Fun Activities for Kids in Dallas

Fun Activities for Kids in Dallas

We have now lived in this city for just over 9 months. With summer upon us, we have been researching and buying season passes, finding things that we would enjoy as a family.

And, at long last, I feel like we finally have a handle on some of the fun activities for kids in Dallas! If our kids were a little bit older (pre-teens) there would be a world of other options, but these are the things that we will be utilizing this summer. You can too, if you ever want to visit!

Here is our list:

Normal/Nice Day:

Gregory and AJ Dallas zoo

Dallas Zoo: I put this one at the top of the list because we were just there on a 90+ day, and it was so shaded that it was totally doable for all but the hottest days this summer! They have different rotating exhibits (currently they have a Jurassic Park one!), and a family membership is really reasonably priced and comes with free parking. The park is HUGE (I’ve been to San Francisco’s and Sacramento’s for comparison) and has water misters and fans everywhere if you need them!

Gregory and Momma Arboretum

The Arboretum/Children’s Garden: This place is amazing. We just upgraded our general Arboretum membership to include the Children’s Garden because it is just a mile away from our house and we go all of the time. The Children’s Garden is full of fun hands-on and educational activities for kids, and even has a splash pad! They do homeschool/story reading events year round as well. They even have a giant Disneyland-esque treehouse!

Our FAVORITE part about the Arboretum right now is the underground parking garage across the street. It’s free (with membership) and has an underground walkway that takes you right to the front entrance. When you come back to your car after a hot day, it’s still nice and cool inside!

trolley ride

Trolley Rides in Uptown: Our kids love riding the free trolleys in Uptown, and they’re kind of a neat stroll through history at the same time! The line begins at Uptown Station near Lemmon Ave. and loops all the way through downtown and then back up again. We like to park right near the Dog Park on Lemmon, watch the trolley arrive and use the turntable, then we jump on and ride it to Klyde Warren or any fun place we’re eating at in the West Village or Uptown!

reverchon walking trails

Covered Parks: We all know that even a slightly sunny day can make slides really hot for little kids. Luckily, Dallas has lots of parks completely covered by awnings! Our favorite right now is Reverchon (which is also right on the Katy Trail, a long shaded trail that runs through Dallas!)

Super Hot Day:
In Dallas, July/August and the first half of September are high 90s temps and miserable for the outdoors unless you’re in some sort of water. Luckily, Dallas has a TON of free/cheap stuff to do!

ymca

YMCA: We just joined our neighborhood YMCA because their pool has a large shallow area/splash pad/slide area! For the price of our gym membership (that comes with free childcare, parents-night-outs-babysitting, and sports league discounts), we have a “waterpark” just down the road!

klyde warren park by day

Klyde Warren Park: This park is the #1 free place to go when it’s hot. They have several giant splash pad areas, along with a shaded playground that is all gated. And the food trucks/live music almost every night a week are an added bonus for parents! Parking is a bit tricky, but if you park far away the free trolley line will take you right to the park (and back again).

Gregory and AJ in fountain signature

Community pools/splashpads: Dallas has several free community pools and splash pads at several of their parks. We haven’t been to them yet, but I’m guessing they will be a bit crowded on super hot days! Still, I’m keeping it on the list 🙂

burgers17

Burger’s Lake: This is in Fort Worth, and a little pricey at $10-15/person. Still, it sounds awesome, so if we’re ever in the mood to splurge we’ll probably try it. There are slides, sandy beaches, and even a trapeze! You can bring your own picnic and grill too!

On the more expensive/older kids side of things, Dallas and the surrounding suburbs have tons of water parks! There’s Hurricane Harbor, Bahama Beach, Rowlett Wet Zone, and Great Wolf Lodge.

 

Bad weather (too hot, snow, thunderstorms or rain):

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Galleria Mall: Just outside of Nordstroms on the 3rd level is a HUGE indoor kids playspace! It’s built for ages 6 and under, which might be a limitation for some. For us, it’s the perfect set-up– my friends and I bring our coffee and sit on the benches in the cool air-conditioned indoors while we watch the kids play! Win!

mall play areas gd

If your kids are older, there’s a large year-round ice skating rink inside too!

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Northpark Mall: This mall is where friends and I go to walk around (they have a “stroller/fitness” trail!) and let the boys play with legos at the Lego Store. They have a small library within the mall (how cool is that?) where they do puppet shows and story times daily! The entire mall is fashioned as a giant rectangle with a large lawn area in the middle for kids to run around on. They also have a free Mommy and Me yoga class!

perot

The Perot Museum: We are going to wait until our kids are a bit older to get a membership here, but we hear that it’s awesome. The basement level is all for kids, and they even had a Sherlock Holmes exhibit where you have to find clues and solve a mystery! They have a ton of science and summer camps for kids.

Indoor Trampoline Park/Arcade: This one is little too old for our kids, so it wouldn’t be worth the money for us until they are older. But it looks like something for us to keep in mind in a few years!

For lots of other activities (including the best arcades, orchard picking, and even river rafting!) here’s a good list.

Hope you enjoyed this list and can take advantage of these fun activities for kids in Dallas soon!
Texas skyline

Late Nights at the DMA

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Life has been very busy around here! I’m in my final 3 weeks of grad school (which, for a procrastinator like me, means it’s doomsday around here), Pascha came (it was wonderful! but we’re still so tired!) and most of my family came to visit for a week (1 bathroom for 8 people…).

And now, to make matters worse, we have severe weather in the forecast here in TX, beginning tonight and lasting until Friday. And then we pick up a few more storms on Sunday and Monday!

As soon as we finally put up a carport or garage to protect our car from hail (of which there is plenty in the springtime) and perhaps a storm shelter in the house, I’ll feel a lot more secure as these storms are rolling through. Until then, we have a good friend whose basement we can borrow if things are looking dicey!

But back to last week: while my family was here, we took my little sister, brother and his girlfriend to the Dallas Art Museum. Due to scheduling overload, we knew that we weren’t going to make it before the normal 5pm close time on Friday, but when I looked at the website again, I realized that the 3rd Friday of every month is called, “Late Nights at the DMA”, meaning they are open until midnight!

What I didn’t realize until we got there was that “Late Nights at the DMA” doesn’t just mean it’s open late– it also means that they have fun activities and live music all night long! And since there’s no admission fee to get into the museum, it’s all for free!

First, we saw a harpist play jazz music accompanied by a spanish guitarist (I never knew this could happen, but it was awesome!).  Next, we saw a folksy band setting up on the main stage, but instead of sticking around we starting looking at some of the art. Little by little, as the songs drifted up to us (you could hear some sort of live music no matter where you were standing in the museum), we got drawn more and more towards it, so finally I looked at my sister and said, “We can see the art another time– would you just like to go downstairs, get a front row table and listen?”

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So that’s how we wound up with a front row (just 5-10 feet away) table, listening to Ginny Mac perform live. She’s absolutely incredible! Picture Amy Winehouse meets a 40s sultry bar singer. She plays the accordion while singing as well! The whole show (she had a band with her) blew us away. Not to mention, they were also selling wine and beer. How many times does one get to kick back, watch some amazing live music, whilst drinking a glass of wine?


If you’re ever in Dallas on the 3rd Friday of the month, I highly recommend the DMA!

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5 Reasons to Love Texas

It’s no secret that we love Texas. We grew up in CA, moved to TX, moved back to CA, and then missed TX so much we moved back once more.

Many Californians I’ve talked to have absolutely no clue what Texas is like. They picture desert, tumbleweeds, and prairie.

Do they picture this?

dallas trinity trail

austin hill country

Mission-Photo

rockport tx

Funny enough, it isn’t even the natural beauty of TX that keeps people coming back (seriously, everywhere I go I meet people who leave TX, only to miss it and move back). It’s not the cheap housing (although some parts of Dallas are more expensive per sq ft than CA!) or the booming job market (TX never went into recession).

Here are my top 5 Reasons to Love Texas:

1. The People. This is the biggest one, by far. I’ll never forget the time my car broke down and an old gentleman not only went out of his way to fix it for free, but also lent me his cell phone for the day since mine was dead and he didn’t want me to get stranded somewhere!

98% of the people I run into on a daily basis are beyond hospitable and courteous. Even though I pride myself in being independent, I can’t tell you how nice it is for people to go out of their way to open doors, lift groceries, or give you their spot in line. I got used to it while I lived here the first time, and I’ve found myself appreciating it once again. Almost every single stranger I’ve dealt with on Craigslist has welcomed us to TX and gone out of their way to be friendly. Once a few years ago, one craigslist lady even offered us her spare guest room when she found out our in-between rental was a dump. Our mailman knows us by name, and we’ve only been here a month! He came up while we were gardening this Saturday and said, “The Cones! Hey ya’ll! Beautifying the place this fine mornin’?”

2. Family-Friendly. Not only are the people courteous, but nearly everyone you run into “understands” kids. With the exception of one specific neighborhood in lower Dallas (where we had one person ask us to “keep it down” at a restaurant a few years ago), my kids can do no wrong when we are out running errands. If they throw a screaming fit? I’m always met with, “Oh, I remember that! Chin up, you’re doing great!” or, “Would you like to borrow one of our toys?” Almost everyone you meet either has kids or is a grandparent to many kids. They don’t watch you struggle, they pitch in and help.

A few months back, I sold a couch to a lady on Craigslist. When she showed up, she had brought a bag full of toys and books for my kids, saying, “When I called for directions, I could hear kids in the background! So I wanted to bring them something nice!” Stuff like that happens so often, I don’t even think twice anymore.

But my most famous example was one time I went to the post office one afternoon. The line was a mile long, and my heart sank. Both kids were going nuts, and I almost felt like bursting into tears. The post office clerk called, “Next!”, when all of a sudden, the woman next in line came up and said, “I remember what it was like to have kids. Would you like my spot?” As I hesitated, another woman in line said, “I was going to say the same thing!”. And another: “me too!”

3. The Variety. Especially in big cities, you can always find “your tribe.” In Dallas, we have a district devote to the artsy folk, the musicians,  the “ex-pacific-northwesterns”, the ranchers, the outdoorsy, the high-powered business associates. It’s not hard to find people who not only think like you do, but also who love to do what you do. Every other weekend, even in the heat of summer or the cold of winter, I see news about marathons or bike races. The fluctuation in weather doesn’t stop people from enjoying the outdoors, that’s for sure!

4. Plenty to do. Within a 10-20 minute drive of us here in Dallas, we have a FREE art museum (and countless others), an arboretum, an aquarium, a giant zoo, the House of Blues, Six Flags, Hurricane Harbor, TX State Fair, Cowboys Stadium, and White Rock Lake. If all we wanted to do was “experience Dallas”, we would never run out of events and excitement. The food is absolutely amazing! If you’ve never had TX brisket, you’re missing out. Need a beach? Not many people realize that many of the beach towns in TX rival those of the Florida coast.

5. The Patriotism. I saved this one for last, because I think it’s something completely unique to TX. I’ve never met people who are as die-hard patriotic as Texans are for their state. Picture a sports fanatic who eats, lives and breathes their team. Now, picture that kind of love, but for one’s land and state.  The people here do not look kindly on anyone who messes with their homeland, and I’m sort of in love with it. Someone once said, “If you could take the patriotism of a Texan, bottle it up and sell it to the rest of America, we’d never lose another war.” For me, the Texan spirit is the purest form of American pride that we have left in the U.S.

Our Cottage Dining Room

Cottage Farm Table

Okay, I know I said that I was waiting until next week to share our cottage dining room, but I got done editing these pictures and I just couldn’t wait. I am absolutely over the moon about this dining space, because I’ve never actually had a real dining room! Our dining rooms always been a part of the living area, in some fashion or another, and I’ve always wanted one that’s a little set apart from everything (you can see our townhouse dining room and our CA house dining room).

The advantage to our cottage’s floorplan is that they turned one of the walls into a half wall, so the kitchen, dining, and living all feel like the same room even though they’re technically separated. I can be cooking in the kitchen while listening to the conversations going on in the living room (we hosted a party this past weekend), or handing the boys their oatmeal through the kitchen opening while doing the dishes. You can see here a picture of what it was like when we moved in.

Fuller House before 6

Cottage Dining Room Into Kitchen

I actually just added the headboard and trim in this dining room last week. It was one of those, “this will only take me 2-3 hours, max!”, and instead it took close to 8. Oh well. I’m almost 30 years old. I should’ve learned by now, you think?Cottage Dining Room Pictures

Cottage Farm Table Bench

Cottage Dining Room Table

I love that whenever I get tired of working in the office, I can come out and sit here at this table and watch Gregory play outside in his sandbox. Eventually, we plan on turning this sliding door into a walkway, out into a big 16×20 sunroom/family room/attached garage, but our contractor hasn’t even given us a quote yet, so we’ll see how long that takes 😉Cottage Dining Room View

Cottage Farm Table Decor

The door here on the wall is the entrance to our master bedroom (pictures someday….if I can ever get to the laundry!)Cottage Dining Room 2

See what I mean about the openness? The tiled bar stretches all the way around the other side as well. It made the perfect buffet line when we had guests over!Cottage Dining Room into Living Room

Cottage Farm Table Rustic

 

A little tutorial for this $30 DIY chalkboard command center, coming tomorrow!

Chalkboard Command Center

I hope you are enjoying our cottage dining room as much I am! (Our Cottage Living Room Tour)

Source List:

Dining Room Table and Benches: Handmade by someone I found on Craigslist

Rug: Overstock.com, Outdoor Rugs

Picture Frames: Pier One

Curtains: Target (extra length)

Industrial Chairs: Target, bought on Craigslist

Sheepskin Rug: Ikea

Plates: Anthropologie many many years ago

Glass Mugs: Dollar Store

Lids and Straws: Hobby Lobby

Table Runner: DIY from Hobby Lobby