Want to take your kids on a fantastical voyage into another realm? Then Dreamscape Immersive will be like nothing they've ever experienced before. Located on the second level of NorthPark Center, Dreamscape is basically a cross between a cinema and theme park ride, where with the aid of body-mapping and real-time motion capture technology, participants have the ability to interact as full-body avatars within a virtual, full sensory 3D environment. Open to ages 10 and over, guests can choose from a variety of family-friendly adventures, which presently include: Alien Zoo, a sci-fi-themed journey through a wildlife refuge in space; the Indiana Jones-style escapade Curse of the Lost Pearl; and The Blue, an underwater rescue expedition to help reunite a family of whales. Tickets are $20, and each adventure, from beginning to end, takes approximately 35 minutes (including check-in and gearing up).
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Dreamscape is the only venue featuring a VR experience where audience members become part of the story.
Ilene's expert tip: Tickets can be purchased online or in-store. Though it's highly recommended to book ahead since each session only allows up to six people at a time. Kids under age 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
This is one museum parents won't have to convince the kids to go to. Situated inside the Frisco Discovery Center, the National Videogame Museum (NVM) is a veritable retro gamer's nirvana, dedicated solely to the history of the videogame industry. The brainchild of three longtime gamers, the museum features a mind-blowing collection of videogame memorabilia, including the largest working Pong game in the world. And not only can visitors see all the great games from the past, they can also play them. Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, they're all here as well as an 80's style classic gaming arcade with gaming stations for you to go head-to-head with family and friends. Oh, and did we mention that there's even an interactive 1980s-style replica bedroom and living room set up for TV gaming? Talk about a blast from the past.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: A museum filled with video games, many of which are available to play, what's not to like?
Ilene's expert tip: Admission includes game tokens to use in the retro arcade. The museum offers free guided tours at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. every Sunday.
With a solid lineup of kid-friendly performances, ranging from circus extravaganzas to puppetry to classic productions like Beauty and the Beast, the Dallas Children's Theater is always a shoo-in for family fun. Ranked by Time magazine as one of the top 5 theaters in the nation, DCT hosts around eleven productions per season, all of which center around themes promoting social values. Performances are aimed for ages three and up and take place on Saturday and Sunday afternoon as well as select Friday evenings. In addition to the regular schedule, DCT hosts sensory-friendly and sign language interpretation showings, check the website for specific dates and times.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Dallas Children's Theater is the largest professional family theater in the Southwest.
Ilene's expert tip: Score up to 30% off regular prices on select Saturday 4:30pm performances.
Boasting over 2000 animals from roughly 400 species, the 106-acre Dallas Zoo, founded in 1888, is the largest and oldest zoological park in the state. But there's more going on here than your usual walk-through animal exhibits. Most of the enclosures have been constructed to replicate the animals' natural environments. Among them includes the 11-acre Giants of the Savanna, the only zoo exhibit in the United States to mix elephants with other species (think giraffes, cheetahs, zebras) in the same habitat. Along with a monorail safari through areas not accessible by foot, there's also a children's zoo complete with interactive exhibits, a petting farm, pony rides and a nature-inspired swap shop where kids can exchange items. Daily presentations include animal encounters and a giraffe feeding experience, plus the zoo hosts an assortment of special events throughout the year.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Zoo is a great place to get up close and personal with wildlife.
Ilene's expert tip: There are several ways to save on admission: During January and February, entry is offered for $8; also receive $2 off tickets on Mondays and Tuesdays when you ride DART to the Zoo. Dallas Zoo is one of the venues listed on CityPass. Additional discounts can be found on the website.
Consistently ranked as one of the top botanical gardens in the country, the Dallas Arboretum boasts 66-acres of landscaped gardens chock full of seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees and exotic pants. So, of course, this is a must-visit spot for horticultural enthusiasts, but it's also a great place for children. In addition to a year-round calendar packed with family-friendly events, kids will especially love exploring the Rory Meyers Children Adventure Garden, an 8-acre oasis filled with water features, interactive exhibits, a treetop canopy walk and a two-story tree house. Tip: Be sure to grab a scavenger hunt map at the information booth.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Dallas Arboretum is a great place for kids to let steam off while also learning about horticulture.
Ilene's expert tip: Save $6 on parking by purchasing your parking ticket online before you come. Admission is $2 in August and $5 in January and February. Note that the Arboretum is listed on Dallas CityPASS.
This 80,000-square foot, indoor-outdoor aquatic paradise will make you forget about the municipality swimming pools of your youth. Owned by the City of Grand Prairie, the waterpark features eleven different waterslides, including the nation's tallest indoor Aqualoop and the first indoor double rider Aquasphere inner tube ride. Not into water slides? No problem, the park also boasts a surf simulator, a 10,000-square-foot wave pool, a kiddie play area and one of the longest lazy rivers in America. Add in a 4,000-square-foot arcade, a café and a full-service bar, and good luck convincing your family to leave. Best of all, you don't need to wait for summertime to get your splash on, the park is open year-round.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Epic Waters is the largest indoor water park under a single retractable roof in the nation.
Ilene's expert tip: Go to the 'Deal' section of visitgrandpraietx.com to download a $5 off admission coupon.
Nestled inside a massive refurbished warehouse in Dallas' Historic West End District, this privately-owned aquatic wonderland is home to countless varieties of marine life from all over the world. In addition to stingrays, piranhas, electric eels, poison dart frogs and Orinoco crocodiles, the aquarium boasts a 20,000-gallon walk-through exhibit which includes a forty-foot long glassed-in tunnel filled with sharks that circle overhead. Visitors can also check out a lush three-level recreated South American rain-forest as well as get up close and personal with manatees, giant river otters, three-toed sloths, penguins and more. Not-to-be-missed are the talks and feeding sessions held throughout the day.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Dallas Aquarium is an immersive experience for all ages.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to check the website for feeding times and special performances. Also, be aware that the manatee and penguin feedings are extremely popular, so plan on getting to the area at least 20 minutes in advance if you want to snag a good viewing spot.
Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, this stunning 180,000-square-foot science museum on the outer edge of the Arts District boasts five floors of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from earth and space to geology, paleontology and engineering. Highlights include a children's museum with a dinosaur dig, an earthquake simulator and a gallery of gems and minerals featuring a 5-foot geode. A good way to start is to take the external glass escalator up to the top and work your way down while enjoying the panoramic views of downtown Dallas. Whether you're a science buff or just have a curious mind, this place is certain to fascinate visitors of any age.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Perot Museum is particularly entertaining for kids ages 3-15.
Ilene's expert tip: Avoid the long lines by securing your tickets online beforehand. You can also save on admission to the Perot Museum with Dallas CityPASS. Check the website for more details.
Just minutes from downtown Dallas lies Trinity Forest Adventure Park, a seven-acre combination obstacle course and zip line park where families can soar, swing, scramble and climb to their heart's content. Designed for ages four and over, the park boasts over twenty zip-lines (from 10' to 75' above ground) and 70 different elements (cargo nets, wobble bridges, tight ropes and the like) which are spread out over eight aerial obstacle courses, each with varying elevations and challenges. The courses are all self guided to allow everyone to move at their own pace, but it's important to watch your time since tickets are only valid for three hours.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Trinity Forest Adventure Park is a blast for active folks of all ages.
Ilene's expert tip: Secure your spot and save $5 on each ticket by reserving online in advance.
No child-friendly attraction list would be complete without Klyde Warren Park. Perched atop the Woodall Rodgers Freeway in the Dallas Arts District, this 5.2-acre linear park is considered one of Dallas' premier community gathering spots, boasting everything from a butterfly garden to special areas allocated for kids, for dogs and for playing games. The park also offers a broad range of year-round programming, including daily fitness classes, yoga, children's story times, musical performances and even film screenings. Younger kids will especially enjoy the splash pad and multi-dimensional play structure. The food trucks parked along the side are a big draw, too.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Klyde Warren Park offers an endless supply of fun, free activities for kids of all ages.
Ilene's expert tip: Park for free in the West Village off McKinney Ave and hop on the free trolley to get to the park.