children's programming and public tours.
Featuring authentic historic structures dating from 1840 to 1919, the park has a mission to "collect, preserve and teach the history of Dallas and North Central Texas," the website says. Here are current exhibits and special programming from field trips, to birthday parties and junior historians workshops for children. Adults can take part in blacksmithing workshops, book clubs and more.
Every December, the park has hosts a traditional holiday candlelight program, featuring carolers, holiday treats and hayrides pulled by an antique tractor. Here are admission rates, hours of operation and tour options.
See also: The Log Cabin Village in Fort Worth
Say it's sometime between October and March (or you have a high tolerance for heat, sweat and tan lines), and you want to soak up a bit of nice weather. Go here:
You'll find a 9-mile loop around this beautiful gem with cyclists and runners out at all hours of the day — not to mention, a breathtaking view of the Dallas skyline. There's also a dog park (swimming allowed), boat ramps, kayak rentals and facilities for special events. (Also check out the Bath House Cultural Center for art exhibitions and theatrical productions.)
This north-south trail stretches from the American Airlines Center to SMU (with plans to eventually expand it to White Rock Lake). It features a 12-foot-wide concrete trail and 8-foot-wide soft trail for pedestrians. You'll see a mixture of some of Dallas' fittest runners and cyclists, dog walkers and families on casual strolls and beer drinkers on patios (notably, at Katy Trail Ice House, a popular bar). It also connects to Reverchon Park.
Bisected by Turtle Creek, this stunning green space near the Uptown and Oak Lawn neighborhoods features "a series of stoneworks, including the floral amphitheater known as the Iris Bowl," our staff reports. (Read all about Reverchon Park's restoration to 1930s glamour from News architecture critic Mark Lamster.) The 41.3-acre community park is adjacent to a rec center, baseball diamonds and the Katy Trail.
Also sometimes colloquially referred to as Deck Park, this 5.2-acre public space was placed, by design, right between downtown and Uptown Dallas. Permanent features include a children's playground, a dog park, games (including chess and ping pong), a performance venue for outdoor concerts, adjacent restaurants Savor and Relish, outdoor seating and tables, an area for a revolving selection of food trucks, and more.
Speaking of more, there are hundreds of events there each week (most of them free), such as outdoor yoga, pet adoption rallies, dances, live music and story time sessions for children, just to name a few.
Throughout the year, there are also large-scale public art (such as simulcasts of Dallas Opera performances), high-end dining festivals, family science experiments and music festivals, most notably Decks in the Park.
This outdoor multipurpose venue both sits on the Trinity River and has a stunning view of the Fort Worth skyline — so, like the city itself, you might call Panther Island Pavilion a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll.
Throughout the year, you can float on an inner tube while watching popular musicians on its main stage (it also features two shells for multi-act festivals), take in some stand-up paddleboarding, rent kayaks and canoes, or even go ice skating in winter months.
While we're on it, Panther Island Pavilion is connected to a 72-mile network of running and walking trails that snake through Fort Worth. The Trinity River Trails connect with 21 parks, including Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Log Cabin Village, Fort Worth Zoo, the Stockyards and downtown Fort Worth.
This outdoor network of "urban trails" in the Design District is a work in progress; the first 2.5 miles are now open, with more promised soon to total an eventual 7.5 miles of nonmotorized pathways for walking, running and cycling.
They're known as "America's Team," and that's a lot of pressure. Old rivalries from the franchise's dominant glory days have ensured a deep disdain for the 'Boys from out-of-towners. Heck, locals don't even like them sometimes. Love 'em so much you hate 'em, and vice versa: The Cowboys are always topical.
Legends Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Deion Sanders still show up around town. But, it's young guns Ezekiel Elliot (who led the league in rushing yards) and Dak Prescott (2017 NFL Rookie of the Year) who shored up local support in 2016. Cowboys fever is once again in full fervor — but, it's thorny. Read all about that at SportsDayDFW.
Since 2009, the Cowboys have played home games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Due to its large and imposing structure, it's sometimes referred to as "The Death Star" or "Jerry World," a nod to loved-and-loathed owner Jerry Jones. (By the way, have you ever heard Jerry Jones try to pronounce Beyoncé? Take time out for this ...)
The stadium is big, weird, impressive and completely overwhelming. If there's not a game in town, you can go on a tour of the sprawling facilities. (There's fabulous art.)
See also: The Star in Frisco — the Dallas Cowboys' new headquarters and training facility is like a city unto itself. There are new restaurants and high profile high school football games there. Read more here.
Heard of "brother from another mother"? Dirk Nowitzki is our Native Son from another Nation. He led us to the franchise's only NBA championship, so far, in 2011. We'll never let go, Dirk. We'll never let go.
When most think about baseball fandom, statistics-tracking and tobacco-chewing come to mind, but in Texas, grand slams and diving catches are just one facet of the Globe Life Park experience. The other part: the insane concessions.
Every year, the Major League Baseball stadium tries to outdo itself. That spirit birthed the Boomstick, a 24-inch hot dog that came with its own carrying case, and the Wicked Pig, two pounds of meat slammed onto a bun and sold for $27.
(Interestingly, Globe Life Park is also the No. 1 vegan-friendly baseball park in the country, according to PETA.)
Here's local Texas Rangers coverage from SportsDayDFW.
Think there are no hockey fans in North Texas? That's probably because you've seen how we overreact to a little bit of ice on the roads.
It's true, the 1999 Stanley Cup champions rarely get as much chatter as other local sports teams, but their following is devoted. The Stars play home games at American Airlines Center, accessible by DART light rail at the nearby Victory Station.
Check out local Stars hockey coverage at SportsDayDFW.
Texas loves football, there's no doubt about it, but its passion for fútbol isn't far behind. In 2016, Dallas ranked "seventh among the major markets for Premier League viewership on NBC, NBCSN and USA Network." That same year, NBC Sports named The Londoner in Addison the "Best Premiere League Bar in America."
Here are upcoming games. Check out local FC Dallas coverage on SportsDayDFW. If you're looking for places to actually play soccer, check out the vertical bar on the right side of this page on desktop; bottom of the story on mobile.
Ricky Bobby went fast at Texas Motor Speedway, and so have real-life NASCAR greats such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., who notched his first Sprint Cup win there in 2000. (It was just his 12th start in the series, breaking his late Hall of Famer dad's record for fewest starts to a victory.)
In fact, name something, anything that can be raced — motorcycles, hot rods, trucks — and there's likely a series at this Fort Worth track in its honor.
Get behind the wheel yourself, and learn from a pro instructor at a fantasy camp or live the high life in The Speedway Club, "a $30 million, nine-story structure overlooking Turn 1 of the Texas Motor Speedway" featuring restaurants, banquet rooms, a health club and spa, pace car rides and track tours.
Restaurants, nightlife, shops and more: If you're still on the fence about what to do today, head to a new hood and see what's happening. Start here: Mapping Dallas: 7 neighborhoods for food and fun.
Dallas' original cool neighborhood, Deep Ellum was established in 1873. In the 1920s, it fostered jazz artists Blind Lemon Jefferson, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, "Lightnin" Hopkins and more. The 1980s saw a musical renaissance with bands like Tripping Daisy, the Butthole Surfers, the New Bohemians and the Old 97's rising among its clubs. Read more about the neighborhood's storied history here.
Throughout the decades, Deep Ellum has become Dallas' phoenix, rising and falling time and again. These days, it's known for music clubs Trees and The Bomb Factory (among many more), as well as a flourishing restaurant scene.
Art hounds hang at Kettle Art, a 12-year-old stalwart of the Deep Ellum community, "run by artists, for artists on a purely volunteer basis." Keep an eye out for Deep Ellum Art Co., which plans to host a monthly "outdoor street art gallery" featuring only local artists.
Food is central focus of this neighborhood at the base of the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge.
Its restaurant incubator program "encourages chefs and restaurateurs to create and present unique restaurant concepts to a team of experienced restaurateurs who will then support them to bring their ideas to reality," according to the mission statement.
Lovingly referred to as the "gayborhood," the Oak Lawn district has long been the epicenter of Dallas' LGBTQ community. It's home to longstanding gay and lesbian nightclubs J.R.'s and Sue Ellen's, the Round-up Saloon, the Rose Room, and many more. People of all orientations, of course, enjoy the trendy restaurant scene and nightlife; and, there are gay-friendly shops, bars and neighborhoods in other spots in Dallas. Oak Lawn prides itself on being the original place people could love freely in Dallas.
Speaking of pride, big annual events include Pride celebrations and especially the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. There's also the Halloween parade; words hardly do it justice, so we'll let these photos do the talking. And, the Pooch Parade each year at Easter.
See also: Photos: Floats, beads and a sunny day at Dallas' annual gay pride parade (2017)
5 rules for attending a drag show
Inside the Miss Gay Texas America Pageant, land of sisterhood of sparkles
A history of Dallas' gayest straight (or is it straightest gay?) bar
Hundreds of photos from Oak Lawn Halloween block party 2015 — so many, in fact, they broke our computers. Here's Part One and Part Two. Or, just browse our favorites here.
Dallas isn't everything. (Shh, don't tell them.)
Beyond Big D: What to do in the Dallas suburbs
Yet another study names Plano one of the greatest cities in America
Proudly not Dallas: Fort Worth dubbed one of America's most underrated cities
Explore Frisco's Main Street: Home to nerds, popcorn and food trucks
The Colony, cool?
Walking tour: How to do Denton in a day
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