Dallas with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Dallas with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Dallas, Texas -- known as the "Big D" -- may look industrial, but hiding beneath the large buildings are some spots that are fun for the whole family including tweens. There is an abundance of enjoyable places in Dallas for tweens.


Start the day off right with a healthy breakfast from Cafe Brazil University Park (6420 N. Central Expressway, Dallas, TX 75206, 214-691-7791) a Dallas original famous for its Brazilian-inspired breakfasts and specialty roasted coffees from around the world. Known city-wide for the diverse assortment of omelets and crepes, Cafe Brazil offers diners the choice of creating a custom omelet with everything from spicy chorizo (a Texas favorite) to portobello mushrooms to more traditional ingredients such as ham and cheese. Youngsters with less refined tastes can skip the omelet and turn directly to the Build-Your-Own-Pancakes page of the menu. Breakfast dishes ranges anywhere from $5.49 - $9.99, and doors remain open 24 hours a day. Insider tip: Try to arrive a little after 7AM to avoid dealing with staff changeovers after the long evening shift.

Now you can head over for a ride on the Dallas Area Rapid Transit or DART train, which runs throughout the city. For your first stop, take the Red Line and head over to the Dallas Zoo (650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35E), Dallas, TX 75203, 214-670-5656). The zoo opens at 9AM, and you will want to get there early to beat the crowds and the heat of the day (if you are going in the spring or summer). The zoo is filled with fun activities for the whole family. Popular exhibits include ZooNorth and the Wilds of Africa. Ticket prices are $12 for adults (ages 12-64) and $9 for children (ages 3-11).

After an event-filled time at the zoo in Dallas, take your tweens in the DART train's Green Line to Fair Park [LINK?] (3921 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Dallas, TX 75210, 214-565-9931), a cultural and entertainment center with eight museums and several performance facilities. If you're there in the fall, you may find the State Fair of Texas, which attracts more than 3.5 million people for approximately three weeks of entertainment, rides, an auto show, creative arts, livestock shows and great food.

If the fair isn't going on, Fair Park has plenty of other attractions. Families with tweens may particularly enjoy the Museum of Nature & Science (3535 Grand Avenue and 1318 South Second Avenue, Dallas, TX, 75315, 214-428-5555), which consists of three different buildings: the Nature building (3535 Grand Ave.), the Science building (1318 South Second Ave.) and the Planetarium building (1620 First Ave.). The Museum of Nature & Science also includes an IMAX theater and is open Monday-Friday from 10AM to 5PM, Saturday from 10AM to 6PM and Sunday from noon to 6PM. Admission is $10 for adults; $9 for children 12-17 and $7 for kids 2-11. The IMAX and Planetarium admissions are extra.


For a wallet-friendly lunch, venture over to the McDonald's (13105 Montfort Drive, Dallas, TX, 75240, 972-233-5952) in North Dallas. Sound run of the mill? Not in Texas! This particular fast-food haven was featured on the Travel Channel's "10 Most Unique McDonalds in the World" as it is shaped like a giant Happy Meal box. Inside the colossal glass structure is a classic children's play area, but this particular playground features a giant Ronald McDonald and a view of the Texas skyline. Despite its comical exterior, this McDonald's is actually quite fashionable on the inside, with black marble restrooms, cherry wood booths and faux floral arrangements throughout.

Midday is one of the hottest times in Texas so, unless it's the middle of winter, beat the Texas heat by moseying over to the Galleria Dallas after lunch, which is located behind the McDonald's (13350 Dallas Parkway, Dallas, TX 75240, 972-702-7100). Nestled in the center of this shopper's paradise is a large ice-skating rink, complete with jungle-themed play center for the little ones. The ice-skating rink, which has hosted elite skaters from around the world, is located directly below the Galleria atrium, which allows natural light to stream in from above. The beautiful setting acts as the centerpiece for events such as the yearly Christmas tree lighting ceremony. Admission to the rink is $8 plus a $3 skate rental, and doors open weekdays at 10AM and weekends at noon. Insider tip: Evening hours are less crowded so doing a little shopping before hitting the rink is recommended. Also, remember to bring a pair of socks as they are required for all skate rentals.


After a refreshing glide around the rink, top off your magical day in Dallas with a choice between two unique dinner experiences:

The Magic Time Machine (5003 Beltline Drive, Dallas, TX 75254, 972-980-1903) offers diners a unique experience as pop-culture icons pervade the premises. Cinderella, Spiderman, Jack Sparrow and a host of other crazy characters act as both server and entertainer. Never breaking character, these waiters/actors get into their parts and incite laughter from children and adults alike. The menu is pretty standard Texas fare, chock full of ribs, steak and chicken dishes. The kid's menu features chicken fingers, popcorn shrimp and cheese pizza. Insider tip: The dinner is neither here nor there, but the atmosphere is a hoot. Even the dining rooms feature quirky paraphernalia, such as a vintage 1952 MG Roadster. Dinner is a little pricey, with kid's meals running about $8 a pop, but the photo ops are well worth the price.

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (2021 N. Stemmons, Dallas, Texas 75207, 866-543-9637) is a dinner attraction based in the 11th century, complete with a castle, a moat filled with koi, feasts, medieval games and jousting tournaments. The "Bill of Fare" includes garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, oven-roasted chicken, spare ribs, herb-basted potatoes, pastries, vegetarian meals and select beverages. Rates run $58.95 for adults and $39.95 for children 12 and under, plus tax.

Dallas offers families with tweens a chance to experience the southern hospitality of Texas while also enjoying the modern delights of the big city. So hurry down, y'all!

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