10 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Dallas and Fort Worth

There is a lot to explore in the South's largest metropolitan area.

The largest metropolitan area in the South, Dallas-Fort Worth is a blend of its Old West heritage and today's modernities.

See monuments to its storied heritage and discover a region where it's odd if there isn't paint on a neighborhood wall. Find live music, horse racing and a classic video arcade or take time to wind down from a hectic day at a soothing garden.


Stockyards cattle drive in Fort Worth

Roam The Stockyards and the Stockyards Museum

Twice a day at 11:30 am and 4:30 pm, watch the spirit of the Old West come alive with an authentic cattle drive through the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. Livestock are driven through the stockyards in front of the Historic Livestock Exchange Building and back to their pens where viewing is available.

Before or after experiencing the roundup, mosey into the Historic Livestock Exchange Building where a mere pittance—$2 entry fee, kids' entry is free—garners access to The Stockyards Museum. Learn the history of the stockyards and why Fort Worth is known as Cowtown through exhibits, photos and artifacts, and find why the Swift and Armour packing plants are a large part of the Stockyards' story. 

While it's no New Orleans, the Stockyards do have an open container policy! So at celebrity chef Tim Love's famous Love Shack burger joint, see what's on tap that's local and ask for it to go.


Pioneer Plaza

Pioneer Plaza

The Dallas central business district celebrates the trails that brought settlers to Dallas in Pioneer Plaza, the district's largest public open space adjacent to the Convention Center and Omni Hotel. A bronze re-creation of a cattle drive—along with two cowboys driving the pack—marks the space populated by native trees and a stream. Get up close to see the historic detailing on the sculptures while enjoying man-made cliffs and a waterfall. 


Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie

Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie

Situated halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth—now in its 20th year—Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie is the place to be to see thoroughbred and quarter horse racing.

There are plenty of free and inexpensive seating options while getting a great view of the magnificent equines. Standing room options are plentiful or bring lawn chairs for the grassy picnic area. For $5 (under 3 free), sit in the grandstand's first level which has themed concession areas, bars, more than 600 TV monitors and more. 


Japanese Gardens at Fort Worth Botanic Gardens

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Fort Worth with a relaxing day at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

Spread out over 110 acres, the facility has 22 specialized gardens including the vibrant Four Seasons Garden and The Horseshoe, filled with majestic oaks. While general admission is free, it costs $4-7 to enter the renowned Japanese Garden. Be transported to the Far East in the 7.5 acres filled with cherry trees, bamboo, bridges and more than 100 Koi fish. 

Each year during June and July the botanical garden hosts its "Concerts in the Garden" series at night in the gardens. The ticketed, live music event has hosted big names in the past but each year there's at least one Fort Worth Symphony performance. Favorite past symphony performances include a John Williams concert complete with laser light show.


Frisco RoughRiders

Stretch out on the grass while enjoying a high quality baseball game at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas. 

Pay under $10 for center field lawn seats to see the RoughRiders, the AA minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Come on Thirsty Thursdays for $1 and $2 beers while cheering on future major leaguers and enjoy post-game parties and fireworks among a number of yearly promotions.


The Wild Detectives

The Wild Detectives

Discover little known wines, locally brewed beer and a library of fiction, poetry and Spanish literature all in one visit to The Wild Detectives.

This bookstore, bar and coffee shop offer time to relax in the morning with a steaming cup of locally roasted coffee in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District. Sit inside or on the spacious outdoor patio and enjoy live music by local artists in the evenings. The Wild Detectives have been recognized for its efforts, named Best Bookstore by D Magazine from 2014-2016.


Second floor patio at Granada in Dallas

Sundown at Granada

Movie lovers and drinkers will love Sundown at Granada on Wednesday nights at 8:30 pm. Head to the beer garden and restaurant's second floor patio for free screenings of films from "The Wedding Singer" and "Zoolander" to "Star Wars Rogue One." Making the night that much more festive are the all-night, half-price whiskey specials.

Granada also hosts live music almost every night of the week.


mural in Deep Ellum

Deep Ellum

There is much to keep locals and visitors entertained in Deep Ellum, just east of downtown Dallas. 

The highlight, of course, are the dozens of murals that cover the area. Check out the 42Murals project to plan your own walking tour through Deep Ellum. 

Come for the live music at one of 20-plus live music venues in the city and along the way discover its art through galleries, murals or street performers. Capture it all in one place at the free Deep Ellum Arts Festival each April where over 100 musical acts perform, artists display their creations and local restaurants dish out the food. There is also free live music every night at The Free Man.


Arlington Museum of Art

The AMA is a nonprofit, non-collecting museum that features traveling exhibits such as Houston-born artist Donray, who will be on display until December 2017. General admission is free and just $5 for seniors and students and $8 for adults for major exhibits, the two-story museum also offers educational opportunities like the summer art camp for ages 6-12. 


Free Play Richardson

Harken back to the glory days of arcades and partake in arcade games.

For $10, 80-plus retro games like Pac-Man, Joust and Frogger are set to free play. Take time to enjoy as Free Play Richardson is open from eight to 12 hours daily. Nosh on appetizers, sandwiches and pizza and—for players 21 years and older—choose from one of the most extensive beer lists in the metro area.

Scott Rouch
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