We wanted to take a family trip together before my husband’s deployment. And since I couldn’t convince my husband to go camping, we hit up the nearest city that we hadn’t been to yet – Dallas-Fort Worth.
We even got to mark a few things off of our Fort Hood Bucket List!
My mom, niece, and aunt ended up flying out last minute and meeting us there, so they could see him one more time before he left. And even though it was a kind of spur-of-the-moment trip, we had the BEST time!
Here are some fun things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth!
Family-Friendly Things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth
South Fork Ranch Tour
My mom and aunt couldn’t visit Dallas-Fort Worth without a visit to the ‘World’s Most Famous Ranch’!
Southfork Ranch was made famous on the TV show ‘Dallas’. It was one of the longest-running series in TV history and people around the world tuned in to see what the Ewings were up to.
My mom was at a high school football game when the announcer came over the speaker and told everyone who shot J.R. since the game’s attendees were missing that shocking episode. (Life before DVR and Netflix was wild!)
We arrived at South Fork Ranch at 9:30 in the morning and joined the first tour at 10:00.
The tour guide was phenomenal. You could tell she was a super fan and was full of all kinds of interesting information.
- Did you know that the family that owned the ranch lived in the house during the filming? They would only let production film outside in the summer months. The indoor scenes were filmed on a set in Hollywood.
- Or did you know that the Ewing’s pool is just a regular-sized backyard pool and not Olympic-sized like it’s portrayed in the show? They used giant mirrors to make it look bigger and had to add ice to the pool because of how hot it made the water.
- Or that the actor that played J.R collapsed during the scene in which he ‘died’ on the show and was unable to recover? He was suffering from liver cancer and died (in real life) from complications not long after filming that scene.
The kids didn’t love the tour, but they didn’t hate it either. So, don’t fret if you have kids that have to tag along, it’s not too bad for them.
Legoland Discovery Center
We had heard good things about Legoland from friends and while it is a pretty neat place, it’s more geared towards smaller kids. My girls are 9 & 10 and they enjoyed seeing all the Lego creations and building Lego cars to race down ramps, but they would have enjoyed it much more 3-5 years ago.
The play areas and the rides were meh for kids their age, but they liked the VR experience and the 4-D movie. They even liked Miniland and were able to see the mini Lego version of Southfork where they had spent their morning!
Our tickets to Legoland included a visit to the SeaLife Aquarium which is right next door. We were all surprised by how big it is!
This aquarium is home to the only 360-degree underwater tunnel in Texas where sharks, fish, and stingrays swim right over your head. We also were able to touch anemones and see sea turtles being nursed back to health at the Sea Turtle Rescue Center.
The kids loved seeing all of the fish and there were plenty of interactive exhibits to keep them busy. I highly recommend getting the combo ticket so you can visit SeaLife after playing at Legoland!
Shopping & Escape Room
Since Legoland and the aquarium are both located at Grapevine Mills, we couldn’t leave without doing a little shopping.
In addition to the stores, aquarium, and Legoland, there is also a bowling alley, arcade, movie theater, gaming center, and an escape room. We decided to try our hand at an escape room. And had the BEST time!
It took us a few extra clues, but we escaped with only a few seconds to spare!
Fort Worth Stockyards
All of the things we did in Dallas-Fort Worth were fun, but the Fort Worth Stockyards were probably my favorite. And felt like an authentic Texas experience. I always like to do the things that you can’t do anywhere else and this is one of them.
The Stockyards boast the world’s only twice-daily cattle drive. The small herd of longhorns mosey down the original brick walkways to their wooden corral. Their drovers, the rugged cowboys on horseback, guide them along and you can visit them before each cattle drive for photo ops and questions.
There are several restaurants at the Stockyards, along with all kinds of beautiful boutiques, bars, souvenir shops, photo ops, and activities for the kids. Our girls loved the cattle pen maze!
We got to the Stockyards late in the afternoon, but we could have spent the whole day here. This is one attraction that I would do again if we ever make another trip to Fort Worth.
John Wayne Museum
Technically, the John Wayne – An American Experience museum is located at the Stockyards, but we liked it so much that I felt that it needed its own section.
This museum documents John Wayne’s life starting from early childhood to his death. There were tons of movie props and costumes, letters from celebrities and presidents, and family photos.
I’ve never been a huge John Wayne fan, though I have watched plenty of his movies since my dad loves Westerns. However, after walking through this museum I have so much more respect for this American icon.
Other celebrities and producers referred to him as one of the hardest-working men in Hollywood. And his legacy supports that claim. The list of movies he had a role in filled up an entire wall in the museum.
This museum is a must if anyone in your group loves Westerns or John Wayne!
Sixth Floor Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealy Plaza was another one of my favorites during this trip! It’s also one of those things that you can’t do anywhere else since it is the building where “Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK”.
I put that in quotation marks since this museum brings up a LOT of questions about this narrative. I’m not one to get caught up in conspiracy theories and honestly had never questioned this story before our trip to the Sixth Floor Museum, buuutttt once you see some of the evidence (or lack of evidence) you can’t help but question what really happened that day.
You can see the exact location where Lee Harvey Oswald ‘set up his weapon’ and there are Xs on the road to mark the spot where the President was when he was struck by each bullet.
There are tons of random artifacts from that fateful day, including the President’s place setting to the dinner that he never made it to, Oswald’s wedding ring, and a gun identical to the one that “killed” JFK (the actual gun is in the National Archives).
I learned so much, not only about the assassination, but about President Kennedy, his family, and his policies. This museum was really interesting and I’m glad that we had this experience. Don’t forget to add it to your list of things to do in Dallas!
I know I’ve made a whole post about this place before, but it’s too good not to mention here.
Recycled Books is the largest used book store in the state of Texas. And it is heaven on Earth for bibliophiles like me!
I won’t go into too many details (you can find those here), but I will leave you with this:
- there are more than 500,000 books & 15,000 records in there
- their pricing is super affordable
- it is located in a purple opera house that opened in 1900
- it has green shag carpeting in several areas
- it’s one of the greatest places on earth
Dimebag Darrell’s Grave
So, I know that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. And if it wasn’t for my metalhead husband, I wouldn’t know anything about this.
But outside of Dallas, in a quiet cemetery in Arlington, Texas are the gravesites of rock legends, “Dimebag” Darrell and Vinnie Paul. These brothers were the founders, guitarists, and drummers for the band Pantera.
Darrell was tragically killed in 2004 by a disgruntled fan who blamed him for breaking up the band. His brother, Vinnie Paul, died in 2018 from a heart condition. They are buried, side by side, in Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
You can tell this is a popular spot to pay tribute since the graves are fenced off, yet there were still several trinkets and liquor bottles left behind by fans. And since we were in the area, my husband couldn’t resist seeing their final resting place.
This trip was just what we needed before we headed into a long deployment. We’re lucky to be stationed at Fort Hood where there are so many things to do and places to see nearby.
This unique and diverse list of things in do in Dallas-Fort Worth is sure to keep you busy!