Photo Courtesy Carson and Barnes Circus
Anyone can go to TripAdvisor, Expedia, or Hotels.com and find hotels, car rental, and restaurants. But we're going to share with
you some of the unique things to do in Dallas that isn't easily found on the Internet.
A 2013 Update: Come to the Carson & Barnes Circus in Collin County!
Traditionally, the Big Top arrives in November. Visit our insider tips here.
Planetarium-University of Texas Arlington
Bring the subject of science alive at the Planetarium-University of Texas Arlington
. The Crew visited on Astroday
annual event where workshops, displays, and special programs are available. The interactive displays included space toys (a favorite destination for kids age 2-6), unique products to touch (astronaut ice cream and hand boilers
were of great interest), and a radio-controlled space shuttle--to name a few highlights.
Want to enjoy an instant weight loss? Then step on the scale that compares your weight on earth to that on the moon, and other planets. But stay off Jupiter where you're weight will more than double!
As fun as the learning projects in the lobby, the greatest thrill was the 60-foot domed theater. The Crew's favorite was the exciting adventures of Chad the Astronaut in the
aptly titled, "Astronaut!" while the adults enjoyed watching the night sky change overhead. One couldn't help but contemplate the potential therapy of
lying back in the comfy 170-seat theater while observing the real-time 3-D night sky images to Bach.
Breanna (11): It was awesome to see how much I weighed on other planets!
Callie (9): I loved watching Chad the Astronaut and how I could make liquid boil in the hand boiler.
Logan: (6): It was cool watching Chad get blown up [in the movie] and seeing Astronaut Ice Cream. Thirteen planets have rings around them, and
the planets got blown up!
Caitlin (4): I liked the astronauts in the movie and the stars.
Liam (2): He had fun playing with the space toys and in the fountain behind the Planetarium.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Sixty-six gorgeous display gardens on White Rock Lake. Outdoor festivals, concerts, art shows and other events are offered in warmer weather.
It truly is beautiful, but what the kids will absolutely love is the Texas Pioneer Adventure.
) range in age from 4-11 and love pretending they are settlers
in the village. They haul water from the well to their cabin, plow in the garden, and 'cook' in the kitchen with the plants collected from the kitchen garden.
It's a great place for Mom & Dad to sit back and enjoy a quiet conversation while the kids are having the time of their lives--and learning while they play.
When you're hungry, enjoy snacks you have brought in, high tea, or a meal in one of the two restaurants located on the property.
The best deal for entry into the Fair Park museums is the Fair Park Passport
which provides entry into seven museums at a discount of 40%.
There are seven museums in the complex. However, upon our visit to the Children's Aquarium at Fair Park, we were informed that the passport is no longer
accepted at the aquarium.
Our first stop was to the Museum of Nature & Science
for the special exhibit Dinosaurs Unearthed
. Life-size dinosaurs and an opportunity to dig for dinosaur bones at Dino Dig
were a favorite of the Crew. (Tip: A ticket is needed for Dinosaurs Unearthed. If you're on a budget
but the kids want to see a dinosaur, no problem; there are two magnificent dinos in the museum lobby.)
Your Incredible Body
allows kids to sit under a huge nose and experience the force of a sneeze, see what happens when a person vomits, and watch mucus in action. What kid wouldn't like that?
A huge hit with the entire Crew was the Urban Farm
in the Children's Museum
, located in the lower level of the Nature & Science Museum. Designed for kids seven and under, the interaction encouraged made it a hit with the eight and eleven-year-old as well.
Ending your museum trip with a stop at the IMAX is a great reward for parents and kids, as you get an opportunity to relax and be engulfed in the presentation on the huge screen. Tip: Take the elevator to the top, or you'll
need to climb the stairs from the lower level. This theater doubles as the Planetarium and the seating is steep.
Breanna (11): I liked where the dinosaurs were real and could move. It was fun to press the buttons and make them move.
Callie (8): I loved all the things to touch and do in the Fair Park’s Children Museum.
Logan: (6): I liked the buffalo, and that they could jump over a high gate! And the mountain lion had a Jack Rabbit in his mouth! I liked that you could go in the cage and pick up the fake stuffed animals at the farm. And the big dinosaur at the front of the museum was really loud!
Caitlin (4): The barn yard area in the children’s museum was my favorite.
Children's Aquarium at Fair Park
Children's Aquarium at Fair Park
is a must see. Small enough in size to navigate through in just a couple of hours, yet the interactive experiences teach kids while they are having fun. Close encounters with
sharks, sting rays, and an Albino American Alligator are all fun, but the highlight here was touching sea creatures!
Breanna (11): I liked where you could pet the stingrays. That was really cool! And it was super cool to see the sharks in the other tank!
Callie (8): The sting ray exhibit was my favorite, we were able to spend as much time as we wanted getting our hands wet petting them.
Logan (6): It was cool to see that giant stingray and the picture of a giant swordfish! And I liked where you could pet the sea animals on our own.
Caitlin (4): There were so many neat fish too see.
Next door to the Children's Aquarium is the Texas Discovery Gardens
complete with a Butterfly House. Because we visited in January, the gardens were dormant, but we all enjoyed the butterfly house. A favorite of all was the
beautiful blue Mexican Bluewing Butterfly, but we couldn't help but be enthralled with the hundreds of butterflies fluttering around the glass house!
Breanna (11): All the butterflies are so pretty and uniquely designed. It was really cool to watch patterns God can make on butterflies. It would be a place I would go to again.
Logan (6): I liked that butterflies could fly on you.
Dallas Heritage Village
Historic buildings representing the era of 1840-1910 sit just south of downtown Dallas, with sweeping skyscrapers visible from the park. Visitors are
transported back in history as they interact with characters from the period, care for donkeys Nip & Tuck, and perform tasks such as banking, purchasing a railroad
ticket, and shopping at the General Store.
We must admit that the adults enjoyed this as much as the children!
Breanna (11): This was my favorite thing that I've ever been to in Dallas! We got to groom the donkeys and lead them to the back pasture. It was really
Callie (8): My favorite part of Dallas Heritage Village was having real animals there!
Logan (6): The donkey was running and tripped; it was funny! I liked that the farmer tried to catch the mama chicken and dad rooster!
Caitlin (4): Being able to go into the old houses made me feel like I lived there.
Ninety-five acres and thousands of animals. So far it sounds like any other zoo, right? But here the kids can feed the giraffes and birds, climb on animal
statues, touch animals, explore a life-sized replica of a farm, burrow through tunnels like a snake, and even learn about pet care. But the most fun on a hot day? It has to be the
man-made creek running through the center of it all. The kids can splash to their hearts' content (it's encouraged!) and cool off on hot summer days--for free!
Bass Pro Shop
This is another one of the Crew's favorite places to spend an afternoon. There are two stores located in the Dallas area, one in Grapevine and the other in Garland.
On a hot sunny afternoon, the kids can play in the outdoor sandbox overlooking the lake--which is shaded in afternoon hours. Every day little hunters can dream about becoming big hunters. Allow time
for strolling and letting the kids explore the unique learning toys in the kids' department and the full-size taxidermic animals.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
For the adults and older kids, a trip to Dallas may not be complete without visiting the assassination site of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.
The museum, located on the sixth and seventh floors of an early 20th-century warehouse known in 1963 as the Texas School Book Depository, offers self-guided tours.
New in September 2009, for a nominal fee visitors can download a narrated cell phone tour of Dealey Plaza (including the grassy knoll), former Dallas
County Jail, and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; the tour ends atop the Triple Underpass.
O'Brien Crew: Callie, 8 (Front); Breanna, 11
Liam, 1; Caitlin, 4; Logan, 6
About the Crew
The Crew currently resides in Dallas, Texas, so watch for further updates from them as they continue to explore Dallas and provide practical tips for families. Updates will also be posted by
Santa Clarita Guide editors as they venture to Dallas, providing perspectives for adult-only itineraries.
Updated March 5, 2011