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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The design and architecture of church buildings are often domain features that often reflect local decoration and technology. From the native stone churches of the Midwest to the Adobe churches of the Southwest, the structures reflect not only the natural landscape but often the culture of the people who constructed them. The oldest churches in Dallas can be traced to the 1850s, with some of the oldest stretching back to the 1840s in Dallas County. Like most buildings in Dallas, the older buildings are styled in a hodgepodge of Greek Revival to Victorian to Neoclassical construction.

Many of the earlier Dallas churches were built along Ervay streets, such as Elm and Ervay, Ervay and Canton and Bryan and Ervay. Elm Street was another popular street, with many buildings (now gone) congregating in this area. Here’s a look at 21 of the oldest churches in Dallas.

1856 AND 1858

Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church

9027 Midway Rd, Dallas, TX 75209

Cochran Chapel United Methodist Church is Dallas’ oldest deeded church property. The property on which the Sanctuary sits was deeded on July 11, 1856. The W.P. Cochran Homeplace was first settled on in 1851, and the current house that stands on the site was built in 1895. Just south of the cemetery lies the church cemetery, home to some of Dallas’ earliest pioneer families, Civil War veterans, slaves, and Native Americans. The first edifice was built and dedicated in 1858 and the Sunday school dates to 1879. Later buildings were erected in 1885, 1924, 1955, and 1970.


First United Methodist Church

1928 Ross Ave, Dallas, TX 75201


First United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas
First United Methodist Church Dallas

One of the most beautiful churches in Dallas is the First United Methodist Church on Ross Avenue with its magnificent bell tower to its rotunda theatre. The First Methodist Church of Dallas reports meetings as early as 1846 when the small village of Dallas was a stopping point for Methodist circuit riders. Legend has it that the church met in a small building at the southwest corner of the courthouse square in November 1850 and continued for almost 20 years at the location. The congregation met at three previous locations before the Trinity Methodist and First Methodist congregations combined in 1916. A new building was built for the First Methodist Episcopal Church, South (on Ross Ave) in 1926. The First Methodist Episcopal Church, South, became First Methodist Church in 1939 and then the First United Methodist Church in 1968.


First Presbyterian Church of Dallas

1835 Young Street, Dallas

Downtown in the historic district, the First Presbyterian Church of Dallas was the first southern U.S. Presbyterian Church organized in Dallas. Founded in 1856, one day after Dallas was incorporated as a city, the church first met in various locations before erecting its first building at Elm and Ervay streets and then Harwood and Main Streets. The present sanctuary was built between 1911 and 1912 and officially opened on March 2, 1913. The Greek Revival church includes the first monolithic Corinthian columns in Dallas.


St. Matthews Cathedral

5100 Ross Ave, Dallas, TX 75206

The first Episcopal service was held in Dallas in 1856, and this parish was organized on St. Matthew’s day on September 21, 1857. The first Bishop of Texas visited Dallas in 1860 and conducted services in the Masonic Hall. The growing parish moved to several places but continually moved as the cathedral became too small. The current cathedral moved to the former St. Mary’s College Chapel at the corner of Ross and Henderson in 1929. St. Mary’s College’s cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1876, and classes began in 1889. The school closed in June 1930 after being absorbed by St. Matthew’s Parish. It looks as if the chapel was completed and consecrated on May 10, 1908.


Central Christian Church

4711 Westside Dr, Dallas, TX 75209

Central Christian Church was organized in 1863 and originally held services in Preacher Charles Carlton’s log cabin schoolroom in present-day downtown Dallas. A Texas historical marker was installed on a two-story brick building at 703 Ross Ave to mark where the original church once stood. In 1891, the congregation moved to a larger building at St. Paul and Patterson streets and charted the name of Central Christian Church. The current land on Westside Drive was purchased in 1951, and the new sanctuary was dedicated on May 3, 1953.


First Baptist Church Dallas

1707 San Jacinto St, Dallas, TX 75201

First Baptist Church Dallas
First Baptist Church Dallas

Today a Southern Baptist Megachurch, the First Baptist Church of Dallas was established in 1868 and met in the Masonic Hall on Lamar Street near Ross Avenue. The first building was on Akard Street and the cornerstone of the sanctuary that the congregation worships in today was laid in 1890. The red brick, Victorian-style building was erected in 1890. You’ll find a 3,000 seat Worship center close to the historic building.


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, constructed in 1872, was at the corner of Bryan and Ervay Streets and its congregation soon outgrew the original facilities. The cornerstone was laid on June 17, 1898, and was formally dedicated on October 26, 1902, in the heart of Dallas’ Art District. Today, the church oversees the second-largest Catholic church membership in the United States. The bell tower, which extends 219 feet,  is a fairly recent addition as it was designed but not built with the original building.


St. Paul United Methodist Church

1816 Routh St, Dallas, TX 75201

St. Paul United Methodist Church has been in the same location in the Arts District for 145 years. In 1873, recently freed slaves who lived in Freedman’s Town, a community just north of the Dallas city limits, met with Methodists ministers Reverend H. Oliver and Reverend William Bush to organize the area’s first African American Methodist Episcopal Church. The early church was a small frame sanctuary, which worked both as a school for school children (1874-1875) and providing training for African American ministers. In 1901, the congregation began building a new brick-clad sanctuary by first digging and completing a basement where church services were held until the construction was complete. The Gothic Revival style church was derived from a design by William Sidney Pittman, Dallas’ first African American architect. You’ll note that the façade has different shades of brick. Parishioners brought bricks to services to help build the church until it was finally completed in 1927. The original 35 stained glass windows, donated by some of Dallas’ first affluent African Americans, can still be seen today. Although the 1950 highway construction and recent regentrification has demolished many of the old North Dallas neighborhoods served by the church, the church has endured the test of time as a political, cultural, and spiritual leader. Homeless are served breakfasts every Saturday, and the church focuses on reaching out to the local community.

1874; Present structure built in 1915

Oak Lawn Methodist Church

3014 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219

Formerly known as Oak Lawn Methodist Episcopal Church, South, the Oak Lawn Methodist Episcopal Church is a progressive, beautiful church located in Oak Lawn. The large brick, Late Gothic Revival church has significant art glass windows and brick terra cotta work. The original church was formed as a church-schoolhouse in 1874. Read more

1890; Present sanctuary 1921

Christ Episcopal Church

534 W 10th St, Dallas, TX 75208

Built in 1921, the Christ Episcopal Church is one of the few remaining ecclesiastical interpretations of the Arts and Craft style in the Dallas area. Christ Church itself is one of the oldest Episcopal parishes in Dallas County, charged in 1890. The church was built to resemble an overturned ark and in the shape of a cruciform. The Midwestern feel can be attributed to the fact that the design was based on St. Martin of Tours Church in Omaha, Nebraska. The original, beautiful stained-glass windows are also done in the Arts and Crafts style by the Jacoby Arts Glass Company of St. Louis, Missouri.


Old Frankford Church

17400 Muirfield Dr, Dallas, TX 75287


Old Frankford Church is a one-room church was built in 1897. Since that time, the church 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. Learn more about the Town of Frankford.


Grace United Methodist Church

4105 Junius St, Dallas, TX 75246

Grace United Methodist Church grew from two earlier fellowships started in 1868. The Dallas City Mission and 1880 Haskell Avenue Church merged to form Grace Methodist Church. On the back of the current lot, a temporary tabernacle was erected, and the first portion of the present church was completed in 1903. The Gothic Revival church is one of the longest continuously operating Protestant congregation in Dallas worshipping in the same location. The educational unit, as added in 1925.


St Edwards Catholic Church

4014 Simpson St, Dallas, TX 75246

St Edwards Catholic Church
St Edwards Catholic Church

When the Diocese of Dallas realigned the boundaries of Dallas’ Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Parish, St. Edward’s Parish was carved out on October 13, 1903. The first church went up on a piece of property on Elm and Hill Streets; it was dedicated on January 3, 1904. St. Edward’s School had its cornerstone laid on November 12, 1911, and the school opened in September 2012. After years of planning for a new building, the approval to build a new church was approved in February 1926.

1903; 1912 (Original Sanctuary); Present sanctuary in 1925

East Dallas Christian Church

629 N Peak St, Dallas, TX 75246

East Dallas Christian Church
East Dallas Christian Church

The original sanctuary for the East Dallas Christian Church was built in 1912 in a Neoclassical style. The building was listed as a Dallas Landmark in 1993. The church itself began in 1903 in a frame church on the corner of Victor and Peak Streets. A still visible brick building was dedicated in 1912, and the present sanctuary was later built in 1925. The church has since expanded and today serves the Peak Suburban neighborhood.


Holy Trinity Catholic Church

3811 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219

Holy Trinity Catholic Church Dallas
Holy Trinity Catholic Church Dallas

Holy Trinity College, later renamed the University of Dallas broke around in 1905. Along with the college, the parish also built a small frame church next to the church. The church was formally dedicated in November 1907. The founders spent a significant amount of time on the road to small mission churches around North Texas. The college closed in 1926 and eventually became the Jesuit Preparatory School in 1942. The grade school was founded in October 1914 by the Daughters of Charity. The small chapel on the former University of Dallas campus, it grew into a parish and school.


Highland Park Methodist Church

3300 Mockingbird Ln, Dallas, TX 75205

Highland Park Methodist Church
Highland Park Methodist Church

Highland Park Methodist Church’s impressive example of Gothic Revival architecture was built in 1926 beside the campus of Southern Methodist University. The elegant stone has pointed arch-stained glass windows, buttresses, and a majestic bell tower. Its origins can be traced to the founding of the University Church at SMU in early 1916. The church was then annexed by the town of Highland Park in 1923. The original church was dubbed “The Little Brown Church,” near the current location was constructed in 1917, and the present Gothic building held its first church service on Sunday, February 6, 1927.


Highland Park Presbyterian Church

3821 University Blvd, Dallas, TX 75205

Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Highland Park Presbyterian Church

Highland Park Presbyterian was first established in 1926. The church building was designed by architect Mark Lemmon and erected in 1928.


Christ the King Catholic Church

8017 Preston Rd, Dallas, TX 75225

Christ the King Catholic Church Dallas
Christ the King Catholic Church Dallas

Although this is a relatively new church building, it is still a stunning work of architecture along Preston Road in Dallas. The Christ the King Parish, for parts of Dallas north of Mockingbird Lane and west of Central Expressway, was created in 1940. A new temporary church was built at Westchester and Colgate in February 1941. A new school was built in 1946, and the parish was subdivided multiple times due to overcrowding in the schools. The cornerstone of a larger church was blessed on October 30, 1955, but the congregation was divided for the third time in 1961. The original wooden church from Christ the King became St. Rita’s Chapel of Ease. A new rectory was built in 1960 adjoining the church to the north, facing Preston Road and the church has grown since that time.


St. James Episcopal Church Dallas

9845 Mccree Rd, Dallas, TX 75238

St. James Episcopal Church Dallas
St. James Episcopal Church Dallas

Another beautiful church of more recent vintage, St. James Episcopal Church is in the Lake Highlands and White Rock Lake area of Northeast Dallas. The St. James Episcopal School has been operating since 1968.

Not Technically in Dallas, but in Dallas County


Webb Chapel United Methodist Church

2536 Valley View Ln, Farmers Branch, TX 75234

Webb Chapel United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch
Webb Chapel United Methodist Church in Farmers Branch

Webb Chapel was the first Methodist church founded in Farmers Branch and in Dallas County. It was organized in the cabin of Isaac B. Webb on May 5, 1845. The sermon was preached by Sam Shook, a Methodist circuit rider. In 1846 a log cabin church, eighteen feet square with a wooden floor, was built on Webb Chapel Road between Selma and Veronica. In 1903 the congregation built a “Little White Church” on Valley View in the center of downtown Farmers branch.  The present sanctuary was built in 1955, using some of the original timbers from the “Little White Church.” Located at 2536 Valley View, the huge trees in the Courtyard of Webb Chapel United Methodist Church are said to be over one hundred years old. This church has a rich history having observed its 150th anniversary in 1995.


First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch, TX

13017 William Dodson Pkwy, Farmers Branch, TX 75234

Before 1876, the church was known as the Union Baptist Church. It was organized in a pioneer cabin, May 10, 1846, under the leadership of David Myers.  It was the earliest Baptist Church in Dallas County. Charter members were Franklin Bowles, J. B. and Margaret Ann Lee, Letticia Myers, and John Miller Myers. Soon afterward, Sarah and Thomas Keenan and Narcissus Wilburn joined. In 1847 the Baptists, aided by other settlers, build their first meeting house on land given by Thomas and Sarah Keenan. This land was near the Keenan Cemetery in Farmers Branch. The Rev. David Myers, the original pastor, served until his death in 1853. The congregation of the church split for some unknown reason, and the Union Baptist Church moved to Carrollton. Part of the congregation stayed in Farmers Branch and established the Farmers Branch Missionary Baptist Church which became known (October 5, 1951) as the First Baptist Church of Farmers Branch.

Like many large cities, Dallas has a multitude of old church buildings that have changed significantly over time. Congregations grow, or shrink, and find different structures to suit their needs. Other old church buildings in Dallas have been demolished or repurposed. St Joseph’s Catholic Church and Academy on Swiss Avenue was converted into a residence. Some structures are still used as houses of worship, but their congregation has moved, and another has taken its place. Here is a list of old churches in Dallas that are still standing, but do not contain their original congregation.

Map of Where to Find Some of the Oldest Churches in Dallas

21 of the Oldest Churches in Dallas, Texas

Like many large cities, Dallas has a multitude of old church buildings that have changed significantly over time. Congregations grow, or shrink, and find different structures to suit their needs. Other old church buildings in Dallas have been demolished or repurposed. St Joseph’s Catholic Church and Academy on Swiss Avenue was converted into a residence. Some structures are still used as houses of worship, but their congregation has moved, and another has taken its place. We initially covered 21 historical churches in Dallas. Here are other old churches or congregations in Dallas.

1875; Present sanctuary 1957

Temple Emanu-El

8500 Hillcrest Ave, Dallas, TX 75225


Originally called the Jewish Congregation Emanu-El, Temple Emanuel was founded around 1875. Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, Texas was the first Reform Jewish congregation in North Texas and is the largest synagogue in the South. Temple Emanuel built its first temple in 1876 on Commerce Street in downtown Dallas. The second location was at South Ervay and St. Louis Streets, and the present site was built in 1957. Today, Temple Emanuel is the largest synagogue in the South. The Temple Emanu-El Cemetery was established by the congregation in 1884 and today contains gravestones exhibiting death dates before 1884 that were moved here in 1956 from Dallas’ first Jewish cemetery established in 1872 on Akard Street.

1876; Old sanctuary built between 1919-1921

St. James AME Former Church Building

624 N. Good Latimer Expressway, Dallas, TX

Much like St. Paul’s, African-American architect William Sydney Pittman constructed the St. James AME Church between 1919 and 1921. The Neoclassical-style building was built entirely by African American Contractors, workers, and electricians and housed the St. James congregation for sixty-four years. The church building was sold in 1983 and is today listed as a Dallas landmark. The church later changed its name to Greater ST. James Temple AME Church and is now located on Jim Miller Road in Dallas.


St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church

6464 E Lovers Ln, Dallas, TX 75214

St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church was established on December 1, 1889, and was originally named St. Paul’s German Evangelical Church and served a predominately German-speaking membership. St. Paul’s merged with another German Presbyterian congregation already in existence and moved to a  site at the corner of Texas and Florence Streets. The growing group built a new sanctuary in 1912 and services were held solely in the German language until World War I. The name was changed to St. Paul’s Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1934. The present site was purchased in 1953, and a new sanctuary was completed in April 1957.


1889; Former sanctuary 1915

Oak Cliff United Methodist Church

549  E. Jefferson Boulevard, Dallas, TX

While the congregation itself closed down and merged with Tyler Street United Methodist Church, the structure is still impressive. The original congregation met in a home at 8th Street and Lancaster in 1887. The next church was built in 1915 in Classical Revival style and remained occupied until 2015.


Church built in 1905; Now closed but listed as Dallas landmark

St Joseph’s Catholic Church and Academy

2712 Swiss Ave, Dallas, TX, 75204

The Dallas Archdiocese built St. Joseph’s Academy first in 1905. The Colonial Revival style church was later built in 1910 and was the fifth Catholic Church in Dallas. The church was converted into a private residence for actress Ronnie Claire Edwards. The property, one of the few historic buildings remaining in East Dallas/Deep Ellum, went up for sale in 2018.


Original structure built 1921; Present structure built in 1942

Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church

919 Morrell Avenue, Dallas, TX

The Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church was constructed in 1921 in East Oak Cliff. The masonry and traditional brick structure feature a cone-shaped, red rock church bell tower with a lighted cross on top. The original owner was the Oak Cliff Assembly of God Church, and the 1921 brick building faces Morrell Street (once called Beverly Avenue).


1913; Sanctuary built in 1925

Munger Place Church

5200 Bryan Street, Dallas, TX 75206

Munger Place Church in Dallas
Munger Place Church in Dallas

The Munger Place Methodist Church was founded in 1913. The sanctuary was built in 1925, and the church was one of the most influential in Dallas for years. After Old East Dallas went through a long period of decline, the former Munger Place congregation merged with the nearby Highland Park United Methodist Church, who took responsibility of the site. After extensive renovations in 2010, a new congregation called Munger Place Church launched out of the old building.

Looking for more Dallas architecture? Here are an additional 21 of the Oldest Churches in Dallas.

Map of Where to Find Some of the Oldest Churches in Dallas

The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is big ya’ll, encompassing about 9,286 square miles. It’s bigger than Rhode Island and Connecticut combined and with traffic, can feel larger than the entire eastern seaboard combined. If you live on the Dallas side of the metro, you may find yourself wandering over to the Fort Worth side once or twice a year, if that. However, there’s plenty to see and do on that side that can make for a great day or weekend getaway. Here’s a quick list of over 20 things to do in Fort Worth, Texas.

Fort Worth Stockyards

2501 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76164

Fort Worth Stockyard Station Fort Worth Stockyard Restaurants

Tourists are often disappointed when they visit Dallas and Houston because it doesn’t feel like the “Texas” they’ve seen on television or in movies with cowboys, cattle, and rodeos. The Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District embodies that Western spirit and puts on events from concerts to the rodeo that will satisfy that craving for the “Cowtown” spirit. The Stockyards opened for business in 1890, but parts of its livestock market date back to 1866. While visitors can still watch cowboys guide livestock down the roads in cattle drives and the area surrounding the market has an authentic Western motif. A general store, trading post, Star Café, and White Elephant Saloon are also available to visit. Side note: weekend crowds and even those around lunchtime on weekdays in the summer can be brutal. If you’re not a big fan of crowds, plan your visit accordingly. Parking is limited.

While the Texas Cowgirl Hall of fame is downtown, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (2515 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76164) is located in the historic stockyards.

While you’re in the area, go to Billy Bob’s Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76164), an iconic honky-tonk restaurant that also offers dance lessons, bull riding, and an authentic Texas atmosphere.

Sundance Square

Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Sundance Square Plaza, Fort Worth, TX 76102

For a modern approach to city living, Sundance Square in downtown Fort Worth is a pedestrian-friendly district with restaurants, clothing chains, and sports bars. Concerts, events, and holiday celebrations are held at the Sundance Square Plaza and the nearby Bass Performance Hall. The square, named after the Sundance Kid, began in 1979 as part of a renovation project of downtown Fort Worth. While keeping the historical integrity of the buildings, the area is a great mix of urban design that has over 30 places to eat, national stores, boutiques, movie screens, and more.

In the mix of Sundance Squire, check out Bass Performance Hall (525 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102), a performing arts venue. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performs here as well as touring Broadway productions, ballet, and opera performances.

The Sid Richardson Museum (309 Main St, Fort Worth, TX 76102)can also be found in the Sundance Square. The museum features a collection of permanent and special exhibitions of paintings from the American West.

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

1720 Gendy St, Fort Worth, TX 76107

National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of FameEstablished in 1975, and recently removed, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame celebrates women, past and present, whose lives typify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West. The first floor has display and audio exhibits of famous historical cowgirls, such as Annie Oakley. The second floor has more contemporary exhibits showcasing women who have been cowgirls, ranchers, and other figureheads. Like the Fort Worth Stockyards, the museum gives a good taste of old-west Texas. A contemporary exhibit explores the unique relationship between women, horses, and the West. It’s very close to other museums, such as the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. Note: the construction is ongoing in this area, so follow the road signs for redirects and drive carefully.

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

1600 Gendy St, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, right next to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and Will Rogers Memorial Center, opened in 1945 and moved to its current location in 1954. The museum includes hands-on science exhibits, the Fort Worth Children’s Museum, the Noble Planetarium, and IMAX films. The DinoLabs and DinoDig exhibits contain full articulations of dinosaur skeletons and a dig site that reproduces a local paleontological field. A 10,000-square-foot Cattle Raisers Museum is another exhibition dedicated to celebrating and preserving the cattle industry. The Innovation Studios are another great place for kids; five glass-walled studios include 6,000 feet of engaging learning spaces such as “Inventory,” “Doodler,” “Designer,” “Imaginer,” and “Explorer.” Another adventure is the exhibit called Tornado Alley, which explores the phenomena of this weather pattern.

Kimbell Art Museum

3333 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Kimbell Art MuseumKimbell Art Museum, near the  Museum of Science and History and across from the Will Rogers Memorial Center, contains over 350 works of renowned Asian- and European-focused collections, traveling art exhibitions, educational programs, and an extensive research library. The museum opened on October 4, 1972, as a result of donations to the Kimbell Art Foundation, established in 1936 by Kay and Velma Kimbell, Dr. and Mrs. Coleman Carter. Recent traveling exhibitions include The Age of Picasso and Matisse: Modern Masters from the Art Institute of Chicago (2013), and Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Scotland (2015). Entrance to the Kimbell collection is free of charge. Additional exhibitions, such as Monet: The Late Years, may have cover charges.

Across the street is the Will Rogers Memorial Center (3401 W Lancaster Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107), an 85-acre entertainment, sports, and livestock center named for American humorist and writer Will Rogers. While it might be mistaken for a museum, it’s really a civic center type of place, so if you want to visit, check to see if any events or activities are being held there. Architecturally, it is quite the showpiece!

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

200 Darnell St, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Joe Mabel [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]

Next door to the Kimbell Art Museum is the stunning home of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. This contemporary glass building houses more than 3,000 post-World-War-II artworks in all forms of media. The exhibits include paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs, and prints dated between 1945 and the present.  Pop and Minimalism art feature heavily as do other international movements such as German art from the 1970s and 1980s. The museum building itself is an example of modern art, which is comprised of five long, flat-roofed glass pavilions situated on a 1.5-acre pond.

Across Lancaster Ave (to the south) is Casa Manana, Inc. (3101 W Lancaster Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76107), a historic theater that stages Broadway shows and musicals.

Amon Carter Museum

3501 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Amon Carter MuseumLocated near the other two museums in the Fort Worth’s cultural district, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art includes Western artworks, Hudson River School paints, and other exhibits. The museum is currently closed for Summer 2019 for renovations but will be reopened to the public on September 14th. So, while it is not a summer destination at the moment, you can make plans for this coming fall or next summer. You can still installed the Google Arts & Culture App to explore virtual reality tours from the Amon Carter Museum of Art. Admission is always free to the museum’s permanent collection.

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

3220 Botanic Garden Blvd, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Fort Worth Botanic GardenThe oldest botanic garden in Texas, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are home to more than 2,500 species of plants in its 23 specialty gardens. The Japanese Garden is one of its true masterpieces, with koi-filled pools, crafted stonework, waterfalls, and sculptured landscapes. A 10,000-square-foot Conservatory has long winding paths of tropical foliage that can be enjoyed year-round. The gardens close at 5 p.m., but in March through May, the garden hosts Lanterns in the Garden from 6 to 10:00 p.m., with over 20 sets of lanterns crafted from silk, wire, and steel. Check the website for seasonal events and plan your visit accordingly.

Fort Worth Water Gardens

1502 Commerce St, Fort Worth, TX 76102

Fort Worth Water Gardens

Adjacent to the Fort Worth Convention Center, and near the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, is a 4.3-acre relaxing urban park that’s been called a “cooling oasis in the concrete jungle.” Fort Worth Water Gardens has three pools of water that work down into a blue meditation tool are encircled with cypress trees. The walls are covered with thing planes of water that cascade into the pool, providing for a relaxing area in the middle of the city.

Log Cabin Village

2100 Log Cabin Village Ln, Fort Worth, TX 76109

Phillip Barnhart [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]The Log Cabin Village is a living history museum with historic buildings and costumed actors that demonstrate life in mid-19th-century Texas. Six log houses dating to the mid-1800s were relocated to the present site and restored in the 1950s and 1960s. The Foster Cabin, a 1850s plantation log house, was added in the 1970s. The Marine School, dating from the 1870s, was added in 2003 and the Reynolds Smokehouse was restored in 2005. In addition to the log homes, other exhibits include a one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, herb garden, water-powered gristmill. The exhibits interpret life on the North Texas frontier during the 1840s through 1890s.

Their only off-site location is the Van Zandt Cottage (2900 Crestline Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76107), built in the 1850s. This cottage is the oldest home in Fort Worth still on its original foundation.

Ball-Eddleman McFarland House

1110 Penn St, Fort Worth, TX 76102

[By Mark Fisher - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21847901]

The Eddleman–McFarland House, sometimes known as the Ball–Eddleman–McFarland House or just the McFarland House, is a large Victorian and Queen Anne-style home from the “Cattle Baron” family era. Howard Messer designed the house for Sarah Ball, and it was built in 1899. The exterior includes turrets, gables, copper finials, a slate tile roof, and a porch of red sandstone. The interior comprises ornate oak mantles, coffered ceilings, paneling, and parquet floors. The house is open for group or individual tours.

Panther Island Pavilion

395 Purcey St, Fort Worth, TX 76102

One of the premier outdoor venues of downtown Fort Worth, Panther Island Pavilion sits along the Trinity River that runs through downtown Fort Worth. With the skyline as its backdrop, the site provides multiple stages for entertainment and has the only waterfront stage in Texas. There is plenty of free parking at the pavilion, and you can bring your own float to float, kayak, or paddleboard along the river or rest on the sandy beach. You can also rent kayaks, tubes, and paddleboats onsite at the Panther Island rentals. Concerts and events are also held at an indoor stage called the Shack, a 10,000-square-foot building on the site.

Trinity Park

2401 University Dr, Fort Worth, TX 76107

Dameon Hudson [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)]

Stretching along the banks of the Trinity River, 252-acre Trinity Park offers an expansive series of trails and parks that offer a stunning view of the Fort Worth skyline. You can find a duck pond, water fountains, miniature railroad, as well as playgrounds. Several community events, such as Mayfest, and fun runs happen throughout the year.

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

9601 Fossil Ridge Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76135

Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge

Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge is a great place to escape from the hectic DFW Metroplex. Over 20 miles of hiking trails cross this 3,621-acre preserve that is home to a variety of Bison, gators, deer, and bird species. The natural area contains prairies, forests, and wetlands that allow visitors to explore what North Texas looked like in the early 20th century. All plants, animals, and nature objects are protected within the refuge, making it a relaxing place to view species in their own safe environments.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

9000 Blue Mound Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76131

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Half of the nation’s currency order is produced at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing on the outside edges of Fort Worth. The Bureau offers free tours and visitors can see where billions of dollars are printed from an enclosed walkway suspended above the production floor. The experience includes an informative film, two levels of interactive exhibits, and displays showcasing currency history and the art of currency manufacturing. Note: The Bureau is nowhere near downtown or the stockyards so plan ahead if you want to see both in one day.

Burger’s Lake

1200 Meandering Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76114

Burger’s Lake is a 30-acre park featuring a one-acre spring lake for swimming. Certified lifeguards cover the two sandy beaches. A 20-foot slide and 25-foot trapeze accompany the six diving boards. Weekends are incredibly crowded, so try to go on a weekday or arrive as early as possible. Play in the sand and grass volleyball courts. Concessions are also available, where you can purchase items such as nachos, hot dogs, ice cream, etc.

Eagle Mountain Lake and Eagle Mountain State Park

11601 Morris Dido Newark Rd, Fort Worth, TX 76179

[Photo courtesy of the Tarrant Regional Water District]

Eagle Mountain Lake spans 8,694 acres and is about 12 miles north of Downtown Fort Worth. Numerous parks surround the lake along with marinas and boat rentals. The recreational lake is used for fishing, skiing, wakeboarding, and recreational boating, and there are some great hiking trails around the lake. Eagle Mountain Park itself has 450 acres of beautiful woodland and nearly 6 miles of hiking trails.

Texas Motor Speedway

3545 Lone Star Cir, Fort Worth, TX 76177

If you’re a fan of car racing, Texas Motor Speedway offers a racing surface you won’t soon forget. The 1,500-acre speedway also gives fans a unique experience with pit, pre-race, and garage passes. Texas Motor Speedway also has the world’s largest HD screen.

Lots of other entertainment and dining opportunities can be found throughout the city. What’s your favorite?

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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

The Big Country, also known as the Texas Midwest, is in the central part of the state, where the more Western frontier towns with mesquite and junipers meet the live oak and cedar elms of East Texas. Located two-to-three hours West of Dallas and Fort Worth, most people think of it as just a place to drive by on I-20 as you make your way towards roads that take you to New Mexico, Colorado, and places beyond. It’s also the same distance from the Midland and Odessa region, so it’s centrally located whether you head east or west. Rolling hills of the northernmost part of the Texas Hill Country lead into deep valleys with bountiful lakes and wide-open spaces. Looking for things to do near Abilene and the surrounding area? Here are 17 places to see in the Texas Big Country.

Here’s a map to show the boundaries of what is considered the Texas Hill Country.
Map of the Texas Big Country

How long? A lot of it depends on where you start. The drive to Abilene is around 2 1/2 hours, depending on traffic in Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s almost equal distance between Dallas/Fort Worth and Midland/Odessa, so the timing should be similar. To truly look everything in the area, at least two days would be needed. Make it a weekend trip and book a hotel to stay overnight.

Time of year? Texas is fairly open year-round, except the Panhandle region. The Big Country area does get winter weather, however, and occasional flash floors. Your best time of years would be late Spring into early summer. Mid- to late Summer can get very hot, but it’s doable in a car with great air conditioning. Fall is also a beautiful time to visit, but the weather does start to get more finicky.

Abilene, Texas

Abilene, Texas Flofor15 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Frontier Texas!

625 N 1st St, Abilene, TX 79601

Abilene, Texas, is known as the hub of what is called “The Big Country” or “The Texas Midwest.” It is also known as the furthermost eastern point of West Texas, where the trees start changing from the East Texas foliage into Mesquite trees and more of a desert-type ecosystem.  The city manages to have one foot in a more traditional western lifestyle with farming and cattle ranching with the other in more of a traditional, modern city. You can find a mix of locally-owned shops mixed in with larger retail, historical downtown with sprinklings of modern diversions, and three universities with beautiful campuses. Frontier Texas is a multimedia museum highlighting the central Texas area from 1780 to 1880.

Grace Museum

102 Cypress St, Abilene, TX 79601

If you are a Texas History enthusiast, the Grace Museum has exhibits and art inspired by the Lone Star State.

Antique Station

703 N. 3rd St., Abilene, Texas 79601

People into antiques furniture, glass or collectibles will enjoy this multi-vendor mall.

Sweetwater, Texas

WASP Airforce Museum Barbara Brannon [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

National WASP WWII Museum

210 Avenger Field Rd, Sweetwater, TX 79556

Sweetwater, Texas, is west of Abilene and a little bit more into West Texas. You’ll notice the change into cotton farmlands, mesquite trees, and wind towers. Lots of wind towers. However, the town has a great museum celebrating Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), who were the first ever female pilots in America trained during World War II. The hangars have museum exhibits with a research library, video presentations, and special events. A Memorial Plaza is in the works, which will offer views of the taxiway and runways where the WASP trained from 1943-44.

Pioneer Museum

610 E 3rd St, Sweetwater, TX 79556

Built in 1906, the historic Ragland House hosts the Pioneer City County Museum and period-style home. The house is decorated in the turn of the century. A funeral chapel also houses museum exhibits and an art gallery.

If you are interested in old buildings, you can explore the downtown district that has more than 50 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Buffalo Gap, Texas

Old Taylor Courthouse. By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46486165

Buffalo Gap Historic Village

133 William St, Buffalo Gap, TX 79508

Just south of Abilene lays Buffalo Gap Historic Village, a large museum of fifteen outdoor buildings and West Texas artifacts going back to 1870s. The centerpiece is the former courthouse and jail for Taylor County, build in 1879. You can also find buildings such as a doctor’s office, railroad depot, a two-room school, bank, post office, print shop, barbershop, an air-conditioned chapel, and private homes. The annual Bluegrass Festival is hosted there as well. Fees for the museum are $7 for adults, $6 for military and seniors, and students is $4. It is also less than ten miles away from the new Frontier Texas! Museum in Abilene.

Brownwood, TX

Lake Brownwood. Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Lake Brownwood State Park

200 State Highway Park Road 15, Lake Brownwood, TX 76801

Your journey into Brownwood takes you back into the mixture of the Texas Hill Country and East Texas forests. The town of Brownwood is a college town with a combination of historic sites and outdoor adventures. It’s also surrounded by a variety of small towns with unique names and historical buildings and homes. Near Brownwood, Lake Brown State Park is a peaceful park surrounding the 7,300-surface-acre Lake Brownwood that has been used for decades by families, college students, and nearby church camps. You can swim at this lake, fish, and water ski, jet ski, and paddle. There are also six miles of trails around the lake along with some beautiful hilltop scenery. The lake isn’t developed around like a lot of lakes, which makes it feel like more of a step into the past.

Brown County Museum of History

209 N Broadway St, Brownwood, TX 76801

As you drive through Brownwood, you might see a beautiful old brick building in downtown. The Brown County Museum is located in the old four-story Brown County Jail, built in 1902 and the Educational Center. Both buildings are located on North Broadway, at 212 and 209 respectively.

Lyric Theater

318 Center Ave, Brownwood, TX 76801

Brownwood’s Lyric Theater was built in the 1920s and is a brick, two and a half-story structure that is still in use. It was designed as a performance stage and is used for theater productions.

Comanche, Texas

Old Cora Comanche County Courthouse 25or6to4 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Brennan Vineyards and Historic McCrary House

802 S Austin St, Comanche, TX 76442-3018

The McCrary house was built in the 1870s and now serves as the tasting room for Brennan Vineyards. A Hill Country favorite, visitors are invited to learn local history while savoring a selection of wines among several old oak trees. Locals recommend the Super Nero blend.

Old Cora Comanche County Courthouse

101 W. Central, Comanche, Texas

Cora, Texas, once served as the first county seat and this 1856 building is considered the only log courthouse remaining in the state. The twelve-foot by twelve-foot structure was indicative of many of the buildings in Texas at that time. It was disassembled in 1983 and rebuilt on the current Comanche courthouse square.

Comanche County Historical Museum

402 Moorman Rd, Comanche, TX 76442

The Comanche County Historical Museum has exhibits that explore everything from pre-historic time to the frontier history. Exhibits include a saloon, blacksmith shop, filling station, and a doctor’s office. It has fourteen rooms of historical exhibits and artifacts.

​Breckenridge, TX

Breckenridge Murals Kairos14 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Boomtown Breckenridge Murals

Start at 104 N. Breckenridge Avenue, Breckenridge, TX

When visiting the small town of Breckenridge, you’ll quickly discover why the city is called the “Mural Capital of Texas.” A dozen murals depict the early history of the oil industry, from early photographs of oil boom photographer Basil Clemmons. The murals can be found off Walker Street; download a map at the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce website.

Swenson Memorial Museum

116 W. Walker Street, Breckenridge, Texas  76424

A short walk from the 1926 Classical Revival-style Stephens County Courthouse, the Swenson Memorial Museum features exhibits and artifacts from early Texas history. The museum is housed in the 1920-era First National Bank era. The J.D. Sandefer Oil Annex Museum is right next door.

Throckmorton, TX

Throckmorton County Courthouse. Photo By Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43735921

Throckmorton County Courthouse

105 N Minter Ave, Throckmorton, TX 76483

Throckmorton is a tiny town at the north-east portion of the Texas Big Country. The downtown area has buildings reminiscent of frontier days. At the cornerstone of it all is the Throckmorton County Courthouse, with its sandstone frame, square cupola, and red roof. The Italianate-style structure was erected in 1890 with an annex built in 1938. It was restored and eventually rededicated on March 12, 2015.

Old Throckmorton County Jail

S Eagle & W. Chestnut St., Throckmorton, TX, USA

Continuing the frontier-era sandstone architecture is the Old Throckmorton County Jail. The construction of the old jail began in 1893. It is located southwest of the County Courthouse.

Albany, TX

Old Courthouse Art Center in Albany, Texas

Old Courthouse Art Center

201 S 2nd St, Albany, TX 76430

Set inside a historic old stone jail, the Old Courthouse Art Center in Albany hosts an excellent collection of over 2,100 pieces of oil paintings, sculptures, and historical artifacts. The limestone courthouse was the first jail built in Shackelford County in 1877. It was used until 1929 and then was replaced by a new jail one block away. The art center has been used as a cultural institution for the region since 1980.

Fort Griffin State Historic Site

1701 N. U.S. Hwy. 283, Albany, TX 76430

Fort Griffin served as one in a line of western defensive forts from 1867 to 1881. Among the ruins are a barracks, bakery, first sergeant’s quarter, mess hall, powder magazine, and a hand-dug well. You can also camp along the Brazos River and relax under the large shade trees.

Have any other suggestions for where to go around the Texas Big Country? A favorite hole-in-the-wall in Haskell or a hike in Cisco?

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Between starting a new year at work and the crazy North Texas weather, taking short road trips can be a  little tricky. Downtown might look great, if not cold, but when you hit I-20 and start heading either west or east, you run into the fog (or worse). Now that the sun’s out and the weather is a little more predictable, it’s time to start taking some road trips out of the ever-growing Dallas traffic. Here are 9-plus ideas for short and somewhat quirky day trips from Dallas / Fort Worth area that won’t break the bank.

Take a Walk in Dinosaur Valley

1629 Park Rd 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043
, Courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/dinosaur-valleyDinosaur Valley State Park is a state park near Glen Rose, southwest of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. Situated on 1,500 scenic acres, you can view fossilized dinosaur footprints in the bed of the Paluxy River. You can also see two life-size models. Current entrance fees are $7 per adult, while children 12 and under get in free. Camping is also available along with 20 miles of trails. Note that the trails may be closed due to wet conditions, so be careful not to go a few days after a heavy Texas rainstorm. Check their website for current status or go to view the beautiful scenery of the park. Granbury is nearby and is also a cute town to go and explore. Also, near Glen Rose is the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, an endangered species research and conservation center.

Step Back in Time at Buffalo Gap Historic Village

133 William St, Buffalo Gap, TX 79508

Old Taylor Courthouse. By Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46486165

Just south of Abilene lays Buffalo Gap Historic Village, a large museum of fifteen outdoor buildings and West Texas artifacts going back to 1870s. The centerpiece is the former courthouse and jail for Taylor County, build in 1879. You can also find buildings such as a doctor’s office, railroad depot, a two-room school, bank, post office, print shop, barbershop, an air-conditioned chapel, and private homes. The annual Bluegrass Festival is hosted there as well. Fees for the museum are $7 for adults, $6 for military and seniors, and students is $4. It is also less than ten miles away from the new Frontier Texas! Museum in Abilene.

Like Spooky Stories and Meals on the Bayou? Visit The Grove in Jefferson

405 Moseley St, Jefferson, TX 75657

The Grove. Renelibrary [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Also known as the Stilley–Young House, The Grove is an 1861 historic home that has been called the most haunted place in Texas. Chosen as one of the eight scariest places in Texas by Texas Monthly, the structure has a mix of Greek Revival and Creole Architecture as well.  Also known as the B&B Capital of Texas, Jefferson is also a beautiful town near Caddo Lake. If you want to experience some creole food, visit the RiverBend Restaurant on Caddo Lake. Other things to see in Jefferson include the Jefferson General Store, the Jefferson Historical Museum, and Jay Gould’s Private Rail Car. Caddo State Park will also take you through a bayou and swamp with gray Spanish moss and towering cypress trees.

Northern Hill Country Meets Central Texas in Eastland’s Historic Hotel and Downtown

112 N Lamar Street, Eastland, Texas 76448

Majestic Theater in Eastland. Billy Hathorn [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

About two hours west of Dallas are the northernmost rolling hills outside of Eastland, Texas. The drive from DFW to Eastland is stunning at any time of year, with steep rolling vistas that are beautiful going uphill (into Eastland) or going downhill (back to Fort Worth). The Eastland Historic Hotel was built as a rooming house in 1918 and still maintains its vintage doors and restored tin ceilings. Next to the hotel is the restored Majestic Theater, built in 1919 as the Connellee Theater, which still shows movies. Nearby is the Eastland County Museum at 114 South Seaman Street that is open Thursday through Saturday. If you have the time, go off I-20 and explore some of the nearby smaller towns, with their dirt ranch roads, old houses, and horses. It’s like stepping back in time.

Unleash Your Inner Super Hero by Visiting the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Paul’s Valley, OK

111 S Chickasaw St, Pauls Valley, OK 73075


Located in a small downtown building Paul’s Valley, the Toy and Action Figure Museum has plenty of action figures and toys from the 80s and 90s along with some awesome dioramas. Some of the memorabilia include multiple generations of X-Men, Superman, Transformers, and Batman. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for kids ages 12 and under, military personnel and seniors. Also in Pauls Valley is the Pauls Valley Water Park and the Santa Fe Depot Museum, a 1905 Santa Fe Depot. On your way back, you can stop in Thackerville at the WinStar World Casino and Resort, just to see the unique external architecture if anything.

Zipline through the Piney Woods in New York, Texas

7290 Co Rd 4328, Larue, TX 75770


A great day trip from Dallas or Tyler, Athens is a charming little town with an abundance of Victorian houses, lakes, and other outdoor activities. Located near Athens, the New York Texas Zipline Adventures is located in East Texas’ version of Hill Country. Learn about the local ecology and wildlife or relax and enjoy the view. While near Athens, stop in and visit the Henderson County Historical Museum or the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center. Some of the best pizza in the area can be found at Rounder’s Pizza, and you can also find delicious hamburgers at Railway Café.

Go Scuba Diving at the Valhalla Nuclear Missile Silo

Abilene, Texas


Near Abilene, there is a decommissioned Atlas-F nuclear mission solo that is a freshwater dive site. The Family Scuba Center in Midland, Texas, owns the former silo base and has conducted scuba dives there for over 20 years. It’s like exploring a shipwreck; only it’s an abandoned Cold War missile base. The bottom of the silo is littered with twisted metal and duck work, and there are also some control panels and plaques. It’s an advanced dive that is about 20 to 25 minutes along. You also have to make an appointment to view the structure and set up a time for a dive.

Can’t get an appointment? You can also go scuba diving at Athens Scuba Park, in a lake full of boats, sunken planes, and other obstacles.

Visit the Eiffel Tower in Paris…No, Really

2025 S Collegiate Dr, Paris, TX 75460

Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas. By Adavyd - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27882474

Bonjour Y’all! Paris, Texas is another great city to visit and well worth the road trip. The city also has a great sense of humor about its name and built its own 65-foot Eiffel Tower capped with a 3 ½-foot tall red Stetson cowboy hat. At night, the lights are on, and the tower is illuminated with the colors of the Texas flag. It is also next to the Red River Valley Veterans Memorial. The Trail de Paris is another great outdoor trail with a Yoga Park, kiosk locations (such as the little library), a butterfly garden, and Art on the Trail.

Find the Last Remaining Boundary Marker for the Republic of Texas

8149 FM 31S, Carthage, TX, USA

One day trip from Dallas is the last remaining boundary marker for the Republic of Texas. Renelibrary [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

The Republic of Texas Granite Marker, also known as the International Boundary Marker, is the last remaining boundary marker for the Republic of Texas located on the Louisiana-Texas border. It can be found southeast of Carthage, Texas, and 10 miles southeast of Deadwood, near the junction of FM 31 and Louisiana Highway 765. The survey that established this border lasted from May 1840 to June 1841. The marker is located on the west side of the Sabine River, marking the separation between Texas and Louisiana. Is believed to be the only international boundary marker within the United States today.

Feel like exploring more of East Texas? Visit the Piney Woods!

Where’s your favorite day trip from Dallas/Fort Worth?

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In the heart of the Texas Panhandle lies the second largest canyon in the country. Palo Duro Canyon’s red rocks, beautiful caverns, and miles of hiking trails make the area a must-see. Glimpses of the Old West are still visible in the Canyon as well as the small towns surrounding the park. At more than 25,000 acres, the park has plenty of room for camping, hiking, picnicking, mountain biking, and horse trails. North of the Canyon is Route I-40, part of the historic Route 66 that traveled through Amarillo, Texas. Here’s a Texas-sized road trip that will take you through the Texas Panhandle’s most beautiful country.

How long? 266 miles or 5 hours with no stops. For a day trip, it’s a quick and easy ride. Camp out overnight and see the wall of stars in Palo Duro Canyon and make it a two-day journey. If you add side trips, it’s an additional hour up to the Lake Meredith or the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument.

Time of Year? Year-round, with one caveat. The summer months host the heaviest crowds when the TEXAS musical is in full swing at the park. However, the Panhandle gets winter weather much like Southern Colorado, so it can get more snow and ice than most of Texas. Also, during the rainy seasons, there are plenty of low-water crossings with posted flood warnings. Check the road conditions before you leave. Otherwise, have fun!


Map not working on your phone? Try this one.


Palo Duro Canyon and Highway 207 Itinerary

Start in Amarillo

Source: Tony Hisgett on Flickr, CC by 2.0
Amarillo’s Route 66 District. Source: Tony Hisgett on Flickr, CC by 2.0

Historic Route 66 District

U.S. Route 66 – Sixth Street Historic District, Amarillo, TX 79106

Starting in Amarillo’s Historic Route 66 District, you’ll find everything from western heritage sites to a flourishing art scene. Mentioned in Nat King Cole’s song Route 66, Amarillo was a featured stop between Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Gallup, New Mexico. Here you’ll find 13 blocks of historical buildings, antique stores, and quirky art galleries. This 1-mile strip also has the city’s most intact collection of commercial buildings associated with the highway. Commercial buildings with Spanish Revival, Art Moderne, and Art Deco, architecture styles popular during the heyday of Route 66. Running along an east-west axis, it can be found between Georgia and Forest Avenues.  Here are some of the historical buildings that can be seen in the district.

The Natatorium (The Nat Ballroom)

Located at 604 South Georgia, The Natatorium (“The Nat”)  was built in 1922 as an indoor swimming pool in a Gothic Revival style. It was converted into a ballroom in 1926 and redesigned in an Art Deco style. The north side of the building is designed to look like an ocean-faring vessel replete with lifeboat-like elements near the roofline. The Nat closed its doors in the 1960s, but the adjoining Alamo Bar, built in 1935, is still open. A tunnel connects the Alamo Bar to the Nat.

Bussey Buildings

Located at 2713-2727 SW 6th, the Bussey Buildings were the first major commercial buildings in the district. Built in the late 1920s, these commercial buildings have large glass display windows and dark brick with limestone detailing. The San Jacinto Beauty School, which received Texas’ first beauty license, occupied one of the stores from 1941 to 1964.

Cazzell Buildings

Built in 1918, the one-story brick building at 2806 SW 6th street opened as a general store and a post office. The building was sold in 1922, and the owner (W.E. Cazzell) built a new two-story building across the street at 2801 SW 6th.

Borden’s Heap-O-Cream

A one-story frame building with Art Moderne detailing, Borden’s Heap-O-Cream can be found at 3120 SW 6th. The building’s architectural details include oval plate glass windows, 3-lite wood double doors and a rounded metal awning on front and sides.

Adkinson-Baker Tire Company

The Adkinson-Baker Tire Company, located at 3200 SW 6th, was built in 1939. The station was originally the Adkinson-Baker Tire Co. #2 and sold Texaco gas. It was sold in 1945. The station is one of the three stations in the district that has remained structurally unchanged since it opened.

Carolina Building

The Caroline Building at 3313-23 SW 6th Avenue, built in 1926, is an example of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. Divided by brick piers into eight, glass storefronts, the building is one of the earliest strip commercial buildings in Amarillo.

Dutch Mill Service Station and Café

In operation since 1932, The Dutch Mill Service Station and Café can be found at 3401 SW 6th.

Taylor’s Texaco Station

Built in 1937, Taylor’s Texaco Station is located at 3512 SW 6th. Clad in white porcelain, this one-story gas station has a projecting canopy over the pump island. The structure is one of the first standardized gas station designs. Today, it houses a bar and restaurant.

Martin’s Phillips 66 Station

Built in the early 1930s, Martin’s Phillips 66 Station at 3821 SW 6th operated as Martin’s Phillips 66 station until the 1990s.  The current facility was built in 1963, with modernistic features such as angled service bay entrances, triangular canopy, and canted plate glass walls.

Hubbell Duplex

Located at 3912 SW 6th, the Hubbell Duplex features typical Craftsman details such as battered brick piers supporting the twin entry porticoes. The dark brown brick duplex is practically the same since its construction.

San Jacinto Fire Station

Built in 1926, the San Jacinto Fire Station is located at 610 South Georgia. The fire station was built in Mission Revival style with a red tile roof and battered walls. The station was closed in 1976 and is the only surviving pre-World War II fire station in the city.

The Cowboy Motel Historic Sign on Route 66 in Amarillo
The Cowboy Motel Historic Sign on Route 66 in Amarillo

Cowboy Motel

Neon signs such as the one at the Cowboy Motel and The Big Texan Steakhouse were once common along Route 66. Standing for decades, the Cowboy motel is still in business in Amarillo. It’s visible as you’re coming into Amarillo along old Rte. 66/business road 40. Its address is 3619 E Amarillo Blvd, Amarillo, TX 79107.

While not part of Historic 66, you can also view other attractions in Amarillo such as the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame & Museum (2601 I-40 E., Amarillo, TX 79104) or the Downtown Historic District near Polk St. The Cultural District, which includes the Sunset Center Galleries, the Amarillo College Washington Campus, and the Amarillo Museum of Public Art, is also along Polk Street.

Cadillac Ranch
Cadillac Ranch

Cadillac Ranch

13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124

Established in 1974, the Cadillac Ranch sits along Route 66 as you head toward Palo Duro Canyon. Made up of ten Cadillac cars half-submerged in the Texas earth, the cars are covered in graffiti. Tourists often stop by to take photos or bring their own can of graffiti. This exhibit is said to represent America’s hope and dreams, art and commerce, materialism and spiritualism, folly and fame. People take different types of photos, from selfies to people “holding up the cars” or playing around the cars. Just make sure to stand downwind of people spraying the cars. Also, don’t be a litterbug and take your cans to the dumpster down at the end of the road.

Wagon wheel at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
Wagon wheel at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

2401 4th Ave, Canyon, TX 79015

Located on the West Texas A&M campus, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum features exhibits on the local history, oil industry, paleontology, and archeology; geology and more. Texas’ largest history museum, you can cover 26,000 square miles on foot in a day. View a life-sized pioneer town, historic windmills, and a huge 1920s cable-tool drilling rig. A large art collection featuring Southwestern Art has over 8,000 art objects. The popular People of the Plains exhibit starts by exploring the area’s first inhabitants from 14,000 years ago and how the different American Indian cultures have adapted and lived in the area throughout the countless centuries. From the mud homes of Antelope Creek to the modern fashion’s of today, the exhibit is an immerse educational experience.

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

FM 168, Canyon, TX 79015

Located southwest of the Canyon, the 7,664-acre Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge features short grass prairie, marshes, woodlands, and water-carved canyon walls. The 175 acres of shortgrass prairie has been designed a national natural landmark. Over 11 miles of bird trails include Cottonwood Canyon, where you can see migratory and resident birds resting and feeding. Feeling more adventurous? The Cottonwood Hiking Trail is a 1.25-mile trail that goes along the old shoreline of Buffalo Lake with cottonwood and elm trees. By driving slowly through the refuge’s 11-mile auto tour loop, you can also see a variety of wildlife. The scenic overlook of the refuge offers an excellent opportunity to capture images of wildlife and scenery.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife
Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

With its own set of spectacular red rock cliffs, Palo Duro Canyon has more than approximately 50 miles of marked trails, for hiking and horseback riding. The canyon itself is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide, and up to 800 feet deep. The park contains 29,182 acres of the northern-most part of the Canyon. At the rim, the Canyon’s elevation is 3,500 feet above sea level. You can explore about 250 million years of geological history in the canyon walls. The visitor’s center at the El Coronado Lodge is perched on the rim of the canyon and has spectacular panoramic views.

The stars at night are big and bright... at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife
The stars at night are big and bright… at Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

If you camp out or take an evening trip out into the canyon, the night sky is truly magnificent. The trails can be hard to follow at night, however, so take proper lighting and gear. Actually, just use common sense. It gets very dark, very quickly. Let the starry landscape be your entertainment. One more bit of advice. The elevation at the park is higher than most of Texas and it gets very cool when the sun goes down. Layer your clothing and slide a sleeping pad underneath your sleeping bag to help prevent the cold ground from stealing your body heat during the night. You don’t need a huge pad, but one inflated with air or made with a closed-cell foam is ideal.

Palo Duro Canyon Observation Point

Palo Duro Canyon observation point, Canyon, TX 79015
(On State Hwy Park Rd S heading to Trading Post & Amphitheater)

Palo Duro Canyon Trading Post

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

Hungry? Stop at the Palo Duro Trading Post, where you can eat some truly great hamburgers and get snacks. If you are planning on camping at the Canyon, you can also purchase camping supplies, ice, and firewood.

TEXAS Musical Drama

11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015

During the summer months, the musical Texas is performed in the park’s amphitheater Tuesday through Sunday. TEXAS is a family-friendly show with singing, dancing, fireworks, and Texas humor (which gets us in trouble more often than not). The internationally-known outdoor drama can be found at 1514 5th Ave, Canyon, TX 79015.

Caprock Canyons State Park. Courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
Caprock Canyons State Park. Photo courtesy Texas Parks and Wildlife Department © 2018

Caprock Canyons State Park

850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, TX 79255

While Palo Duro Canyon is the most famous of the area’s canyons, Caprock Canyons State Park is known as the park where the bison roam. Bison roam over 10,0000 acres in the park; it is one of the five herds that helped to save the animal from extinction. Explore 90 miles of trails and go to Lake Theo for swimming, boating and fishing activities. The park also offers a scenic drive in addition to geocache, biking, and camping activities. The Caprock Canyon’s are the state’s third-largest park at 15,314 acres in size.

After exploring Caprock Canyons, head west back to Silverton. Take TX-207 north to Claude, TX. The scenic drive is worth the trip.

Barn at the Goodnight Historical Center. Source: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.
Barn at the Goodnight Historical Center. Source: Jeffrey Beall, Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Armstrong County Museum

120 Trice St, Claude, TX 79019-3908

In the small town of Claude, explore the rich history of Armstrong County and its ties to cowboy culture and the Old West. The museum district is composed of the Gem Theatre, Goodnight Historical Center, and the Museum itself. The Goodnight Ranch, known as Castle on the Prairie and Goodnight Buffalo Ranch, is no longer a working ranch but is known for its spectacular views of the area and the nearby bison herd. The friendship between Charles Goodnight and Quanah Parker is commemorated by a Quanah Parker Trail marker. You can also explore additional small towns in the area with strong ties to the time period.

After visiting the Armstrong County Museum and Charles Goodnight Historical Center, head west back to your starting point in Amarillo. If you still have time, or want to further explore the Panhandle of Texas, here are a couple of side trips.

Side Trips

These two national landmarks are located only an hour north of Palo Duro Canyon.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

419 E Broadway St, Fritch, TX 79036

Located 30-miles north of Amarillo, Lake Meredith is a 10,000-acre artificial reservoir/lake that occupies many of the hidden coves in the canyon area. Created by the Sanford Dam on the Canadian River, the area has the South Turkey Trail, an easy to moderate hike that is 16 miles long; the Mullinaw Trail, 4.3 miles of moderate trail, and the Harbor Bay Trail, up to 8-miles long moderate to hard trail. Lake Meredith itself has shrunk gradually due to drought conditions and water use in the area. Its water levels vary throughout the year. However, the landscape and hiking trails are still excellent places to explore the fauna and flora of the Panhandle.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

Cassjohnson road, Fritch, TX 79036

Located between Amarillo and Fritch, Texas, the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument is a place with a 13,000+ year history. People traveled to the red bluffs above the Canadian River for flint, which was the best stone for their tools. The Alibates Visitor Center is the best starting point for ranger-led hikes and programs; it also has hands-on exhibits for all ages. Reservations for hiking tours are preferred. The moderate hike to the trailhead is 1 mile but has an elevation gain of 170 feet. View petroglyphs, or rock carvings, believed to have been made by the Antelope Creek people.

Looking for more Texas road trips?

Southwestern — 12+ Sites to Discover in Big Bend National Park Country

Central — 12+ Places to Stop and Explore in Hill Country

Eastern — From Gulf Coast to East Texas Piney Woods

Like it? Pin it. Palo Duro Canon Road Trip

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It’s no secret that Texas is huge. Like with most things, we also go big with their lakes. The state has 5,607 square miles of inland water with almost 7,000 reservoirs/lakes with a normal size of 10 acre-feet or larger. Texas has 188 major lakes that are over 5,000 acres or larger. The great thing about lakes in Texas is that most all are open year-round due to the warmer temperatures. [Nothing says Thanksgiving like 80°F temperatures in Dallas.] Due to the sometimes brutally warm climate, Texans love to go to beaches to cool off in or by the water, bird watch, run by the lake, or just sit under a nearby tree.

Here are 15 of the biggest and best lakes in Texas. There are very few natural lakes in the state so many are reservoirs. However, the ones on the list are open to the public for recreation and (sometimes) adventure.

Map not opening on your phone? Try this one.


By Billy Hathorn - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7580263
Toledo Bend Reservoir. Source: Billy Hathorn, Wikipedia

Toledo Bend Reservoir

Huxley Bay Marina, 13200 FM2694, Shelbyville, TX 75973

Located on the eastern edge of Sabine National Forest, Toledo Bend Reservoir is the largest lake in Texas and the fifth largest in the nation. The surface area is over 182,000 acres, making it the largest lake in the south. The lake is located in Sabine, Shelby, and Panola counties in Texas, and parts extend into Sabine and DeSoto parishes in Louisiana. The lake has 1,200 miles of shoreline with both private and public areas for swimming, boating, picnicking, camping, and wildlife sightseeing. This one is cheating a little as most of the best places to access the lakes are in Louisiana along the Toledo Bend Forest Scenic Byway. However, visiting the Sabine National Forest in Texas, you have plenty of marinas and places to stop along the riverway.

Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Mill Creek Park, Mill Creek Park Rd, Brookeland, TX 75931

The second largest lake over 114,500 acres is Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Angelina National Forest flanks the lake on the north and the south banks. The reservoir is fed by the Angelina River from the Neches River and is popular for fishing and camping. The lake is about halfway between Beaumont and Longview in East Texas. The shoreline has 600 miles of shoreline (all around the lake) and it is 79 miles long. A popular summer activity for Texans is to rent cabins near the lake or at one of the many lake houses, condos, or bed and breakfasts.

Falcon State Park. Photo source: Texas Parks and Wildlife
Falcon State Park. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Falcon Reservoir, International (Falcon State Park)

Falcon State Park, 146 Park Rd 46, Roma, TX 78584

The third largest lake is right on the Rio Grande at Falcon International Reservoir at Falcon State Park. At over 83,654 acres, this reservoir is a great place for fishing and nature watching. Falcon State Park is also nice too, as its 570 acres offer water sports, a short hiking trail, and shelters. It’s also very quiet and not as crowded as most state parks. However, the lake is fairly shallow so while you can fish a little, I wouldn’t recommend getting in a boat. The South Texas heat is brutal, so its recommended that you go during the spring, fall, and winter months. Summer months can also lead to very low water levels, so it can be a rockier terrain. The nights are beautiful, however, with a dazzling array of stars (no big city lights to obscure them).

Lake Texoma. Source: John Purget, Flickr
Lake Texoma. Source: John Purget, Flickr

Lake Texoma

87426 Preston Bend Rd, Pottsboro, TX 75076

One of the largest reservoirs in the United States, Lake Texoma stretches from the Texas border near Denison up to Durant, Oklahoma along the Red River. The lake offers 1000 miles of shoreline and over 78,000 acres of lake area. About an hour from the ever-growing Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Lake Texoma attracts around 6 million visitors a year. Along the lake, you can find sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and fifty-four parks. In addition to the local parks, you can also find two state parks, two wildlife refuges and marinas to dock your boat (or park your car). Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge and Tishomingo Wildlife Refuges are excellent for bird watching and other wildlife, like deer, squirrels, and occasionally, bobcats.

Amistad National Recreation Area. Source: National Park Service
Amistad National Recreation Area. Source: National Park Service

Amistad Reservoir, International  (Amistad National Recreation Area)

Diablo East swimming area, Del Rio, TX 78840

Another large lake on the U.S.-Mexican border is Amistad Reservoir, an excellent place for water-sports, hiking, camping, hiking, and viewing rock art. The lake itself is 64,900 acres and is an excellent place for swimming and boating. People even use the area for SCUBA diving, as a dive cove is located at Diablo East. Each of the eight areas in the National Recreation Area is equipped with tables, shelters, and grills. Hiking trails can be found at the location or in the Diablo East area. A variety of birds, including desert birds, can be found for some great photography sessions. Over 4,000-year-old Native American paintings can at the park and Panther Cave. Guided tours can be accessed by visiting the Amistad Visitor Information Center in Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site.

Richland-Chambers Reservoir
Richland-Chambers Reservoir

Richland-Chambers Reservoir (Trinity River Basin)

10411 US-287, Corsicana, TX 75109

Southeast of Corsicana, Texas on U.S. 278 is Richland-Chambers Reservoir, at 41,356 acres. The reservoir is big for boaters and people who enjoy fishing as it is an excellent source of catfish, crappie, and bass. (I don’t fish, but for those who do, it’s a good spot). There is a lot of vegetation around the lake, but it can still be used for swimming in certain areas. About an hour south of Dallas on I-45, Richland-Chambers has 330 miles of shoreline. You can find campsites, cabins, and a lodge at Fisherman’s Point Marina and Resort and at Oak Cove Marina.

Lake Tawakoni State Park. By Eastcheap - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34350872
Lake Tawakoni State Park. Source: Eastcheap, Wikipedia

Lake Tawakoni (Lake Tawakoni State Park)

10822 FM 2475, Wills Point, TX 75169

Located in East Texas, just 50 miles from the DFW metroplex, is Lake Tawakoni. The 37,879-acre lake boasts 376 acres of oak forest, sandy beaches, and more than five miles of lakeshore. The lake expands into three Texas counties: Hunt, Rains, and Van Zandt. The water is good for swimming or boating and you can easily reserve a campsite for weekend getaways. Lake Tawakoni State Park also has five miles of trails. Take a walk through the forest for bird watching, hiking, or mountain biking.

Cedar Creek Reservoir / Lake
Cedar Creek Reservoir / Lake

Cedar Creek Reservoir / Lake

Fisherman’s Wharf, 2904 CR 1703, Malakoff, Texas 75148

Another East Texas located just 15 miles west of Athens, Texas, and 90 miles southeast of Dallas, is Cedar Creek Reservoir. You’ll often hear native Texans call it just Cedar Creek or Cedar Creek Lake. With a surface area of 32,623 acres, the lower end of the reservoir is known for having deeper waters and more submerged vegetation than the shallower northern end. The Lake is 18 miles long and has 320 miles of shoreline. Fisherman’s Wharf, in Malakoff, has restrooms, cleaning stations, parking, and other amenities including camping. Additional local information can be found on the lake’s local website.

Lake Livingston. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Lake Livingston. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Lake Livingston (Lake Livingston State Park)

300 State Park Rd 65, Livingston, TX 77351-1601

Hidden within the Piney Woods of East Texas, Lake Livingston has public swimming areas, horse riding trails, biking trails, and walking or running trails. Located about 90 minutes from downtown Houston, the park has over 32,000 acres of water surface. The park also has cabins for rent and camping areas for overnight stays. You can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes from the park store. Big Thicket National Preserve and Sam Houston National Forest should also be explored as you drive through the park. Texans camp year-round at this lake due to the reasonably warm weather. Watch out for the weird cold fronts in February; however, firewood is usually available at the park store.

Ray Roberts Lake State Park. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Ray Roberts Lake State Park. Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife

Ray Roberts Lake  (Ray Roberts Lake State Park)

100 P W 4137, Pilot Point, TX 76258

Located an hour (in good traffic) north of the DFW Metroplex, Ray Roberts Lake has almost 29,000-acres of fishing, swimming, and relaxing. The lake offers beach areas, a kid’s fishing pond, and boating activities. Explore the 10 miles of hiking and biking trails that are a part of the 20-mile Greenbelt Corridor that runs between the Ray Roberts Dam and Lake Lewisville. Campsites are available for reservations, as is booking a room at the Lone Star Lodge. Most of the park and the lake lies in a hardwood forest that stretches into prairies to the east and west. A variety of wetlands in the park also provide a home for wildlife such as turtles, frogs, and migratory birds. The Isle du Bois unit (located in Pilot Point, Texas) is a favorite among the locals as it has the widest variety of scenery and activities.


To find other lakes, check out this list of Texas National and State Parks. It’s still being updated because frankly, there are a lot of lakes in Texas ya’ll.

10 Biggest Lakes in Texas

Finally, What to Pack?

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Ready to hit the road? Be sure to pack along some must needed items for your trip.

Road Trip Essentials

Road Atlas




First Aid Kits

Roadside Assistance Kits


Travel Camera




Backup Battery Chargers

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