Listen to a concert by a world-class band, visit one of the most photographed historic courthouses in Texas, tour the scenic farms of North Texas Horse Country, and savor a locally made craft beer. These are the experiences you'll have in Denton, a lively college town known for its compelling combination of fantastic live music, exciting nightlife, and independent culture. There’s no shortage of ways to enjoy your time in "Li’l d," which is why we’ve put together a list of some of the best things to do in Denton while you’re in town.
Denton is a live music mecca where on any given night you can hear bands from the Dallas/Fort Worth area (and beyond) play at one of the many bars and concert venues in town. World-class musicians like Norah Jones, Don Henley (lead singer of The Eagles), Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews Band saxophonist), and the Eli Young Band perfected their craft in Denton, a legacy that continues to this day. Favorite Denton hangouts and listening venues for everything from experimental to hip hop include such bars and clubs as Dan’s Silver Leaf, Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio, or LSA Burger. Another Denton nightlife hotspot is Fry Street, where you’ll find numerous bars that are great places to sip a pint, hang out with friends, and watch a game.
Although there are plenty of concerts that showcase high-quality performers throughout the year, it’s Denton’s spectacular music festivals that set it apart. If you’re in Denton at the end of April, check out the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival, a 2.5-day free event that includes performances from 2,700 musicians and attracts more than 220,000 fans. The Denton Blues Festival, held the third weekend in September, offers performances by top professional and amateur blues and R&B artists. If that weren’t enough, just about every event throughout the year features live music, including the Thin Line Film Fest and the Denton Redbud Festival. With so many venues and events, Denton is a must-visit for any type of music lover.
With its remarkable clock tower, intricate arches, and rough sandstone façade, it’s no wonder Denton County’s historic four-story courthouse is one of the most photographed buildings in Texas. Built in 1896 with all the ornate charm of typical of the Romanesque style of architecture, the courthouse is still in use to this day. That’s a lot of history to have in one place, much of which is recounted in the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum.
The museum, located on the first floor of the courthouse, offers a variety of rotating exhibits that tell Denton County’s tale. While you’re there, stop by the museum’s research room and the historic courthouse, situated on the second floor. Once you’re done exploring the county’s history, step out into Denton’s vibrant square and explore its many stores or relax and enjoy a cup of Joe at Jupiter House Coffee or West Oak Coffee, two local coffee shops.
If wine is the Texas Hill County’s claim to fame, then horses are Denton’s. There are more than 400 horse farms and ranches in Denton County, one of the largest concentrations of horse farms in the world. From Arabians to quarter horses, just about every breed is raised here. Not only that, but some of the world champions in cutting, halter, reining, and many other disciplines have been born and bred in Denton County.
To get a behind-the-scenes look at how a horse ranch works, book your spot on a North Texas Horse Country Tour. The tour, held just six times a year, takes you on a guided trip to two premier horse ranches, where you can get an in-depth view of the equine industry. Along the way, you’ll enjoy entertaining stories about the area from a fun and knowledgeable guide. If you’re an equestrian enthusiast, then you won’t want to miss out on the popular North Texas Horse Country Tour.
Craft beer is all the rage in Texas these days, and Denton is no exception. In addition to the many fine places to sit down for a tasty IPA or a savory stout, Denton is home to a craft brewery of its own: Audacity Brew House. Stroll into the brewery’s taproom and order one of the cold brews that make up Audacity’s impressive selection. The brewery’s main line beers include your IPAs, Vienna-style lagers, but the star of its menu might be the award-winning Black Widow Imperial Chocolate Stout.
Audacity also has a separate menu of exotic seasonal and rotating beers, such as a chocolate wheat brew, a chai lager spiced Munich lager, and a coffee ale. When you’ve got your chosen pint in hand, find a table in the rustic taproom and check out the artwork, play a board game, or head outside and chill out on the outdoor patio. Audacity offers a lineup of special events as well, such as open mic nights on Thursdays and brewery tours and live music on Saturdays.
Bonus: If you’re in downtown Denton at sunset, stop by LSA Burger and enjoy a free shot of Audacity’s Sunset Lager, which features the courthouse on the can. The shot is meant to be a toast to North Texas’ gorgeous sunsets, a highly celebrated local tradition.
Want to sit in the same theater that was once visited by the likes of John Wayne and Warren Beatty? How about one that screened the world premiere of Hollywood’s iconic films - 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde? Look no further than the Campus Theatre, located right in downtown Denton. Since it opened its doors in 1949, the theater has screened such legendary flicks as Gone With The Wind, Ben Hur, and The 10 Commandments. Today, the theater is a multi-use entertainment center that screens films, hosts festivals, and is the place to be for performances by the Denton Community Theatre and the Music Theatre of Denton. There’s always some type of show going on at the Campus Theatre, so check their website before you visit.
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