29 Fun and Frugal Things to Do in Dallas, TX [Local Guide]

A great list of where to eat, what to see, and the best places to go on your next trip to Dallas. All of these ideas are frugal, cheap, and some are even FREE! Whether you're from Dallas, in town for the weekend, or visiting for an extended vacation, these ideas will work for you.Are you ready for an awesome list full of suggestions from where to eat, what to see, to the best places to go for some Texas style fun?

These recommendations are either low cost or even better, FREE!

Whether you live in Dallas, you’re in town for the weekend or visiting on an extended vacation, these ideas are sure to inspire you.

Getting Around Dallas

Did you know that there are over 7 million people living in the Dallas metroplex? It’s safe to say that this is a BIG city. You'll need a car while you're here. While there is some public transportation, you won't want to rely on it solely to get you everywhere you’re going to want to go.

There are a couple train lines if you’re going to be in the select areas they travel. The Trinity Railroad Express (TRE) runs between Fort Worth to Dallas (DFW Airport is a stop!), and there is the DART which runs from downtown Dallas up Interstate 75 to the suburb of Plano. Prices for each are very reasonable (under $10) and the rides themselves are fun and allow you to take in the local scenery.

Downtown Attractions

Dallas

See the historic Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll (Free). Located in the West End district of downtown Dallas, this is the location of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. From there you can head over to the highly recommended Sixth Floor Museum ($16), which includes a view from Oswald's supposed shooting location.

Another must see in the downtown area is Klyde Warren Park (Free). While at the park you can take part in four to five activities every day, making any time a fun time to visit the park! Some of the activities include a FREE games area, food trucks from 11a – 4p, walking trails, a dog park, children’s playground and a performance pavilion.

If you’re looking to do some sightseeing downtown, the best and most fun way to go about it is to take a spin on the M Line Vintage Trolley (Free). This nostalgic streetcar will take you from the downtown Dallas Arts District to trendy shops and restaurants in Uptown, to a stop at Klyde Warren Park. Hop on and off as much as you’d like. M-Line service operates seven days a week. Trolley is free, donations greatly appreciated. Track the trolley and donate at: www.mata.org.

Fort Worth

Fort Worth Stock Yards (Free). Watch the world's only twice-daily cattle drive, held every day at 11:30a and 4:00p. But wait! There is lots more to do while you’re there. Shop for some real Texas cowboy gear or a Texas-sized souvenir while strolling through the downtown square. From there head to Joe T. Garcia’s to sit on their gorgeous patio and chow down on some of the best TexMex you’ll ever have.

Sundance Square and the Fort Worth Water Gardens (Free). Walk around downtown Fort Worth, do some window shopping and people watching, then stroll to the Water Gardens to cool off in the architectural marvel. Don't feel like walking all the way or going it alone? Take the historic Segway tour.

Sports and Recreation in Dallas

Spend some time at the ole ballpark. Head over to Globe Life Park in Arlington, home to the Texas Rangers (tickets as low as $11) or to Dr. Pepper Stadium in Frisco, which is the home of the RoughRiders minor league baseball team ($9). That’s right! Baseball is still affordable here. How about that, Yankee fans!

Topgolf in The Colony ($20/hour for up to 6 people before 6p). Think of it as golf meets bowling meets skee ball. This is perfect for families or groups of friends. It’s fun for everyone and requires no prior golfing skills.

Dallas Outdoors

The City of Grapevine is home to some of the Metroplex’s best outdoor attractions. There’s Lake Grapevine ($5/vehicle), Grapevine Vintage Railroad (tickets start at $10), and did someone say wineries? That’s right! Grapevine has plenty to choose from and tastings are very affordable (most are $5 – $10). Bonus! When you’re ready for a break from the great outdoors you can pop in some for shopping at the nearby Grapevine Mills Outlet Mall and Bass Pro Shops.

Little Elm Sandy Beach (Free). We may not have an ocean, but we do have a beach! Pack your beach bag and sunscreen. This awesome beachfront park will keep you busy in the summer months. There’s swimming, sand volleyball, hiking trails, picnic spots and a playground for the kiddos!

White Rock Lake near Dallas (Free). This scenic park will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors with 9 miles of running, biking, and walking trails and some awesome fishing. This 1,015-acre city lake is only 5 miles northeast of downtown Dallas, making it super close to the city.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve in Plano (Free). This is the perfect get-away for a quick dose of the outdoors right in the middle of the city. Get out there and enjoy the lush trails, playground, and picnic pavilion.

River Legacy Park in Arlington (Free). Located along the banks of the Trinity River, River Legacy Park is full of outdoor entertainment. There’s hiking & biking trails, picnic areas, a canoe launch and even a hands-on science center!

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Animal Life in Dallas

If you’re looking to spend some time at an aquarium, we have got some options for you! Take your pick, and let’s get to exploring the Sea.

Fort Worth Zoo ($14 adults/$10 kids). Get up close and personal at the FW Zoo, which is home to more than 500 species of animals and a wide variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Perfect for kids! Toddlers 2 and under are free, and Wednesdays you get half-price admission.

Note: This guide is meant to give a high-level overview. The information may vary from time to time. Check back frequently as things are always changing in the area. For more information on the DFW area, check out Guide Live and their ‘Things to Do'.

Dallas Area Outdoor Gardens and Learning

Fair Park's Discovery Gardens in Dallas ($8 Adults / $4 Kids). Fair Park has a variety of museums, but the kids will enjoy the Discovery Gardens and the Butterfly House/Insectarium.

Fort Worth Botanic Gardens (Free). features seasonal displays of plants and flowers native to North Texas.

Southfork Ranch in Dallas (Free to drive around. Tour $15 adults/$9 kids, children 5 and under are free). No visit to Dallas is complete without visiting the legendary Southfork Ranch. You’ll see where the TV show “Dallas” was filmed and experience life on the ranch.

Log Cabin Village ($5.50/ages 3 and under free). Come hang out at the outdoor living history museum consisting of 7 log cabin houses, a blacksmith shop, and one-room school dating back to the 1800s while costumed historical interpreters help you to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of 19th-century Texas! Log Cabin Village is located across the street from the FW Zoo, so plan to spend a day in this area.

Amusement Parks Near Dallas

Sandy Lake Amusement Park in Carrollton ($2/person, tickets only 50¢ each). Take a trip back in time. This old-school style amusement park is full of options for family fun. Try the paddle boats, miniature golf, and carnival style rides. Bring your own lunch to eat at the picnic grounds and save your money for the quarter arcade.

Hawaiian Falls Waterpark in The Colony (Tickets start at $22, but check for coupons before you buy). If you’re visiting in the heat of the summer you’ll want to cool off on the slides, lazy river and in the wave pool. If you have little ones, they’ll love the interactive water playground! Save some money by packing a cooler and eating under the picnic pavilion.

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington. While always entertaining, is not always cheap (tickets start at $60). Bring a Coke marked with a local coupon, you could save up to $20! Make a full day of it and bring your own food.

Museums in Dallas

Dallas Museum of Art (Free). Located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, DMA is one of the America’s largest art museums. Think art is just for adults? Think again! If you’ve got kids in tow, they’ll find plenty to do exploring the DMA kid’s club.

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum (Tickets start at $13, kids 4 and under are free). Submerge yourself in some American history as you explore the Presidency of George W. Bush. You’ll even get a chance to step inside an exact replica of the Oval Office!

National Videogame Museum in Frisco ($12 adults/$10 kids/ages 3 and under free). A museum about the history of video games? Yes! This new museum has classic video game arcade machines, all different video game consoles in a living room setting, historic computer games and memorabilia. Awesome!

The Crayola Experience in Plano (Coming soon – Prices TBD). Visitors will be able to name and wrap their own Crayola crayon, star in a coloring page, bring art to 4-D life and so much more! Opening Spring 2018

Dallas Area Tours

Frontier of Flight Museum ($10 adults/$7 kids/ages 3 and under free). Come see an extensive collection of aviation history artifacts and vehicles. Learn all about the history of aviation and space exploration from the DFW area.

Franconia Brewing Tour in McKinney ($5/ages 21 and up) With a long family history of brewing beer, Dennis Wehrmann came from Nuremberg, Germany to the US to achieve a lifelong dream of opening his own brewery. You’ll learn all about the beer brewing process and get free samples of the local beer varieties.

US Bureau of Engraving and Printing (Free). Go for a 45-minute guided tour on weekdays and you’ll get a behind the scenes look at this money-printing facility in Fort Worth. See where billions of dollars are printed right here in North Texas! It's one of only 2 facilities in the US! The other is in Washington DC.

Dallas Restaurants

If there’s one thing we do well in Texas, it’s food. Here in DFW there are endless options for grabbing a tasty bite. You could literally try a different place every day and never run out of choices.

Some local favorite eats:

Dallas CityPASS®

If you’re going to be here for a few days, you may want to consider the CityPASS. The pass gets you access to some of the city’s top (more expensive) attractions. If you think you’ll make it to all of them, this is worth the cost ($48 adults / $32 kids).

  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science
  • Reunion Tower GeO-Deck
  • The Sixth-Floor Museum OR Dallas Zoo
  • George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum OR Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Save 40% on the 4 best attractions in Dallas with CityPASS – Shop Now!

Wow DFW! What a place to be! There's so much to do for a reasonable cost. These ideas are just the beginning. Check back often as this page gets updated regularly.

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Last Edited: August 9, 2017 @ 12:11 pmThe content of ptmoney.com is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Visitors to ptmoney.com should not act upon the content or information without first seeking appropriate professional advice. In accordance with the latest FTC guidelines, we declare that we have a financial relationship with every company mentioned on this site.
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a CPA, financial writer, podcaster, FinCon Founder, husband, and father of three. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Listen to the new podcast, Masters of Money!

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  1. How was the Heard Museum in McKinney forgotten? That’s not much further than Plano which gets mentioned in this piece.

  2. Lauren brown says:

    Great suggestions! Looking forward to finding out more 🙂

  3. How about getting from downtown hotel to Cowboy Stadium.  I understand Jerry
    has made that an expensive proposition!  Anybody have a solution or suggestions.
    Thanks,  Clay

  4. FYI, the Fort Worth Zoo is half price on Wednesdays. Across the street from it is the Log Cabin Village, where they have a collection of cabins that actually belonged to historical figures in Texas history. There are people dressed according to the period and can tell you everything you’d ever want to know about the mementos in the cabin and the people who lived there. They also do various demonstrations, blacksmithing, candlemaking, etc. It’s only about $4.50/adult, $4/kids 4-17, free for kids under 3.

  5. this was awesome, 🙂 thanks.

  6. Irirshredroses9309 says:

    On a different note I would like to say thank you to the person who put this website together. I have lived here a long time and know most every thing there is to do, free or not, but this website has actually given a couple of new things I have never found any where else! So thanks again!!

  7. Irirshredroses9309 says:

    Well I thought I would add to the list as well as give a few personal opinions. While this might not impress those who do not live here, Dog parks are becoming extremely popular (not to mention it’s free) and they are being built all over the place. One is located near white rock lake and has bike and walking trails. It has a wonderful atmosphere and is a beautiful place just to get away and to stay outdoors.
    Now while these next places are not frugal they belong next to six flags on the list, Hurricane harbor (located across the highway from Six Flags in Arlington), Hawaiian Falls in Garland, and H20 water park. If you are here during the summer months, these water parks are the best way to cool off and have a blast with family and friends. Be forewarned that Hurricane Harbor is the most expensive water park here in the DFW area but it has the most rides and types of pools. If you make the trip to Fort Worth, stop downtown to see the Water Gardens. It is a free water “sculpture” garden in the middle of the downtown area. There are a couple of fountains but the main attraction is the massive “walk in” fountain and a one foot wading pool. Its a fun and free way to stay cool!! One last thing I can think of is the historic railroad in downtown grapevine. They run tours all through the year and one even goes directly to the Fort Worth Stockyards for a day of fun. Keep an eye on the Grapevine website because they do a couple of festivals a year and holiday things for the kids including real Thomas the Tank engine train rides and rides in to a Christmas town to see Santa.
    NOTE: If you want to go see one of the Dallas aquarium’s keep in mind that the two are VERY different. The Dallas aquarium is only 4 dollars because it is just a large room with tanks. It has mostly local fish and an old tortoise. If you are in fair park it is worth seeing but if you want to see other kinds of fish and even some animals the Dallas World Aquarium is the place you want to go. It jumps in price to 17 dollars for an adult but it very impressive with its many tanks and animals. Try not to go on a holiday weekend (like mother’s day weekend) or you will be EXTREMELY crowded.

  8. Great…except I live in Australia 🙁

  9. It’s amazing what you can find when you really dig in to see what’s out there! A good list if I ever make the trek down south!

  10. DFW looks like fun. I’d love to visit that part of the country!

  11. Looks like a great place to visit! I’ve never been to Texas, but if I ever go, I’d definitely want to hit up DFW