Dallas and Fort Worth are two cities with more than their fair share of culture. Both cities have world-class art museums and other cultural offerings, plus outdoor spaces and a luxurious ballpark.
Here’s a few our favorites things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth:
1. Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas is the very spot from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired three shots and killed John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. The former Texas School Book Depository is now a museum that chronicles JFK’s presidency, his assassination, and his legacy with the help of an audio tour, photos, historic films, artifacts, and interpretive displays. In addition, the exhibits present a well-rounded perspective on the social and political landscape of the early 1960’s. In all, there are 40,000 items at the Museum relating to the former president.
The grassy knoll can be seen from the windows, and the inside of the Museum retains many of the same furnishings as it had in 1963 and feels like being in a time capsule. Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired his shots from the southeast corner window, and the boxes there are duplicates of the originals, but they are stacked precisely as they appear in crime scene photographs. A scale model representation of the Dealey Plaza that was used by the Warren Commission to recreate the murder is one of the more fascinating exhibits. In 1999, the Zapruder film and copyrights were donated to the Museum – read more here (Photo by Yutaka Tsutano)
2. Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art is the anchor of the Dallas Arts District and one of the largest museums in the Southwest. Their collection is extensive, with more than 23,000 objects that date from the 3rd millennium BC to the present day. Notable pieces include ancient Cycladic, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Etruscan, and Apulian objects from the Mediterranean area. The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection is notable for its impressionist, post-impressionist and modernist works of art. Artists represented in the Reves Collection include Renoir, Manet, Cézanne, Degas, and Gaugin.
The museum was established in 1903, and in 1984 it moved to its current location in a new building that was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. In 2007, the building earned the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects. General admission to the Dallas Museum of Art is free, but some of the special exhibitions require a ticket – read more here (Photo by Kent Wang)
3. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is comprised of sixty-six beautiful acres of gardens and a historic house on the shores of White Rock Lake just east of Dallas. The gardens feature seasonal plantings, fountains, sculptures, and exhibits. Highlights include the Margaret Elisabeth Jonsson Color Garden, which has over 2000 varieties of azaleas, and the Lay Ornamental Garden. The grounds are beautiful year-round, and there are great views of the downtown skyline. Kids will love the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden.
The grounds were once the estate and gardens of Everette and Nell DeGolyer, and their Spanish-style home is on the National Register of Historic Places and is available for touring. There are concerts at the Dallas Arboretum in a amphitheater on the lakeshore. Dining at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is available in the historic DeGolyer House, or guests can bring their own food and drink. Check their web site for a schedule of festivals, concerts and special events – read more here (Photo by Bonita la Banane)
4. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Perot Museum of Nature and Science began in 2006 with the merging of the Dallas Museum of Natural History, the Science Place, and the Dallas Children’s Museum. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science was originally located in Fair Park, but in 2012 it relocated to a beautiful new building in Victory Park. There is still a secondary facility at Fair Park.
The new Perot is a world class facility that uses architecture and technology to create a more interactive visitor experience and inspire an appreciation and interest in science. The building appears as as 10-story concrete cube riddled with wrinkles and gashes cut out of it. Its curves and angles and its relationship to the surrounding space become a part of the visitor experience and education. The building is 170 feet tall and has 11 permanent exhibit halls on 5 floors of space. The lower level of the cube houses space for travelling exhibits, learning and research labs and classrooms, an auditorium, and a children’s museum with outdoor play space and a courtyard. Popular exhibits at the Perot include Being Human, Life Then and Now, and Expanding Universe. The Dynamic Earth exhibit features an earthquake simulator. Kids will enjoy racing the T Rex – read more here (Photo by Clint)
5. Nasher Sculpture Museum
Nasher Sculpture Center was the first institution in the world dedicated exclusively to the exhibition of modern and contemporary sculpture. The beautiful building contains more than 300 modern and contemporary sculptures by such renowned artists as Rodin, Calder, de Kooning, Giacometti, Matisse, Miró, Picasso and Serra.
The Center opened in 2003 and sits on a site adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art in the heart of the Dallas Arts District. World-renowned architect Renzo Piano designed the 55,000 square foot building with parallel walls and a glass arched roof so that it appears to have a “roof-less” design. Outside, a sculpture garden contains more sculptures set among small pools, fountains, and landscaping, making the sculpture garden appear as a small oasis among the backdrop of downtown skyscrapers – read more here (Photo by Brett Neilson)
6. Fort Worth Stockyards
Fort Worth Stockyards is a National Historic District just north of downtown Fort Worth that gives visitors the experience of being in the Old West. It’s real Texas – or at least the image of Texas that many people want to believe.
Fort Worth earned the moniker of Cowtown because it was one of the main stops along the Chisolm Trail that ran from Texas to Kansas. The former livestock center was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and today it covers 98 acres and includes 48 historic buildings. There are plenty of cowboys roaming around, and twice daily there are longhorn cattle drives right through town. History buffs will love the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Stockyards Museum. For kids, there’s theCowtown Cattlepen Maze. For entertainment, there’s Billy Bob’s Texas. Other attractions include the Grapevine Vintage Railroad and The Maverick Fine Western Wear. There’s plenty of restaurants and saloons for eating and drinking – read more here (Photo by Mark Fisher)
7. Dallas World Aquarium
Dallas World Aquarium certainly has plenty of marine life, but they also have sloths, penguins, birds, and monkeys. The Aquarium opened in 1992 in a former warehouse in the West End Historic District of Dallas. It started out a bit small before expanding into the warehouse next door and a vacant lot behind the buildings. Today, there are two warehouses that are divided into freshwater and saltwater exhibits.
Visitors begin their visit at the top of the Dallas World Aquarium in the Orinoco Rainforest exhibit and then work their way down to more aquatic settings. The Orinoco Rainforest exhibit contains the only publicly displayed three-toed sloths in the United States, plus crocodiles, poison dart frogs, monkeys, manatees, and Giant River Otters. The whole exhibit set in an aviary with many exotic bird species. Most of the aquariums are on the lower levels, and there is a 40-foot tunnel where visitors can see the fish swimming above them. The outdoor South Africa exhibits features both Black-footed and Blue Penguins – read more here (Photo by Steve Carlton)
8. Meyerson Symphony Center
Meyerson Symphony Center is one of the anchors of the Arts District in downtown Dallas and is considered by many to be one of the best orchestra performance halls in the world. The Meyerson is home to the world-class Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Dallas Wind Symphony, the Turtle Creek Chorale, and others.
The stunning building was designed by architect I.M. Pei and opened in 1989. The interior is large and airy with plenty of natural light, and the lobby has a restaurant, an outdoor garden, and a sculpture court. The McDermott Concert Hall is the main performance hall, and, which its shoebox design, there is not a bad seat in the house. Such meticulous attention was paid to the acoustics that the acoustical canopies over the orchestra pit can be adjusted according to the kind of music being played – read more here (Photo by Patrick Harvey)
9. Kimbell Art Museum
The Kimbell Art Museum is located in what many consider to be one of the best-designed museum buildings ever built. The Fort Worth building was designed by renowned architect Louis I. Kahn and is a marvelous use of natural concrete, vaulted ceilings, and natural light.
The Museum’s collection is comprised of art from the private collection of Kay and Velma Kimbell. The collection is not overly large, but it is incredibly impressive. The original goal of the Kimbell was quality instead of quantity. The collection numbers about 350 and features works by El Greco, Rembrandt, Monet, and Picasso. There are also antiques from Egypt and Greece, some Asian and African art, and Precolumbian Mayan and Aztec art. The Kimbell displays the only Michelangelo painting in North America. A second building was designed by world-renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano and opened 2013. It is used for special exhibitions and allows the Kahn building to display the permanent collection – read more here (Photo by Andreas Praefcke)
10. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is the 2nd largest museum in the United States dedicated to contemporary and modern art – second only to the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and it is located in Fort Worth’s Cultural District near both the Kimbell Art Museum and the Amon Carter Museum.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth began in 1892 as the “Fort Worth Public Library and Art Gallery” before changing to its current name in 1987. In 2002, the Museum moved into a beautiful new 53,000 square foot building. The building features five long pavilions with high ceilings filled with light that are set into a reflecting pond. The stated mission of the museum is to collect and preserve post-World War II art. As such, artists represented in the collection include Picasso, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, David Smith, Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, Jackson Pollock – read more here (Photo by Kent Wang)
11. Bass Performance Hall
Bass Performance Hall has since been widely lauded as one of the greatest performance halls in the world for its superb acoustics, exceptional sight-lines and general ambiance. It occupies an entire city block and is the crown jewel of Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth, which is considered to be the nation’s third largest cultural district. The facility is home to the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera, and the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
The limestone building opened in 1998, and the design was inspired by European opera houses. The Great Dome features a beautiful, 80-foot-diameter painted mural. The corner-facing Grand Facade has two 48-foot-tall angels sculpted from Texas limestone. The performance hall seats 2,056 people and is reminiscent of a classic European opera house. Travel + Leisure magazine named the Bass one of the top 10 opera houses in the world – read more here (Photo by Ed Schipul)
12. Sundance Square
Sundance Square is Fort Worth’s central entertainment district and comprises a 35-block downtown area. The beautifully-restored building in Sundance Square are occupied with a variety of restaurants, shops, art galleries, and music venues. The area buzzes with activities both day and night, and it’s often the location for festivals and concerts.
Fort Worth was recently voted as having the best downtown in the country by Livability.com, and Sundance is the center of the action. The area is clean, safe, and walkable, and there a free Molly Trolley service that provides easy public transportation through the area – read more here (Photo by Lars Plougmann)
13. Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park is an urban park built over an underground section of the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in downtown Dallas. The 5 acre park opened in 2012 and spans 3 blocks between Pearl Street and St. Paul Street. The park opened in 2012 and serves as both a public gathering space and a gateway from Uptown to downtown Dallas and the Arts District. It was financed through a public/private partnership and was named for Klyde Warren, the young son of billionaire Kelcy Warren.
Attractions in Klyde Warren Park include:
• Children’s Park playground area.
• Reading and Games Courtyard.
• Botanical Garden.
• My Best Friend’s Park dog park.
• Muse Family Performance Pavilion
• Jane’s Lane – area for walking and jogging.
• Ginsburg Family Great Lawn – used for organized activities such as yoga, boot camp, and movies.
• Botanical Garden.
• Botanical Garden.
14. Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Amon Carter Museum of American Art opened in 1961 in Fort Worth. As the name suggests, the focus of the Museum is on American art, with paintings, prints, sculptures, and a large collection of photographs reflecting the American experience. Only a small portion of the collection focuses on the American West.
The Museum was originally established by Amon Carter as a way to display his collection of works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. It has since expanded to include works by Alexander Calder, Winslow Homer, Georgia O’Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, and Alfred Stieglitz. The building was designed by architect Philip Johnson, and the museum holds over 200,000 objects. Over 400 works of art are on display at any one time. They have recently cataloged, digitized and published online more than 35,000 artworks of eight prominent American photographers of the 20th century who are in their collection – read more here (Photo by William J. McCloskey)
15. AT&T Stadium and Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys Stadium (AT&T) was completed in 2009 and seats 85,000. AT&T bought the naming rights in 2013. Like all things in Texas, the place is big. How big?
• It is the 3rd largest stadium in the NFL.
• It is the world’s largest domed structure.
• It has the world’s largest column-free interior.
• It has the 4th largest high definition video screen at 160 X 72 feet, which hangs from 20 yard line to 20 yard line.
• Dallas Cowboys Stadium sells $14 margaritas It has 286 concession stands.
• It has 1,600+ toilets.
• The arches supporting the roof are .25 of a mile long – longer than the Empire State Building is tall.
16. Fort Worth Zoo
Fort Worth Zoo is home to 5000 native and exotic animals and is consistently named as one of the top 10 zoos in the country. Great care is taken to place the animals in natural surroundings, and the zoo features many thoughtful amenities such as lots of shady walkways (some lined with water misters) and gazebos. In addition to the animals, there’s also a train, a climbing tower, the Wild West Shooting Gallery, and Hurricane and Tornado Simulators.
The Fort Worth Zoo was founded in 1909 and is the oldest zoo in Texas. It opened with just one lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, a coyote, a peacock and a few rabbits. Monkey Island was added in 1937 and was the first larger-scale exhibit. Since 1992, significant improvements have been made, with substantial improvements to the Zoo facilities and 16 new exhibits added – read more here (Photo by Robert W. Howington)
17. Katy Trail
Katy Trail is linear urban park built on the abandoned path of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad. The path runs 3.5 miles from the American Airlines Center in downtown through the Uptown and Oak Lawn areas to Mockingbird Station near Southern Methodist University. It’s popular with both residents and visitors for walking, dog walking, jogging, inline skating, and biking.
The primary trail is 12 feet wide and concrete. For most of the route there is a soft recycled-rubber track for runners that runs parallel to the concrete path. Native Texas trees and plants are planted along the path. There are benches, a few water stops, and there is a bathroom at Reverchon Park. There is a variety of restaurants along the trail or near the trail, including some with outdoor patios and bars – read more here (Photo by Adam)
18. Crow Collection of Asian Art
Crow Collection of Asian Art is dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia, and is located in the Dallas Arts District downtown.
The museum opened in 1998 and displays art from the collection of Trammell and Margaret Crow, who became infatuated with Asian art during to their travels overseas.. The artwork spans time from 3500 B.C. to the early 20th century, and the permanent and rotating exhibitions includes over 500 paintings, ancient scrolls, jade ornaments, and metal, glass, and stone pieces. The artwork is housed in a wonderful, serene setting. A glass Skybridge connects two of the galleries and offers excellent views of The Seated Daoist Deity fountain below. Outside is a quiet sculpture garden filled with sculptures scattered about in a garden of bamboo, azaleas, and trees – read more here (Photo by Joe Mabel)
19. Meadows Museum
The Meadows Museum contains one of the largest and most complete collections of Spanish art outside of Spain. It is part of Southern Methodist University and is a bit of hidden cultural gem in Dallas. The museum was established in 1965, with the initial art for the museum coming as a gift from Algur Hurtle Meadows, an oil tycoon and took frequent business trips to Spain in the 1950’s.
Works in the Meadows Museum collection date from the 10th to the 20th century, but the focus is on art from the 1550’s to the 18th century. Artists represented include Goya, Velazquez, Murillo, El Greco, Rodin, and Picasso. Meadows Museum also has an outdoor sculpture collection featuring modern sculpture by non-Spanish artists. In 2010, the museum discovered that three of its most prominent works were stolen from Jewish families by Hilter – the three Esteban Murillo paintings were purchased at auction by the museum and are believed to be worth millions of dollars – read more here (Photo by Ed Uthman)
20. Sons of Hermann Hall
Sons of Hermann Hall was originally built as a fraternal lodge, but it has since become a classic Texas live music venue and dance hall. It is located in the Dallas neighborhood of Deep Ellum. The historic building was built in 1910 by German immigrants, and it’s the oldest wood frame two-story commercial building in Dallas. The wooden floors creak with history and significance.
The bar is downstairs, there’s a ballroom upstairs, and in the back is an old bowling alley. Go for live alternative, roots rock, honky-tonk and country music. There’s swing dance lessons every Wednesday, and on Thursdays there are Electric Campfire Jams. Check the web site for a schedule. Sons of Hermann Hall is cash-only, but they do have an ATM – read more here (Photo by Nicolas Henderson)
21. Dallas Arts District
The Dallas Arts District is the cultural center of Dallas and the largest arts district in the country. The history of the District dates back to the 1970’s, when it was decided to move many of the city’s cultural institutions to one central place. The 68 acre District spans 20 contiguous blocks and is home to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Annette Strauss Artist Square, The Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Meyerson Symphony Center. In addition to these, there are also many other smaller museums, art galleries, theaters, and performance halls.
Many of the buildings in the District date back to the 1880’s and are architecturally significant, and walking tours are given on the first and third Saturdays of each month. When hunger strikes, there is a wide range of restaurants in the area. On weekends there are often outdoor concerts and festivals. Parking can be tough, so it’s best to either take public transportation to the District or park the car and explore the area on foot – read more here (Photo by ruthieonart)
22. George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum
George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum was dedicated in 2013 and offers visitors as insightful look in to No. 43’s presidency. The facility, which includes the Bush Institute, is the largest (over 225,000 square feet) and most expensive ($250 million) of all the presidential centers and holds 4 million photographs, 200 million emails, 70 million pages of paper documents, and 43,000 artifacts from his time in the oval office.
The 14,000 square foot Museum is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, where Laura Bush earned her bachelor’s degree in education. Exhibits focus on such things as education reform, the global war on terror, the financial crisis, and efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. History’s defining moment during Bush’s two terms in office was the terror attacks of 9/11, and the event is well-chronicled in the museum with piece of steel from the World Trade Center and a memorial wall listing all of the victims – read more here (Photo by J. P. Fagerback)
23. Bishop Arts District
Bishop Arts District is a revitalized urban district in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas that is full of independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters and art galleries.
Bishop was a run-down and forgotten place in the 1980’s before Jim Lake decided to buy up property in the area and oversee its transformation. The five by seven block area is Dallas’ largest remaining trolley-era shopping district, dating back to the arrival of the southbound trolley in 1904. Many of the original buildings remain and have been renovated. Today, after years of growth, the Bishop Arts District is a hip, eclectic, and fun destination. It’s a great place to go and knock around shops in the afternoon and then staying for dinner at one of the enticing restaurants – read more here (Photo by TheRealMstiles)
24. McKinney Avenue Trolley
The McKinney Avenue Trolley is a historic streetcar line that runs up and down McKinney Avenue in the Uptown neighborhood of Dallas. The ride is free, and the kids love it. Also known as the M-line, the McKinney Avenue Trolley currently runs 4 miles from Cityplace Station to the corner of Ross and St. Paul near the Dallas Museum of Art. At night, the McKinney Avenue Trolley allows visitors hassle-free access to the bars and restaurants along the route. There are four trolleys that run in rotation about every 15 minutes. The names of the trolleys are Matilda, Rosie, Petunia, and Green Dragon.
Streetcar lines ran and prospered in Dallas from 1872 until the 1920’s. As more people bought automobiles, ridership on the streetcars declined, and the system was shut down in 1956. The nonprofit McKinney Avenue Transit Authority (MATA) restored the vintage trolley cars and reopened the McKinney line in 1989 – read more here (Photo by Bonita la Banane)
See our list of the 49 best things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth here.