50 Free Things to Do in Dallas, Texas
Having fun doesn’t have to cost a dime. Consider these exciting and absolutely free things to do in Dallas:
1. John F. Kennedy Memorial and Dealey Plaza: The John F. Kennedy Memorial was designed by architect Philip Johnson and dedicated in 1970. The “open tomb” style symbolizes the freedom of JFK’s spirit, and gives visitors a space for reflection and remembrance. Within walking distance is Dealey Plaza, the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963. The Plaza has changed very little since then, but a new memorial debuted during the 50th anniversary ceremony in 2013 that is a quote etched in stone from a speech he was set to give that fateful day. Dealey Plaza: 411 Elm St., John F. Kennedy Memorial: 646 Main St.
2. The Old Red Courthouse Museum of Dallas County History and Culture: Discover the rich history of the city at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture, featuring historical artifacts, exhibits, touch-screens and four mini-theaters. Nearby is Founder’s Plaza, the JFK Memorial, The Sixth Floor Museum, Dealey Plaza and The West End historic district. 100 S. Houston St.
|Dallas | Old Red Courthouse - credit DCVB|
3. Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive: Featuring 70 bronze steers and three bronze trail riders by artist Robert Summers, this larger-than-life cattle drive sculpture is situated on the actual Shawnee Trail drive of the 1850s, located in front of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Downtown, Young & Griffin streets
4. Thanks-Giving Square: Visitors can spot this square easily in downtown by the beautiful, white spiral Chapel that breaks up the angular lines of the office buildings around it. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, the Thanks-Giving Foundation promotes the unifying spirit of giving thanks to communities near and far, and welcomes people of all nations, cultures and religions. 1627 Pacific Ave.
5. City Hall: Dallas City Hall is one of the most distinctive and iconic structures in town. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei, the inverted wedge shape is a site to see and also features a 7-acre plaza with sculptures by Henry Moore. 1500 Marilla St.
6. Public ArtWalk Dallas: This free, self-guided tour is a 3.3-mile route highlighting 30 pieces of art and architecture in the Arts District and downtown. See classic architecture, contemporary sculptures, Dallas icons and everything in between. To download the map and see the art, visit http://publicartwalkdallas.org/en/index.shtml.
7. Deep Ellum: Of Dallas’ many different neighborhoods, none are quite as intriguing as Deep Ellum, the city’s music epicenter. More than 100 years ago, this area was where jazz and blues musicians cut their teeth, and where gamblers and rabble-rousers danced the night away and attended minstrel shows. Now, it is home to much of the city’s avant-garde culture, where art galleries, music venues, restaurants and theaters line the streets, just as they did in the early 1900s. Between Good-Latimar and Exposition Ave., Main, Elm and Commerce streets
8. Founder’s Plaza: This open park area in the center of downtown next to the Old Red Courthouse houses the replica of John Neely Bryan’s log cabin—the home of the city’s founder. The site also includes a fountain, terrazzo map of Dallas County in the 1800s and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. 600 Elm St.
9. M-Line Trolley: To get around Uptown and the Arts District for free and in style, hop on the M-Line Trolley—restored, vintage trolleys that run the length of McKinney Avenue between Blackburn and St. Paul streets. The trolleys stop at several points of interest, including West Village, Hotel Zaza, Shops at The Crescent, Dallas Museum of Art and more. McKinney Ave.
10. D-Link: Another free transportation service provided by Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the D-Link is a shuttle that runs throughout all of downtown and into the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff. The buses run every 15 minutes, Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Stops include Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, Omni Dallas Hotel, The West End, The Sixth Floor Museum, Main Street Garden, Arts District, Victory Park and the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.
11. Free Admission Museums: Who says one needs money to get cultured? The Dallas Museum of Art is completely free and features more than 22,000 works of art spanning all mediums and time-periods, from ancient civilization to modern art. Other must-see museums include Crow Collection of Asian Art, African American Museum and the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art. The Meadows Museum of Art, with one of the largest Spanish art collections outside of Spain, at Southern Methodist University is free on Thursdays after 5 p.m.
|Dallas Museum of Art - credit DCVB|
12. Arts District: Spanning 68 acres and 19 contiguous blocks, the Dallas Arts District is the largest urban arts district in the country. The area showcases more than a dozen different attractions and world-renowned venues, such as the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas Museum of Art (free admission), Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art (free admission), Klyde Warren Park and much more. 214-744-6642, 2301 Ross Ave. (Blue Garage for area parking)
13. The Sculpture Garden at Crow Collection of Asian Art & Trammell Crow Center: On the bottom floor of the free Crow Collection of Asian Art in the Arts District sits a shaded sculpture garden with a serene atmosphere, featuring 15 historical and contemporary Asian sculptures as well as vegetation, manicured trees and more. 2001 Ross Ave.
14. The Samurai Collection at The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: Nestled in a unique location on the second floor of the Saint Ann restaurant and bar, this collection includes Japanese armor, artwork, helmets, masks, horse armor, weaponry and accessories. It’s one of the largest collections of its type in the world. Then afterward, pull up to the bar downstairs for craft beer and charcuterie. 2502 North Harwood St.
15. Southern Methodist University campus: This nationally ranked private university is situated in the heart of central Dallas. Opened in 1915, the school is rich in Dallas history and architecture, and the campus is gorgeous. Stroll the tree-lined boulevard and beautifully manicured landscape, and visit the school’s libraries or the classic Dallas Hall—built in 1915 with a three-story rotunda. 6425 Boaz Ln.
16. Tour of Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center: Located in the Arts District, the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center was designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect, I. M. Pei, and it has impressive architectural features, open spaces, unsurpassed acoustics and is surrounded by stunning sculptures and works of art. It's visually spectacular, and seeing it with your own two eyes does not require a concert ticket. 2301 Flora
17. J. Erik Jonsson Central Library: Dallas’ first public library opened in 1901 with help from Andrew Carnegie. The current locale, named after a former mayor, opened in 1982. Visitors can view not only the extensive book collection, but an original print of the Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776), and William Shakespeare’s first folio, compiled in 1623. 1515 Young St.
18. Mary Kay Cosmetics: Take a walk through history and experience a dream that began more than four decades ago, when Mary Kay Ash set out to build a company that would give women unlimited opportunity. The cosmetics headquarters offers a free museum that showcases the accomplishments and business ideas of Mary Kay Ash, and includes a theater and Hall of Honor. Hours: Mon-Fri, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. 16251 Dallas Parkway, Addison
19. Neighborhood sightseeing: Dallas is home to several scenic and historically rich neighborhoods and communities. Check out the luxury homes and greenscapes in Turtle Creek and Highland Park. See the largest collection of Prairie-Style homes in the country in the Munger Place Historic District and breathtaking mansions and historical landmarks on Swiss Avenue. Old East Dallas, Swiss Ave.
|Dallas | Winspear - credit Tim Hursley|
20. Uptown and West Village: Dallas’ popular Uptown district is exploding with new residential, retail and entertainment centers with a variety of elements coming together for an experience that will appeal to all types and tastes. Hop on the free M-Line Trolley and explore the sights of one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods. The West Village shopping center is the unofficial epicenter; start there, or sightsee historic homes off McKinney Avenue. 3699 McKinney Ave.
21. Historic West End: This historic neighborhood offers a glimpse to Dallas’ past with masterfully restored buildings. Visitors can stroll the cobblestone streets, people watch and experience street festivals. A myriad of shops, restaurants and entertainment abound, including The Sixth Floor Museum and Wild Bill’s Western Store. 603 Munger Ave.
22. Lower Greenville Avenue: This area of Greenville Avenue, south of Mockingbird Lane and north of Ross Avenue, is one of the city’s liveliest nightlife spots. Lower Greenville is bar, after café, after live music venue, jam-packed on the weekends and decently populated during the week. One of Dallas’ biggest yearly festivals happens on Lower Greenville, too. The St. Patrick’s Day Parade marches each year down this street, and culminates in a green-beer-flowing block party with local and national acts and fun costumes. Greenville Avenue between Mockingbird Lane and Ross Avenue
23. Flagship Neiman Marcus: Originally opened in 1907 and permanently moved to its current location on the corner of Main and Ervay streets in 1914, the Neiman Marcus flagship store is a must-see for any sartorialist. Stroll the street and window shop, or venture inside for luxury goodies. 214-741-6911, 1618 Main St.
24. NorthPark Center’s art collection and 1.4-acre CenterPark: NorthPark Center is Dallas' premier shopping and dining favorite and a not-to-be missed destination for art enthusiasts. The art collection features major works by renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Joel Shapiro, Jim Dine, Jonathan Borofsky, James Rosenquist, Antony Gormley, Barry Flanagan and Beverly Pepper, among others.
NorthPark's 1.4-acre landscaped garden, CenterPark, doubles as a serene urban retreat and an exciting venue for free community events. Relax and dine amid world-class sculpture, canopies of trees and a lush green space. A complimentary map of the NorthPark Art Tour with descriptions of each piece on display is available from the NorthPark Center Concierge.
8687 North Central Expwy., Complimentary shuttle to/from Park Lane DART Light Rail Station. 214-363-7441
25. Galleria Dallas: Inspired by Italy’s famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Galleria Dallas is touted by USA Today as one of the “Top 10 Places to Shop.” Featuring an impressive international collection of more than 200 shops and boutiques, Galleria Dallas sets the standard for world-class shopping. It even has a full-sized ice-skating rink, and during the holiday season it boasts the largest indoor Christmas tree in the United States. 13350 Dallas Pkwy., 972-702-7100
26. More Shopping Centers to Love: Window-shopping is completely free, but with more shopping centers per capita than any other major U.S. city, buying may be hard to resist in Dallas!
Highland Park Village – First planned shopping center in the country and a historical landmark, it features exclusive designer boutiques such as Dior, Alexander McQueen, Harry Winston, Chanel, Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Diane von Furstenberg and more. 47 Highland Park Village, http://hpvillage.com
Mockingbird Station – 5321 E. Mockingbird Ln., http://www.mockingbirdstation.com
Snider Plaza – Intersection of Hillcrest and Lovers Ln., http://www.sniderplaza.net
Shops at Park Lane - 8080 Park Ln., http://shopsatparklane.com
West Village – 3699 McKinney Ave., http://www.westvillagedallas.com
Allen Premium Outlets – 820 W. Stacy Rd., Allen, http://www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=5
Grapevine Mills – 3000 Grapevine Mills Pkwy., Grapevine, http://www.simon.com/mall/grapevine-mills
27. Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery near Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center: The area now known as Pioneer Park Cemetery is composed of the remnants of four early graveyards. Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery is the final resting place of six Dallas Mayors, three War of 1812 Veterans, nine heroes of the Texas Revolution, 29 (one Union and 28 Confederate) Civil War Veterans and more. The last burials in what is now called Pioneer Cemetery took place in the latter part of the 1920s. The monuments that have remained over time are significant reminders of the history of the City of Dallas. 1184 Young St.
28. Founders Plaza Observation Station at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport: From the observation area known as Founders Plaza, visitors will see some of the 2,300 daily takeoffs and landings of the world’s fourth busiest airport. The area features long-distance binoculars, parking, a graph board to help identify different aircrafts, speaker systems featuring audio straight from the Control Tower and four picnic areas. 1700 Airfield Dr., DFW Airport
29. Model trains at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas: Housed in the lobby of the hospital, this is the largest permanent model train display in the country. Eight trains run simultaneously at the free exhibit that’s open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. 1935 Medical District Dr.
30. Fantasy Landing at Kiest Park: This playground seamlessly incorporates kid- and handicap-friendly structures, and earned an “A” on DallasChild’s Safety Report Card. The slides are vented, there are customized ramps, tennis courts and pull-tunnels with bars for children in wheelchairs. Brightly colored brick paths help visually impaired children find their way through the play area. Kiest Park, 3080 S. Hampton Rd., near Perryton Dr.
31. Dallas Farmers Market: Seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., local farmers display and sell a mouth-watering selection of fresh fruit and vegetables, herbs, locally purveyed honey and nuts, and plants at the Dallas Farmers Market. It’s a perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Also check out Shed 2, where specialty products are offered, or watch a cooking demonstration. 1010 S. Pearl Expy.
32. Sports connection: Dallas has five professional sports teams: basketball’s Dallas Mavericks, football’s Dallas Cowboys, baseball’s Texas Rangers, hockey’s Dallas Stars and soccer’s FC Dallas. This means that at any given time in any given local sports bar, visitors will find sports fans cheering for the home team. Join the fun at one of the city’s many sports hangouts.
Dallas Cowboys – http://www.dallascowboys.com
Dallas Stars – http://stars.nhl.com
Dallas Mavericks – http://www.mavs.com
Texas Rangers – http://texas.rangers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=tex
FC Dallas – http://www.fcdallas.com
33. Free annual festivals: The weather in Dallas is mostly mild, which makes for great festival weather, and there are plenty free events throughout the year, including:
Deep Ellum Arts Festival, http://www.deepellumartsfestival.com
Earth Day Texas, http://earthdaytx.org
Oak Cliff Earth Day, http://www.oakcliffearthday.com
Texas Veggie Fair, http://www.texasveggiefair.com
St. Patrick’s Day Parade, http://www.greenvilleave.org/st-patricks-day/
Easter in Lee Park and Pooch Parade, https://www.facebook.com/easterinleepark
Dallas Cinco de Mayo
Cottonwood Art Festival, http://www.cottonwoodartfestival.com
Asian Festival, http://asianfestivaldallas.com
Chinese New Year in Dallas Arts District, http://crowcollection.org
34. Dallas Symphony Community Concert series: For more than 20 years, the DSO has presented the Community Concerts Series throughout Dallas in the spring. These free outdoor performances include the popular Memorial Day Concert at Flagpole Hill, which is topped off by a stirring fireworks show. Other locations are selected on a rotating basis. Various locations
35. Freedman’s Cemetery & Memorial: Located less than one mile north of downtown Dallas, the Freedman’s Cemetery is a pre-Civil War, African-American burial ground in what was once the Freedman's Town Area—a small Dallas community formed by African-Americans freed from slavery in the mid-1860s. This historic and state landmark memorial features larger-than-life-size figures cast in bronze by African-American artist, David Newton. North Central Expressway (U. S. 75) between Lemmon Avenue and Hall Street, 214-670-3284
36. Fountain Place: Water dances and leaps skyward at Downtown's Fountain Place. At the base of this dramatically sculpted, 1.2-million-square-foot office tower of green reflective glass lies an oasis of colorful flowers, waterfalls, 172 bubbler fountains and a central fountain. The latter is one of the world's most complex and consists of 217 water jets. Designed by the acclaimed architectural firm of I.M. Pei & Partners, Fountain Place has received international recognition. 1445 Ross Avenue at Field Street, 214-855-7766
37. The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D. Hand Collection at Baylor University Medical Center: Named after one of the foremost hand surgeons in the world, The Adrian E. Flatt, M.D. Hand Collection is an extraordinary private collection of more than 100 cast, bronze-coated hands. The contrast of sizes, and sense of personal capability, when simply viewing life-size hands is intriguing. Personalities include Katherine Hepburn, Walt Disney, Louis Armstrong and Winston Churchill, just to name a few. Mon. – Fri. 8 am - 9 pm. Baylor University Medical Center - Truett Building - 1st floor, 3500 Gaston Ave., 214-820-6684
38. Perot Museum of Nature and Science’s lobby and outdoor plaza: While admission to the renowned Perot Museum of Nature and Science is certainly not free, its outdoor plaza, lobby and café are, and it also offers free Wi-Fi. The plaza features a one-acre urban forest filled with native plants and a hands-on musical forest with oversized xylophones and chimes. The main lobby has an iconic, 35-foot Malawisaurus fossil on display, and there is a roof deck nearby that overlooks the museum’s sustainable features. 2201 N. Field St., 214-428-5555
39. Pegasus Plaza: The Pegasus has long been recognized as the symbol of Dallas and her indomitable spirit. Located in the heart of downtown in Dallas City Center, Pegasus Plaza at City Center features a limestone fountain and winding stream that anchor the design of the plaza. The fountain is connected to a natural mineral spring 1,600 feet below the Magnolia Building and is the source well for water in the plaza. Also see the iconic Pegasus sign above the adjacent Magnolia Hotel. Main at Akard Streets in Downtown Dallas
40. African American Museum at Fair Park: The African American Museum is the only one of its kind in the Southwest devoted to the preservation and display of African-American artistic, cultural and historical materials. It has one of the largest African-American Folk Art collections in the United States. Visitors will find African art, African-American fine art, extensive archives and more housed in four vaulted galleries, augmented by a research library. The museum also hosts entertaining and educational programs presented in the theater, studio arts area and classrooms. 3536 Grand Ave., 214-565-9026
41. Klyde Warren Park: This 5.2-acre urban deck-park is a popular, lush green space in the heart of downtown that connects Uptown with the Arts District and is a favorite among locals. Built over the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in 2012, the park features a large children’s playground area, a concert stage, free lawn games, an outdoor library, free Wi-Fi, footpaths, a dog park, free exercise classes, water fountains, food trucks and two restaurants. The area teems with people when the weather is nice, and block parties and events happen frequently. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy., 214-716-4500
42. White Rock Lake: Located in the middle of central Dallas off Mockingbird Lane, White Rock Lake is a man-made water and park area built in 1911. It’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike, and features several points of interest including Winfrey Point, Bath House Cultural Center, Big Thicket, White Rock Boat Club, White Rock Dog Park and more. A 9.3-mile paved path around the lake is perfect for running and biking, and scenic views lend themselves to picturesque picnics. For those looking to get onto the water, paddle boarding, canoeing, rowing and sailing are great options for a fun day at the lake. 8300 East Lawther Dr., 214-670-8740, http://www.dallasparks.org/235/White-Rock-Lake, http://www.whiterockdallas.org
|Dallas | White Rock Lake - credit DCVB|
43. More Dallas Parks: It’s not all urban cityscapes and skyscrapers here. Take refuge in these lush parks with a picnic and a good book, or go running or biking on one of several trails. There are more than 20,000 park acres with 18 lakes and 17 park sites, including these notable places:
Main Street Garden – fountains, café, dog run, play area, lawn, Wi-Fi, public art installations
1902 Main St., http://www.downtowndallas.org/#/main/home
Reverchon Park – in Turtle Creek, stonework, plant life, ponds and water features, playground areas
Maple Ave. & Turtle Creek Blvd., http://www.reverchonparkfriends.com
44. Hiking and biking trails: There are dozens of nature trails in Dallas, each with a distinct personality, trail experience and views. Some trails are paved and populated, like White Rock Lake and Katy Trail, while others like the Cedar Ridge Nature Center and Oak Cliff Nature Preserve offer more peace and quiet.
White Rock Lake
Cedar Ridge Nature Center
The Buckeye Trail
Scyene Overlook/Piedmont Ridge
Oak Cliff Nature Preserve
45. Haunted Dallas: Every city has supposed haunted places, and armed with a little historical knowledge and a good camera, visitors may just find something unexpected at these places around town (please note: these venues are only allegedly haunted, and may not be free admission to enter), including: Sons of Hermann Hall in Deep Ellum, Historic West End, Millermore Mansion at Old City Park, The Adolphus Hotel, Majestic Theatre, White Rock Lake, Lizard Lounge and Hotel Lawrence.
46. Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas’ The Economy in Action Exhibit: Through interactive exhibits and multimedia displays, learn about the Federal Reserve, money and the economy. Visitors will see exhibits about historical money, the founding of the FED, monetary policy, moving money and more. 2200 N. Pearl St., 214-922-5276
47. Latino Cultural Center: Promoting, preserving and developing Latino and Hispanic arts and culture, the Latino Cultural Center showcases local and national talent via live entertainment, film, performances, arts & crafts for kids, exhibitions and more. Most of the events are free. Please check its site for the latest happenings. 2600 Live Oak St., 214-671-0045
48. Bath House Cultural Center: Located on the shores of White Rock Lake, the Art Deco-style Bath House is a welcoming venue for visual and performing artists from an array of backgrounds, and houses a 116-seat black-box theater, three gallery spaces, the White Rock Lake Museum and a number of multipurpose spaces. 521 E. Lawther Dr., 214-670-8749
49. Oak Cliff Cultural Center: The OCCC provides the residents of Oak Cliff with art and cultural experiences reflecting the diversity of the surrounding neighborhood. The renovated OCCC opened in August 2010, replacing the Ice House Cultural Center, which provided cultural services to the neighborhood for more than a decade. Participate in free theatre workshops, dance classes, art exhibits and receptions, and more. 223 W. Jefferson Blvd., 214-670-3777
50. Bonnie Parker’s final resting place: Crown Hill Memorial Park in North Dallas is where the female counterpart of the infamous Bonnie & Clyde is buried. While Clyde Barrow’s resting place in Western Heights Cemetery in South Dallas is not open to the public, Bonnie Parker’s is. 9700 Webb Chapel Rd., 214-350-9951