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winter activities, iStock image of cutting snowflakes

Our Favorite Winter Activities

Ideas for keeping the whole family enriched and inspired.

When your kids are out of school for winter break, you’ll probably be left wondering what to do with them to fill the time. So if you’re looking to get out of the house with the kids and explore new local exhibits and theater productions—or need easy ideas to keep the kids entertained at home—keep reading for our favorite ideas for winter activities and entertainment in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The 8 Top Winter Events for Families in DFW

1. Harry Connick, Jr.’s The Happy Elf

Through December 23

Dallas Children’s Theater, 5938 Skillman St., Dallas

Want to take your kids to see a holiday show? The Happy Elf is just what you’re looking for (plus, the music and lyrics are by Harry Connick, Jr. so parents will enjoy it too). It follows Eubie, an unparalleled elf with endless energy. But when his unstoppably sunny spirit comes into contact with the miserable town of Bluesville (where every single child is on the naughty list), he’s in for the shock of a lifetime.

Your kids will cheer on Eubie as he uses his relentless positive attitude to try to turn the gloomy place around. And with a runtime of 45 minutes, it’s an ideal show for your little one’s first live performance experience. The show is recommended for ages 5 and older, and tickets are $17 and up.

2. New Year’s Eve Countdown to Noon Party

December 31

Sci-Tech Discovery Center, 8004 North Dallas Parkway, Frisco

Do you have little ones that can’t make it to midnight to celebrate the New Year? Or maybe you have New Year’s Eve plans with your partner and the kids are staying home with a sitter? Celebrate the New Year earlier in the day with your kiddos at this countdown to noon. Your kids and tweens will enjoy science fun (like making sparkling grape juice gummy spheres, building animatronic clocks, crafting geometric hats, driving the robot calendar course), glow tattoos, and more.

Plus, there will be Fireworks 101 shows and Electric Ball Drops each hour. This New Year’s Eve party is best for ages 2–12. Timed tickets (available in 2-hour blocks) are $12 for members and $15 for nonmembers.

Six Flags Over Texas, Pirates of Speelunker’s Cave
Pirates of Speelunker’s Cave, photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas

3. Six Flags Over Texas

Holiday in the Park, daily through January 2, 2023 (closed Christmas Eve and Day)
Six Flags open weekends in January/February, plus holiday Mondays

Six Flags Over Texas, 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington

In our opinion, visiting Six Flags is always a fun day out with the family, but it’s super magical when you visit during its Holiday in the Park festivities. Of course, you all can enjoy the family rides (note their height requirements for some rides) and your little one can have a blast on the kiddie rides. But there will also be special holiday events, performances, and attractions across the park.

There’s Kristy Kringle Kids Karaoke, LOONEY TUNES Meet & Greet, singing reindeer, carolers, a s’mores station, gorgeous light displays, a holiday market with a petting zoo, crafts with Mrs, Claus, and more. And it wouldn’t be a Christmas event without Santa. Kids can visit and take a photo with the big guy in the red suit. Just keep in mind that some holiday attractions, like visiting with Santa, are only available through December 23.

Online pricing for one-day tickets start at $44.99, depending on the day, and up per person, plus parking.

4. Bluey’s Big Play

January 7–8, 2023

Texas Trust CU Theatre, 1001 Texas Trust Way, Grand Prairie

If your child is as obsessed with Bluey as every other kid we know, get them tickets to Bluey’s Big Play for Christmas. In this brand-new theatrical production, Dad is only interested in one thing: relaxing on his bean bag. But Bluey and her little sister Bingo just want him to play with them. Your kiddos will watch as Bluey and Bingo pull out all the stops, antics, games, and cleverness to get Dad off the bean bag. The show runs for 50 minutes, great for little ones’ attention spans.

Tickets are $25–$85, and there’s a VIP experience ($75 per person) with a meet-and-greet photo op.

5. Disney’s The Lion King

January 18–29, 2023

Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth

Your family can experience the phenomenon of Disney’s The Lion King without having to travel to NYC to see it on Broadway (or the cost). Your kids will love seeing the beloved animated story come to life with giant puppets, unforgettable music, and amazon backdrops. There’s also a sensory-friendly performance on January 28, 2023. The musical is recommended for ages 6 and older, and it has a runtime of 2 hours, 30 minutes with an intermission.

Tickets are $33 and up.

6. Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

January 13–February 4, 2023

Will Rogers Memorial Center, 3401 W. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth

With 23 days jam-packed with events, you’ll be hard pressed not to have a fun day out with your family. But the two events we’re looking forward to most? The Stock Show “All Western” Parade and Kids Gone Wild. The parade, on January 13, features floats, horses, marching bands—and it’s a sight to see. If you choose to purchase reserved-seating tickets, opt for Sundance Square ($25 per person), which will have face painters and balloon artists in the plaza.

Then, on January 22, from 11am–6pm, is Kids Gone Wild. The event is a destination for families that day, and it introduces little ones to a wide range of animals, crafts, digging in the dirt, and fishing in the Kid Fish tank.

General admission is $12, $6 for children ages 6–16, and free for ages 5 and younger. Tickets for the rodeo are $30 and up.

7. Mickey & Friends x CAMP: An Extra Big Adventure

Through February 15, 2023

CAMP, 9830 N. Central Expressway, Dallas

Guided by CAMP Counselors, your kiddos will play their way through an immersive world that celebrates Mickey Mouse & Friends. In the larger-than-life play experience, kids can slide down a ribbon on a birthday present, explore a field of tall grass, mix a song on a massive DJ turntable, play inside a kaleidoscope, climb a wall of giant hot dogs, throw giant popcorn kernels, and enjoy a dance party.

Your little ones will have so much fun, they’ll be chanting “Meeska Mooska Mickey Mouse” all day long (we promise, it’s a good thing). The 40-minute experience is designed for 2 to 8-year-olds, but it’s open to all ages.

Tickets are $28 and up.

8. The Science Behind Pixar Exhibit

Through September 4, 2023

Perot Museum of Nature and Science, 2201 N. Field St., Dallas

If your kiddos love Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Cars, Wall-E, or any other Pixar movie, you won’t want to miss this special exhibit. Bonus: It’s an educational experience, but your kids won’t realize they’re learning. The immersive exhibit takes you through the film-making process with hands-on activities, from storyboards and concept art to the final product, while highlighting the STEAM skills that are needed. Who knows, it just might inspire your little ones to explore animation as a hobby or future career?

Admission to this special exhibit requires general admission, plus a special exhibit ticket. Admission is $25, $15 for children, and free for children younger than 2; the special exhibit ticket is $12, $10 for children, and free for children younger than 2.

8 At-Home Winter Activities for Families

Looking for even easy entertainment while at home and around Dallas-Fort Worth while the kids are out of school for the holidays? Here are 10 can’t-miss winter activity ideas for you and your kids.

1. Have a snowball fight.

Sure, there isn’t snow on the ground. But don’t let that stop you from having a “snowball” fight. With younger kids, try making big pom poms to toss around. If you have older kids, roll up pairs of socks into balls and use those as snowballs. Just make sure to set some ground rules (like don’t aim for your siblings head) and make sure there are no breakable valuables in the area.

For a real snowball throw in the privacy of your own backyard (or park or wherever you’d like to play), head to your local Bahama Bucks for reinforcements. The same super soft shaved ice they use in their tasty “Sno” cones gets packed into their Sno2Throw bundles. Each bundle comes with 60 snowballs, stored inside a Styrofoam cooler that keeps them intact and at the right temp until you’re back home with the kids and ready to throw down in a frozen blaze of glory.

Bahama Bucks Sno2Throw snowball bundles

Call or go online to schedule your order in advance. Prices for each 60-pack bundle varies slightly by location—and there are about 15 locations across Dallas-Fort Worth—but generally run $26.99 and under. And what’s a trip to Bahama Bucks without getting your own treats. Embrace the cold and choose from more than 100 flavors for your Sno cone, including the new winter flavors “Santa,” “Christmas tree” and candy cane.

2. Make some seasonal crafts with your kids.

Whether you’re looking for winter crafts for kids or you want to help your kids make presents for loved ones, consider one of these options:

3. Bake holiday cookies and donate them.

Spend an afternoon baking holiday cookies with your kids (let these recipes from Food Network serve as inspiration). Once they’re cool, let your little ones decorate them as they see fit, then wrap them up to share with your friends and neighbors. Want to do a little good in your community? Bring some of the cookies to your local fire or police department or share them with a nursing home or shelter (just be sure to call ahead to make sure you’re allowed to bring in food).

4. Visit an indoor play space.

If your kids are bouncing off the walls, let them get their energy out at an indoor play space. Have older kids? Think about taking them to a laser tag arena for a game or two. If they have extra energy they need to get out, your whole family can enjoy jumping off the walls (literally) at an indoor trampoline park, like Urban Air, Sky Zone, Altitude, or Jumping World.

5. Plan a scavenger hunt.

Come up with a list of items your kids can find in your home, in your yard, and on your block. If your kids have smartphones, have them snap pictures of each item. If they don’t, consider giving them a disposable camera, a cheap kids camera, or an Instax to snap pics of their finds. And the items on your list can be a mixture of easy and hard to find objects, as well as some your kids have to think about (think: find an item that’s purple, a rock that looks like a heart, a bird at a feeder, or something you’re proud of).

6. Host a family game night.

Take a break from the screens and plan an evening of friendly competition with your kids. You can’t go wrong with classics like Uno, Trouble, Sequence, or Monopoly Jr. But if you want something new, check out this list of the best family games of 2022, which features games like Exploding Kittens, Spot It!, Zingo!, and LCR.

If your kids love their Elf on the Shelf and online gaming, log onto santasnorthpole.com for a 360-degree, virtual exploration of the North Pole (ahem, pay close attention to Santa’s Strategy Room) and let your littles play more than a dozen free games like the Scout Elf Flight Simulator. We think feeding Saint Bernard puppies and arctic foxes in the Elf Pets Feeding Frenzy Game is especially darling.

For more tactile activities that won’t add to their screen time, try the free, printable paper crafts and activities at santasnorthpole.com (click the paint brush button) and elfontheshelf.com. Christmas cards, coloring sheets or mazes to challenge kids’ problem-solving skills—each comes with instructions for them to complete solo or as a family. Pro tip: Head outside to make the elephant toothpaste.

7. Help your kids make New Year’s resolutions.

We’re not talking about anything huge or unachievable. We’re thinking of resolutions like reading for 15 minutes each day, helping Mom or Dad cook dinner once a week, learning a new hobby, or doing something nice for my sibling each week.

8. Check our calendar for even more winter and holiday activities.

We regularly update our online calendar with new events, so check back each week to see what’s been added. Let us know which events in DFW you take your kids to, and tag us on Instagram @dfwchildmag when you post your pics.

Top image: iStock