Welcome to “BIG D” Little Bro! There’s SO much to do!

I’m just THRILLED that my younger, taller, wiser brother Jake has just arrived in Dallas with his lovely wife and baby TO LIVE!!
Though Jake and Sarah both grew up here, A LOT has changed since they left. There is a LOT to do, much of it FREE, and they will be rediscovering Dallas through the eyes of their 1-year-old little girl! They have been in Chicago for over 10 years, and I don’t want the Texas heat to scare them away. SO I”m gonna do some helpful posts to keep ’em here. Enjoy and discover your city in a whole new way! Or pass on to someone you know who’s also new to town. Here are just some of the reasons it’s a great place to be…(I mean, other than all the great “Mommy Manders” seminars, play-dates, and events, of course.) PLEASE post a comment to let my brother and family know YOUR favorite family spot to go in Dallas!
  •  Okay science-geek brother,  I know you’re excited about the The Perot Museum!! Poppy will like the children’s area, too. And we have a family pass, so I can get y’all in…Sarah can get some great ideas for teaching 3rd grade science!
  • The Dallas Arboretum is about to open up a new Children’s Garden – Yea! It’s already fabulous, and it opens early to members so you can take early-riser Poppy for a stroll before it reaches double-digits…You and Sarah check out the fun evening concerts there, and I’ll babysit. (I can get you in on our card…)

Dallas Arboretum Logo

Our Favorite Dallas PARKS:
  • Caruth Park– great fountains, shade, soccer fields, tennis courts, bridges, playground, ducks, picnic spot
  • Coffee Park– right up the road from Caruth Park, this one has lots more climbing fun for kids, but not as much nature. It’s right across the street from Mooyah Burgers

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  • Lakewood Park on Williamson – LOTS of shade, a pavilion, a playground, a creek, right by St. John’s and lake…great for picnics and rock-hopping and lazy summer afternoons
  • Preston Hollow Park – great shade, swings, covered pavillion, and BIG sand box
  • Scottish Rite Playground in Oak Lawn – We call this the “Crayon Park” – Stop by and pick up a picnic at EatZi’s or go inside to get some popcorn, see the giant mobile of toys, and look through the world’s largest kaleidoscope!

Other Favorite Summer Family Outings around town:

  • Check out White Rock Local Market Saturdays! Fun family-friendly hang-out for green foodies with lots of fun for kids…we like to ride our bikes there.
  • Dallas Farmer’s Market (Tues through Sunday you can get lunch in Shed 2), but they are open daily – FREE, Take along some cash and your own grocery bags. Let the kids wander through, enjoy samples, and choose some healthy, fresh produce. Plan a meal and cook together with some of your finds. Get some lunch and share ice cream while you are there. (When my in-laws visit us from Oklahoma, they always make one stop before coming to our house: the Texas Meat counter at Farmer’s Market for some favorite sausage!) Take a look at the website for info on seasonal foods to look for, specialty food vendors, food from local farms, and more!
“The Lakes” in The Village. We lived here for 8 years, and still go at least once a week for the fabulous outdoor experience -walking trails, lakes, bridges, ducks, fountains, field, sand volley ball which doubles as a giant sandbox! (pools!) You’ve got to take your kids to explore this hidden gem, find everything on my “noticing” nature walk list (made especially for our family time at “The Lakes”), pick up a picnic from Central Market just around the corner. Take a blanket, some books, some sand toys, a ball, and stay for a few hours…(You can use the bathroom in the Village Country Club or Lakes office.)
  • FREE: Explore the beautiful SMU campus on foot, bike, or scooter – Go for a “Wishing” walk with some pennies at all the beautiful fountains or a “Statue” walk. Take a camera and “pose” like the statues that you find: SMU has done lots of renovating and has lots of new beautiful spots…Park for free in the visitor parking area in the Meadows garage, check out the big “Wave” sculpture and fountains around the oval on Bishop Blvd., culminating in the big one in front of Dallas Hall. (Peek into Perkins Chapel and say a prayer of thanks for your family – this is where my parents and my hubby and I were married!) Talk about the different buildings you see, and what different subjects the people are studying. Venture east of the oval to see some more beautiful new buildings, fountains, and statues.Venture west for a treat at “I Heart Yogurt” or lunch at Chick-fil-A on Hillcrest. (Or try eating on campus at one of the many eateries, smu dining options,) smu map
  • White Rock Skate – I grew up going to b’day parties in this neighborhood spot that’s been in Lake Highlands since 1973. I remember enjoying the crushed ice in the sodas at the snack shop, and that good feeling of removing the skates (brown leather with orange wheels) from soar feet. My brother broke his arm their twice! Sundays is Family Day, 1-5, kids are free and parents are only $2. Save for a HOT day!
  • McKinney Avenue Trolley – FREE. This is one of the special outings that Dustin likes to take the kids on. I did join them last summer – take it to the DMA, Cafe Express on McKinney (good outdoor seating), and to Fountain Place (1445 Ross Ave) – another FREE favorite family activity of ours!


my brother Jake and me as kids enjoying “Fountain Place”

  • Dallas Museum of ArtFirst Tuesdays at DMA are FREE for families, and they have lots of activities for kids. It does get very busy…
  • FREE family movies outside – most of these are past are kids bedtimes, but we might stay out late one night…try movies under the moon at Park Lane and Central after eating at Whole Foods upstairs.
  • Cool off in an area Sprayground – FREE and pure joy! open 8am-8pm, locations (We enjoy the one in Lake Highlands where there is also a cheap community pool where the kids are signed up for cheap swim lessons!)

  • Here fishy, fishy! Hot day? Dustin recently took the kids to the new children’s aquarium at Fair Park, and gave it rave reviews. It is much more affordable than the Dallas World Aquarium….Or visit ALL the museums there…

  • Visit a Farm: Samuell Farm in Mesquite is only $2-$3, has fishing, petting zoo, picnic area, horse rides, hiking trails, and more…Check out events at Dallas Heritage Village (not quite a farm) downtown, near Farmer’s Market. “Barnyard Buddies” story-times on Wednesdays,, $5 for kids w/ 1 free adult, Family Past-time Days on Sunday afternoons, $9 adults, kids free
  • Give back together through Wee Volunteer of Dallas, and give your young children the chance to benefit from developmentally appropriate volunteer opportunities around town, including music, crafts, story-time, and more. Sign up for monthly e-mails with projects dates.

  • FREE: Build Together at Home Depot! Every first Saturday morning of the month, try a new kid-friendly project…Read about it…

  • Go see the chicks at the coolest Hardware Store in town, the new Gecko Hardware here in Lake Highlands…They also have Saturday mornings projects for kids!
Photo: Summer is here, and our chick season is ending! We have Silver Laced Wyandottes, Appenzellar Spitzhaubens, Lemon Cuckoo Orpingtons, and Easter Egg Orpingtons! Come and get them while supplies last... :)
  • Visit the animals at PetSmart in Old Town…fish, kittens, puppies, birds, lizards, and more!
  • Visit your Auntie LALA!!! She’s FREE and she’s lots of FUN! She’ll teach you songs and signs and rhymes and stories. And she’ll give you chocolate!  (Just kidding, Sarah…just kisses.)
Want More? Dallas Child Magazine online…things to do around town, great restaurants for families, doctors, classes, EVERYTHING for Dallas Children and Parents!