We’ve reached the height of summer in the middle of this pandemic, and while the situation isn’t ideal, it’s also not the worst it could be. Millions of us here in the greater DFW area are looking for something to do while obeying the state and city regulations against large gatherings and public events.
As you’ve probably heard, major attractions like the State Fair have been canceled, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. You have a lot of options, safe for social distancing and free of large organized gatherings. If you’re looking for something to do on the next moderately cool day, here’s a list of options.
Keep in mind that, while everything on this list is either currently open or poised to reopen within a week or so of writing this post, things can change quickly during the pandemic.
Be sure to double-check that the venue you want to visit is still open for business before you make a trip, just to be on the safe side!
1: Check Out Pioneer Plaza
Pioneer Plaza is a large art installation on what was formerly a parking lot in downtown Dallas. It’s one of the most popular landmarks in the Dallas area, and it serves as a green oasis in the middle of the metropolis. Positioned throughout the plaza are life-sized statues of both a handful of cowboys and the cows they ushered to and fro: 4o longhorn steer.
There is also an array of nearly-natural bits of landscape art, like a waterfall, and it’s all seeded with native plant life. It’s a great place to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city, without having to drive to get out of town.
2: Feel Part of History in Dealey Plaza
Nearly 60 years ago, history was made in Dallas when the then-president JFK was assassinated. For many, this is still the defining event that characterizes Dallas. For others, it’s a curiosity. The plaza where the shooting took place, including the infamous grassy knoll, has been dedicated as a landmark with plenty to see.
You can also visit the adjacent Sixth Floor Museum, dedicated to all things JFK. It’s closed as of this writing but plans to reopen in a little over a week on September 9th, so we figured we’d include it. You’ll want to buy tickets in advance to make sure you get your spot, though!
3: Visit a True Oasis at the Arboretum
MSN once called it one of the world’s most beautiful gardens. The arboretum and botanical garden in Dallas are 66 acres of carefully sculpted and maintained plants, from tall trees to annual flowers and carefully-trimmed hedges. They’re open (for now) every day from 9-5. It’s a great place to experience some of what nature has to offer, whether you want to lounge in the shade, listen to the water cascading off a man-made waterfall, or just spend time looking out over White Rock Lake.
Make sure to check out their website to read about their current temporary pandemic guidelines, as well as verifying that they’re still open when you want to plan your trip.
4: Catch a Show at a Drive-In
The pandemic has closed the nation’s movie theaters, and while all the major chains are unhappy about it, to say the least, there’s not much they can do about it if they want repeat customers. Meanwhile, this has proven to be a lucrative opportunity for some of the country’s oldest theaters: the drive-ins! Drive-ins scattered around the DFW area are open for business, with socially distanced parking spots, double-features, and all the movie theater snacks you love. Check out our guide to local drive-ins and plan a visit for a show!
5: Dig Into History with Local Museums
We’ve already mentioned one museum, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, but that’s far from the only museum Dallas has to offer. There are a few more that might catch your attention and are either currently open or soon to reopen.
For all museums, call ahead and make sure you can snag tickets, as many of them have timed entry and occupancy limits while pandemic restrictions are in place.
- The Crow Museum of Asian Art is an exhibit of Asian art on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas. They’re currently closed at the time of writing, but plan to reopen on September 18th (subject to change; let us know in the comments!) with regular weekly hours from Friday to Sunday.
- The Dallas Museum of Art is a large art museum with a wide variety of content, from paintings to sculptures to rotating exhibits that ensure there’s always something new on display every time you visit.
- The Meadows Museum, on the campus of SMU, is one of the largest collections of Spanish art outside of Spain itself. Their actual website is inaccessible as we write this, so make sure to call ahead and make sure they’re still open and to book a trip if necessary.
- The Dallas Museum of Illusions is quite a bit different from the other museums on this list. Rather than focus on art or history, it focuses on magic and illusions. If you like baffling the senses, testing your perception, or just experiencing the unusual, it’s a great place to visit.
- The Amon Carter Museum of American Art located in Fort Worth, TX is a great location to experience a wide variety of American art, from traditional media to folk art and more. As always, call ahead to verify their guidelines for a visit.
- The Fort Worth Aviation Museum is a must-see for anyone with a fascination or love of planes and all things that fly. They have a wide range of aircraft on display, from prop-driven planes to more modern jets, and even the original factory mock-up of the OV-10 Bronco!
There are other museums as well; some smaller and lesser-known, and some that are closed with no current plans for reopening. You can keep an eye on their websites if there’s one you want to visit, and plan your trip for the moment they open their doors.
6: Make Your Pilgrimage to Big Tex
Everyone recognizes Big Tex, the world’s tallest cowboy located at Fair Park. Normally he’s there to greet you for the State Fair, but the fair is canceled for this year.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still visit the Fair Park, to check out the permanent attractions and spend a day reliving old fair memories. They’re open for business with a few social distancing guidelines in place, which are far from onerous.
7: Make Staying Home an Event
Who says you need to go somewhere to have some summer fun? Whether it’s a birthday party, a weekend celebration, or just a random day where you want a little fun in the sun, you can talk to us to rent some inflatable slides, games, and obstacle courses to set up your own little funfair. If you want to add a movie to that, you can do that as well.
You even have options for turning your back yard into an entertainment zone.
This way, you don’t have to leave your house and you, your kids, and your friends in the neighborhood can enjoy it. Just stay safe!
8: Experience Hands-On Art at the Sweet Tooth Hotel
The Sweet Tooth Hotel is one of the most innovative and astonishing art exhibits in the country, and it’s located right at the heart of Dallas Texas. It’s a fully immersive, tactile, experiential art space with a rotating set of exhibits you won’t find anywhere else. You have to book a time slot, wear a mask, and follow the usual sanitization, social distancing, and other guidelines as you might expect, but they’re currently open for business. This is one of the most exotic art exhibits in the city, and it’s certainly one you don’t want to miss.
9: Get an Eye in the Sky at Reunion Tower
470 feet in the air is the sky deck of Reunion Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the DFW area. From up above, you can see the city sprawling around you, with visibility for miles around.
It’s not going to eat up a full day, but you can spend a short time checking out the tower as part of a downtown trip, or you can book a spot in one of their attractions or events, like sunrise yoga or date nights at the restaurant.
10: Watch Animals at the Zoo
The Zoo in Dallas might not be the largest attraction on this list, but it certainly has the most animals. Check out hippos, elephants, and giraffes, watch tigers roam their enclosures, trek through the herpetarium, and have lunch at the Serengeti Grill. The zoo is open with a few restrictions, mandatory masks, and a few other guidelines, so book your tickets now.
11: Stroll Through the Past
The Heritage Village is a 20-acre collection of Victorian buildings, moved to one location to preserve them, and create a historical record of the Dallas area.
While strolling through the village, you can see exhibits on how life was lived 100 years ago, complete with special attractions like pioneer cooking and beekeeping events. If you’ve ever wondered about a time before skyscrapers and electricity, this is a great opportunity to see what it was like.
12: Visit Shores Around the World
Without leaving the city, you can see exotic animals and sea life from around the world at the Dallas World Aquarium. The DWA was originally opened in 1992, and has expanded since, and hosts conservation efforts centered around the wildlife in Peru, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela. Despite being an aquarium, there’s much more to see than just fish, including exotic plant life and birds.
13: Get Digital at the National Video Game Museum
Not really feeling like getting in touch with nature today? Some days, we just want to view life through a screen. We get it. The National Video Game Museum, located on North Dallas Parkway, is a celebration of all things video games, from the earliest renditions of Pong to the most modern AAA studio games.
They have the usual selection of social distancing, mask-wearing guidelines, and they recommend wearing gloves due to the interactive nature of the exhibits, but they’re open to the public. If you haven’t visited yet and are somewhat of a gamer yourself, it’s definitely worth a visit.
14: Get Wet and Wild at a Waterpark
If you want to spend a little time having fun in the sun, with water nearby, you have two options; travel to a beach, or visit a local water park. There are a handful of water parks open during the pandemic, with occupancy guidelines and mask mandates, but the water is fine! Exercise all due caution if you want to plan a visit. There shouldn’t be any problem with transmission through the water, which is regularly cycled and cleaned; just be careful with public surfaces, and keep that mask on hand.
If there aren’t any waterparks in your area, you could also rent a water slide or other fun water games for the day in your backyard.
15: Get Some Exercise on Katy Trail
Katy Trail is a paved trail through the heart of Dallas, suitable for walkers, runners, and all manner of those looking to burn a few calories and get some fresh air.
Through the Katy Trail, you can cut through the city, following the path of an old and abandoned railway line. Just be sure to follow trail rules and etiquette when you visit to keep things pleasant for everyone.
16: Snag a Bite at a Local Restaurant
There are hundreds of great restaurants around the greater DFW area, and we would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention them in passing. Dining in isn’t recommended, and the dining rooms are closed for many of the best restaurants, but you can grab some takeout from most of them. Be sure to check the website for any restaurant you want to visit and see what their guidelines are, what they have to offer, and how to order. There’s something for everyone, you just need to find it.
Your Favorite Attractions
There’s a lot more to do in DFW, and our list is far from complete. If you live in the area and have a favorite venue or event you love to visit, feel free to list it in the comments below! We’d love to hear other recommendations.