When most people think of Odessa, they think of tumbleweeds, sand, and oil derricks. They’re not wrong necessarily (there’s plenty of those as well), but there’s also a lot more to this ever-growing city undergoing a massive oil boom. Many things to do in Odessa use the natural desert landscape to their advantage. Hang out at Stonehenge among the prairie grass and ancient stone replicas or drive out to the Meteor Crater to see authentic desert foliage and fauna. Interested in theatre? Odessa has multiple entertainment venues for live shows. You can also see exhibits at a Smithsonian-affiliated art museum. Here’s a non-comprehensive list of 10+ things to do in Odessa, Texas (with a scattering of Midland, sites).

Stonehenge Replica

Preston Smith Rd, Odessa, TX 79762

Located on the ever-growing University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus, the Stonehenge Replica is about 20 stone blocks similar in shape, size, and appearance to the ancient Stonehenge in southwestern England. It’s slightly shorter than the original, but the horizontal scale is exact and astronomically accurate. Numerous educational markers surround the entrance to the site. It’s also got a small walking trail and can be a good place to walk in the mornings before the desert heat kicks in. When you take the entrance into the campus from 42nd street, it will be on the right (opposite the tennis courts) and before you get to the science or student centers.

Another nearby attraction is the UTPB duck pond, which can be found taking a road to the left of the stones. No water sports or fishing are allowed (it’s a really tiny pond in a semi-desert environment) but it’s a great place to relax and watch the ducks and local wildlife get some much-needed water.

Ellen Noël Art Museum

4909 E University Blvd, Odessa, TX 79762Sign at the Ellen Noël Art Museum, Odessa, Texas

After leaving the Stonehenge Replica, follow the road around the campus and exit on University Avenue. Turn left, and you’ll find the art museum and presidential library. The intimate art gallery and museum has three galleries. The center initially opened in 1985 as the Arts Institute for the Permian Basin and was renamed in 1995 to honor the leadership and philanthropy of Mrs. Ellen W. Noël. It’s one of the few art museums in Texas granted status as an official Smithsonian Affiliate, which gives it the privilege to host various Smithsonian artwork and programs.

The George and Milly Rhodus Sculpture & Sensory Garden on-site features raised beds with flowers and plants open to the public. The garden is entirely accessible and user-friendly to visually- and physically-challenged visitors. You can also tour artworks and sculptures in the garden as well.

Presidential Archives and Leadership Library

4919 E University Blvd, Odessa, TX 79762Presidential Archives and Leadership Library, Odessa, TexasFrom a small building in downtown to a much larger building on the University of Texas of the Permian Basin campus, the presidential museum officially became part of the university in 2010. Unlike most presidential libraries, this one is not dedicated to one particular president but rather to all of them. The main exhibit is the Hall of Presidents, which traces the story of the presidency throughout American history. In addition to the museum, the archives consist of the John Ben Sheppard, Jr. Memorial Library, which contains around 5800 volumes, including presidential papers and rare and first edition documents. The archives also feature a restored home of George H.W. Bush and his family from when they lived in Odessa in 1948.

Junior League Jurassic Jungle Sprayground

Highway 191 & E. Loop 338, Odessa, TX

Water Wonderland has been long closed (*sigh*) and Odessa can get oppressively hot in the summer. On the campus of UTPB, the Park Sprayground is a free dinosaur-themed park that contains a variety of water slides, dumping buckets, ground geysers, and jets with shaded pavilions. It isn’t as large or comprehensive as the old WW park, but it’s still good for cooling off on a hot summer day. It’s open dates vary (primary in the summer from May 25th through the beginning of August).

Another sprayground for locals is the McKinney Park Sprayground (625 W Pool Rd, Odessa, TX 79761). In the winter, McKinney Park has beautiful holiday light festival called Starbright Village. During the summer months, the free McKinney Park Sprayground is free to the public and is open from May through September. McKinney Park is also home to ballgames throughout the years plus local music events.

Jack Ben Rabbit Statue

802 N. Sam Houston, Odessa, TXJack Ben Rabbit Statue, Odessa, TexasThroughout Odessa, you’ll likely find some colorful jackrabbits at random places. The statue just off 8th street is an Odessa landmark that gives some historical significance behind these statues. The True Plains Rabbit only lives in the West. The burro-like ears gave this rabbit its name and its color blended in well with the sand and dry grass native to the area. They are swift runners that can be clocked up to 45 miles an hour. The world’s only Jackrabbit Rodeo (literally, with Jackrabbits and not livestock) was held in Odessa in May 1932 and held at the corner of 3rd Street and Grant. The event was eventually banned in 1978 (thank goodness) with a court order. This rabbit statue was erected in 1962.

Jamboree Jackrabbits. Now on to explaining the different colored Jackrabbit statues around town. One of the first public art projects in Odessa, local artists painted 37 jackrabbits that stand at 6 feet tall and then strategically placed them around the city. You can still find them in different parts of the city today, such as on the UTPB campus (close to the MESA building), Odessa City Hall, and on the Odessa College Campus. Here’s a full list.

Ye Old Bookworm (Downtown)

517 N Grant Ave, Odessa, TX 79761

Established in 1991, Ye Old Bookworm is one of the largest bookstores you can find in West Texas. Located in an old downtown building, you can find a family-run bookstore with thousands of used books to choose from. The owner is very knowledgeable about books and is very helpful at tracking down books that may not be in the store. It’s also an excellent place to park, take a look around and see what other shops downtown Odessa has to offer.

Downtown is currently undergoing a revitalization with the creation of a new Marriott and Convention Center (305 E 5th St, Odessa, TX 79761), which opens in August 2019. Some of the older buildings can still be found as well. Right next to the new Marriott is the old Ector Theater, which opened in 1951. The Ector Theater (500 N Texas Ave, Odessa, TX 79761) became a vintage theater that hosted live tribute shows and training programs for local actors.

The old Rio Theater opened as the Scott Theater in 1947 and was renamed the Rio Theater (601 N. Grant Street, Odessa, TX 79761) in 1959. It’s still closed, probably soon to be condemned.

Globe of the Great Southwest (Globe Theatre)

2308 Shakespeare Rd, Odessa, TX 79761

Located on the Odessa College campus, this theater is a replica of William Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre. A replica of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, which contains displays for Shakespeare fans,  is also located on the campus and is a local favorite for wedding photos. The theater began construction in 1958 and the first season was in 1968. With 441 seats, the apron stage and unobstructed balcony views create a unique experience for seeing everything from Romeo and Juliet to a modern Broadway musical.

Ector County Coliseum

4201 Andrews Hwy, Odessa, TX 79762

The Ector-County Coliseum is a 42-acre complex used for rodeos, trade shows, ice shows, motorsports, Broadway shows, and even annual Permian Basin International Oil Shows. The 8,000-seat coliseum is also held for concerts and local graduation ceremonies. It is currently the home to the NAHL Odessa Jackalopes hockey team. Behind the Coliseum is the Permian Basin Fair & Exposition, to be held this year from August 30th to September 8th, 2019.

The Coliseum also often plays host to the  Odessa Chuck Wagon Gang, a group of chuckwagons and their cooks that traveled across Texas cooking barbeque for over 75 years.

Historic White-Pool House

112 E Murphy St, Odessa, TX 79761

Historic White-Pool House in Odessa, TexasThe White-Pool House was built in 1887 and is the oldest remaining structure in Odessa. Restored to its original state, it features a two-story red brick home, wooden Eclipse windmill and water tank, barn replica, and farm outbuildings. The site is a Texas Archaeological Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Permian Playhouse

310 W 42nd St, Odessa, TX 79764

Permian Playhouse in Odessa, TexasFounded in 1965, the Permian Playhouse is a community theatre that sits beside the Ector County Coliseum. The Playhouse provides the community with a variety of high-quality, culturally diverse theatrical experiences. The Playhouse also offers theatre programs for first through fifth graders for the past several years.

Parker House Ranching Museum

1118 Maple Avenue, Odessa, TX 79761

Parker House Ranching Museum in Odessa, Texas

Leading Odessa rancher Jim Parker relocated his headquarters into this rock house in 1935. The museum includes the stored Parker House Museum along with period clothing and galleries of early 1900s photos and memorabilia.

Odessa Meteor Crater

5599 Meteor Crater Rd, Odessa, TX 79763

On the outside, the Odessa Meteor Crater appears to be a barren formation of rocks, sand, and desert landscape in the southwestern part of Ector County (and admittedly, it kind of is). Most locals I know have never been out here or have maybe once, forty years ago. However, if you are looking for authentic West Texas landscapes, this is an excellent place to go. The crater is one of three impact crater sites found in Texas and used to be around 100 ft (30 miles) deep. Due to infilling by soil and debris from the ever-present West Texas wind, it is only about 5 miles deep at its lowest point. So, it’s not dramatic from a meteor crater point of view, but it does offer stunning natural foliage and wildlife that you’re not likely to see in the city. There are no visitor fees, and there is also a museum on site. It’s also great for astronomy enthusiasts and is stunning at night.

Be sure to wear boots, as there are rattlesnakes, fire ants, and plenty of rocks. Honestly, you’re probably safe from the rattlesnakes (they’re pretty shy and hide in holes—just don’t step in one). It’s the fire ants that you need to watch for. As you start heading out there, you’ll find plenty of oil pumpjacks and trucks on the highway so be careful. However, it’s incredibly peaceful once you get to the crater.

Note: Your phone’s navigation will most likely take you to the right road but will stop in the middle of the dirt, rocky road before you reach the crater. Keep following the road, curve around to the right, and follow it to the end. Then you’ll find the signs to go into the Meteor Crater. It’s an isolated piece of land with a museum that isn’t visited very often, but it’s a great view of the fauna and flora of the Chihuahuan Desert.

Monahans Sandhills State Park

2500 E Interstate 20 Exit 86, Monahans, TX 79756

Monahans Sandhills State Park in Monahans, Texas

Monahans Sandhills State Park is not in Odessa but about twenty miles southwest of it. However, it’s close enough to easily visit any day of the week. The park is a 3,840-acre state park where the ever-present wind sculps the sand dunes into peaks and valleys. The landscape may change from year to year, and it is a close-up view of a true desert environment. Locals often rent sand disks at the headquarters (or bring their own) to slide up and down the dunes. There’s also an 800-acre equestrian area with heavy sands and a few mesquite trees. It’s not really “pretty” per se, but it’s a real example of the native desert landscape.

First, stop at the headquarters to get a parking permit (usually $4 per adult). Then follow the road to the parking spots where you can see the actual bald dunes. On the way there, you’ll see plenty of overgrown bushes sand flora native to the desert, but you’ll know when you’ve reached the place that you can get out and walk. Be aware that the sand heats up quickly during the summer months (Chihuahuan Desert) and it’s essential to stay mindful of your surroundings and don’t get lost.

It’s also an excellent place to stop if you’re heading out on a road trip to Big Bend National Park.

Permian High School & Ratliff Stadium

1800 E. 42nd Street, Odessa, TX (school) and 1862 E Yukon Rd, Odessa, TX 79765 (stadium)

Permian High School in Odessa, Texas

Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream debuted in 1990 to mixed reviews in town. The book, about the 1988 Permian High School Panthers football team, and the city around it, was critical about life in Odessa. I was a sophomore at Permian when the book was released and still remember the throngs of reporters that covered the school that Fall with questions relating to everything about school spirit to um, inappropriate sexual questions to be asking a 14-year-old about football players. Anyway, the book was later made into a TV series and a movie. (Side rant about the film. Odessa is not as small as it shows—it has a full university, community college, and over 100,000 people. It’s not a tiny town with only dirt roads and a few downtown buildings.) Fans of the book or TV series have occasionally made it out to Odessa to tour the school or attend a game. I’m not sure about the legality of visiting the school, but feel free to attend an in-town game at the massive Ratliff Stadium just outside of town. Opened in 1982, the stadium holds almost 20,000 people and is used by both Permian High School and Odessa High School.

Music City Mall

4101 E 42nd St, Odessa, TX 79762

I know, it’s a mall, but it’s still a fully functional mall with the only ice-skating facility within 300 miles. The 750,000square-foot mall also houses CBS affiliate KOSA-TV and three stages for live entertainment on weekends. Two indoor playgrounds, a Ferris wheel, and year-round events also provide additional entertainment for the area.


(Nearby) Things to do in Midland

  1. Wagner Noël Performing Arts Center
    1310 Farm to Market 1788, Midland, TX 79707
  2. Museum of the Southwest
    1705 W Missouri Ave, Midland, TX 79701
  3. Sibley Nature Center
    1307 E Wadley Ave, Midland, TX 79705
  4. I-20 Wildlife Preserve & Jenna Welch Nature Study Center
    2201 S Midland Dr, Midland, TX 79703
  5. George Bush Childhood Home Museum
    1412 W Ohio Ave, Midland, TX 79701
  6. Big Sky Drive-In Theater
    6200 W Hwy 80, Midland, TX 79706
  7. Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
    1500, I-20, Midland, TX 79701
  8. Midland Downtown Farmers Market
    1705 W. Missouri, Midland, TX 79701
  9. Midland Community Theatre
    2000 W Wadley Ave, Midland, TX 79705

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Dallas, Texas, is a place where east meets west. The metropolitan city has exploded in size as international companies move in and take advantage of a well-educated and willing workforce. Fort Worth, on the other side of the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex, has embraced its Texas Cowtown persona while Dallas is less stereotypical Texas than not. With a sizeable business and cultural sector, growing arts and music districts, and historic districts all mixed together, you can always find something to do in the city limits. Thanks to the milder weather, most of the sites are open year-round. Here’s a list of 30 (or more) things to do in Dallas, Texas.

If you can’t find anything to do specifically in Dallas, just look around the area. The Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex at 9,286 square miles is 31 times as big as New York City at 301 square miles. In this post, we’re just sticking to activities within the greater Dallas City Limits (and its little villages). You can find everything from national and state parks to rodeos to more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the U.S. Just choose your days wisely as traffic can vary. I chose a cloudy/rainy Sunday morning to head downtown and there were still small crowds. They were manageable though. Have fun ya’ll!

Quick Tip With the construction going on downtown, parking can be tricky. I am starting at the Sixth Floor Museum not because of the history, specifically, but rather for the parking lot. Located behind the museum, it is about $10 per day where you can park and walk to many of the nearby sites.  Be prepared for the crowds around Dealey Plaza, especially on weekend mornings during the Summer months.

The Sixth Floor Museum/Texas School Book Depository

411 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202

Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, TX
Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, TX
Texas School Book Depository historical marker in Dallas, TX
Texas School Book Depository historical marker in Dallas, TX

The Sixth Floor Museum documents the life, times, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. The museum houses many facts about the tragic day, and each admission comes with a self-guided audio tour. You can stand at the corner window where the fateful shots were fired. The museum is also the former home of the Texas School Book Depository Building, a 7-story structure built in 1901 by the Southern Rock Island Plow Company. A school textbook distribution firm leased the building in 1963, and Lee Harvey Oswald was an employee of the Depository at the time of the assassination.

A short walk down Elm Street, past Houston and right on N. Record Street is the Dallas Holocaust Museum (211 N Record St #100, Dallas, TX 75202 currently). The museum is dedicated to teaching the history of the Holocaust and combating prejudice, hatred, and indifference. The museum is going to close on July 31 for moving and will be relocated to 300 N. Houston Street, which is still in this area.

Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza, Dallas, TX 75202

Dealey Plaza plaque. Notice the X on the road. That is the spot where JFK was assassinated. I wouldn't recommend looking any closer (speed limits are a myth around here but you can get close enough to see the grassy knoll, etc.
Dealey Plaza plaque. Notice the X on the road. That is the spot where JFK was assassinated. I wouldn’t recommend looking any closer (speed limits are a myth around here but you can get close enough to see the grassy knoll, etc.
A different historical marker at Dealey Plaza.

After visiting the museum, walk over to Dealey Plaza and see where John F. Kennedy was assassinated while visiting Dallas. Dealey Plaza is also home with several buildings in the historic district. A museum store and café about the area can be found at the Dal-Text building and Annex at 501 Elm Street.

The Dal-Text Building and Annex (501 Elm Street) sits across from the Texas School Book Depository. Constructed in 1902, a nearby three-story annex was built in 1904. The Dallas County Criminal Courts Building (501 Main Street) was built between 1913 and 1915. Dallas County Records Building (509 Main Street) is now part of the Founders Plaza to the east, and the Gothic building was completed in 1928. The Old Dallas County Courthouse (100 S. Houston Street) was constructed between 1890 and 1892. It’s also known as the Old Red Courthouse or Museum.

Old Red Museum in Dallas, TX undergoing construction.
It’s currently undergoing construction, but you can still visit the old red sandstone courthouse museum.

Old Red Museum (100 S Houston St, Dallas, TX 75202)  was formerly merely the Dallas County Courthouse. Made of red sandstone (native to the area), the structure was built in 1890. Today, you can visit the museum to learn about Dallas’ first settlement in 1841 and view other artifacts from the prehistoric to the present day. It’s currently undergoing heavy construction (again, park at the Sixth Floor Museum and walk it), but the museum itself is open.

John Neely Bryan Cabin

600 Elm St, Dallas, TX 75202

John Neely Bryan Cabin from the side.
John Neely Bryan Cabin from the side in downtown, Dallas.

John Neely Bryan arrived near this site in late 1841 from Tennessee and built a log cabin in 1842. The area’s first school and the church were built of logs in Farmer’s Branch in 1845. Many of the original settlers of Dallas came to this “Three Forks” area of the Trinity River as members of the Peters Colony after 1841. This cabin was built of cedar logs before 1850 and was moved from its original site, about 7.5 miles east, and rebuilt at several locations. It was moved to this block in 1971.

Reunion Tower

300 Reunion Blvd E, Dallas, TX 75207

Reunion Tower as seen from Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.
Reunion Tower as seen from Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas.

One of the most well-known Dallas landmarks, the 561-feet Reunion Tower is a great place to get a 360-degree view of the city. The tower’s observation deck, called the GeO-Deck, allows you to get panoramic views from 470 feet in the air. Inside the Reunion Tower lobby, you can view interactive digital exhibits featuring Dallas landmarks, the tower, the assassination of JFK, and high-definition cameras. You can also get a meal at Wolfgang Pucks’ Five Sixty restaurant at the top of the tower, although it can get expensive. There is also a Cloud 9 café so that you can get something cheaper to eat.

Reunion Tower is only about 1000 feet from Dealey Plaza, so one suggestion is to park nearby and walk around the area. A cheaper parking garage is just down the hill, and you can park there and walk up, either way, it’s not a bad way to spend the day. If you live in DFW or are staying in a hotel near a DART station, take the train to Union Station, which connects to the Hyatt Regency by an underground tunnel that also connects to Reunion Tower.

Dallas Union Station

400 S Houston St, Dallas, TX 75202

Built in 1916, Dallas Union Station is a stunning example of Beaux-Arts style. Architectural details include original chandeliers and 48-foot arched windows. The ballroom is a popular place for private events and weddings. You can walk through the underground tunnel from Reunion Tower and the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion into the station. From here, you can catch one of the DART trains throughout the city or even an Amtrak train to places unknown.

Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures at Pioneer Plaza

1428 Young St, Dallas, TX 75202

Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures at Pioneer Plaza
Dallas Cattle Drive Sculpture at Pioneer Plaza
Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures following people to work at Pioneer Plaza
Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures following people to work at Pioneer Plaza

Life-size bronze sculptures of a cattle drive surround Pioneer Plaza, the largest public park in the central business district. It’s one of the few places in downtown Dallas that has more of a Western feel than the majority of the city. Pioneer Plaza commemorates Dallas’ beginnings by celebrating the Shawnee Trail that brought settlers and Texas longhorn to Dallas.

Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery

1201 Marilla St, Dallas, TX 75201


Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery
Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery

Historical marker at Dallas Pioneer Park Cemetery

Located just behind the cattle drive sculptures, the cemetery contains many of the earliest settlers of Dallas. The graves buried on this grassy hill date back between 1846 and 1850) and include six Dallas mayors, War of 1812 veterans, Texas Revolutionary heroes, judges, Civil War veterans, and more. The site initially had a view of downtown and the Trinity River to the west. The last burials took place between 1921 and 1928.

[There are parking places beside the Pioneer Plaza that have a time limit, but are free. If you park there and walk up the steps, you’ll walk through the cemetery towards the sculptures.

Majestic Theater

1925 Elm Street, Dallas, TX 75201

The Majestic Theater opened its doors on April 11, 1921. The theater hosted a variety of acts from Bob Hope to Mae West to Houdini. The theater is the last remnant of Dallas’s historic entertainment center, Theater Row.

The Texas Theatre

231 W Jefferson Blvd, Dallas, TX 75208

After visiting the Sixth Floor Museum, continue exploring the history of November 1963 by visiting this historic theatre which was the hideout of Lee Harvey Oswald and the location of his subsequent arrest for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The Texas Theater opened in 1931 and was made entirely out of concrete to be “fireproof.” Also, the theater was the first Dallas movie theater to offer air conditioning. The theater also provides authentic seating, a refreshment area, and entertainment.

Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park

1515 S Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75215

Dallas Heritage Park is a 20-acre living history museum located on the grounds of Dallas’ first city park that was established in 1876. Explore buildings and attractions that allow you to see and experience 19th-century life during the pioneer and Victorian eras. Watch how crops were grown, how animals were cared for, and how the community functioned in Texas over 100 years ago. The collections of buildings and furnishings represent the period from 1840 to 1910.


The Adolphus Hotel

1321 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75202

The Dallas landmark hotel was built in 1911 in a baroque, Beaux-Arts style. One of the most luxurious hotels in Texas. The hotel, which is still in use, has over 422 guestrooms in total, including 12 luxury suites and 127 executive rooms. It’s more of a short drive-by for architecture geeks like me, but it’s still a must-see in Dallas (just hard to get a picture in traffic).

Dallas Farmers Market

920 S Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201

The Dallas Farmers Market is a 26,000-square-foot market that has been operating since 1941. The full market includes restaurants, gift stores, and a flower shop. The Market Shops are open seven days a week. On Fridays through Sundays, the weekly farmer’s market with local produce and artisanal goods can be found in The Shed, an outdoor, open-air pavilion. Vendors serve a variety of ready-to-eat cultural flavors at the market during the weekend.

Bishop Arts District

Bishop Avenue, Oak Cliff, Dallas, TX 75208

In addition to art galleries, The Bishop Arts District, in North Oak Cliff, is home to more than 60 restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and boutiques. The city’s busiest trolley stop, circa 1930, is also located in the Bishop Arts District. It’s also known for its diverse nightlife and colorful street art.

Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe (Cathedral Guadalupe)

2215 Ross Ave, Dallas, TX 75201

Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe
Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe

Built in 1898, The Cathedral Santuario de Guadalupe was the second location of Dallas’s first Catholic parish, Sacred Heart Church, established in 1869. The original church was constructed in 1872 at the corner of Bryan and Ervay Streets and its congregation soon outgrew the original facilities. The cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1898. It’s also near one of the oldest churches left in that district, St. Paul United Methodist Church (1816 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201), part of the arts district for 145 years.

Dallas Museum of Art

1717 N Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201

In the Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art is home to over 24,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of humanity from different cultures. Founded in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is one of the 10 largest art museums in the country in its 370,000-square-feet building.

Across the street is the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora St, Dallas, TX 75201), a 2.4-acre site with a collection of modern and contemporary sculpture.

Crow Museum of Asian Art

2010 Flora St, Dallas, TX 75201

The Crow Museum of Asian Art includes exhibits dedicated to the arts and cultures from individual Asian regions from 1000 B.C. to the 20th century. The museum is always free, although donations are appreciated. One permanent exhibition includes Fierce Loyalty: A Samurai Complete, a collection devoted to the art and culture of the Japanese samurai.

Katy Trail

3505 Maple Ave, Dallas, TX 75219

A popular walking, jogging, bicycling trail for Dallas residents, the Katy Trail follows the path of the old Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad (MKT). On the northern end of the trail, the best place to park is near Knox Street (cattycorner to Travis Street). Closer to downtown on the Southern end of the trail, you can park at Reverchon Park near the baseball fields.

White Rock Lake Park

E Lawther Dr, Dallas, TX 75218

White Rock Lake is a relaxing park with a large natural area of over 1,254 acres set in an urban setting. Construction of the lake began in 1910, and the park itself was developed in the early 1930s. Over 9 miles of hiking and bike trails circle the area, along with picnic areas, wetlands, a dog park, and benches to sit and enjoy the water. You can walk off into a section of woods for a picnic or take your dog to the on-site dog park.

Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden

8525 Garland Rd, Dallas, TX 75218

The 66-acre gardens of Dallas’s beautiful Arboretum and Botanical Garden offer plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. The Arboretum is located on the shores of White Rock Lake and feature events throughout the year. One new exhibit is the fresh vegetable and herb garden called A Tasteful Place, which allows you to get a free seasonal snack. Go ahead and buy your parking ahead of time and plan your itinerary as well.

Half Price Books Flagship Store

5803 E Northwest Hwy, Dallas, TX 75231

Book lovers unite! You can easily spend hours in this flagship store, one of the biggest bookstores in the Dallas / Fort Worth metroplex. Half Price Books buys and sells secondhand books, movies, and music of all types. Entertainment is available on the first Fridays of each month, and the café serves great pastries and coffee.

Highland Park Village

47 Highland Park Vlg, Corner of Preston Road and Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX 75205-2727

Shops at Highland Park Village in Dallas, Texas
Shops at Highland Park Village in Dallas, Texas

Highland Park Village is a luxurious, Mediterranean Spanish-style shopping plaza with a legacy as the first open-air shopping center of its kind. Historic architecture, premiere retail, and fine dining can be found in this small center. Typical of Spanish plazas, the central fountain is surrounded by ten acres of brick paths and walkways, landscaping, trees and benches, and timeless architecture. The center opened in 1931 and deteriorated for a few years before being redeveloped in 1976 into a luxury shopping destination. The landmark Village Theatre opened in 1935 and was the first luxury suburban theater in Texas—the theater is still open and has been renovated.

George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

2943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75205

Located on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus, the 14,000 square foot George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum showcases the career of former President George W. Bush. Exhibits include themes and subjects relevant to the early 2000s, such as the financial crisis, education reform, the global war on terror, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. White House exhibits also showcase what life was like for the first family and visit an exact replica of the Oval Office in scale and design. Freedom Hall is a one-of-a-kind, massive 20-foot tall LED screen showcasing various multimedia clips. The Dallas museum is also located next to a 15-acre, prairie-inspired urban park, with Native Blackland Prairie grasses and seasonal wildflowers.

Freedman’s Cemetery

2525 N Central Expy, Dallas, TX 75204

Freedman’s Cemetery was established in 1861 as a burial ground for Dallas’ early African American population. A memorial was built in late 1990 to commemorate the site and significant contributions made by African Americans to the growth and development of Dallas. One bit of advice is to park at Walmart and walk across the street.

Frontiers of Flight Museum

6911 Lemmon Ave, Dallas, TX 75209

From early flight to modern space exploration, the Frontiers of Flight Museum has over 30 aviation and space flight exhibits in 13 galleries with over 35,000 artifacts. Included at the 100,000-square-foot museum is a full-size model of the Wright brothers 1903 Wright Flyer, along with exhibits detailing the stories of trailblazers such as Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, and Charles Lindbergh. Artifacts cover the eras of World War I, World War II, Cold War, and space flight, including an Apollo pod. The site also includes a Living History program and a STEM education program.

Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park

11131 Malibu Dr, Dallas, TX 75229

For something different, head over to the Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park for some thrilling adventure. For over 25 years, the Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park’s goal has been to be the most extreme amusement park in the world. The Bungee Jump is a seven-story platform designed for bungee jumping. The Skycoaster is a 100-foot hang-gliding/flying simulator reaching speeds up to 60 mph. If that isn’t enough action, try out the towering propeller Skyscraper that pulls 4Gs or the freefalling Nothing’ But Net that works from a 16-story tower.

Fair Park

1300 Robert B Cullum Blvd, Dallas, TX 75210-2364

Fair Park is a historic 277-acre recreational and educational complex that is the location of the State Fair of Texas. The site was initially built in 1889 as an 80-acre fairground for the Dallas State Fair and was also host to the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. The landmark also contains the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco exposition style architecture in the United States. Five museums and ten performance and sporting events are also held at the park. These include the Texas Discovery Gardens, Music Hall, Gexa Energy Pavilion, Band Shell, and the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Fair Park is also home to five museums and ten performance and sporting venues. A 700-foot-long reflecting pool called the Fair Park Esplanade is capped with three fountains, that often give shows set to music.

Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park

1462 1st Ave, Dallas, TX 75210

Opened in 1936 as part of the Texas Centennial Exposition, the Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park has six exhibits and interactive, kid-sized zones. Kids can visit and pet the stingrays, stand in awe at the two shark tanks, and view everything at eye level.

African American Museum of Dallas

3536 Grand Ave, Dallas, TX 75210

The African American Museum is an art museum founded in 1974 and houses a rich heritage of African art and history in four vaulted galleries. Permanent collections include African art; African American art; and magazine, historical, political, and community archives.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

2201 N Field St, Dallas, TX 75201

Home to five floors of 11 permanent exhibit halls, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science offers educational state-of-the-art interactive and multimedia exhibits for kids of all ages. The Museum was a merger of the original Dallas Museum of Natural History, founded in 1936, the Science Place, and the Dallas Children’s Museum at Fair Park. It relocated to its current facility in 2012. The children’s museum morphed into the Moody Family Children’s Museum, which includes terrarium animals, a Mini Dallas Farmer’s Market, and a Dallas Skyline Climber that allows kids to climb a playground of tiny Dallas landmarks. Other exhibits include dioramas of Texas ecosystems, exploration exhibits called Being Human, information about engineering and innovation, weather simulations, and so forth.

Klyde Warren Park

2012 Woodall Rodgers Fwy, Dallas, TX 75201

Kylde Warren Park is a 5.2-acre public park that sits over the Woodall Rogers Freeway. The unique park sits in the middle of uptown Dallas and has an amphitheater, storytelling tree, putting green, chess, and ping pong area, and dog park. Food trucks and restaurants line the perimeter. The park hosts concerts and dance lessons. The Dallas Yoga Center occasionally hosts Yoga classes in the park.

Trinity Skyline Trail / Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, Dallas, TX 75207 / Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West, Dallas, TX
[Spur 366 Over the Trinity River, Dallas, TX ]


Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West
Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West
View from Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West introducing a coming Texas rain storm.
View from Continental Bridge Gateway Plaza West introducing a coming Texas rain storm.

The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge and Trinity Skyline Trail are fairly new. The site is slowly becoming an outdoor mecca for people in the area to walk and get a fantastic shot of the Dallas skyline. The bridge opened in March 2012 and connects Dallas’ two riverbanks for easy passage between the downtown area and the neighborhoods of West Dallas. You can park and walk along the bridge to see the skyline and the Trinity River below. Several trails also extend from the parking lot. Great eating places can also be found on the west side of the bridge.

Quick TipLook for the Trinity Skyline Bridge or something other than the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. If you head West on Highway 366 (referred to as the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge), you’ll find that the road turns into Singleton Boulevard. At the first light (Gulden Ln), turn right. When the road starts turning to the left and turns into Canada Drive, follow a little road to the right. It will take you to the free parking lot beside the trails and the walkway. It can get very confusing if you don’t know what you are looking for.

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Nestled in a quiet residential area near the bustling intersection of Frankford Road and the Dallas North Tollway sits the 12-acre site that used to be the town of Frankford, Texas. A former tiny prairie town, the site has an old cemetery, windmill, a white-framed church, creek, and prairie meadow native to 19th-century Texas.

It’s a well-hidden spot of nature hidden among some of the posh neighborhoods in far North Dallas. As you turn off Frankford Road onto Spyglass Drive, you’ll meander down beautiful, large landscaped lots and find yourself turning onto Muirfield Drive and landing at the Church of the Holy Communion. If you’re anything like me, I was trying to find the historical marker and thinking that the beautiful church looked much too modern and nothing like the pictures I had found online. At the end of the road from the church is a little wall that leads to a rocky road and a grass prairie. It looks like a time portal as you walk or drive beyond the gates, into an area stepped in time with large swatches of prairie with not much else. Follow that road, and you’ll find a gravel parking lot sitting in front of the Old Frankford Church.

The Town of Frankford 

There’s not much left of the community of Frankford that occupied the site near the natural springs along the Halls Branch of the Trinity River. The site was on the Shawnee Trail, and Native Americans would stop along the trail at the “everlasting springs.” These springs are located on the west bank of the creek near the bridge. Shawnee Trail in this area was later called the Texas Trail. Today it main runs along Preston Road. The prairie town of Frankford Crossing began to fade when it was bypassed by railroad construction, which went to nearby Addison (then called Noell Junction), and the site was eventually annexed into the city of Dallas. The post office, stores, many of the homes, and the Masonic Lodge were torn down or moved to other parts of the area. The land around what was left of the Frankford site was sold and eventually developed as the Bent Tree subdivision, country club, and golf course.

Town of Frankford, Texas, historical markerTown of Frankford, Texas, Indian Springs

The Old Frankford Church and Cemetery

The one-room church was built in 1897 and has been meticulously restored. The original church was destroyed by a tornado in the 1880s, and the current building was rebuilt using the wood from the first church. It was restored again in 2010. The Frankford Preservation Foundation reports that the church held services when a circuit rider was passing through the area.

While several denominations held services at the structure, the main one was Methodist, who were organized as part of a circuit in 1885. Although the town dissolved and people moved away, preachers continued to use the little church through the mid-1920s. Episcopal services began at the small church in the 1960s.

Old Frankford Church in Dallas, TexasOld Frankford Church historical marker

Periodically, the Frankford Preservation Foundation will hold guided tours of the area as well as a Spring Jazz Concert on The Prairie Music Festival. An annual candlelight service called Christmas on the Prairie is held the first Sunday evening in December every year. The church can also be reserved for wedding ceremonies as well.

Down the short road from the Old Frankford Church also lies one of the oldest cemeteries in the area, with the first unknown marked grave dating to 1862. Since the area was also an old Native American stomping ground, there is also speculation that some earlier burials are there as well. The Frankford Cemetary contains many old graves important to North Texas history, including the tomb of Addison Robertson, for whom Addison is named. It is maintained by the Frankford Cemetary Association.

Town of Frankford Old Cemetary MarkerVisiting Bird at the Old Frankford Cemetary

Prairie Grass

Surrounding the Old Frankford Church and cemetery are fields of unplowed, native prairie grass. Pioneers called the native big bluestem grass “turkey grass. This type of grass is one of the “Big Four” grasses of the Blackland Prairie that can grow up to eight feet tall. It is unusual to find in urban sites. The prairie grass has been cared for by generations, and the site lends itself to historical authenticity that can be hard to find. In the Spring, large blue and purple blooms can be seen throughout the prairie. The summer months present more of a traditional grassland appearance.

Town of Frankford Prairie

The Old Frankford Church and Cemetary site is a refreshing place to visit in North Dallas when you’ve had enough of steel, concrete, and traffic. It’s a tie-in back to the historical roots that maintain the peacefulness of a prairie meadow.

For more information, visit the Frankford Preservation Foundation.

Where to find it?

17400 Muirfield Dr, Dallas, TX 75287. Near Frankford and the Dallas North Tollway in Dallas

Town of Frankford Pinterest pin