Whether you are a local, passing through for vacation or work, or are a new resident, there are plenty of free things to do in Dallas, Texas. Visit Dealey Plaza to see where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, check out the 49 massive bronze longhorn cattle sculptures at Pioneer Plaza, or check out the free museums and galleries in the many art districts that Dallas has to offer. However you decide to fill your time in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, there is no shortage of interesting attractions and free things to do in downtown Dallas and the surrounding area for people of all ages.
Top 10 Free Things to Do In Dallas
1. McKinney Avenue Trolley
One of the best ways to explore all of the free things to do in Dallas is on the restored, vintage McKinney Avenue “M-Line” Trolley which runs from West Village through Uptown and into downtown Dallas. This free ride through some of Dallas’ most popular attractions will help save you money when it comes to paying for an Uber and frustration when trying to find a parking spot. Spend the day hopping on and off a vintage streetcar as you peruse the Dallas Arts District, Klyde Warren, the many shopping and dining experiences in these neighborhoods, and more. The McKinney Avenue Trolley runs 365 days a year, and while free, donations are appreciated.
2. JFK Memorial & Dealey Plaza
Head over to Dealey Plaza in the West End Historic District, the infamous ‘grassy knoll’ where President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 was assassinated. The John F. Kennedy Memorial sits nearby, which was designed by family friend and renowned architect Phillip Johnson, and is open to the public 24-hours a day, free of charge. The open-roofed, concrete-walled monument stands at 30-feet high and 50-feet-wide and is said to resemble an ancient open tomb, giving visitors a space for remembrance and reflection.
3. Pioneer Plaza
One of the most photo-worthy and heavily-visited tourist sites in Dallas is Pioneer Plaza, which is home to 49 bronze longhorn cattle sculptures that sit at over 6 feet tall as well as three bronze cowboys on horses by artist Robert Summers. This recreated cattle drive commemorates the trails that brought settlers to Dallas, Texas. This historical site is situated on the actual Shawnee Trail drive of the 1850s, modernly located between the Dallas Convention Center and the historical Pioneer Cemetery, and is the largest open public space in the central Dallas business district. When visiting Pioneer Plaza, you can also enjoy a waterfall, man-made cliffs, and native plants and trees as you stroll along the historic site for free.
4. Dallas Arts District
Spend the day admiring world-class architecture as you walk through the Dallas Arts District, which spans across 19 blocks (making it the largest urban arts district in the nation) and is home to several museums, entertainment venues, restaurants and bars. One of the most popular museums in the district is the free Dallas Museum of Art, which has over 22,000 works of art spanning all mediums, cultures and time-periods, representing 5,000 years of history. The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the nation and conveniently sits across from Klyde Warren Park. Another popular (and free!) museum in the center of the Dallas Arts District is the Crow Museum of Asian Art which features over 1,000 works of art from Japan, India, China and Southeast Asia. This museum is known for its incredible sculpture garden that features 15 historical and contemporary pieces that sit along bamboos, maples, azaleas, pine trees and more. Additionally, The Crow has a Center for Contemplative Leadership that offers a variety of programming ranging from yoga, meditation education, tai chi, and mindfulness. There are plenty of culturally enriching free things to do in downtown Dallas!
5. Katy Trail
Dallas residents flock to Katy Trail, a converted railroad track that runs through the densest part of the city with over 300,000 people living or working within a mile of its route. Go over a stroll, run or bike ride before or after school or work on the 3.5 mile route that extends from south Dallas around the West End and the American Airlines Center, through the center of Dallas past Knox Street, and up to South Methodist University and Mockingbird DART Station in north Dallas. When Dallas residents are looking for some nature time just outside of the city, they head to the Cedar Ridge Preserve or the Trinity River Audubon Center. Cedar Ridge Preserve 600 acre oasis is only 20 minutes outside of downtown and features plenty of dog-friendly hikes amidst wildlife habitat, rolling hills, flower-filled meadows, and dense forest. Just south of downtown Dallas is the Trinity River Audubon Center, which is the largest urban hardwood forest in the nation. This 130-acre sanctuary has miles of trails and natural green space along the Texas Blackland Prairie and the Trinity River, and is free to the public on the third Thursday of each month.
6. White Rock Lake
Spread across more than 1,000 acres in the center of Dallas (that’s double the size of Central Park!), White Rock Lake and Park is a city favorite for locals and visitors alike who are looking for a peaceful oasis amidst the chaos of city living. With a 9.3-mile paved path around the lake, Dallas residents can walk the dog, run with friends and go for a nice bike ride while taking in the scenic views. Those who want to get onto the lake itself can partake in paddle boarding, kayaking, fishing off the pier, canoeing and sailing on the water for a fun filled day. Some of the featured hot spots at White Rock Lake and Park are White Rocket Boat Club, Winfrey Point, Big Thicket, White Rock Dog Park, Bath House Cultural Center, and more. Grab your picnic basket and a good book and head to White Rock Lake for the day, one of the best free things to do in Dallas!
7. Bishop Arts District
Dallas is quite the hub for arts and culture, and in addition to the Dallas Arts District, patrons can visit the Bishop Arts District across the river in Oak Cliff. This is one of the trendiest, most walkable neighborhoods in the city with over 60 independently owned boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, live music venues, and art galleries to explore. With so many window shopping opportunities and the quaint vibe that the neighborhood has to offer, you can have an enjoyable (and free!) time walking around the Bishop Arts District.
8. Chapel of Thanksgiving
For a moment of peace in the heart of downtown Dallas, visit Thanks-giving Square for year-round events, exhibitions, and community celebrations that promote the unifying value of giving thanks for all nations, cultures and religions, or simply for some quiet self-reflection on your own at any time. Within the square is the Chapel of Thanksgiving, a small, white spiral tower that has an enclave for prayer as well as Gabriel Loire’s dramatic “Glory Window” and Norman Rockwell’s “Golden Rule” mosaic. Before heading back to the hustle and bustle of the city, spend some time with the cascading fountains in the landscaped meditation garden.
9. Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park is a 5.2-acre urban park that sits above an eight-lane highway that connects Uptown with the Dallas Arts District. This locally-loved little oasis has plenty of free things to offer to Dallas city dwellers such as wifi, lawn games, exercise classes, a dog park, footpaths, an outdoor library, chess tables, a large playground, outdoor concerts, movie screenings and lecture series. If you’re hungry and forgot to bring your own lunch, the park has a rotating selection of delicious local food trucks as well as two restaurants. Spending the day in Klyde Warren Park is definitely one of the most unique free things to do in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
10. Deep Ellum
The deep end of Elm Street, otherwise known as Deep Ellum, is the live music and cultural epicenter of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. This trendy Dallas neighborhood has historically been home to emerging jazz and blues musicians and is still home to streets lined with art galleries, music venues, restaurants, bars and theaters. Walking around Deep Ellum is one of the best free things that Dallas has to offer: explore all the murals and graffiti that are spread along the old brick buildings, window shop in the galleries, and listen to music pouring out of the streets.
Visit Dallas Today!
As one of the largest cities in Texas, it is no surprise that Dallas offers plenty of free things to do for people of all ages. Whether you are searching for art and music in the many arts districts, walking along one of the many trails in Dallas, Fort Worth or the surrounding suburbs in the metro area, or checking out the historic sites across the city, there is something fun for everyone in Dallas. Visit Dallas Today!
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