Families can stay and play in Dallas-Fort Worth for spring break fun
It’s been nearly a year since the pandemic changed the ways families live, work and play. While many things feel different, different doesn’t have to mean worse. This spring break, find ways to have a memorable vacation without traveling far. Whether your family is going inside places, only enjoying outdoor outings or just staying home, here are some suggestions for you.
Please note: Some references to mask requirements might be outdated, since policies are in flux. Check websites or contact venues for more information.
FREE Aspiring Frida Kahlos and Vincent van Goghs can spend their vacation days crafting and creating, thanks to local visual arts organizations. For spring break, the Dallas Museum of Art, Kimbell Art Museum and Mesquite Arts Center will offer free crafting kits (while supplies last) for adults to pick up for kids to complete at home. On March 17-19, the DMA will offer paper collage activity kits inspired by the exhibit “Cubism in Color: The Still Lifes of Juan Gris.” Another kit, which will be available March 20 , will highlight art from the museum’s permanent collection. The Kimbell’s kit includes supplies such as washable markers, glue and colored construction paper to use in projects available on the museum’s website. The Mesquite Arts Center typically hands out its Tote-and-Go Services craft kits on Mondays only, but two kits will be offered each day from March 15 through March 19 for spring break. Activities include making a Baby Yoda out of felt, decorating shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day and painting a ceramic piggy bank.
Dallas Museum of Art: March 17-20 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 1717 N. Harwood St., Dallas. dma.org.
Kimbell Art Museum: Virtual Spring Break Art Extravaganza is March 15-19. Kits will be available for pickup March 8-14 at times assigned after registration is accepted. 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth. kimbellart.org.
Mesquite Arts Center: March 15-19 at noon at 1527 N. Galloway Ave., Mesquite. facebook.com/MesqArtsCenter.
Only about 20 miles south of downtown Dallas near Joe Pool Lake is a cluster of places to see nature and go hiking. Visit Cedar Hill State Park, Cedar Ridge Preserve and Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center for trail systems featuring Hill Country-like terrain and views from some of the highest points in Dallas County. The greenbelt areas are filled with native trees and plants, attracting birds, reptiles, and butterflies and other insects. Each location offers different amenities. Due to winter weather and pandemic precautions, some features may be closed. The state park allows swimming, fishing and camping. Masks are required at all three.
Cedar Hill State Park: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 1570 W. FM 1382, Cedar Hill. $7, free for ages 12 and younger. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/cedar-hill.
Cedar Ridge Preserve: Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 6:30 a.m. to dusk at 7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas. Suggested $3 donation. audubondallas.org/cedar-ridge-preserve.
Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center: Open Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1206 W. FM 1382, Cedar Hill. Free admission; reservations required. dogwood.audubon.org.
After last month’s arctic blast, some of the bulbed flowers are still slumbering and will blossom later in the spring. But Dallas Blooms is about more than tulips. This year, the festival’s theme is “America the Beautiful.” Each week’s activities highlight a different region of the country, and the gardens will feature patriotic topiaries, including a large American flag in a raised bed. In addition, Dallas Blooms will feature live music on the weekends, cooking demonstrations, Mommy and Me Mondays, Tiny Tot Tuesdays, BOGO Wednesdays and more. Celebrate Pi Day on March 14 and St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 with music, food and fun. Ages 5 and older are required to wear masks while visiting the grounds.
Through April 11, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 8525 Garland Road, Dallas. $17 for adults, $14 for seniors 65 and older, $12 for children 2-12, free for children under 2. Entrance to the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden is $3 extra. $15 for parking, $10 if purchased online. Admission is buy one, get one free on Wednesdays. dallasarboretum.org.
Families can go for a swim no matter what the weather is like at Grand Prairie’s 800,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor water park complex. It has a UV-protected retractable roof, a 600-foot lazy river, a FlowRider surfing simulator, the Lasso Loop body slide, the Aquanaut inner-tube ride and Rascal’s Roundup, a special area for little ones. There’s also a cafe, a bar and lounge, and an arcade with classic and current games. The park is open with a decreased capacity and signs to encourage social distancing, enhanced cleaning procedures and hand sanitizer stations. Visitors 10 and older are required to wear face coverings except when swimming, eating, drinking, changing clothes and showering.
Open March 5 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., March 6-12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., March 13-21 from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. at 2970 Epic Place, Grand Prairie. March 5-12 and 21: $29-$34. March 13-20: $44. There’s a $12 discount for Grand Prairie residents; ID is required when presenting tickets. Free for children 3 and younger. epicwatersgp.com.
Mule Alley, the century-old street of horse and mule barns repurposed into shops and restaurants, is the hot and new old thing in the Stockyards, but there’s still old-timey cowboy carousing to be had. Cowhands drive the Fort Worth Herd longhorns down East Exchange Avenue every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Afterward, check out the Legends of Texas Gunfight Shows at Stockyards Station, where you’ll also find the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze ($6), mechanical bull rides ($8) and the Stockyards Barnyard Petting Corral ($3). The Stockyards Championship Rodeo, called the world’s only year-round rodeo, holds events most Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30. Tickets are $12-$45 (free for children under 3). And don’t forget Billy Bob’s Texas, “the world’s largest honky tonk,” with its Honky Tonk Kitchen, bull ride photo ops, country music memorabilia, pool tables, concert stage, dance floor and retail store.
The Stockyards are at North Main Street and East Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth. Parking prices vary, but many lots charge $10 on the weekends. fortworthstockyards.org.
Starting March 12, this family-friendly Grapevine resort will offer spring break activities and special room rates. Animal encounters, dance parties, movies, trivia, bingo and more will be included with overnight stays. Others cost extra, including the Paint Me a Fairytale show ($14.99), keepsake canvas-painting studio ($20-$35), cookie decorating ($12.99) and a scavenger hunt ($9.99). The hotel’s atrium features 4.5 acres of indoor gardens and waterways, including a river walk lined with restaurants and shops. (The outdoor Paradise Springs water park will open April 2.) Masks are required for ages 2 and older.
Gaylord Texan is at 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. Spring break room rates start at $189 per night. gaylordtexan.com.
Go on safari through the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose. Besides giraffes, there are rhinos, cheetahs, wildebeests, zebras, gazelles, bison and wolves to see.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)
Children who love learning about animals — either living and breathing or prehistoric and extinct — may enjoy a road trip to this Somervell County city about an hour southwest of Fort Worth. At Dinosaur Valley State Park, check out tracks left millions of years ago by Sauroposeidon and Acrocanthosaurus dinosaurs. The state park also offers camping, picnicking, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, fishing and paddling. The nearby Dinosaur World Texas museum displays real and cast prehistoric fossils and a collection of motion-activated animatronic dinosaurs such as the T. rex and stegosaurus. For a drive-through zoolike experience, visit Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. During the two-hour scenic drive, children can try to spot the park’s inhabitants, including giraffes, rhinos, cheetahs, wildebeests, zebras, wolves, bison and gazelles.
Dinosaur Valley State Park: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose. $7, free for ages 12 and younger. tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/dinosaur-valley.
Dinosaur World Texas: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1058 Park Road 59, Glen Rose. $12.48-$19.07 for ages 13-59, $10.36 for those 60 and older, $9.30-$16.95 for ages 3-12, free for children 2 and younger. Masks are required for ages 11 and older. dinosaurworld.com/texas.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center: Open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at 2299 County Road 2008, Glen Rose. $24.95, $19.95 for ages 3-11, free for 2 and younger. Tickets must be purchased in advance. Masks required when outside of vehicles. fossilrim.org.
This family-focused resort has suites designed to accommodate adults and kids. Some even have log cabin or tent-themed sleeping areas for the children. A night’s stay includes family activities such as story times and dance parties as well as entry to the indoor, 84-degree water park and its wave pool, lazy river and water slides. For extra fun (and an additional cost), add attraction passes to access a ropes course, Build-a-Bear, MagiQuest and more. Want to enjoy the indoor water park and other family activities but sleep in your own bed? Full and half-day passes are available for $60-$70 (free for ages 2 and younger). Great Wolf Lodge requires masks for ages 5 and older.
Great Wolf Lodge is at 100 Great Wolf Drive, Grapevine. Prices start at $179.99 per night for a family suite accommodating four. Additional attraction passes are $44.99-$99.99. greatwolf.com.
Families who have spent the pandemic racing in Mario Kart, hunting Pokémon or exploring islands in Animal Crossing might enjoy learning about the history of video games — and playing some, too, at the National Videogame Museum. This attraction, which topped BuzzFeed’s list of 21 quirky museums, includes a 1980s-theme bedroom, living room and arcade with games such as Asteroids, Centipede and Donkey Kong that guests can play with tokens (four are included with admission; more can be purchased). There’s also the world’s largest Pong console, set up on a 15-foot TV replica from the 1970s, and the Head-to-Head Hall is filled with gaming stations where attendees can compete against each other. Masks are required for ages 3 and older. Since many exhibits are hands-on, latex gloves are recommended and available upon request at the museum.
Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. at 8004 Dallas Parkway, Frisco. $12, $10 for ages 4-10 and seniors, free for ages 3 and younger. Single-day tickets must be purchased on-site. nvmusa.org.
Just in time for spring break, the Perot is opening “The Science of Guinness World Records.” The exhibit, on display March 6 through Sept. 6, shows the science and secrets behind record-breaking human feats such as performing the most drum beats in one minute and growing the longest mustache ever. Families can also see the largest Pac-Man video game and the smallest handmade chess set. The museum’s permanent collection includes exhibit halls focused on the science of sports, dinosaurs, animals, space, human anatomy, hands-on experiments and more. Little explorers can enjoy the Moody Family Children’s Museum, where kids 5 and younger (with an adult companion) can play in a pint-size world. Museumgoers ages 3 and older are required to wear masks.
Spring break extended hours through March 21 are Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (early closure at 5 p.m. on March 13 and 14) at 2201 N. Field St., Dallas. Admission is $20, $18 for ages 65 and older, $13 for ages for ages 2-12. Entry to “The Science of Guinness World Records” is an additional $6-$8. Children under 2 are admitted free. perotmuseum.org.