Best Things to Do in Fall in Dallas

10 best ways to celebrate fall 2019 in the Dallas area

While the weather may not exactly send chills up your spine, autumn in the Dallas area usually signifies a much-welcomed break from triple-digit temperatures. It’s also the time when the entire metroplex shifts into high gear with non-stop events leading all the way up to the holiday season. And one of the biggest is the State Fair of Texas, which entertains over three million visitors annually with livestock shows, midway rides and top-notch entertainment.

Those who enjoy leaf-peeping and pumpkin patches will want to hit the annual fall festival at Dallas Arboretum, where there's a spectacular pumpkin village constructed from more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash.

Speaking of festivals– for four days every year, the city of Grapevine plays host to GrapeFest, the largest wine festival in the Southwest. There's also a major Oktoberfest celebration going down in the city of Addison.

And we’d be remiss not to include Halloween. So those looking for a truly immersive, next-level haunted house experience, Dark Hour is the place to go.

On the hunt for more epic things to do? Then check out our guide for the 10 best things going on around Dallas this September, October and November.


Outside the City
Sail With Scott
Photo courtesy of Sail With Scott

We can't think of a better way to enjoy the cooler weather than with one of Scott Self's sailing cruises on Lake Ray Hubbard. From April through the end of October, Self operates moonlight and daytime cruises every weekend, and sunset cruises every day onboard a beautiful 40-foot-long by 25-foot-wide wooden catamaran, which can comfortably seat up to 49 passengers. All 90-minute excursions sail off from the Harbor in Rockwall, located about twenty-five minutes from downtown Dallas. And yes, it's BYOB and BYOF (food) too. Best of all, most cruises are priced at $20 per person.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Sail With Scott is perfect for a date or anniversary celebration.

Ilene's expert tip: Take a cushion or something soft to sit on, the seats are wooden. Local restaurants around the lake will cater food to the boat. Note that children under age 6 are not allowed on the Friday and Saturday sunset or evening cruises unless it is a private party.

Read more about Sail With Scott →

Shakespeare in the Park
Photo courtesy of Shakespeare in the Park

Those seeking an open-air culture fix will want to head to one of Shakespeare Dallas' alfresco performances that are held at Samuell-Grand Amphitheatre and The Sound at Cypress Waters in Coppell. The 2019 fall season features the action-packed classic Macbeth, but with a modern twist. Think, alternative near-future Silicon Valley with tech companies fighting for ultimate control. Blankets and picnics are welcome at the Samuell-Grand, but no outside food or drinks can be brought in at Cypress Waters. Both locations offer concessionaires or restaurants on-site. Tickets start at $10.95 and shows run Wednesdays through Sundays, from September 18 to October 13. Arrive early, seating is on a first-come-first-served basis.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Shakespeare in the Park is a great family or date night outing.

Ilene's expert tip: Guests can rent low-back sand chairs for $5 each or 2 for $8. Students and seniors receive $3 off the general admission price, children ages 12 and younger are free.

Read more about Shakespeare in the Park →

Outside the City
YesterLand Farm
Photo courtesy of YesterLand Farm

Nothing screams the arrival of autumn like pumpkins. And to really ratchet up the fall factor, Yesterland Farms, located about an hour east of Dallas, will be decking the fields with pumpkins of all sizes, colors and shapes. But the seasonal fun goes well beyond pumpkin patches, this 42-acre spread also boasts an intricately carved 3-acre corn maze, as well as activities ranging from a retro carnival, rides to pig races and gemstone mining. Looking for something spookier to do? You're in luck. After the sun goes down, guests can get their fright on with haunted hayrides, zombie paintball and more. The Fall Festival and Fright Farm run every weekend from September 21 until November 3. General admission is $21.95.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Yesterland Farm puts on one of the area's best family fall festivals.

Ilene's expert tip: Score tickets for $18.95 when you purchase them online. Also, check the website frequently for half-price ticket offers. Children ages 3 and under are free.

Read more about YesterLand Farm →

Dallas Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art

Held over by popular demand, Dior: From Paris to the World, a 70-year retrospective on the iconic haute couture fashion house has been extended to October 27 at the Dallas Museum of Art. Featuring a comprehensive profile of Dior and the legendary designers who succeeded him, the exhibit showcases over 200 eye-popping haute couture dresses, including gowns worn by Lady Gaga, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Grace. Also on display are accessories, photographs, original sketches, runway videos and more. The exhibition was previously held at the Denver Art Museum and Dallas is the only other U.S. stop, so as you can imagine, tickets are going fast. Admission is $20 Tuesday-Thursday and $25 Friday-Sunday.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: The Dior exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art is a must-see for fashionistas of any age.

Ilene's expert tip: Timed tickets, which can be purchased online, are required for all visitors to the Dior exhibition. Children 11 and under are free. Park your car for free in the West Village complex on McKinney Avenue and ride the complimentary trolley straight to the museum.

Read more about Dallas Museum of Art →

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum
Photo courtesy of Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

After three years in the making, the much-anticipated arrival of Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum in its new sprawling Historic West End location is being unveiled to the public on September 18. A first of its kind to honor both human rights and the memory of the Holocaust, the copper-clad 55,000 square foot building boasts three core exhibition halls (the Holocaust/Shoah Wing, the Human Rights Wing and the Pivot to America Wing) along with classrooms, an expanded library, a memorial room and a Cinemark XD 250-seat theater. Highlights include an innovative Dimensions in Testimony Theater (one of only two such theaters in the world) which uses holographic imagery to facilitate real-time interactions with a Holocaust survivor. Timed admission tickets are $16 for adults; $14 for seniors and $12 for students.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: The Dallas Holocaust Museum is one of the nation's most unique museums.

Ilene's expert tip: The Dallas Holocaust Museum is best for adults and kids, ages 12 and over. Note that school groups tend to visit in the mornings during the week, so try to book tickets after 1 p.m. to avoid the crowd.

Read more about Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum →

Dark Hour Haunted House
Photo courtesy of Dark Hour Haunted House

It's a given that the autumn season is also the Halloween season. So, those who have a plight for fright may want to hit up this 30,000-square-foot house of horrors located in Plano. With elaborate sets, high-tech special effects and professional-grade actors, it's no wonder this haunt is consistently ranked as one of the nation's scariest. For Halloween (September 20-November 2), Dark Hour is presenting both its regular haunt, which takes you on a journey through the grounds of Coven Manor, and an add-on attraction, Annabelle's Asylum. Can't make it for Halloween? No worries, Dark Hour offers a variety of fright-filled experiences on select weekends throughout the year. Dark Hour tickets can be purchased online or at the door. General admission starts at $25 per person.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: USA Today ranked the Dark Hour as one of the nation's scariest haunted houses.

Ilene's expert tip: Recommended for ages 10 & up. September is the best time to go if you want to avoid crowds.

Read more about Dark Hour Haunted House →

Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden Facebook page

Leaf peeping in Dallas? Yes indeed. There's not a better place to experience the colors of the season than at this 66-acre oasis, especially when it presents its annual fall festival, Autumn at the Arboretum. Held September 21 to October 31, the event features everything from chef demonstrations to animal presentations, live entertainment and a nationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village made up of more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash. This year's theme is "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," so look for Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty and Marcy to be making appearances on the weekends. Oh, and did we mention the Arboretum is hosting its first Oktoberfest celebration on October 5 and 6? Expect complimentary beer samples, traditional food vendors, live performances and more. General admission is $17 for adults and $12 for children ages 2-12.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: The Arboretum's Pumpkin Village was named one of the "Top 10 U.S. Pumpkin Patches" by the Travel Channel

Ilene's expert tip: Save $6 on parking (regular price is $15) by purchasing a parking pass online before you go. You can also purchase festival tickets at area Tom Thumb stores and receive $1 off general admission tickets.

Read more about Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden →

Grapevine GrapeFest
Photo courtesy of Grapevine Convention and Visitors Bureau

Considering that Texas is the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the nation, it's only fitting that a Texas town named after grapes would be the setting for the biggest wine festival in the Southwest. Taking place September 12-15, the event showcases premium wines and champagne from Texas as well as wines from the Piedmont Region of Italy and Michigan's Traverse Wine Coast. There will be everything from wine dinners to wine tastings, a grape stomping contest and a champagne cork shoot-off. But, there's more to GrapeFest than wine tasting. Fun times can be had for the entire family with carnival rides, games, crafts, food booths and non-stop live music. Parking is free and there are complimentary shuttles to transport guests from the parking lots to the festival grounds. Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and children ages 6-12.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: GrapeFest is a fun fall event for wine-lovers and families alike.

Ilene's expert tip: Note that admission is free all day on Thursday, September 12 and on Friday, September 13 until 5 p.m. Children under the age of 6 are free.

Read more about Grapevine GrapeFest →

Addison Oktoberfest
Photo courtesy of Addison Oktoberfest

Sure, Munich may be home to the grandest Oktoberfest of all, but Addison's celebration (held in Addison Circle Park) is no slouch. Billed as one of the most authentic in North America by Forbes and USA Today, the Addison Oktoberfest features an assortment of family-friendly activities, ranging from midway rides, bier barrel rolling and yodeling competitions to live music, polka dancing and a dachshund parade. Of course, there will also be copious amounts of German beer and food, too. Speaking of beer, don't miss the Paulaner keg tapping ceremony, which takes place at 8 p.m. every night of the event. General admission is $10 for ages 10 and older. The festivities kick off Thursday, September 19 and run through September 22.

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Welcoming over 70,000 visitors a year, the Addison Oktoberfest ranks among the top Oktoberfests in the nation.

Ilene's expert tip: Admission is free on Thursday and Sunday. Children under the age of 10 are free.

Read more about Addison Oktoberfest →

State Fair of Texas
Photo courtesy of Kevin Brown-State Fair of Texas

For Dallasites, fall means the arrival of the State Fair of Texas, one of the country's largest and longest-running state fairs, attracting over 3 million visitors each year. Held in Dallas' historic Fair Park, the event runs for 24 consecutive days (September 27 through October 20) and features competitions, livestock shows, concerts and exhibitions as well as a jam-packed midway with the largest Ferris wheel in North America. And then there's the food. We're talking everything from corn dogs and turkey legs to deep-fried everything under the sun. Must-sees include a livestock birthing barn and a dog stunt show to name a few. General admission at the gate is $18 for adults/$14 for children (under 48 in. tall).

Recommended for Things to Do in Fall because: Going strong since 1886, the State Fair of Texas is one of the best state fairs in the nation.

Ilene's expert tip: Score admission tickets for $9 on Tuesdays or half-price admission on any day after 5 p.m. when you bring an empty Dr. Pepper can. You can also bring four cans of food to a State Fair of Texas gate as a donation towards the North Texas Food Bank on any Wednesday and receive a $4 admission ticket.

Read more about State Fair of Texas →


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