It’s that time of year again: spring break! If you want to avoid long lines, airport meltdowns, sand and sunburns while still giving your kids an amazing school-free week—look no further. Consider us your travel planners to the ultimate Dallas Fort-Worth staycation!
The best part: each daily itinerary is mapped according to your kid’s interests in Dallas or Fort Worth, so it’s an easy drive home if things go south. (If you want a staycation away from home, check out our side bar the coolest kid-approved hotels in the Metroplex!)
Spend just one day or the whole week exploring the greatest destinations in art, culture and nature. Need more options? Check out our list of spring break camps.
SCIENCE & SPACE
From ancient fossils to space exploration, dig into science at these museums.
Kids can explore the universe without ever leaving the ground, thanks to the city’s many science museums. Start your staycation at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The museum is offering spring break programming March 9–13 and 16–20. Twice a day in the auditorium, kids of all ages can participate in interactive, experiment-based shows, themed “Atmospheric Adventures” and “Fire and Ice.” And as part of the Origins: Fossils From the Cradle of Humankind exhibition, CaveSim will bring their mobile cave for kids and families to crawl through. Wrap up with food truck grub and a spin on the playground at Klyde Warren Park.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
2201 N. Field St., Dallas; 214/428-5555
Admission: Adults, $20; kids 2–12, $13
Origins plus general admission: Adults, $30; kids 2–12, $21
Klyde Warren Park
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas; 214/716-4500
There’s plenty of history in Fort Worth—from its cattle-ranchin’ Stockyards days to even millions of years back when dinosaurs roamed Cowtown. Educate your little ones about the city’s rich past with a day at Fort Worth’s historic museums. Tip your hat to the western women celebrated at the National Cowgirl Museum, then walk a few steps over to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. It’s your last chance to see the space-themed exhibit Launchpad before it closes March 22. Perennial favorites DinoLabs and DinoDig allow kiddos to get to know the prehistoric creatures discovered in North Texas and even try to dig for fossils like the official Texas State Dinosaur, Paluxysaurus jonesi. And don’t miss the new IMAX film Dinosaurs of Antarctica, which premiers March 7.
For kids who are out of this world, catch a show at the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, then hop in the car for a 20-minute drive over to a pair of flying museums. At the Vintage Flying Museum (open Friday–Sunday), learn about aviation history and tour planes that flew in the World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam eras. The nearby Fort Worth Aviation Museum (open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday) offers a “petting zoo” of a couple dozen North Texas aircraft that date from 1943 to the present. On any day, you can see the towering parts of a military aircraft at Airfield Falls Trailhead and Conservation Park before taking a butterfly walk en route to a hidden waterfall (yes, really!).
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
1600 Gendy St., Fort Worth; 817/255-9300
Admission: Adults, $16; kids 2–18, $13
National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame
1720 Gendy St., Fort Worth; 817/336-4475
Admission: Adults, $12; kids 4–12, $6; free for kids 3 and under
Vintage Flying Museum
505 NW 38th St. Hangar 33 South, Fort Worth; 817/624-1935
Admission: Adults, $10; teens, $8; kids 6–13, $5; free for kids under 6
Fort Worth Aviation Museum
3300 Ross Ave., Fort Worth; 855/733-8627
Admission: Adults, $7; kids 6–16, $2; free for kids under 6; family pass (up to six people), $15
Airfield Falls Trailhead & Conservation Park
200 Pumphrey Drive, Westworth Village
Inspire your precocious Picassos and kiddie Kandinskys with a day devoted to the arts.
For the arts-loving tot, plan your day at the Dallas Museum of Art, which is hosting free spring break activities March 17–20. Kids can join storytimes, drop-in art activities and sensory play in the Center for Creative Connections. If your little ones are not too exhausted, drop by the neighboring Nasher Sculpture Center, offering free admission March 17–22 from 11am–5pm and a full slate of daily activities. Explore the work of Michael Rakowitz and join on-theme scavenger hunts, storytimes, sketching sessions and more.
Dallas Museum of Art
1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas; 214/922-1200
Nasher Sculpture Center
2001 Flora St., Dallas; 214/242-5100
Admission: Free March 17–22
Cowtown is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best places to see art in the country. A day museum hopping is easy in Fort Worth, as a bulk of museums are within walking distance from each other—the only problem is which destinations to choose!
To inspire your mini Monets, begin at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The Modern is offering a Spring Break Wonders program March 9–12, where kids can join daily hands-on projects themed after the museum’s collection, followed by a drop-in family program on March 13. (Bonus: Admission is free on March 9, and free all week for families who participate in Spring Break Wonders.) Plus, kiddos get a free sketchbook at the admission desk. Pop in to Café Modern for grub or check out the many restaurants just east of the museum before making your way over to the newly renovated Amon Carter Museum of American Art. March 10–13, the museum is hosting come-and-go activities from 1–3pm, including art projects, art mad libs, a choose-your-own-adventure-style museum tour, plus a community art piece that will grow each day.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth; 817/738-9215
Admission: Adults, $16; free for kids under 18
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
3501 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth; 817/738-1933
CULTURE & HISTORY
Experience the rich culture deep in the heart of North Texas.
Families with older kids can learn about one of the sadder chapters in Dallas history by taking a tour of Dealey Plaza before visiting The Sixth Floor Museum. Then, expand your horizons by taking in the cityscape views at the nearby Reunion Tower GeO-Deck. Besides daily family activities during spring break (included with admission), be sure to check out the interactive Constellation experience. This allows visitors to add their names to a star—your little ones will leave knowing they’ve left their mark 470 feet up in the air.
Just a few blocks down from the iconic West End District sign is the Old Red Museum. The Old Red’s building is a historic piece itself, built as the Dallas County Courthouse back in 1892. Besides interactive kiosks throughout the exhibits (which cover all things Dallas, from fossils to the first frozen margarita machine), there’s a kids room that’ll be most appreciated by third graders and older.
If you and your clan would like to venture a little out of the downtown area, make a pilgrimage to the Bishop Arts District. Though the neighborhood dates back to the 1930s, it’s become trendy yet again thanks to plenty of independently owned shops and eateries. Cap off your day by scoring a coveted seat for your brood at the popular Oddfellows or strolling through DFW Mantiques, a man-cave-meets-antique-shop where all kinds of knickknacks are sold, including toys.
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
411 Elm St., Dallas; 214/747-6660
Admission: Adults, $18; kids 6–18, $14; free for kids 5 and under
Reunion Tower GeO-Deck
300 Reunion Blvd., Dallas; 214/712-7040
Admission: Adults, $18; kids 4–12, $9
The Old Red Museum
100 S. Houston St. Dallas; 214/745-1100
Admission: Adults, $10; kids 3–16, $7; free for kids under 3
Bishop Arts District
419 N. Bishop Ave., Dallas
316 W. Seventh St., Dallas; 214/944-5958
301 W. Eighth St., Dallas; 214/680-4960
You could spend a whole day in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square and never be bored. With dozens of stores (including Houston Street Toy Company), restaurants (many with patios!) and cultural attractions and events, the possibilities are quite endless. And the jetted fountains in Sundance Square Plaza are open for splashing from 2–6pm on weekdays.
But if you and your brood are in the mood for something a little more rustic, dress your little ones in their cowboy boots and hats and head to the historic Fort Worth Stockyards, only five minutes away from the Square. The Stockyards’ history dates back to 1866, when herdsmen brought in cattle through the city—it’s been called Cowtown ever since. Watch the daily cattle drive at 11:30am or 4pm; when the longhorns aren’t parading down East Exchange Avenue, you can visit them behind the Livestock Exchange Building. Try to navigate the Cattle Pen Maze, then reward yourselves with old-fashioned sweets from The Candy Barrel.
201 Main St., Fort Worth; 817/255-5700
Fort Worth Stockyards
130 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth; 817/624-4741
Admission: Free; Cattle Pen Maze, $6 (half price on Tuesday)
Kiddos will love communing with nature in the urban jungle.
The Katy Trail has long been a favorite way to get around Dallas. Park along Knox Street and grab a bite to eat (we recommend the chips and queso at the Katy Trail Ice House) before making your way to the trail. Bring your bikes, or enjoy the stroll southward and back.
Do your kiddos still have an itch for fun in the sun? Just 20 minutes by car is the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. Their spring break lineup includes Mommy & Me Mondays and Tiny Tot Tuesdays for little ones, plus a two-hour Blooms Bonanza workshop on Monday.
If your little ones are curious about life in the rainforest and under the sea, take a trip to the Dallas World Aquarium, a multi-level walk-thru environment that’s unlike any aquarium you’ve been to, trust us. Check the feeding schedule online to plan when your kid’s favorite creatures—like otters and penguins—will chow down.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
8525 Garland Rd., Dallas; 214/515-6615
Admission: Adults ($15), children 3–12 ($10)
Dallas World Aquarium
1801 N. Griffin St., Dallas; 214/720-2224
Admission: Adults, $22.95; kids 2–12, $16.95
Start your day in bloom at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Wander through the newly renovated Rain Forest Conservatory to see Butterflies in the Garden, a special exhibit of live butterflies fluttering freely around you. This special event runs $12 for adults and $8 for kids 6–15 if you don’t purchase garden admission; combo tickets are $18 for adults and $10 for ages 6–15. After buzzing about the garden, drive 10 minutes to the Fort Worth Water Gardens. Kids will be amazed at the wonderful Philip Johnson-designed urban park, featuring three different pools of water (quiet, aerating and active). Be sure to hold hands as you descend the steps into the jaw-dropping active pool.
You could spend a whole day visiting the 540-plus species currently living at the Fort Worth Zoo. Be sure to make time for stage shows and animal encounters at the Outdoor Learning Theater (on hiatus right now, but running during spring break) to get an up-close look at some of the zoo’s mammals, reptiles and birds.
Fort Worth Botanic Garden
3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth; 817/392-5510
Admission: Adults, $12; kids 6–15, $6; free for kids 5 and under
Fort Worth Water Gardens
1502 Commerce St., Fort Worth
Fort Worth Zoo
1989 Colonial Parkway, Fort Worth; 817/759-7501
Admission: Adults, $16; kids 3–12, $12
This article was originally published in March 2018, with updates this year.