The national recession may be coming to an end, but family budgets remain tight. How can a Dallas-Fort Worth family still have fun on vacation but not spend too much money?
The answer, of course, is a staycation. A staycation is a vacation taken at home, seeing all the sights and enjoying activities a busy family normally doesn’t have time for. The key to a staycation is to make it feel special by planning fun outings, especially ones that are new to your family.
Take heart Dallas-Fort Worth families, I’m here to help you with ideas.
Ideas for the Whole Family
1. Take a trip to the old west at the Fort Worth Stockyards: The Fort Worth Stockyards provide a living history of the cattle industry. Cattle are herded down the street daily at 11:30am and 4pm. Families can catch a rodeo on Friday or Saturday night, or puzzle their way through the giant Cowtown Cattlepen Maze (open M-Th10am-6pm, F-Sat 10am-10pm, and Sun 12pm-6pm, tickets $5/person). For the shopping-minded family members, the Fort Worth’s Stockyard Station not only has 25 shops, but the younger kids will enjoy the petting zoo, pony rides, and stagecoach rides (open every day 10am-6pm). To capture the adventure for a lifetime, the Jersey Lilly Old Time Photo Parlor offers old-time pictures for your family complete with costumes (packages starting at $25, open M-Th10am-6pm, F-Sat10am-7pm, Sun11am-5pm).
2. Take a journey for your taste buds at the Dallas Farmer’s Market: Open everyday year round, the Dallas Farmer’s Market offers local produce, commercial produce, and area meats and shops. Enjoy fresh roasted corn or a great local taco in the open-air market, while listening to the charming sounds of a local harmonica busker. Buy some local plants and enjoy some family time in the garden, or plan a completely local meal with your kids, pick up the ingredients, and cook with your kids.
3. Get in the holiday spirit at the Galleria: Not only does the Galleria offer an array of shopping, it also offers a ice skating rink ($8/person, $3 for skate rental) and a play area for the kids.
A winter staycation wouldn’t be complete without perusing local holiday activities.
1. Chill out at the Gaylord: ICE at the Gaylord Texan offers a Charlie Brown themed winter-wonderland of ice sculptures. The exhibit is open daily from 10am until at least 9pm (10pm Fri-Sat); Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children 4-12, $18 for seniors (55+), free for children $3 and under Monday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, prices increase to $23 for adults, $12 for children, and $20 for seniors. Free self-parking is included.
2. Decorate a gingerbread house and ride trains at Northpark Centre: December 4 and 5, gather the kids up to decorate Gingerbread houses at Northpark Centre, Dallas ($10/child, Sat 11am-6pm, Sun 1pm-6pm). If you can’t make that day, train rides are running throughout the holiday season; the train runs through miniature landmarks kids and adults are sure to love ($6 for adults, $3 for kids 3-12 and seniors, free for kids 2 and under, open M-Sat 10am-10pm, Sun 12pm-6pm). Both events benefit local charities.
3. Learn how to not be a Grinch at the AT&T Performing Arts Center in Dallas: December 7-12, How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Musical will be performed at the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $30 for adults.
Sometimes, adults need to have their own fun. Stick the kids with a baby-sitter, and have a night (or day) out on the town.
1. Discover your inner oenophile at the wineries in historic downtown Grapevine: Downtown Grapevine lives up to its name, offering a selection of 8 wineries serving local wines. Wine tasting prices vary according to the winery (Su Vino, for instance, is $6 for four selections).
2. Catch a show at the AT&T Performing Arts Center: The kids may enjoy How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but for a more adult time, why not enjoy a jazz- or ballet-filled evening out?
With a little ingenuity, a staycation can be just as fun as “real” vacation, sure to give your family memories for many years to come. Enjoy Dallas-Fort Worth at its best!