The fourth most populous city in the country and economic powerhouse of Texas, you might not know it, but Dallas is extremely family-friendly. Dotted with lakes and greenery, and chock full of attractions, exhibits, and activities for kids, Dallas shines in spring, when the hillsides are in bloom. Steeped in Texas history and culturally diverse, it’s a great place to spend 48 hours with the kids in tow.
8 AM HYPNOTIC DONUTS
9007 GARLAND RD. DALLAS, TX 75218
Let’s face it: you’re not likely to be eating very healthy in Dallas, so why not start your trip off with a rush of sugar at Hypnotic Donuts? Parents will find sophisticated flavors like the house-made brown butter and pistachios, while kids will love to try their crazy combinations like banana, peanut butter, bacon, and honey. Tea, coffee and chicken and biscuits can also be found here if you’re feeling especially Southern.
10 AM DALLAS MUSEUM OF ART
1717 N. HARWOOD ST. DALLAS, TX 75201
Located in downtown Dallas, the ‘DMA’ is a great introduction into the culture of the city and easy to get to on DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). Highly kid-friendly, DMA offers daily family activities, such as Art to Go Family Tote Bags. Designed to be used anywhere in the museum, these activity bags really help make the museum interactive. Be sure to use the Family Gallery Guides to choose which exhibits to visit, especially if you’re short on time.
1 PM CARMINE’S PIZZERIA
2006 SAN JACINTO ST. DALLAS, TX 75201
A number of fine dining restaurants are located within a stone’s throw of DMA, but families with kids (who have just behaved well in a museum all morning) will want to reward themselves with some top-notch pizza at this casual establishment. Always fresh, most entrees are under $10, and don’t miss the famous cheese sticks.
3 PM DALLAS WORLD AQUARIUM
1801 N. GRIFFIN ST. DALLAS, TX 75202
While you can’t swim with the fish, you can certainly watch them. Located in the West End Historic District of Dallas, the World Aquarium is the place to go if you have sea-life on the brain or reptile lovers in your family. Part zoo, part aquarium, be sure to time your visit to coincide with feedings and talks (grab a schedule when you enter), and don’t overlook the bird sanctuaries, either. Two restaurants are on-site if you need a snack break. As an alternative, Grapevine Mills Mall sports a Sea Life Aquarium, as well as a LEGOLAND Discovery Center.
7 PM SONNY BRYAN’S SMOKEHOUSE
Dallas is brimming with haute cuisine, but a visit to Texas simply isn’t complete without some authentic BBQ, and Sonny Bryan’s won’t disappoint. This family-owned franchise has been popular with everyone from locals to the President, and offers sausage, brisket, and ribs, among other Texas favorites. Go to the original Sonny’s on Inwood Road, or the West End for a more central location.
8 AM ELLEN’S SOUTHERN KITCHEN
1718 N. MARKET ST. DALLAS, TX 75202
For true Southern hospitality, a breakfast at Ellen’s can’t be beat. Located downtown, this authentic diner offers all-day breakfast and comfort foods, including the likes of eggs and grits and Cajun shrimp with scents that will overwhelm you with goodness. Expect to wait as this hotspot gets busy on weekends!
9 AM PEROT CENTER MUSEUM OF NATURE AND SCIENCE
2201 N. FIELD ST. DALLAS, TX 75201
The Museum of Nature and Science features an IMAX theater, science labs, permanent and visiting exhibits from around the country, and a dedicated floor for the five and under crew. Located in Fair Park, admission is only $1 for visitors, though parking will set you back $10 and some exhibits, like the current Sherlock Holmes display (highly recommended) require a separate ticket. The water play and farmer’s market are quite popular.
12 PM HAWAIIAN FALLS
4550 N. GARLAND AVE. GARLAND, TX 75040
Time to head to Hawaii…or at least cool off for the afternoon as if you were on a tropical island. Grab a counter-service lunch and a few hours of swimming at Hawaiian Falls, a full-scale outdoor waterpark with six locations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Each has it’s own beach vibe with plenty of waterslides, play structures, and swimming pools. And the lazy rivers are anything but lazy; with crazy fast currents to offer surprise twists and turns!
4 PM FORT WORTH ZOO
1989 COLONIAL PKWY FORT WORTH, TX 76109
Not only does the Fort Worth Zoo have some of the best animal exhibits and conservation in the state, but it features more attractions for children than anywhere else, conveniently close to downtown. Little (human) monkeys will love the Tasmanian Tower, a 25-foot rock-climbing wall located near the Australian Outback, while younger kids will go ape for the carousel and train. As an alternative, the Dallas Zoo has one of the best Savannah exhibits, perfect for a domestic safari!
7 PM TILLMAN’S ROADHOUSE
324 W 7TH ST. DALLAS, TX 75208
Another Western favorite and what Texas does best, it’s not a trip to Dallas without a stop at a roadhouse. Tillman’s is set in an early 20th century storefront in the heart of the Bishop Arts District, giving it that perfect date-night vibe, while still somehow managing to be kid-friendly (you’ll see high chairs aplenty, but also great drink specials). Try the French fry trio for a surprisingly gourmet experience, and don’t shy away from the seafood despite big Texas’s love of a good steak.