The Best of Dallas for Families
Having visited Dallas many times growing up, I’ve learned to appreciate the vibrant urban landscape that this city has to offer. Each neighborhood has its own culture and story, but overall, Dallas is a southern metropolis with a variety of activities that especially appeal to young adults and families. I’ve rounded up some of my favorite spots from my last visit for you to easily curate what is worth your time if you are spending a weekend in the lonestar state!
Katy Trail Ice House
Hop off of the Katy Trail to check out this renowned restaurant and beer garden, Katy Trail Ice House. Their open seating patio was voted best in Dallas, and for good reason. Nestled underneath large trees wrapped in string lights on the side of the Katy Trail, the Ice House has room for tons of people at their many picnic tables and inside at their high tops. Because this is technically a beer garden, I would recommend coming in the daytime with kids to avoid a crazy crowd, although, this place is very popular on weekends and beautiful days, so it could be hard to avoid some days. Their menu has classic American appetizers and food like nachos, burgers, salads, and finger food. The Ice House is dog-friendly and is one of the most popular places to gather with others. They have misters for hot days and heaters for colder nights, and music plays through speakers outside. While this spot is especially popular with the younger working class in Dallas, it is a place that all ages love and go for a casual and fun atmosphere with communal tables and good conversation outside.
The LOT is a rustic and hip environment full of fun for all ages in the heart of East Dallas. There is an amazing outdoor garden and play area that adults and children enjoy, and while their menu isn’t quite as extensive as you would expect, every item is great. Their bar and food are almost all locally sourced from the Dallas and Texas area. Kids will love the sandbox, various lawn games (washers, foosball, and corn hole), and playground. There is even a chalkboard area for drawing and games. Their kid's menu is reasonably priced with all of the classics like chicken fingers, mini burgers, quesadillas, and bowtie pasta. They also have Pop Star Popsicles as a fun dessert treat! The Lot offers live music every Friday and Saturday night around 7 pm on their beer garden stage, so be sure to secure a spot beforehand! This is a great option after a bike ride around White Rock Lake Park as well. In the winter they provide heaters outdoors and it is also dog-friendly for those with pets.
This is a really great option if you’re looking for more of a quick or to-go style meal. It’s also good if you want to cook at home but don’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of a large grocery store. The market has a little bit of everything with premade dishes that you can take home to heat up for dinner, sushi, a grill, deli, made to order salads and sandwiches, and even a pastry shop. You can get dinner for the entire family to take home, or stop by for lunch with plenty of options. If you want to eat there, you can sit outside at their tables. Kids of all ages will definitely find themselves satisfied with the variety of food here!
Playgrounds and Parks
Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park is settled in the middle of the urban metropolis of Dallas and is filled with plenty of activities for everyone. The park regularly hosts free programming, events, various workout classes, mobile playgrounds, and concerts that attract locals and tourists alike. Their website is constantly being updated with details from parking to event details on their calendar so it is easy to plan your trip. Food trucks are at "Food Truck Lane" on the side of the park every day so you are never short on options of things to eat. Activities around the park are endless, including chess, croquet, ping pong, putt-putt, reading and games area, petanque, and a dog park. I would highly recommend making Klyde Warren a stop on your Dallas trip and taking advantage of its ideal location. From the park, you can walk across the street to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, or take a quick drive to the Perot Museum.
Flag Pole Hill Playground and Park
Flag Pole Hill Park is a new playground opened in 2018 that was backed and fundraised for through various organizations in the Dallas community, including the Jordan Spieth Family Foundation. Given that it is so new, this playground is pretty incredible. Several playscapes allow climbing, sliding, spinning, swinging, and running. There are climbing nets, a jungle gym, and rope swings on a structure that is the first of its kind. The ground is a mixture of bouncy astroturf and wood decking that all allow for an ADA compliant playscape. The playground was built to accommodate children of all abilities and is engaging for all ages. This space sits atop Flag Hill Pole Park, in the White Rock Lake area. The playground is a part of the nonprofit "For the Love of the Lake" initiative to take on a project to further steward White Rock Lake Park. It is a very popular spot to play but there is easy parking to get to the playground and park. There are various benches to sit on while your child plays, and it is easy to get a stroller in and out of the area. There is also a picnic pavilion, picnic tables, and plenty of grassy areas to fly a kite or run around.
The infamous Katy Trail in Dallas is a 4 mile paved scenic path in the middle of the city following abandoned railroad tracks. The trail almost always has activity, whether it’s filled with runners, rollerbladers, bikers, dog walkers, or parents with kids and strollers. It has a very calm atmosphere and is mostly shaded by beautiful trees in the summer. The trail is very well maintained by the city and has lots of lighting so you feel comfortable at any time of day. Parking can sometimes be difficult, so I recommend parking on Travis St/Knox St or at Reverchon Park. There is also a parking area by the Katy Trail Ice House, (a great outdoor eatery and bar off the trail that also has water stations for trail-goers,) but there is no guaranteed parking. There are other spots along the trail where you can use the restroom, but the actual public restroom is located on the South end at the Reverchon Recreation Center. On the Northside you can go into Highland Park Pharmacy or Starbucks. The path runs from downtown Dallas towards the upper side of Highland Park. The Katy Trail is a perfect place for a jog, stroller run, or for an easy walk to get some fresh air!
Trinity Skyline Trail
The Trinity Skyline Trail is located next to the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix H. Lozada, Sr. Gateway, formally known as the Continental Avenue Bridge and West Dallas Gateway. The trail is a 4.6-mile trail that takes you around the Dallas Floodway and the Trinity River. The Trinity Skyline Trail is perfect for hiking, biking, jogging, or taking a walk. The trail is currently a part of an expansion project to allow it to connect to the Santa Fe Trail near 8th Street and Corinth Street to allow for an even longer path. The entire system will eventually connect to the Trinity Strand Trail once construction is finished and completed. If you are looking for an easy spot to get a long run out of your system with or without a stroller, this is definitely a great spot to go. If you have a heavy-duty stroller that can move easily on gravel, you can also go onto the Trinity Levee Trail that is 8.2 miles parallel to the Skyline Trail.
Museums and Activities
Children’s Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum
The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is an incredible space for children to learn, play, and explore the beauty of nature. There are revolving exhibits geared towards kids and nature, 17 indoor/outdoor galleries, 150 interactive science games, an edible garden, water features, and over 8,000 square feet of misters. Tickets are $3 for ages 2 and over, and children under 2 get in for free. There are plenty of activities in this little oasis for children of all ages. There are daily happenings in the garden including the Omni Outlook, where you can learn all about the latest weather and climate news from a giant rotating globe. Little adventurers are invited for a hands-on learning experience with stories, songs, crafts, and even more. There are even plant labs for ages 6 and above in the exploration center for little scientists to join the lab specialist. The architecture in the garden is beautiful and is cohesive with the natural scenery. There is a Texas Skywalk that takes you through the tree canopy and teaches all about what trees do in our environment and what lives in their canopies. There are tons of interactive and engaging installations that encourage learning through sensory in this Children's Garden. I highly recommend putting this on your list of things to do in Dallas with kids!
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Explore and learn at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas. Filled with five floors of permanent exhibits, the Perot Museum has interactive and exciting learning for all ages. For the little ones under five, explore the Moody Family Children's Museum on the lower level. Kids will love doing their own "grocery shopping," playing at the water table, going on an indoor nature hike, and more! Everything in this interactive exhibit is to scale for a five-year-old, so they will feel on top of the world playing here. One of the more fun exhibits that everyone loved is the Sports Hall. Get ready for some activity as you race against top athletes, animals, and even dinosaurs in the speed track! Test your reaction time in the reaction time exhibit, learn about how to balance activity and food, and even train like an athlete in the motion lab by perfecting your techniques through the slow-motion camera. This exhibit is a great way to get some energy out of kids, and have fun while doing it! For the dinosaur lovers in your family, don't miss the "Life Then and Now Hall" upstairs. Compare ancient dinosaur bones to today's animals, watch real scientists at work in the Paleo Lab, and even show your dino moves at a disco dance party. Other notable and exciting exhibits include the Earthquake Shake where you can simulate a real earthquake in the "Dynamic Earth Hall," and stargazing in the "Expanding Universe Hall." It is a super cool museum that is absolutely worth going to.
While these are my absolute top favorite spots for a quick trip to Dallas, there are plenty of other amazing places that weren’t included in this list. Make sure you look at all of our other recommended places in the app if you want more ideas!