3 Reasons to Visit Dallas with Kids - MetroFamily Magazine
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3 Reasons to Visit Dallas with Kids

by Heide Brandes

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

Hundreds of children are staring into the jaws of a monster. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, with teeth as long and as sharp as a giant’s butcher knife, looms above. Its jaws are open, ready to snap up a meal, but the children just point, laugh and stare in wonder.

In another area, a little girl stares at the veins in her hand, made visible under an ultraviolet light. Two boys race a dinosaur in a run to the finish. The dinosaur wins.

At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, children aren’t just running madly through countless science and nature displays having squealing and loud fun, they are learning too. The Perot Museum, Dallas Zoo and Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and three fabulous reasons to load up the car and take the kids to Dallas for a weekend.

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is just the latest of many attractions that pull families down I-35 from Oklahoma City to Dallas. Dallas has become a favorite destination spot for families, a playground of sites, experiences, learning opportunities and fun.

Here are our top three favorites:

Dallas Zoo 

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my! The Dallas Zoo has approximately 66 of the species managed through the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plans, which means you’re practically guaranteed to see an animal you’ve never seen before when you visit. Families can roam through such key exhibits as “The Wilds of Africa,” which was named “Best African Exhibit in the U.S.” by the Zoo Book; The Giants of the Savanna, which opened in May 2010 and features elephants, impalas, lions, cheetahs and more; and the Gorilla Trail, a one-mile trail winding to the Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Center, an aviary, Crocodile Isle and the Kimberly-Clark Chimpanzee Forest.

Laugh at the antics of the Asian small-clawed otters at the Betty Moroney Norsworthy Otter Outpost and spend some time at the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo, a three-acre facility of interactive and educational exhibits.

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden

Imagine being shrunk to the size of a ladybug. You wander through towering flower pots, under blooms the size of trees and hide under giant vegetation. At the Dallas Arboretum’s Children’s Garden, kids can do just that.

The children’s gardens are fun and filled with educational activities. With its green maze, Texas wetlands area and a state-of-the art nature center where children can extract DNA from plants, the children’s gardens are both entertaining and educational.

Exploring all day will likely make you hungry. Pack a picnic or enjoy indoor or outdoor seating at the Children’s Garden Cafe. For an even fancier garden experience, make a reservation for Seated Tea at the Restaurant DeGolyer (214-515-6511).

TIP: Members of Oklahoma City’s Myriad Botanical Gardens enjoy free admission to the Dallas Arboretum through the American Horticultural Society Reciprocal Admissions Program.

Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Located in Victory Park near Downtown Dallas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a world of wonder that inspires curiosity in visitors of all ages. A living science lesson, the museum opened its doors in downtown Dallas with the goal to “amaze your brain through hands-on learning experience.”

Five floors at the museum have 11 permanent exhibit halls that show off video and 3D computer animation.

Kids can have fun and exercise their brains through hands-on activities, interactive kiosks and educational games.

The lower level of the cube includes an education wing with six learning labs and a children’s museum. One of the most popular exhibits is located on the main lobby level. A 35-foot Malawisaurus fossil thrills children and adults alike.

TIP: Take time to see all levels of the museum. Every exhibit offers kids a chance to interact and touch. Plan at least two hours at this site.

Other Favorite Sites

Dallas has so many destinations to enjoy, so if you have longer than a weekend, we recommend adding these top spots to your agenda:

GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower

See the entire Dallas landscape from hundreds of feet in the air. The GeO-Deck caters to adventure seekers, sightseers and food lovers. It’s a great place to start your journey, because seeing Dallas from 600-plus feet in the air is unforgettable. Try out the hamburger bar at the rotating Cloud Nine by Wolfgang Puck, open for lunch.

6th Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza 

Located at the infamous Texas Book Depository Building in Dealey Plaza, the 6th Floor Museum houses an impressive collection and walking history of President John F. Kennedy and that fateful November day when he was assassinated in Dallas. The collection is jaw-dropping and includes video, a walking headset tour, original items and an intimate look at the life of John F. Kennedy.

George W. Bush Presidential Library 

Take your children on a tour through American history at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum’s artifacts, documents, photographs and videos. Families can explore the 14,000 square foot Museum to see the historic exhibits on education reform, the global war on terror, the financial crisis and efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS. The Museum also has a piece of the World Trade Center, a full-sized Oval Office and a Texas Rose Garden.

The Dallas World Aquarium

Start an adventure in a rainforest full of sloths, toucans, giant river otters and crocodiles at the Dallas World Aquarium. Families can then wonder at the wide variety of marine life, from Japanese crabs to jellyfish to sea dragons and more. Say hi to the resident penguins and test your bravery with the sharks.

Six Flags over Texas

Go for a wild ride at Texas’s theme park with more than 100 rides and attractions, including the new Texas Giant and Titan roller coasters at Six Flags. The park features family-friendly shows and themed areas for children.

Where to Stay 

We road-tested the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, and we are pleased to say this high-end hotel got top marks. Famous for its Asian design and its collection of Asian art and sculpture, the Hilton Anatole also boasts of an indoor lap pool, a spa, a world-class fitness center, an outdoor pool, an outdoor walking track, squash and tennis courts, boutique shops and several restaurants.

The Hilton Anatole is easy to reach, but a bit farther from many of the attractions.

Other top picks for staying with kids downtown:

The Magnolia
1401 Commerce St.
(214) 915-6500

OMNI Dallas
555 S. Lamar St.
(214) 744-6664

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