As an introduction to the many wonderful, world-class museums in Dallas-Fort Worth, we’re listing the top two dozens or so of our favorites to give you a lay of the land, and as you’ll see, it’s quite fertile. North Texas’ home-grown museums showcase art from different places and eras, that explore science and nature, or delve into local and world history, and more museums laser-focused on the history of firefighting or flight, and more museums that are part educational, part play space.
There are more destinations than we have time to visit, so don’t wait for your kid’s school to plan a field trip. Make your next family date a trip to one of these kid-friendly museums in Dallas-Fort Worth. And be sure to search our calendar for updates on which special exhibits and events are coming up next.
Dallas Museum of Art
The DMA, founded in 1903 and a pillar in the Dallas Arts District since 1984, offers world-class special exhibits and offers free admission to the permanent collection. Sometimes you’ll find activity carts throughout the galleries, depending on the exhibit, but you can always find the most kid-friendly fun in the Center for Creative Connection, or C3. When the kids have filled their artistic appetites, stick around the Dallas Arts District to explore the new attractions that have opened in recent months. Plus, it’s steps away from Klyde Warren Park and (as described below) the Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Museum of Asian Art and the Perot Museum.
1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas; 214/922-1200
Crow Museum of Asian Art
Trammell and Margaret Crow bought their first piece of Asian art in the mid-1960s. Fast forward to 1998 when they opened a permanent museum in the Dallas Arts District. Today the museum is an affiliate of The University of Texas at Dallas and its set of permanent galleries is dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. Since it opened, close to a million people have visited the museum to view the exhibitions, participate in Tai Chi, yoga and meditation sessions, learn about Asian cultures or enjoy festivals and family day celebrations.
2010 Flora St., Dallas; 214/979-6440
Nasher Sculpture Center
The idea behind appreciating modern sculpture is not to search for literal interpretations but to recognize the feeling that you get from each work of art. Founder Raymond Nasher, who began the world-renowned collection in 1954 that now includes pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin, followed the same philosophy.
Outside in the center’s sculpture garden, you can take a stroll around works of bronze, steel, concrete and wood from every angle. A kid favorite is Joan Miró’s Moonbird, a smooth sculpture cast from bronze and made up of crescent moon shapes.
Each month the museum hosts Free First Saturdays when it opens with free admission all day and guided kids’ activities. For now the crafts are offered virtually, with videos, downloadables, and step-by-step guides lead you through drawing, writing, sculpture, and music activities.
2001 Flora St., Dallas; 214/242-5100
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
Situated in the heart of the Fort Worth Cultural District, the Modern is housed in an elegant concrete, glass, and steel building designed by the renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Founded in 1892, the Modern collects and interprets art from the 1940s to the present and showcases the work of historically significant, mid-career, and emerging artists alike. Programs include tours, lectures, youth and adult classes and camps, and a range of small-group studio and gallery programs led by museum educators, docents, and community artists.
3200 Darnell St., Fort Worth; 817/738-9215
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Parents love this museum because admission to the museum galleries and exhibitions is always free and so is most of the family programming, which ranges from classes for all ages, innovative workshops, family events exclusively for Carter members, and access programs for visitors of all ages and abilities. Come see the best examples of American artistry—paintings and sculptures to photographs and works on paper—from the 18th century to the present.
3501 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth; 817/738-1933
Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell’s masterpieces from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Ancient Americas come from the time of antiquity to the 20th century, but the Kimbell is internationally renowned as much for its collections as for its architecture. In the 1973 original building designed by Louis I. Kahn, natural light enters through narrow plexiglass skylights along the top of cycloid barrel vaults. In 2013, the second building designed by architect Renzo Piano contains a gallery for light-sensitive works of art, as well as a library, an auditorium for concerts, and three education studios for family programming.
3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth; 817/332-8451
Irving Arts Center
As an affiliate with the Smithsonian Institution, Irving Arts Center features two performance halls, a sculpture garden, and five art galleries. The Main Gallery alone hosts over 20 exhibits throughout the year. You’ll want to bring your family for the free monthly kids art programs or the affordable virtual and in-person summer camps.
3333 N. MacArthur Blvd., Irving; 972/252-2787
Science and Nature Museums
Perot Museum of Nature & Science
The museum of stunning architecture overlooking downtown is a destination all its own. Once inside, kids can try their hand at robotics, see real dinosaur skeletons and so much more in the 11 exhibit halls, including the Moody Family Children’s Museum that’s great for kids up to age 5. Make sure to stop in and watch a 3D film inside the Hoglund Foundation Theater.
2201 N. Field St., Dallas; 214/428-5555
Fort Worth Museum of Science & History
In addition to their special exhibits and children’s classes, some of the biggest draws are the Children’s Museum, a play space for kids 8 and younger to shop at the kid-size grocery store or play doctor. The DinoLab and the outdoor DinoDig take visitors back to prehistoric days, and the new 2,500 square-foot Current Science Studio with Science on a Sphere teaches kids all about the weather. Plus, admission to the Noble Planetarium is now free, and stay tuned for The Omni IMAX Theater set to reopen in the summer of 2023 with new seats and a renovated lobby.
1600 Gendy St., Fort Worth; 817/255-9300
Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum
Call it an outdoor museum, if you will, where toddlers and kids and visitors of any age can (re)learn all about plants, the weather, seasons through gorgeous and elaborate exhibits, and special events throughout the year. Admission is only an additional $3 on top of general admission to the Dallas Arboretum, and for that you get access to The Incredible Edible Garden, the Plants are Alive exhibit, the 240-foot-long Texas Skywalk, and the Exploration Center with OmniGlobe.
8525 Garland Road, Dallas; 214/515-6615
Sci-Tech Discovery Center
Get your STEM on with hands-on activities and more “mind-stretching fun” at Sci-Tech, located inside the Frisco Discovery Center. Kids can try their hand at robotics by flying a drone, stop by the bubble tables to make massive bubbles and learn about surface tension, or check out the rotating projects where construction and creativity meet at the MakerStudio.
8004 Dallas Pkwy., Frisco; 972/546-3050
River Legacy Nature Center
Serving as the gateway to the adjacent 1,300-acre River Legacy Park. The 12,000-square-foot nature center offers children’s programs, festivals and rotating exhibits throughout the year. Come every day for outdoor exploration on the nature trails and indoors for animal exhibits and the Discovery Room, which features two large aquariums and a 30-foot interactive screen with games that teach kids through play about nature and environmentalism.
703 NW Green Oaks Blvd., Arlington; 817/860-6752
Explorium Denton Children’s Museum
Explorium has activities for kids of all ages that allow them to explore math, science, technology and more. The museum also offers sensory friendly hours every second Saturday of the month from 9–10am. If you plan to take your kiddos to the sensory friendly mornings, make sure to RSVP on the website.
5800 Interstate 35; Denton; 940/320-5444
Frontiers of Flight Museum
Frontier is not simply a flight museum but an aviation and space flight museum located at Dallas Love Field. Here you’ll discover rare planes, Southwest Airlines planes, warbirds as well as missiles, spacecraft on loan from the Smithsonian, more in the history of flight like a hot air balloon basket and a replica of Leonardo da Vinci’s 15-century parachute model. Come see the permanent displays or during special events and STEM camps for kids.
6911 Lemmon Ave., Dallas; 214/350-3600
Cavanaugh Flight Museum
The museum has multiple hangars with about 40 vintage aircraft, military armor and antique vehicles. Opened in 1993, the Cavanaugh is well-known for its quality collection of planes and operational condition of the aircraft on display. The museum is part of a working airport, so there’s a chance you’ll see one of the planes take off for a ride in the sky.
4572 Claire Chennault Dr., Addison; 972/380-8800
American Airlines CR Smith Museum
The CR Smith Museum, located just south of the DFW International Airport, tells the history of American Airlines and explains what it takes to run the airline. Kids will enjoy the flight simulators, stepping behind a real cockpit and even play on an inflated evacuation slide. Look online for upcoming virtual STEM workshops.
4601 Hwy 360, Fort Worth; 682/278-9085
Fort Worth Aviation Museum
You’re encouraged to touch the outdoor aircraft “petting zoo” on display outdoors, where you’ll see all types of warbirds, from jets to helicopters, each with their unique history.
3300 Ross Ave., Fort Worth; 855/733-8627
Vintage Flying Museum
Take a tour where you can see various aircraft in the process of restoration. The collection includes artifacts from World War I, World War II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. One really lovely feature is the Rosie the Riveter Memorial Rose Garden honoring all the women who served our country by working in factories and shipyards during World War II.
505 NW 38th St., Fort Worth; 817/624-1935
Interurban Railway Museum
Many kids can’t resist the lure of trains and planes, and the Interurban Railway Museum will clue them in on a mostly forgotten chapter in the history of transportation: the Texas Electric Railway, which operated on direct current like a streetcar, thrived in the 1920s, then slowly fizzled in 1948. Inside, the free-admission museum has a small but nicely designed collection of railway artifacts and photographic displays chronicling Plano history. A side room presents well-engineered hands-on activities that demonstrate the principles of electricity, and kids will enjoy a miniature electric-train display that recreates the wooden facades, dirt streets and small farms of rural Plano.
901 E. 15th St., Plano; 972/941-2117
Bureau of Engraving & Printing – Western Currency Facility
Did you know that more than half of the nation’s currency order is produced in Fort Worth? This governmental facility is currently closed to visitors due to the pandemic and the high demand for cash to be printed, so check back for when the BEP reopens for tours. Normally visitors can come see the production floor from an enclosed walkway suspended above and tour two floors of interactive exhibits and displays showcasing currency history and the intricate art of currency manufacturing.
9000 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth; 817/231-4000
Irving Archives & Museum
The 22,000-square-foot Irving Archives & Museum (IAM) opened in February 2020 inside the Jack D. Huffman Community Building. IAM has permanent and temporary exhibition spaces that focus primarily on Irving history, and now serves as the hub institution for all of Irving’s museums. Reserve your time to visit the Spark!Lab, a learning space and laboratory developed by the Smithsonian for kids 6–12.
801 W. Irving Blvd., Irving; 972/721-3700
Dallas Firefighters Museum
Learn about firefighter gear, fire safety and firefighter history. You’ll see a steam engine from 1884, engines from the 1920s and more materials and equipment from over the years.
3801 Parry Ave., Dallas; 214/821-1500
Denton Firefighters Museum
Located in the lobby of Denton’s Central Fire Station close to the historic square, you’ll see artifacts from the 1800s, a 1935 ladder truck, uniforms and other gear through the decades.
332 E. Hickory St., Denton; 940/349-8840
Located inside Stonebriar Centre, this 80,000-square-foot indoor play area is a mini city of mega proportions. Set up as a mini city, the Frisco location has 55 different experiences for kids 12 and younger to try out future careers as pilots, firefighters, actors, doctors. Kids will also be able to earn kidZos, or play money, as they work in their respective jobs. The goal here is to teach kids early on how money flow works in the real world. Plus, there’s an upstairs parents lounge to take a breather.
2601 Preston Road, Suite 3011, Frisco; 214/618-0248
House of Shine
Try something different at this “museum of self-discovery” for ages 5 and older. It’s part experiential lab, part workspace. Here, Shine stands for Strengths, Hobbies, Interests and Irritants, Needs and Experiences, and the goal of the museum is to help individuals discover what they can contribute to the world. Kids will discover their shine through scheduled story times, introductions to journaling or through one of the Shineworks events where crafts meet acts of kindness.
334 S. Barton St., Grapevine; 817/601-8850
This part-retail shop, part-activity center is a fully immersive family experience with a toy store, a retro soda fountain and a magic door. The concept first began in New York and this location at The Hill Shopping Center continues to hosts activities. Look online and book your spot at upcoming craft events.
9830 N US 75-Central Expy, Dallas; 214/612-0451
There’s quite a history behind this one-of-a-kind destination. SPARK! is located in the sub-basement of the historic South Side on Lamar building (the former Sears building) and inspired by the City Museum in St. Louis. Kids in second grade and older are welcome to play in the underground playground and spark their creativity with hands-on activities in the Creator Studio. SPARK! is open on select days to the public, so check online for their upcoming schedule.
1409 Botham Jean Blvd., Dallas; 214/421-7727
Top photo courtesy of Fort Worth Museum of Science and History