9 Things to do During a Weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth

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We wanted to take a family trip together before my husband’s deployment. Since I couldn’t convince my family to go camping, we headed to Dallas-Fort Worth to mark things off of our Fort Cavazos and Texas Bucket List!

My mom, niece, and aunt flew out last minute to meet us there, so they could see him one more time before he left. Even though it was a kind of spur-of-the-moment trip, we had the BEST time!

Here are some fun things to do on a weekend in Dallas-Fort Worth!

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.

Apparently, my small hometown was seriously invested in this series. My mom recalled a high school football game where 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, such as:

  • The family that owned the ranch lived in the house during the filming. They only let production film outside during the summer. All of the indoor scenes were filmed on a set in Hollywood.
  • The Ewing’s pool is a regular backyard pool and not an Olympic-sized pool 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.
  • The actor who 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.

Southfork Ranch in Dallas: The bedroom where JR was killed.
(The bedroom where J.R. died.)
The Ewings house on the show Dallas.
(The Ewings’ home on the show was home to a real family in Dallas.)
The gun that shot J.R on the show Dallas.
(The gun that shot J.R. – one of America’s most famous villains.)
The gift shop at Southfork ranch in Dallas.
(In the gift shop at Southfork Ranch.)
A visit to the Southfork Ranch in Dallas.
(The Ewings’ living room.)

Legoland Discovery Center

After making our kids ‘suffer’ through the ranch tour, we took them to Legoland Discovery Center at Grapevine Mills.

We heard good things about Legoland from friends and while it is a pretty neat place, it’s more for small/young kids. My girls are 9 & 10. 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 Mini-Land and were able to see the mini Lego version of Southfork where they had spent their morning!

Kids playing at Legoland in Dallas.
(Building cars to race down the ramps!)
Legoland Discovery Center in Dallas
(Lyvi never wants to miss a photo op!)
Miniland at Legoland in Dallas.
(The Mini-Land version of Southfork Ranch.)
Things to do in Dallas with kids: go to Legoland Discovery Center
(Before heading into Legoland!)

SeaLife Aquarium

Our tickets to Legoland included a visit to the SeaLife Aquarium which is right next door. We were all surprised by how big it was!

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!

The tunnel at the aquarium in Dallas.
(The underwater tunnel.)
Visiting the Sea Life Aquarium in Dallas-Fort Worth
(Checking out the fish!)
Things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth with kids: go to the Sea Life Aquarium.
(In the underwater tunnel!)
Jelly fish at the aquarium in Dallas.
(The jellyfish were mesmerizing.)
We took a selfie with a shark at the aquarium in Dallas.
(Terrible angle…but we got a selfie with a shark!)

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 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!

(After we escaped!)

Fort Worth Stockyards

All of the things we did in Dallas-Fort Worth were fun, but the Fort Worth Stockyards were probably my favorite. It was an authentic Texas experience. I always like to do 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.

Longhorn at the Fort Worth Stockyards cattle drive.
(Longhorn at the cattle drive.)
Playing in the cattlepen maze at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
(Playing in the cattlepen maze!)
Drover at the Fort Worth Stockyards cattle drive.
(One of the drovers at the cattle drive.)
(Family photo time!)
You can't visit Dallas-Fort Worth without a visit to the Stockyards.
(So many good photo ops!)

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!

(Heff really enjoyed the John Wayne Museum.)
John Wayne museum in Fort Worth.
(The list of his movies on the wall!)
Some of John Wayne's costumes at the John Wayne museum in Forth Worth.
(Some of his costumes.)
Some of John Wayne's hats at the museum at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
(Hats from some of the movies he starred in.)
(Rooster’s iconic eye patch.)

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!

The window at the Sixth Floor Museum where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK.
(The window where Oswald set up his rifle to shoot the President.)
Lee Harvey Oswald's wedding ring.
(Lee Harvey Oswald’s wedding ring.)
A replica of the JFK shooting at the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.
(Replica inside the museum showing the trajectory of the bullets.)
The X on the road marks where JFK was shot.
(This is the view from the window on the 7th floor, but the Xs mark the spots where JFK was hit.)
A gun identical to the one used by Oswald to shoot President Kennedy.
(This gun is identical to the one used by Lee Harvey Oswald.)

Recycled Books

I know I’ve made a whole post about this place before, but it’s too good not to mention it 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
Recycled Books in Denton, Texas.
(If you could only smell this picture!)
Recycled Books near Dallas, Texas.
(Rows and rows of books!)
Inside the largest used bookstore in the state of Texas.
(Even the girls liked going to this bookstore!)

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.

Dimebag Darrell's grave near Dallas, Texas.
(The artwork on their graves is impressive.)
(Looking at the gravesite.)
Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul's graves near Dallas, Texas.
(Both graves are fenced in and this is as close as you can get.)

This trip was just what we needed before heading into a long deployment. We’re lucky to be stationed at Fort Cavazos where there are so many things to do and places to see nearby.

This diverse list of things to do in Dallas-Fort Worth made for an interesting weekend and we can’t wait for our soldier to be home for more Texas adventures!

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