For kids who are into sports, the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (tshof.org) educates young ones about all the exceptional Texas athletes through self-guided tours. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum (texasranger.org) tells the stories of the Rangers who served enforcing the law. Kids can join a Junior Ranger program teaching them honor and character modeled after the Rangers. The Dr. Pepper Museum (drpeppermuseum.com) guides young visitors through the history of the company and features tasting and creation.
Amusement and Game Centers
Lion's Park (no website; 1716 North 42nd St.; 254-772-3541) has kiddie rides, carousels, a train, putt-putt golf and go-karts. Covered picnicking areas and indoor party rooms are available for use as well. Skate World Family Entertainment Center (skateworldwaco.com) offers roller skating and indoor laser tag along with a full-service snack bar. Skate Country (skatecountrywaco.com) is the sister company of Skate World and has roller skating, a large indoor playground and a snack bar. Special theme nights such as Neon Nights Blackout Skate and Retro Night are frequently on the calendar.
Waco has five free splash pad parks for kids to cool off in the heat. Cameron Park (no website; 2200 Cameron Park Drive; 254-750-5980) has this feature along with three playgrounds, open playing fields and climbing rocks. Dewey Park (no website; 925 N. Ninth St.; 254-750-5980) also has a splash pad as well as fire pits, basketball courts and playgrounds. Brazos Park East (no website; 2000 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; 254-750-5980) provides something different situated along the river. It has docks for fishing, disc golf, horseshoe pits and picnic areas.
Art and Wildlife Education
The Art Center of Waco (artcenterwaco.org) provides children-oriented tours of the art exhibits educating them in art appreciation. Also available are art classes for kids using a variety of mediums such as clay and paint. In summer, the center offers an art camp for kids. Cameron Park Zoo (cameronparkzoo.com) boasts 52 acres of natural habitat for animals creating an up-close experience with nature's most exotic creatures. Residents of the park include giraffes, rhinos, tortoises, gibbons, lions, tigers, orangutans, Komodo dragons, lemurs and meerkats.
Teens could spend all day hanging out at any one of the many fun centers in the area. Adventure Landing provides a quarter-mile go-kart track, an 18-hole miniature golf course, an indoor laser tag battle arena, batting cages and over 80 arcade games. Another option is Dave & Busters, an upscale arcade and game venue. It has arcade versions of popular smart phone games such as Temple Run and Cut the Rope, billiard tables, air hockey, shuffle board and a number of other interactive games. Speed Zone features several go-kart tracks, including dragster tracks, slick tracks and racing loops. It also has miniature golf and a roller coaster.
Teens will find all kinds of interesting sites and places to hang out at Fair Park. It is 277 acres of museums, recreational fields, historical landmarks, restaurants, performance halls, gardens, sports courts and amusement rides. White Rock Lake is in a more natural and relaxed setting. The lake itself is over 1,000 acres with hike and bike trails surrounding the shores, a wetlands area for bird watching, ideal fishing spots and lots of space for sunbathing, picnicking and swimming. For a break from cruising around downtown, the Main Street Garden is a serene oasis in the city center providing green space, fountains and benches.
Bowling and Skating Centers
USA Bowl has 58 lanes of bowling, a game room, a snack bar, billiard tables and a lounge. Teens can bowl a few rounds or just hang out for the arcade and snacks. For the teens who enjoy the classic roller skating venue, a night out to White Rock Skate Center is an idea. It is a family friendly establishment with in-line and quad skate rentals, games and a snack bar. For some thrills on the ice, teens can spend some time at the Ice Skating Center at the Galleria. It is a fully enclosed rink in the middle of the Galleria Mall.
Many teens enjoy being around the music scene. The Door is a popular concert hall featuring up-and-coming bands and several well-established bands. The venue is open to all ages, all the time, making it accessible to teenagers. Another possible place to see a live show is at the Gexa Energy Pavilion. Located in Fair Park, the outdoor amphitheater seats 20,000 with high back chairs and lawn seating. Some of the past performances that have taken the stage include the Jonas Brothers and Keith Urban.
Located on the shoreline of White Rock Lake near downtown, the Dallas Arboretum features many seasonal-specific activities and programs for babies. It has Mommy and Me Mondays, which typically includes face painting, music, a petting zoo and picnicking opportunities. There are many activities during the fall season, such as a pumpkin patch and daily hay rides. This location also features botanical gardens and summertime evening concerts that are ideal family outings.
Dallas Arboretum 8525 Garland Road Dallas, TX 75218 214-515-6500 dallasarboretum.com
This city zoo has numerous exhibits, including a children’s zoo, aquarium, monorail system, and the Wilds of Africa, featuring elephants, tigers, monkeys and more. The 95-acre zoo has strollers and wagons available, as well as older children’s programs for toddlers and kids. There is also a carousel and food court at the zoo, making it perfect for a whole day of family fun. There is no admission fee for kids under the age of two.
Dallas Zoo 650 South R.L. Thornton Freeway (I-35E) Dallas, TX 75203 214-670-5656 dallaszoo.com
Angelika Film Center and Cafe
The Angelika is located on Mockingbird Lane near Southern Methodist University and popular Greenville Avenue. It features many indie and foreign language films, and even sells gourmet coffee and cocktails at the café. This theater also offers Crybaby Matinees, which is a program designed for parents and infants. The featured movies are independent films, but the theater is set up for parents, with low lighting to assist with nursing moms. Crying babies are regular occurrences, so parents don’t have to worry about disturbing other moviegoers.
Angelika Film Center and Cafe 5321 East Mockingbird Lane Dallas, TX 75206 214-841-4700 angelikafilmcenter.com
Emler Swim School
This swim school has several metroplex locations and offers classes for infants and toddlers. The Waterbabies class is designed for babies from six to 35 months with no water skills, and it teaches babies underwater breath control. Parents are taught how to use games and songs to teach their babies how to swim. The Advanced Waterbabies class teaches infants how to swim and move through the water. Both classes involve parents and their infants, and there are numerous classes for toddlers and older children.
Frisco Location 7151 Preston Road Frisco, TX 75034 972-599-7946 iswimemler.com
Plano Location 4621 West Park Blvd., Ste. 104 Plano, TX 75093 972-599-7946 iswimemler.com
Preston Forest Location 11909 Preston Road, Ste. 1422 Dallas, TX 75230 972-851-7946 iswimemler.com
Strikz Entertainment in Frisco is 13 miles away from McKinney. It has 20 lanes of standard bowling and 12 lanes of boutique bowling, which has couches, big screens and premier service. Whether teens would want the upgrade, it's there for them. The facility provides parties packages for teens, too. Another option is Allen Bowl, situated 9 miles from McKinney in Allen. It has glow bowling, a snack bar, youth leagues and an arcade room.
Historic Main Street
Your teenagers might enjoy walking through the historic downtown district, which has more than 100 shops and restaurants. For those who have an interest in magic shows and tricks, Main Street Magic and Fun Company would be a intriguing place to go. It has several novelty items, including puzzles, games, magic trick kits and props. Classes for 13 years old and older are available, such as how to do card tricks and how to make things vanish. For an lesson in history, teens can tour through the district learning about the many authentic buildings and sites along the way.
Get your teens into the fresh air. Erwin Park is a 212-acre recreational area with plenty of options for teenagers. They can take advantage of 9 miles of mountain bike trails, relax by the lake for some fishing and maybe even throw the disc around in the open space. For a way to build an appreciation of nature, make a visit to the Heard Natural Science Museum and Wildlife Sanctuary. It places an emphasis is on wildlife education and preservation. The 289-acre wildlife sanctuary consists of five habitats: prairie, wetlands, bottom land forest, upland forest and white rock escarpment. Teens can hike around and explore the area keeping an eye out for critters and exotic vegetation.
Dave & Busters is 13 miles away from McKinney in Frisco. It has a selection of games your teens might love, including an arcade version of Temple Run and Cut the Rope, billiards, shuffleboard and air hockey. Twenty-one miles from McKinney in Garland is Nickelrama Nickel Arcade. While there is an admission price to get in, guests are able to play a range of games for nickels. It has skee ball, simulator experiences, classic games and plenty of redemption games.
Keep your kids active on a rainy day by visiting one of Dallas’s skating rinks such as White Rock Skate Center and Super Skate. Both skating rinks rent in-line and traditional quad skates to their patrons depending on which type of skate your child prefers. Super Skate offers open-skate hours Wednesday through Saturday and also has an arcade area in its facility to add to the fun. White Rock Skate Center has public skate times on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday during the school year. During the Summer, the venue is also open on Thursday.
Create a fun and educational experience for your child when the rain keeps you indoors. Dallas is home to a variety of museums including the Dallas Museum of Art and the Perot Museum of Science and Nature. The Dallas Museum of Art was built with families in mind. Kids can enjoy hands-on workshops, watch family films, join the kids club or enjoy the visual art the museum offers. The Perot Museum of Science and Nature provides an exciting day for the child who is eager to learn. Explore interactive kiosks, educational games and hands-on activities. The museum has 11 permanent exhibit halls, including the Moody Family Children’s Museum that was designed for children 5 years of age and younger.
Visit a Dallas arcade where kids can win prizes and test their skills on a variety of games. Dave and Buster’s is a game complex with a Dallas location that has video games, a full menu of food and prizes to entertain the kids. Enjoy some of the new games offered such as Dizzy Chicken or Harpoon Lagoon, which is a four-player game the whole family can enjoy. SpeedZone is a family fun center in Dallas that has an indoor arcade to cater to kids on rainy days. The arcade area features a wide variety of game choices such as snowboarding, dancing and horse racing. When your kids work up a hunger, your family can dine on burgers, fries and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets.
Take the kids out for a bowling adventure in Dallas. USA Bowl is a 58-lane bowling alley that is smoke-free and opens daily at 10 a.m. The venue also features a game room for entertainment and a cafe so your family can snack while you bowl. The Dallas location of Bowlmor offers bowling and a full arcade to fill a rainy day with fun activities. The restaurant serves kids’ favorites such as burgers, cheese quesadillas, nachos and corn dogs.
Science and Nature Camps
At the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, your children can attend one of the traditional day camps, where they will get to participate in a variety of activities, ranging from educational outdoor experiences to learning how to swim. The Dallas Zoo offers an assortment of summer camps for kids, giving children the opportunity to get up close and personal with animals and learn all about them at the same time. Your children can also participate in one of the camps at Perot Museum of Nature and Science, including summer day camp where kids complete hands-on science experiments and learn about scientific concepts.
Art Programs and Camps
If you have an artist on your hands, you can send your child to a summer art camp at Studio Arts. The week-long camp gives kids the opportunity to explore various art materials and create fun projects. Alternatively, your kids could go to the Dallas Museum of Art for a summer art camp. Your child can choose from a variety of camps, such as Art All Around; ARTwear Fashion; Lights, Camera, Action; Doodles and Drawings, and Once Upon a Time, to enjoy everything from live performance art to sculpture.
At the Dallas Library, you'll find an array of educational programs occurring throughout the summer. For example, the Dallas Museum of Art presents Go Van Gogh "Imaginary Worlds" is a program where kids get to create a world for an imaginary creature and learn about artists. The Summer Photography Workshop teaches kids about the basic of photography, including how to use a digital camera and how to print photos. At the Engineer It: Basic Builders program, your children can learn all about common forms of simple machines and how they are used to make work easier for people, and the Zooniversity: Where the Wild Things Are program features live animals and teaches all sorts of interesting facts about each one.
Math and Computer Camps
Your children can attend one of the iD Tech Camps in Dallas. A computer camp is held at Southern Methodist University and includes courses like video game design, video editing, programming and app development. At the University of Texas Dallas, your kids can go for one of the educational programs, including the AwesomeMath Summer Program, Quad Copter Camp or the WIP Physics Camp. Or, you could sign your kids up for Camp Invention, held at Dallas area schools during the summer. This week-long summer enrichment program teaches kids all about teamwork and problem-solving, while they work on activities like experiments and engineering challenges.