Arts & Culture

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.

Cidonie Richards
Posted on Jul 23, 2019

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 off the beaten path museums

Frontiers of Flight Museum
North Dallas

Aerospace enthusiasts will love the Frontiers of Flight Museum, where kids can explore and learn about the 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!

Photo credit: Frontiers of Flight Museum

Dallas Firefighters Museum
South Dallas

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
Harwood District

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 armour 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!

Best Grounds

Fair Park
South Dallas

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.

Photo credit: Fair Park

Best free programming

Dallas Cultural Centers
Various locations

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.

Dallas Public Library
Downtown Dallas

The Dallas Public Library is offering a range of cultural and educational programs throughout the summer for all the family. Check out their Summer Lunch for Kids' program where all children enjoy a free, nutritious meal provided by Equal Heart and the Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program, 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

The Grove
Harwood District

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 Lot
East Dallas

The Lot is one of the most popular watering holes in Dallas for families due to its live music, spacious patio, a rustic-chic eatery with casual farm-to-table fare, a beer garden, plenty of space and a play area for kids.

Bishop Cidercade
Design District

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.

Photo credit: Bishop Cidercade

Header photo credit: The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection