To prepare you for spring break -- March 12-16 for many North Texas school districts -- I’ve gathered get away suggestions easy on family budgets, but that won’t leave children at loss when asked how they spent their break.
I’ve planned these around the Dallas Area Rapid Transit’s routes for maximum penny-pinching. The few incidents of violence on DART may have made you wary of bringing your children on board, although I personally have ridden DART trains and buses for more than a quarter-century without seeing a single violent episode.
But if you want to drive, especially if pressed for time, there’s parking at or adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art, the Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Lots are also adjacent to the Dallas World Aquarium and the Sixth Floor Museum. The museum and aquarium parking lots take either cash or credit/debit cards. I haven’t parked at the Sixth Floor, but it’s only a few blocks from the aquarium, if you want to see both on one parking fee.
All DART train lines feed into downtown Dallas. (See www.DART.org for routes, schedules and ticket prices.) I’ll start from the east end of downtown and list attractions along the tracks.
First stop downtown is the Plaza of the Americas, at the Pearl Street DART station. Chill at the indoor ice skating rink, or just watch the skaters. As in the rest of downtown Dallas, there are plenty of fast, reasonably-priced restaurants open weekdays, catering to office workers.
Walk a few blocks north from either the Pearl Street station or the next stop on the route, St. Paul Street station, to reach the Crow Museum of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Dallas Museum of Art. See their sites, www.crowcollection.org/, www.nashersculpturecenter.org/, and www.dallasmuseumofart.org/ for exhibits and family-friendly events.
Back on the DART track west through downtown, you’ll find Thanks-giving Square about a block from the Akard Street station. Eating places abound in nearby office buildings, or bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the tranquility of the enclosed square and its spiral tower.
The next stop after Akard Street finds you in the West End. (Yes, parents, there are public restrooms in the nearby West End Transit Center.) Dallas’s West End is home to both the Dallas World Aquarium at 1501 N. Griffin Street (about a block from the train stop), and the Sixth Floor Museum, 411 Elm Street, in the former Texas School Book Depository (about four blocks from the West End station).
The aquarium will probably be your most expensive stop, but it’s a place to spend a day. There are restaurants and a snack bar, or eat at nearby sandwich shops to keep costs down. See www.dwazoo.com for the aquarium, and www.jfk.org for Sixth Floor Museum. (Please note that some Sixth Floor Exhibits may be emotionally demanding for young children.)
Outside the Sixth Floor Museum is Dealey Plaza. Walk a couple of blocks to “Old Red,” the nineteenth-century county courthouse turned museum, and east to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza with its “open tomb” designed by architect Philip Johnson.
Continue on DART to transfer to the Trinity Railroad Express (TRE) to Fort Worth (more about that next week) or stay on red line trains to the Dallas Zoo, 650 R.L. Thornton Expressway. For zoo information, including registration for spring break camps, see www.dallaszoo.com/. The sight of lions lounging outside the floor to ceiling restaurant windows in the zoo’s Giants of the Savannah exhibit is awe inspiring. My grandsons love the bug house and the playground at the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo near the entrance, although I doubt the water feature will be open this early.
There’s more than I can list in a single post. For additional information, revisit posts for August 15, 2011, (Dallas World Aquarium); November 14, 2011, (Sixth Floor Museum); November 21, 2011, (Thanks-giving Square); and January 2, 2012, (Nasher Sculpture Center and Dallas Museum of Art).
(Next Monday -- Totally Texas visits Fort Worth for more spring break adventures.)