The Best Hidden Gems in Dallas for Kids to Discover This Summer
Cool and unusual kid-friendly places in Dallas to earn you major parent brownie points.
If you're planning a trip to Dallas, there are fantastic parks, world-class museums and plenty of big attractions to keep the kids busy.
However, if you want to find the best local gems and some of the less touristy places that locals love, head off to some of these lesser-known hidden gems of Dallas to enjoy with your family this summer.
Best to cool off
Lake Highlands North Aquatic Center
This new pool boasts a 20-foot slide and a six-lane lap pool with a diving board. Enjoy your concessions in a shaded lounge area while your little ones check out the climbing wall. There's a daily admission fee for kids and adults, or you can purchase a season pass.
Hint: Don't forget about the City of Dallas' other aquatic centers all over town.
Klyde Warren Park
It's not primarily a water park, but you can pop on over to Klyde Warren for a run through its spraying caterpillar fountain. A quick splash of cold H2O after lunch and lawn games will be just what you need before heading to the Dallas Museum of Art or the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Get refreshed while standing under Bahama Beach's 1,000-gallon dumping bucket or zipping down the Riptide Slide. The park's water playground, Coconut Cove, offers tons of activities to keep your kids busy (and tire them out!) Bahama Beach underwent an expansion in 2020, adding attractions such as a children's splash pad, so this park has only gotten better over the years.
Best off the beaten path museums
Aerospace enthusiasts will love the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where kids can explore and learn about cool aircrafts and spacecrafts. There's an area for kids to play in and an actual Southwest Airlines plane that kids can explore the inside of!
Little firefighters in the making can explore the exhibits, engines, facts and faces of Dallas fire fighters and learning about the history of firetrucks at the Dallas Firefighters Museum. Some of the current exhibitions include the Dallas Pike, Old Tige, FDNY September 11 collage, collections of children's drawings and more. Kids can also enter the coloring contest; winners are picked every month to win a Dallas Fire Department t-shirt.
The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection
One for the older kids in your family and lovers of weapons and swordcraft, the Samurai Collection offers centuries of Samurai masterpieces, including suits of armour, helmets, masks, horse armour and weaponry. The private collection is one of the largest collections of Samurai armor outside of Japan. Check out the family fun days on the first Saturday of every month, where children over age 4 can participate in an interactive family-orientated tour and art making activities. Best part? Admission to the museum is always free!
While Fair Park is hardly a secret spot, it does get more attention as being the site for the annual State Fair of Texas and football games at the Cotton Bowl than anything else. However, Fair Park also offers excellent attractions and museums all year round to keep the family entertained. Visit the Children's Aquarium or Texas Discovery Gardens, or take in the culture and history at the African American Museum (it offers free admission!) Even if families don't decide to venture into these places, it's a great day out wandering around checking out the art deco architecture around the grounds.
Best free programming
Dallas Cultural Centers
The Latino Cultural Center offers a wide range of activities for families all year round, and this summer they are offering a variety of summer camps, special exhibits and the 3rd Annual Texas Latino Comic Con on July 27. Additionally, Oak Cliff Cultural Center and South Dallas Cultural Center both offer a range of excellent exhibitions, workshops, art, music and dance classes for all ages.
The Dallas Public Library is offering a range of cultural and educational programs throughout the summer for all the family. Check out their family movie matinee sessions, toddler story time, or the Arts with Friends workshops where kids can learn about artists around the world and create their own artwork.
Best venue with games
Parents love taking their families to places where they can eat and drink, while the kids can be entertained with games and activities. The Grove at Harwood is a spacious outdoor destination with outdoor sand volleyball courts, bocce, and giant Jenga and Connect Four. Enjoy cocktails for the parents, snow cones for the kids and the whole family's happy.
The Cidercade brings out the nostalgic kid in everyone and is fun for all the family. With vintage arcade games for the kids and more than 30 choices of ciders on tap, it's a win-win for everyone. Children are welcome at the Cidercade until 8 p.m., and the $10 cover charge provides unlimited play and eliminates squabbling over quarters.