Dollar-Savvy Dallas: Five Free Things to Do in the Big D
Taking a trip to Dallas with the whole family doesn't have to put a crimp in your budget. The Big D brims with museums, parks, free summer entertainment and other family activities where you won't have to shell out a penny.
Go on an Art Hunt
Dallas is home to unique public artworks that lend themselves to funny photos and selfies. Make a treasure map of the city and see how many you can find. Keep your eyes open as you look for the 30-foot eyeball simply known as Eye (1601 Main St., Dallas, TX). It's a monument to artist Tony Tasset's big blue eyes. Snuggle up to Jumbo, a life-sized mastodon. You'll find him outside the Dallas Museum of Natural History (1121 1st Ave., Dallas, TX). Or follow the magical tale of The Traveling Man (Good Latimer between Swiss Ave. and Miranda, Dallas, TX) Said to be an ordinary locomotive, this giant robot came to life when a little gin got spilled on him. You can follow his life and adventures in three installations.
Hearken back to days of yore at the Fort Worth Stock Yards (130 E. Exchange Ave., Fort Worth, TX) 35 miles west of Dallas. Colloquially known as Cowtown, Fort Worth is where millions of cattle concluded a long and dusty cattle drive along the Chisholm Trail. See Texas longhorn cattle driven from their wooden corrals down the brick-paved Exchange Street in the Stockyards National Historic District. The cattle run the road each day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m., but you can visit them in their pens at the visitor center any time. On Saturdays and Sundays, Cow Camp rolls out opportunities to saddle, rope and listen to chuck wagon stories.
Get in the Money
Have you ever wondered what money was like back in Colonial times? Historical currency is just one thing you can check out when you take a free tour of the Federal Reserve Bank (2200 N. Pearl St., Dallas, TX). Find out whose picture is on the $10,000 bill—large denominations circulated before 1969. Discover big bills for little change, too: There's a 15-cent note and 3-cent note on display. Listen to the Founding Fathers debate for and against a national bank and learn how the Federal Reserve came to Dallas. Show up on Wednesdays at 10 a.m. for a free guided tour or meander the exhibits at your own pace during other business hours.
See the Samurai
Samurai warriors fused the contemplation of Zen Buddhism with the ferociousness of battle using weapons ranging from swords to bows and even bare hands. See the world's largest collection of Samurai artifacts outside of Japan at the Samurai Collection (2501 N. Harwood St., Dallas, TX). Check out weapons, suits of armor, masks and other accessories. There's even armor for the horses. After you visit the museum, go on a treasure hunt for five more exhibits sprinkled throughout the Harwood District.
Bright, bold geometric art hearkens back to the 20th-century MADI movement in Argentina, but you can experience it in Dallas at the Museum of Geometric and MADI Art (3109 Carlisle St., Dallas, TX). Kids' imaginations will shift into full gear as they experience the geometric works that defy many of the common aspects of traditional art. They aren't usually rectangular or two-dimensional and seem to pop out of their frames.
- Atlas Obscura: "Eye" Sculpture
- Public Art Archive: Jumbo
- Atlas Obscura: The Traveling Man
- Fort Worth: Where and When is the Cattle Drive?
- Fort Worth Stockyards: Fort Worth Herd Twice Daily Cattle Drive
- Fort Worth: Cow Camp
- Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas: The Economy in Action
- Museum of Geometric and MADI Art
- Samurai Collection: Visitor
- Holy Mountains of the World: Samurai Culture
Indulging her passion for vacation vagary through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, travel funster Jodi Thornton-O'Connell guides readers to the unexpected, quirky, and awe-inspiring.