State Fair of Texas
Fair Park, Dallas
3921 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Dates: September 26–October 19.
Exhibit buildings, outdoor exhibits and concession stands: 10am–9pm Sunday–Thursday and 10am–10pm Friday–Saturday. Midway and museum hours vary. Check the daily schedule.
Admission: At the gate, tickets are $17 for adults and $13 for kids between age 3 and 48 inches tall. $39.95 for season tickets.
Parking: Official parking is $15. The DART Rail Green Line stops at Fair Park Station.
They don't call him Big Tex for nothing. The 55-foot-tall cowboy returns to Fair Park September 26–October 19 for the State Fair of Texas, an annual tradition since 1886. The 24-day stretch is jam-packed with livestock shows, live performances, carnival rides, fried foods, parades, petting zoos and too many more activities to say in one breath. So we’ve highlighted the biggest, coolest and most family-friendly entertainment.
Once inside the Fair Park gates, the world is your oyster. Browse through the concession stands and dining areas to treat the kids to traditional fair foods: extra-long corn dogs, freshly spun cotton candy, funnel cakes and turkey legs.
Then, whether to satisfy your sweet tooth or your curiosity, look out for the new menu items created by the finalists of the 10th annual Big Tex Choice Awards. In keeping with the State Fair’s reputation as the Fried Food Capital of Texas, chefs will compete for the best tasting and most creative recipes, and foods by all eight finalists will be sold at the fair.
Find more than 70 rides and games of every kind at the midway (special child-sized rides are located in the Kidsway section), and climb on board the fair’s tallest attractions: the Texas Star Ferris Wheel (go at night to see all the sparkling lights), the Texas SkyWay and the 500-foot Top o’ Texas Tower. All three are open to riders of all ages and heights, so feel free to take along your youngest for great views of the entire park.
On particularly hot days, head straight to the Log Flume ride or let the kids play in the spray fountains around the park to stay cool. If your little ones prefer to play at length in the spray fountains, bring a change of clothes and dry off at the Baby Care Centers placed throughout the fairgrounds, including one near the Children’s Aquarium.
Be prepared to spend most of your time (but not all your money) visiting these hotspots for kid-friendly fun. Entrance is free with fair admission to the Little Hands on the Farm, two barnyards of exotic and baby animals, the Oak Farms Activity Center with daily circus shows and the new Kids’ Boardwalk by the Lagoon. Let kids get in on the action by driving mini-tractors at the Kids’ Pedal Tractor Pull and riding stick horses at the Pee Wee Stampede.
Watch daily animal shows in the Pan-Am Arena: ostrich races with jockeys a la Swiss Family Robinson and piglet races (no jockeys). New to the 2014 fair is the Wild West Pet Palooza featuring remarkably trained pets, many of which are rescue animals.
Football Games at Cotton Bowl Stadium
Are you ready for some football? Two college games are scheduled for Saturdays, September 27 and October 11, the latter being the highly competitive Texas-OU game and tickets sell out fast. Get to Fair Park early to avoid the extra traffic or take the DART Rail to eliminate worries about parking.
Several museum and concert venues are open year-round at Fair Park, and during the run of the State Fair, Texas Discovery Gardens and Children’s Aquarium, both open daily, will offer discounted admission.