Dallas, like everything in Texas, is larger than life and loaded with activities for you and your family to enjoy. The only problem is that Dallas can also have a whopping big price tag attached to it too for visitors to the area. To combat this, we’ve collected a list of free things to do in the Dallas area so you can still enjoy the sites and have an eventful trip to Dallas without spending a lot.
Unfortunately Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive is not actually real, rather it’s a collection of amazing sculptured by Robert Summers. In combination they are believed to be the largest (it is Texas) bronze sculpture of its kind. The bronze cattle drive is designed to honor the famed cowboys of Dallas. In addition to its artistic merits, Pioneer Plaza also features native landscaping and a beautiful stream and waterfall. This large park is a great place to take a walk and get some photo memories of your trip to Texas.
As long as you’re spending a day looking at art, why not take a walk through the downtown area where more than 30 distinctive sculptures and works of art are scattered along the sidewalks. Or head over to the base of Trammell Crow Center and take in sculpture garden where more than 20 statues from noted French masters are featured.
A Mecca of shopping and dining options, Dallas’s West End Historic District is great for deal hunters because at night it’s a hot bed of activity and entertainment. Quite often when it’s nice out you can catch a free musical performance or two and if you’re looking for a dinner deal, many of the restaurants there are reasonably priced.
Observation Station is located at Founders Plaza at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. This very busy airport typically sees move than 2,000 takeoffs and landings a day. From the Observation Station you can watch the air traffic above and use the binoculars provided to get a better view. The graph board and control tower audio let you in on the action.
The Dallas Farmers Market started in 1941 and is one of the largest in the country. Take advantage of the local harvest by purchasing your own treats and goodies for a special picnic or bring some treats home as an inexpensive souvenir.
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra presents free summer concerts at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center and at local parks and recreation areas. Check the website to see if you’re going to be in town during one of these performances as it’s a great and inexpensive way to spend an evening.
Maybe not as dramatic as the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas, but still an impressive sight to see, Fountain Place in Dallas features a sculpted 1.2 million square foot office tower covered in reflective glass, surrounded at its base by a tree lined water garden and waterfalls. 172 fountains surround the gardens with the center one drawing all the attention with 360 computer driven jets.
Shoppers will like this destination, the downtown Dallas Neiman Marcus store features Retail Tale on the fifth floor, which is a museum focused on this history of this retail giant. Interesting to note, the first Neiman Marcus store was opened in 1907 in downtown Dallas.
Art is a permanent set of galleries dedicated to preserving and displaying the art and culture of China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia. If you’d like to learn a little more, free guided tours are offered every Thursday at 6:30 pm or Saturdays at 1:00 pm. And on Sundays at 1:00 pm there is a guided tour of the Trammell Crow European Sculpture Garden.
The Dallas Nature Center is a 633 acre preserve and one of the only natural areas in the entire county. Included on the property are over 10 miles of hiking trails, a native plant nursery, butterfly gardens, picnic spots and educational areas. It’s a peaceful way to explore the way this region once looked.
The Dallas Public Library is obviously free as most public libraries are, but what makes this one special is a couple of the permanent collection displays. One of the displays which draws a crowd is the libraries original copy of the Declaration of Independence. The other noted work is William Shakespeare’s First Folio of Comedies, Histories & Tragedies.
The African American Museum in Dallas is the only museum in the Southwest centered on African American history, culture and art. They hold one of the country’s largest collections of African American folk art. This cultural eye opener has been open to the public for more than 25 years, teaching people about what the African American culture was like, is like now and what contributions they have made.
Dallas’s historic M-Line Streetcar is a great way to take in some of the sights of the Dallas area, rest your feet and have a free little excursion. The M-Line was revived in 1989 by the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and it connects with the DART rail system, so for a rather inexpensive fee you can purchase a DART rail pass and travel all around town.
Yes, typically the Dallas Museum of Art is not a free attraction but if you come Thursday nights from 5:00 to 9:00 pm or the first Tuesday of each month the admission is free, although some special exhibits may be exempt. The museum has a huge array of exhibits, the highlights including African, American, Ancient American, Ancient Mediterranean, Asian, Contemporary, Decorative Arts, European, Pacific Islands, Provenance and the Reves Collection.
The Texas Discovery Gardens or Dallas Horticulture Center is seven acres of landscaped gardens including a conservatory, antique rose garden, and a particularly interesting section with medicinal and culinary plants and herbs. Make sure to take note of the irises as the center boasts more than 300 different varieties.
Photo credit: The Green Dwarf