When a person references a “tourist trap” in a particular location, notions of long lines with an overhyped and overpriced attraction that falls far short of expectations typically comes to mind. But that’s not always true. There are numerous places to visit in Dallas – Fort Worth that are beautiful, inspirational, historical, downright fun, and even FREE that are totally worth visiting by locals and tourists alike. Here are 16 tourist hot spots where your pocketbook can stay closed, although surrounding food and drink temptations are on you:
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Dealey Plaza — Dallas
Dealey Plaza is the No. 1 tourist destination in Dallas. It is sometimes called the "birthplace of Dallas" and was the location of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. The downtown historic district is a National Historic Landmark. While the Sixth Floor Museum does have a charge, visitors can readily walk all around, read historic markers, and visit the Memorial there for free.
Tourists can see the buildings and streets from that historic day, including the infamous Texas School Book Depository on the left. An "X" in the street marks the spot of the President's limousine at the time of the assassination. Expect lots of conversations about conspiracy theories while there.
The John F. Kennedy Memorial is also downtown in the historic area.
2. Historic Stock Yards — Fort Worth
Fort Worth's top tourist destination celebrates the city's Cowtown heritage. It is filled with history, remnants of the stockyards and packing plants, and the railroad's presence there. Of course, there are countless restaurants and shops there now as well.
Part of the draw of the Stockyards is all the historic buildings still in use today.
While definitely "touristy," locals and out-of-town guests alike marvel at the mighty Texas longhorns. The area conducts mini cattle drives down the main street there twice daily, and it's actually a fine sight to see!
3. Bureau of Engraving and Printing — Fort Worth
There are only two places visitors can watch currency being printed in the U.S., and Fort Worth is one of them! In fact, more than half of the nation's currency is printed here in the Metroplex. The free tour allows a birds-eye view from an enclosed walkway, which is suspended above the production floor. Find the center at 9000 Blue Mound Rd. Tours are Tuesday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and reservations are not required.
4. Botanic Garden — Fort Worth
The oldest botanic garden in Texas boasts of lush landscapes, fountains, roses and other seasonal flowers, and more than 2,500 species of plants. It is home to various concerts and celebrations throughout the year, and of course is an idyllic wedding spot as well! Find the entrance at 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd.
5. Farmers Market — Dallas
The Dallas Farmers Market is a large public market located at 1010 S. Pearl Expressway in the downtown. Besides incredible produce selections, the market area has grown to include plants, an eatery, shops, and more.
It is truly a shopping and sensory experience at which you could spend all day! Special events, live music, wine tastings, and more also occur here year-round.
6. Big Rocks Park — Glen Rose
This beloved park features really large rocks, easy access to the Paluxy River, and tables to enjoy the Texas landscape.
OIYS Staff Photo
Many guests stop here on the way to or from paid tourist hot spots like Dinosaur Valley State Park or Fossil Rim Nature Center.
7. Pioneer Plaza — Dallas
This major tourist attraction features the largest bronze sculpture of its kind. The local artist shows a longhorn cattle drive with three cowboys tending the herd. Find it at Young and Griffin streets in downtown.
8. Water Gardens — Fort Worth
These beautiful, and almost hidden, water gardens were created in 1974 and are right by the Fort Worth Convention Center. The 4.3-acre park features different pools and is considered an interactive water display.
9. Marget Hunt Hill Bridge — Dallas
Not only is this breathtaking bridge an iconic addition to the Dallas cityscape, it serves to adjoin areas on both sides of the Trinity River. There's a path along the bridge, and once you cross it into Trinity Groves district, you'll find a mecca of trendy food choices.
10. Sundance Square — Fort Worth
The area was named after a famous outlaw who used to hang out in Fort Worth (Sundance Kid, anyone?) but this Fort Worth centerpiece is where action happens downtown. Tourists and locals alike flock to the restaurants, shops, entertainment, festivals, and bars here.
11. Heritage Trails — Fort Worth
While designed for visitors, locals will equally enjoy the informative Heritage Trails walking tour. Currently, 22 markers provide interesting facts about the history of the city. For example, why is there a statue of a sleeping panther downtown, anyway?
a map of the trails so you can start where and when at your leisure.
12. White Rock Lake — Dallas
Lakes abound all around the area, but White Rock Lake provides exquisite sunsets and views of Dallas' skyline. It also is home to numerous bike and hike events and assorted outdoor entertainment throughout the year.
13. Thanks-Giving Square — Dallas
Thanks-Giving Square is a must-visit place to reflect and soothe your soul. The unique, ice-cream cone chapel is a architectural curiosity that is easy to spot.
The ceiling's beautiful stain-glass mosaics will have you glad you took the time to take in this reflective masterpiece.
Historical exhibits and artwork are on display there. The square includes more than the chapel; it includes A Court of All Nations, a garden area for meditation and reflection, a special events area, and a Hall of Thanksgiving.
14. McKinney Avenue Trolleys — Dallas
These historic trolleys are not only fun to ride, but provide easy off-and-on transportation to spots throughout the Dallas area. The air-conditioned and heated vintage trolleys have operated daily in Dallas' vibrant uptown area since 1989.
15. Reunion Tower — Dallas
Whether it's a spectacular fireworks display on special occasions or the nightly light show depicting local, state or national events, the Reunion Tower is something to see. Visitors have the option of visiting the observation tower there for a fee, but the iconic ball with its fun-to-watch light display steals the show.
16. Crow Collection of Asian Art — Dallas
Museums, especially ones with free entries, are never really tourist traps. But they can collect crowds. The Dallas - Fort Worth has numerous free nationally-renowned museums, including this one here at 2010 Flora St. Also check out the Kimball Art Museum in Fort Worth and the Dallas Museum of Art.
How many of these 16 “tourist traps” have you visited? Did you find them worthy of your time? While all these mentioned above are FREE (a huge plus here), The Dallas – Fort Worth area has many other tourist-worthy places that do come with a fee. Do you have any in particular that you’d recommend? We’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below.