Free Things to Do in Dallas

10 best free things to do in the Dallas area

Whoever said the best things in life are free must have been talking about Dallas, because the city has tons of things to do that will cost you literally nothing. And we’re not just talking about hanging out in the malls (though that’s fun too).

Did you know that you can soak up some of the area’s most amazing cultural offerings without spending a penny? For example, the Dallas Museum of Art boasts one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the nation and there’s never an admission charge to get in. Located around the corner is another free gem, the Crow Collection of Asian Art. And we’d be remiss to not mention the gloriously free Kimbell Art Museum, located in Dallas’ sister city, Fort Worth.  

Oh, and that's not all, there's live music, comedy, and a slew of other fun activities on offer as well. The cost? Absolutely nada. So, put away your credit cards and get ready to explore the 10Best free things to do in and around Big D.   


Guacamologist Experience at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas
Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton-Dallas

Normally anything associated with the Ritz isn't going to be free, however, the hotel's Guacamologist Experience is a fantastic exception to the rule. Just show up in the hotel lobby any evening at 6 p.m., and you can score guacamole and chips, freshly prepared by a professionally trained "guacamologist." Oh, and there's booze on offer as well, including selections from the hotel's tequila vault as well as a mini version of Dean Fearing's signature margaritas. All of it is free for the taking regardless of whether you're a hotel guest or not. Kids are also welcome to tag along.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Guacamologist Experience at the Uptown Ritz is a great way top off the day after wandering around the Dallas Arts District.

Ilene's expert tip: Park in the West Village for free and take the complimentary McKinney Avenue Trolley to the hotel.

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Free Music at Adair's Saloon
Photo courtesy of Adair's Saloon

Sure, the drinks are cheap, and the burgers are legendary, but what lassos most folks into this Deep Ellum dive is its undeniably unpretentious vibe and a weekly roundup of free live music. And it's not just any live music, Adair's brings in the cream of the country music crop when it comes to up-and-coming indie bands and singer-songwriter acts. Even heavy hitters like Jack Ingram, the Dixie Chicks and Miranda Lambert have taken to Adair's tiny stage at one time or another. As if that wasn't enough, Adair's offers an awesome happy hour all day Sunday through Thursday.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Adair's is the best place to catch free live country music every night of the week.

Ilene's expert tip: There's free pool and a free jukebox on Mondays.

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Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve
Photo courtesy of Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve

Contrary to common belief, Dallas' topography is not as flat as you think. At least not at this 600-acre paradise located 20 minutes south of downtown. Situated at an elevation of 755 feet, the preserve offers 9 miles of unpaved trails that wind through a lush terrain of native foliage and wildlife. Best of all, there's a wide variety of trails to please any type of outdoorsy adventurer. Be sure to make your way up the Escarpment Trail to get a bird's eye view from the highest point in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Take note that no bikes are allowed, but dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve is one of the city's best places to hike.

Ilene's expert tip: The preserve appreciates a donation of $3 or more which can be made through the donation box on the main trail. Also, note that the Preserve is closed on Mondays.

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Dallas Comedy Club
Photo courtesy of Dallas Comedy House

For a hilariously good time, nothing beats the Dallas Comedy Club, the go-to venue for some of the best improv, sketch comedy and stand-up in town. Here, you can get your funny fix on five nights a week with everything from improv, open mic, and drunk trivia to stand-up, sketch, and more. And not only are ticketed gigs easy on the wallet ($10+), the improv and open mic shows (Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays) are totally free to attend. Seating is general admission, just make sure to go to the website calendar to reserve a free ticket before you go.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Dallas Comedy Club is a terrific place to take a date.

Ilene's expert tip: For the closest places to park: find surface lots at Main and Hall as well as metered spots on Hall, Elm, and Main. DCC is 21+ after 10 p.m.

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Fair Park
Photo courtesy of City of Dallas

Built in 1886, Fair Park is home to the State Fair of Texas, one of the longest-running fairs in the nation that is held for three weeks in the fall. But what many visitors may not realize is that the 277-acre complex also houses one of the nation's largest collections of Art Deco art and structures, many of which were erected for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936. The crowning jewel is The Hall of State, a stunning, limestone-clad building that contains an array of murals, statues and artifacts pertaining to the history of Texas. In addition to architectural eye-candy, visitors will want to check out the African American Museum, which also offers free admission.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Aside from the State Fair of Texas, Fair Park is a must for architecture enthusiasts.

Ilene's expert tip: In addition to the State Fair, the park also hosts a variety of events and festivals, check the calendar on the website for more information. Parking is free to the general public on non-event days.

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Kimbell Art Museum
Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Visitors and Conventions Bureau

If you thought Fort Worth was only about cowboy culture, you might be surprised to know that it has a world-class arts scene as well. For proof of this, you need to head over to the Cultural District, home to several prized institutions, one of which includes the Louis Kahn and Renzo Piano-designed Kimbell Art Museum. The museum showcases around 350 works of art, ranging from classical antiquities to European masterpieces by artists such as Monet, Picasso and Matisse. Speaking of masterpieces, the Kimbell is where you'll find the only Michelangelo painting (The Torment of Saint Anthony) in the Americas. And of course, one of the best perks about it is that visitors can always access the museum's permanent collections without splashing the cash on an admission fee.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Kimbell offers first-class art for every type of art lover.

Ilene's expert tip: Located within a stone's throw from the Kimbell is the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, which is also always free as well as the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, which offers free admission on Fridays.

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The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection
Photo courtesy of The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection

Talk about hidden gems. Tucked away above the Saint Ann Restaurant in the Harwood District near downtown lies one of the largest and most complete assemblages of samurai armor in the world. The museum houses several hundred pieces of samurai art dating from the 10th through the 19th centuries, all of which have been amassed by the Barbier-Mueller family. Expect to find weapons galore along with suits of armor, horse armor, helmets, masks and various artifacts. The Museum is open on weekends and by appointment during the week. Admission is always free to the public.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum is a terrific place to bring the family.

Ilene's expert tip: There is complimentary valet available next to the museum on Harry Hines Blvd.

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Crow Museum of Asian Art
Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas

Formally known as the Crow Collection of Asian Art, this stunning museum in Dallas' Arts District features over 1,000 masterworks, hailing from Japan, China, India and Southeast Asia, many of which have been assembled from the private collection of local real estate mogul Trammel Crow and his wife Margaret. Here, visitors can explore a series of galleries showcasing art objects, paintings, scrolls and large architectural pieces, some of which dates to the 10th century. Highlights include a collection of Chinese jade objects and a suit of Samurai armor from the Edo period. The museum's gift store, The Lotus Shop, is also worth a visit. Best of all, admission to the museum is always free.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Crow Collection is one of the few U.S. museums to focus solely on Asian art.

Ilene's expert tip: Visitors can park in the Trammell Crow Center parking garage for $5 during the day on weekdays and a $10 on weekends. There is also metered parking nearby. The free McKinney Avenue Trolley runs through the area as well.

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Klyde Warren Park
Photo courtesy of Klyde Warren Park

When it comes to free attractions, parks are always a good bet. But Klyde Warren Park isn't your typical run-of-the-mill park. Perched atop a sunken freeway, this nationally acclaimed 5-acre oasis boasts everything from a butterfly garden to special areas allocated for kids, for dogs and for playing games. As if that weren't enough to keep everyone busy, the park also plays host to myriad year-round programs, ranging from daily fitness sessions to children's entertainment, musical performances and even film screenings. Did we mention this is a great place for a selfie with a backdrop of the Dallas skyline?

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: With a plethora of activities offered throughout the week, Klyde Warren Park is tops when it comes to free outdoor entertainment.

Ilene's expert tip: Park for free in the West Village off McKinney Ave and take the complimentary trolley to the park.

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Dallas Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art

The sprawling 370,000-square-foot Dallas Museum of Art, designed by New York architect Edward Larrabee Barnes, offers one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the nation. Its permanent holdings, dating back from the third millennium BC to the present day, encompasses over 23,000 works of paintings, sculptures, jewelry and artifacts from all over the world. Here, you'll find masterpieces from heavy hitters such as Pollock, Rothko, Monet, Rodin and Picasso to name a few. Beyond the galleries, the museum houses a children's creative zone, a sculpture garden and a cafe featuring a window of Dale Chihuly's glass flowers. And with the exception of certain exhibitions and events, general admission to the museum is always free.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The DMA boasts world-class art and offers a slew of activities for every age to enjoy.

Ilene's expert tip: Free general admission to the DMA requires a ticket for entry. Visitors are encouraged to reserve tickets online in advance, but walk-ups are also able to be accommodated.

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Meet Ilene Jacobs

As a perpetual wanderer, foodie freak and wannabe chef, Ilene is always on the lookout for the best places to see, eat, drink and sleep. When she's not writing about the latest happenings in...  More About Ilene