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. Tickets are $19.99, and each adventure, from beginning to end, takes approximately 35 minutes (including check-in and gearing up). It's best to purchase tickets online in advance as showings tend to book up quickly.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Dreamscape is a terrific adventure for kids ages 10 and up.
Ilene's expert tip: If you purchase more than one ticket, you are guaranteed a private VR adventure.
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, but 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. 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.
This global, indoor theme-park chain at Stonebriar Centre mall in Frisco takes edutainment to a new level by offering children the chance to role-play more than 100 professions in a scaled-down replica city. Spanning 100,000 sqft over two floors, kids ages 4-14 can immerse themselves into a variety of real-life activities, ranging from flying airplanes on flight simulators to fighting fires and recording Spotify podcasts. Many professions are represented by leading real-life brands for extra authenticity, and for every task acquired, kids earn a salary in kidZos (play currency) which can be used for toys and experiences inside KidZania. Oh, and did we mention there is also the opportunity to make your own pizzas and decorate cupcakes at the onsite eateries?
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Though it's geared for children 4 years old and up, those aged 7-12 will get the most out of KidZania.
Ilene's expert tip: Though parents are welcome to hang out in the lounge or participate in some activities (such as audience members for the TV Studio and Theatre), they can also drop off their children ages 8 and older while they go shopping in the mall. Note that it's recommended you purchase your passes online before you go.
Boasting over 2,000 animals from roughly 400 species, the 106-acre Dallas Zoo 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 mini-train and a custom-made merry-go-round, there's also a children's zoo complete with interactive exhibits, a petting farm, and a nature-inspired swap shop where kids can exchange items. Daily presentations include animal encounters and a giraffe feeding experience.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Zoo is a great place for all ages to get up close and personal with wildlife.
Ilene's expert tip: As of March 5, 2021, the Dallas Zoo will maintain their safety protocols that have been in place since last May, including a mask mandate for visitors ages 10 and up. All guests must reserve timed tickets and parking online prior to visiting.
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 plants. 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 treehouse. 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 off steam while also learning about horticulture.
Ilene's expert tip: Reservations are required for members and non-members, and face coverings for ages 5+ must be worn for the duration of your visit. Admission is $2 in August and $5 in January and February.
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 coupon, good for admission Monday-Thursday. Admission is only $20 per person after 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
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 that 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 rainforest as well as get up close and personal with manatees, giant river otters, three-toed sloths, penguins and more.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Dallas Aquarium is a fun, immersive experience for all ages.
Ilene's expert tip: The Aquarium is still continuing to operate under timed entry with limited capacity and will require protective face coverings for all employees and guests. Presently, the feeding sessions are closed to the public due to social distancing requirements. Be sure to check the website for updates.
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: Face coverings over the nose and mouth are required for all guests ages three and older, social distancing is encouraged throughout the museum, and capacity is still limited and closely monitored. You can save on admission with Dallas CityPASS.
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. Note that for the time being reservations are a must, and guests are required to wear masks when in close proximity of others.
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: Presently, Out on a Limb children's course is currently closed due to social distancing requirements. Be sure to check the site for Covid-safety updates before you plan to go.
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 storytimes, 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.