The Best Thing to Do in Every Part of Metro Dallas
More than 7 million people live in the Dallas metro area, but just 1.3 million of them reside in Dallas proper. That tells you just how huge metro Dallas is, and how misleading it is to think of places like Fort Worth and Arlington as "suburbs"—if they weren't located so close to Dallas, we'd think of them major cities of their own.
So if you're planning a Texas vacation and looking for things to do in Dallas, you should look into visiting other nearby cities—places like Plano, Irving, Garland, and Frisco, all of which have plenty of enticing activities for visitors. Here then is a breakdown of the single best thing to do in every part of metro Dallas: 4 in the city itself (one for each cardinal direction), and 10 more in other major cities in the vicinity.
Central/West: Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Whether you're experiencing an earthquake, racing a virtual T. Rex, or controlling a robot battle, this museum is as hands-on as it gets. Spread across five floors, the museum's 11 exhibition halls take all day to explore, but who's complaining?
North: Frontiers of Flight Museum
See the Apollo 7 command module whose manned orbit around the Earth paved the way for the Apollo 11 moon mission at this remarkable aviation museum. You can also spot wreckage from the Hindenburg, plus 30 more vintage aircraft.
South: Dallas Zoo
This 106-acre zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals, from cheetahs to gorillas to hippos. Head to the Wild Encounters Stage to see the animals up close, or grab some romaine lettuce and feed a hungry giraffe at Giraffe Ridge. (Don't worry, they don't bite.)
East: Texas Discovery Gardens
There's a visual treat everywhere you turn at this 7.5-acre estate, which gathers local and international plants into themed areas like the Shakespeare Garden, featuring species mentioned in the playwright's work. Make sure you're there at noon, when the newly emerged butterflies are released into the Butterfly Garden.
Fort Worth: Kimbell Art Museum
With its sophisticated skylight system and imposing series of concrete vaults, the architecture of this museum is as impressive as anything inside it. And that's saying something: inside you'll find works from Picasso, Monet, Cezanne, and other masters, not to mention the first known painting by Michelangelo, the only one of his works on display in North America.
Arlington: Texas Rangers Baseball at Globe Life Park
Since opening in 1994, this stadium has gone through several upgrades, including new video boards that make for a first-class spectator experience. Sit in the All-You-Can-Eat Porch for access to unlimited hot dogs, nachos, soda, and more during the game.
Plano: Arbor Hills Nature Preserve
Hike and bike your way across this unexpected slice of nature just a mile from Dallas North Tollway. Inside you'll find pavilions for picnicking, playgrounds for kids to explore, and an observation tower with spectacular views of the city.
Carrollton: North Texas Outdoor Pursuit Center
You won't find surplus crops inside the historic grain silos of downtown Carrollton—you'll find adventure. That's because the silos are now home to this unique climbing gym, which lets you scale the silos' 100+-foot walls during open gym hours.
Garland: Hawaiian Falls Garland
Splash across a 12-acre waterpark complete with thrilling slides, geysers, a fortress for kids to climb on, and a 1,000-gallon dump bucket. Grab a cabana rental to get a private shaded area and wait service.
Irving: Cistercian Abbey
Stop by to walk the grounds of this medieval-style monastery, which was built out of more than 400 blocks of Texas limestone weighing 4000–5000 pounds each. On Sundays, the monks hold Gregorian masses heavy on chanting and singing.
Grapevine: SEA LIFE Grapevine Aquarium
Walk through a 360-degree ocean tunnel that simulates the experience of exploring the ocean floor at this 30-tank aquarium that's home to thousands of marine animals, including blacktip reef sharks, rescued seals, and giant Japanese spider crabs.
Frisco: National Videogame Museum
Video games finally got their due in 2016 with the opening of this passion project museum in Frisco. Stroll through a timeline of more than 50 consoles, play a giant game of Pong, and hang out in a working replica of a classic '80s arcade.
Grand Prairie: Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ok, so the vibe might be a little hokey, but attractions like the mirror maze and the spinning vortex tunnel are still undeniably cool. You can also take photos with lifelike recreations of stars and historical figures in the attached wax museum.
Denton: The Battlefield
Imagine your kids shooting Nerf guns with their friends, but instead of messing up your house, they're running wild through a battlefield of obstacles and forts. The game looks so fun that adults might find themselves drawn into the game even if they weren't planning to play.
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