Off The RailsBy Beth McGee
Getting around Dallas-Fort Worth can be tricky, especially when car seats, strollers, street parking and construction are involved. Next time you’re looking for kid-friendly fun outside your neighborhood, take a ride on Fort Worth’s Trinity Railway Express (TRE) or Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). Public transport provides the perfect vehicle for fun and easy transit all over the area — and the journey is just as fun as the destination.
Hop On- From Dallas
The DART provides plenty of spots to hop on along its four lines, and all four converge downtown so you can easily transfer lines. All-day passes that allow you to board and disembark as much as you like are $5 for adults and $2.50 for kids. Explore the stations we highlight below but get a visual treat at each one — there’s unique public art installations at nearly every stop along the Red and Blue lines.
Dallas Zoo Station
Avoid the $8 parking fee at the Dallas Zoo by taking the DART Red Line, which drops you off just across the street from the front gate. Make your way to the zoo entrance by following the columns that abstractly represent animal skins. Once inside, catch a glimpse of the only koalas in Texas, visit and feed the giraffes, and more — plus get a firsthand look at the Simmons Hippo Outpost, set to open this spring. Make the trip on Monday or Tuesday to receive a $2 discount on zoo admission with your same-day DART pass.
Location: Ewing Avenue and Clarendon Drive, Dallas
Downtown Plano Station
Take a selife with the station’s large horse sculpture, a nod to the early days when locomotives were referred to as “the iron horse.” Then walk a mere five minutes to the Interurban Railway Museum. Interactive STEM exhibits allow kiddos to learn the science behind electrical trains, and on a guided tour of Car 360, kids can compare the 106-year-old interurban car with their DART experience. Before the ride home, rid your littles of the wiggles at the adjacent Haggard Park.
Location: 15th Street and Avenue J, Plano
Lines: Red and Orange
For a subway-like experience, disembark 10 stories below ground at the Cityplace/Uptown Station. Ride the three escalators and two inclinators — clear elevators that travel at an incline. Admire the colorful station art featuring fossils and Native American pictographs. From there, jump on the free M-Line Trolley, along McKinney Avenue. Ride the trolley to Klyde Warren Park; the green space boasts a playground, restaurants and food trucks, and a short walk across the street lands you at the Dallas Museum of Art, where general admission and access to the kids’ activities in the Center for Creative Connections is free.
Location: Haskell Avenue and North Central Expressway, Dallas
Lines: Red, Blue and Orange
West End Station
Science and nature lovers stop here. Make the four-minute walk from the station to the Dallas World Aquarium’s indoor rainforest, or take bus route 749, 52 or 59 to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science where kids 5 and younger can dig for fossils and older kids can visit the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall to learn about rocks through hands-on touch tables.
Location: Pacific Avenue, between Market and Lamar streets, Dallas
Lines: Red, Blue, Green and Orange
Downtown Carrollton Station
If you’re looking for good grub, exit at the Downtown Carrollton Station and make your way to Babe’s Chicken Dinner House for a home-style meal you don’t have to cook, grab a burger and milkshake at Twisted Root or share a pizza straight out of Cane Rosso’s wood-burning oven. For dessert, stop at Bloom’s Candy and Soda Pop Shop — kiddos will love out-of-the-box offerings such as PB&J soda, Dr Pepper licorice and bacon cotton candy. (The green space in the middle of downtown provides room for kids to run off all that sugar.)
Location: Belt Line Road and Broadway Street, Carrollton
If you’re looking to go west without traffic, use the DART to connect to the Trinity Railway Express (TRE) at Victory Station or Union Station in Dallas. Once aboard, enjoy the hourlong ride across the Trinity River to the T&P Station in downtown Fort Worth. Then catch the T public transport bus for easy service to the historic Stockyards for weekend Wild West shows (routes 1, 14, 15, 17), the Fort Worth Botanic Garden for springtime blooms (route 7) or Sundance Square for shopping and dining (routes 1, 10, 15, 17). A regional day pass that covers DART, TRE and bus fare is $10 for adults and $2.50 for children.
817/ 215-8669; trinityrailwayexpress.org
Hop On From Fort Worth
The TRE starts in downtown Fort Worth and offers five Tarrant County stations where you can jump on board. If you want to stay and explore Fort Worth, day passes are available.
Along the TRE
Get off at the T&P Station to land in the heart of downtown Fort Worth. From there, make your way to Sundance Square (it’s a 15-minute walk) for 35 blocks of shopping and dining. Be sure to stop at the newly opened Houston’s Toy Company — kiddos love the life-size blocks, storybooks and faux trees inside, not to mention the shelves stocked with toys. And make a trip to It’s Sugar; the candy shop’s 5-pound gummy bears and the world’s largest box of Nerds are must-sees.
Location: 221 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth
Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center Station
Before exiting the ITC Station, check out the original Interurban Trolley that made trips between Fort Worth and Dallas from 1924–1934. Then make the half-mile walk to the Fort Worth Water Gardens next to the Fort Worth Convention Center. Bring a picnic to share while the kiddos marvel at the sights and sounds of the garden’s three elaborate pools — no swimming, though. If you’re looking for something on the Wild West side, take a 25-minute bus ride from the ITC Station on route 1, 14, 15 or 17 to the Fort Worth Stockyards. On weekends, the stockyards host Wild West shows and the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, plus a twice-daily Texas Longhorn cattle drive.
Location: 1001 Jones St., Fort Worth
If you’re itching for a daytrip to Dallas without the traffic, hop aboard the TRE and enjoy the stress-free commute across the Trinity River. The ride from the T&P Station in Fort Worth to Union Station in Dallas (where you can connect to the DART Red and Blue lines) takes about an hour. A one-day regional pass covers all your transport in both cities.
Hop On from North Texas
To get to the DART from Denton County, start at one of five A-train stations in Denton or Lewisville, and set your sights on the Trinity Mills Station in Carrollton, where you can connect to the DART Green Line.Voyagers in Irving and Coppell can catch the DART at the Irving Convention Center and take the Orange Line.
DCTA, 940/243-0077; dcta.net
For easy travel on the DART and TRE, download the free GoPass app for iPhone and Android. In-app ticket purchases mean you don’t have to deal with the hassle of paper tickets. Plus, the trip planner provides route options to your desired destination, complete with times and route details. If you’re wondering where your bus is, search the route name or number to find its current location and estimated arrival time.
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