My daughter had been to Fair Park to some of the museums, but we had so many other things that we wanted to do that she hadn't seen - so we didn't go.
Fair Park Campus Members
African American Museum - (214) 565-9026
Age of Steam Railroad Museum - (214) 428-0101
The Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park - (214) 670-8443
Dallas Museum of Natural History - (214) 421-3466
The Dallas Historical Society at the Hall of State - (214) 421-4500
The Science Place, TI Founders IMAX™ Theater, The Science Place Planetarium - (214) 428-5555
DAR Jane Douglas Chapter (214) 428-6964
Smirnoff Music Centre (214) 421-1111
State Fair of Texas - (214) 565-9931
Texas Discovery Gardens - (214) 428-7476
Music Hall at Fair Park - (214) 565-1116
Friends of Fair Park (Magnolia Lounge Building) - (214) 426-3400
WRR FM 101 Radio - (214) 670-8888
Vietnam Veterans Memorial - (972) 579-9430
The Women's Museum: An Institute for the Future - (214) 915-0860
Dallas Summer Musicals - (214) 421-5678
Dallas Opera - (214) 443-1043
Dallas Wind Symphony - (214) 565-9463
Old Mill Inn Restaurant - (214) 426-4600
Fair Park is a division of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department located two miles east of downtown Dallas. Fair Park is home to nine museums and six performance facilities, including the Band Shell and the Cotton Bowl Stadium. This National Historic Landmark has the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco exposition style architecture in the United States located on 277 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds. Special features include the Leonhardt Lagoon, Texas Vietnam Memorial and Smith Fountain. Over 749,000 square feet of enclosed space can be leased for conferences, exhibits, markets, festivals and sporting events. Over seven million people visit Fair Park annually for ticketed events with 3.5 million attending the State Fair of Texas for three weeks each fall
Fair Park is just a couple of miles from downtown Dallas, and has many attractions all in one place.. over 277 acres.
There are 9 museums and 6 performance venues. The park has become a National Historic Landmark and has the largest collection of 1930's Art Deco in the US.
For 3 weeks every year at the end of September, the State Fair of Texas is held in Fair Park.
The Texas Star has a permanent home in Fair Park and at 212 ft, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in North America.
September 26 - October 19, 2003 • Fair Park in Dallas
Considering I live within a few miles of the Dallas Fair Park, it's only natural that I skip on over for the huge state fair at some point each year. My catalyst is usually a musical act I want to catch. The last show I was excited to see there was Lucinda Williams. The concerts are free with state fair admission, no extra ticket is required which is great. But keep in mind they don't feel the need to give you the show they normally would. They tend to keep it shorter. But considering you have the fun of the fair, that's usually fine.
Fair favorites would be the musical acts, the fair foods, the great photo booths that sprout up around the place, the ones that take those fun black and white photo strips. One year they had a big I Love Lucy exhibit with loads of cool stuff including a set. It did have a separate entrance fee.
Just strolling around people-watching and drinking cold beer can be worth the trip.
Beware of the day of the Texas versus Oklahoma University football game. The fair is usually absolutely packed with rowdy fans. It's the major rivalry in this area and the game is held at a stadium at Fair Park.
• General Admission: $12
• Kids under 48" tall: $8
• Seniors 60 and over: $8
• Children 2 and under: Free
• Seniors 60 and over: Free every Thursday
There is also a Dr. Pepper Two Dollar Tuesday where if you bring a can, you can get in for 2 dollars.
PARKING: $7 in lots operated by the State Fair of Texas. Look for "Official State Fair Parking" signs. Valet Parking – available at Grand Avenue Gate or the Parry/Haskell entrance – is $20.
You can also buy advance tickets by following the weblink.
The Texas State Fair is a mega-event in this state. It's even been listed in the 1000 Places To See Before You Die guidebook (American/Canadian version).
We couldn't let another year go by without stopping in, so on the last weekend of this annual happening we ventured forth. It is one huge undertaking lasting over three weeks!
There are many parking lots surrounding the Fair Park, some closer than others--we paid $15 to enter one across the road from the main entrance. Although a steady number of us were arriving at the same time, the ticket line moved quickly. General admission was $14, $10 for seniors.
We entered the park just as the Indigo Rose Belly Dancers were performing (picture 2). Needless to say, a large group of people gathered around to see them shake their stuff. Next on the program came Mitotiliztli Yaohollohtli (opening pic), dressed in colorful costumes trimmed in glimmery gold and sporting feathered headdresses. Scandinavian Folk Dancers from Houston performed next, entertaining the crowd with their lively steps (picture 3) and cheerful banter.
As the sky grew dark and night approached, people began lining up, excitedly anticipating the STARLIGHT PARADE.
This nightly event boasted beautiful floats all lit up for the occasion, pretty girls dressed in ruffles and bows and animated characters that thrilled the little ones in the crowd.
The United States Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps added their talent to the mix and a truckload of Shriners perked up the evening with their music, too.
Popular entertainers such as, Billy Ray Cyrus, Boyz To Men, Jonas Brothers, Miranda Lambert and Third Day were scheduled to perform over the three weekends.
I would say our first taste of the Texas State Fair, was a pleasant one!
There are two Aquariums in Dallas. This is the one at Fair Park which is housed in the original Art Deco building which opened in June 1936 for the Texas Centennial. They have some interesting exhibits which includes some from the “Amazon Flooded Forest” to “World of Aquatic Diversity” exhibits. Some really unusual sights is a alligator snapping turtle which weighs 135lbs, a 5ft electric eel and venomous lion fishes. Three days a week (Tues, Thurs, Sat) you can also see piranha’s being fed. In all there are 5,000 aquatic animals, including marine and fresh-water fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.
The Midway was all aglow with lights! This area featured more than 80 rides and shows (pictures 1 & 2). At the far end of the Midway, the new Texas Skyway traveled from a loading station near BIG TEX to the opposite end of the Midway...1800 feet of fun (picture 3)!
The Thrill zone was adjacent to the Midway and offered X-treme rides like Sling Shot, 2 Extreme, Sky Coaster and The Booster. I spied a giant Ferris Wheel and several gyrating rides as we strolled through the ride area.
Crowd appealing shows presenting canine acrobats, racing pigs, 4H exhibitors, horse training demo, a BMX stunt show, puppet shows, prize contests featuring cooking, quilting, photography and crafts ran throughout the three weeks.
Also along the Esplanade on the exhibition buildings, you will see large colourful murals in the portico’s. The Centennial Building has 11 different paintings totalling 5550 sq. ft depicting the State’s history as well as its natural and industrial resources. Unfortunately over the many years since they were first created, they were painted over many times. Fortunately with sandblasting, the murals were found and restored.
The lagoon sits behind the Science Place, Imax Theatre and Museum of Natural History and fronts the Aquarium and Band Shell and was named after philanthropist Dorothea Leonhardt.
The lagoon operates Swan Paddle Boat rides from 10.00am to 6.00pm. at $5.00 per person or $10.00 per boat although it is a stretch to fit more than 2 adults unless it is a small child.
Other areas in the gardens are the Heirloom Garden, All American Garden, Shade Garden, Callier Garden, Sharkespeare Garden and the Scent Garden which is actually beside the main building and not enclosed. To the rear of the Tropical Conservatory is this bronze statue called The Gossip. Other statues are found around the gardens also.
I must admit that I was a little disappointed with the gardens. It was smaller than I expected and unless you are really interested in the nitty gritty of a lot of plants, you may also be a little disappointed.
The Planetarium side of the Science Place is in a separate building and is known as Science Place II, a 1936 Art Deco building. Various programs are going on at the Planetarium and you need to check at the time of your visit. The Public Planetarium shows are only be available on weekends.
Open: Tuesday - Friday 9:30am - 4:30pm; Saturday 9:30am - 5:30pm; Sunday 11:30am - 5:30pm.
Also in the same building is WRR FM101 which is Texas' first commercial radio station and the second.
Though Fair Park is most famous for hosting the Texas State Fair every year, Fair Park is home to 8 museums year round: Hall of State, African American Museum, Age of Steam Railroad Museum, Dallas Aquarium, Dallas Museum of Natural History, Science Place, Texas Discovery Gardens, and Women’s Museum. Hall of State follows the history of Texas and famous Texans. We visited the week after the State Fair and the Hall of State seemed very empty. Several of the rooms didn’t have exhibits. The few rooms that did featured a few Texans that served in the Texas Revolution, World Wars, and Civil War. My husband and I didn’t find the Hall of State very interesting at all. The Dallas Aquarium features 6,000 aquatic animals, including many from the region and Gulf of Mexico. We watched the sharks being fed, which was fun. The Aquarium is not very big though. We spent only an hour there. The Texas Discovery Gardens is an outdoor botanical garden featuring local plants and blooms. Though the gardens aren’t very large either, it does feature a butterfly garden and lovely open area with a water fountain. Overall, I’m a little disappointed in the offerings of the museums at Fair Park. Though there is a little bit of everything, there wasn’t any exhibits that were particularly impressive. Fair Park is also home to the Cotton Bowl Stadium, Coliseum, and Texas Star Ferris Wheel.
The Dallas Museum of Natural History gives a good overview of natural history: animals, dinosaurs...and, of course, specializes in Texas natural history. Many exhibits about animals native to Texas - as well as animals and dinsosaurs and etc...that have lived in Texas in the past.
Open 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Address: 3535 Grand Avenue
tel #: 214-421-DINO
The Science Place is a good place to take kids. There are exhibits on electricity, physics, dinosaurs, and much more...the good thing about it is that the exhibits are interactive...you get to participate while you learn. There's also an IMAX theatre...the best IMAX movies are always the ones that make you feel like you're on a rollercoaster or airplane.
address: 1318 2nd Ave
tel #: 214-428-5555
The Band Shell is right behind the Science Place. In 2000 it was refurbished back to its original 1936 look. All the lead paint was removed and new lighting was added. The shell has 3,800 permanent seats but can hold 4,500.
Just outside the Tropical Conservatory is the Leftwich Reflecting Pool which contains an aquatic plant collection that is maintained by the North Texas Water Garden Society. If you are lucky you will see some lily's flowering and you might just get to see the odd frog or two.