Dallas isn’t usually celebrated for its closeness to nature (unless you mean the grass on the Dallas Cowboys’ home field), but this glitzy city on the plains is home to a myriad of parks, greenways, city paths, and even the largest urban floodplain forest on earth . In fact, there are over 400 parks in the city system, ranging from fairs to lakes and jogging trails.

In the coming years, Dallas will also be home to the vast 200-acre Harold Simmons Park, which is laid out around the Trinity River and designed to absorb floods and provide a place for the Dallasites to play – although it’s still under construction. Until then, there is plenty to see and do outdoors, from historic squares and places to meditate, to hangouts for yoga and golf, to places perfect for a picnic or photo op. If you’re looking for a park in Dallas, Texas, these are our favorites.

Sunny spring day in Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. People eat in the food trucks. Alamy Stock Photo

1. Klyde Warren Park

It’s a bit like Dallas’ version of the New York High Line – this fun park towers over the underground Woodall Rodgers Freeway. Its 5 acres are easily packed with both Dallas devotees looking for a place for the kids to let off steam and activities that range from chess and croquet to yoga classes, tai chi, salsa classes , Bootcamp fitness classes, and a bevy of food trucks range.

There is a dog park with a fenced off area for off-leash play, a children’s park, and a stage for performances like Shakespeare in the park. Near the Dallas Arts District, you can easily get to Klyde Warren on the M-Line tram or walk over to nearby attractions such as the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

2. Trinity Overlook Park

The Trinity Overlook is a small park that provides access to Flood Road and offers a view of the Margaret McDermott and Margaret Hunt Hill Bridges right next to the Commerce Bridge. It offers great views of the Dallas Floodway and shade from the sun thanks to a permanent architectural sail. It’s a good place to cool off after a walk or run on the 7.6-mile Trinity Skyline Trail that runs from the Overlook to Trammell Crow Park. It’s also the lovely vantage point for sunrises and sunsets – and on the rare occasions when it really snows, you can slide down the flanks of the dike.

Fair Park Art Deco2CDJMRX Fair Park Art Deco Alamy Stock Photo

3. Exhibition park

Fair Park was originally built for the Texas Centennial Exposition in 1936, and its gorgeous Art Deco aesthetic reflects its nearly 100-year history. Today Fair Park is home to seven museums, including the African American Museum, Children’s Aquarium, Hall of State, Discovery Gardens, and the Perot Museum of Nature & Science in Fair Park.

Don’t miss to say hello to Big Tex, a statue that also happens to be the tallest cowboy in the world. At the Esplanade fountain there is a water show with music every half hour, while you paddle around the Leonhardt lagoon on a classic swan boat. The Texas Skyway and Texas Star are classic fairground attractions – a gondola ride and a Ferris wheel, respectively, to get a bird’s eye view of this pretty park. Fair Park also plays host to large and small events on Dallas’s calendar of events, from the epic annual State Fair to bike races, sustainability symposia and special visiting experiences like the NERF Challenge.

To get to Fair Park, take the DART Rail Green Line, Trinity Railway Express, or Denton County A train. There are 14,000 parking spaces around the park, which are not only suitable for cars, but also for buses and campers. Bicycle racks are located at the Dos Equis Pavilion and at the DART stations. Keep in mind that public transportation to Fair Park can fill up quickly during a major event like the State Fair.

Sculpture of a teddy bear (author JT Williams) in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas, USAD8XT02 Sculpture of a teddy bear (JT Williams author) in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas, USA Stock Photo

4. Park by the lake

Every picnic is a teddy bear picnic on the lakeside in the Tony Highland Park neighborhood – this quirky woodland square is filled with statues of giant teddy bears that turn the usual size difference you have into your favorite stuffies. It’s understandably popular for family portraits and Instagram snaps, but there are also 14 acres of hiking trails, azaleas, and a scenic bridge over Turtle Creek. If you’re really ambitious, this is where the Turtle Creek Greenbelt Trail joins and takes you almost two miles, including through nearby Reverchon Park.

5. Stevens Park Golf Course and the North Oak Cliff Greenspace

Located in a little corner of Oak Cliff, Stevens Park Golf Course is one of the city’s oldest public courses, founded in the 1920s by Jackie Burke Senior. Despite its PGA pedigree and affluent location, it’s still popular for its affordable green fees, easy access from downtown, and beautiful views. In 2012, the North Oak Cliff Greenspace was added, which connects Stevens Park with the Coombs Creek Trail and several neighborhoods. The NOCG offers fitness stations and art installations and lots of lawn to spread out with a blanket. Upkeep is sponsored in part through an annual golf tournament at Stevens Park Links.

shutterstock_1584970078.jpgDALLAS, USA – FEBRUARY 12, 2006: The Longhorn Cattle Sculpture in Pioneer Plaza, Dallas, TX; Shutterstock ID 1584970078; You: Meghan O’Dea; gl: 65050; netsuite: digital editing; full: request Shutterstock / Robert Mullan

6. Pioneer Plaza and Cemetery

Pioneer Plaza is home to a herd of 40 bronze longhorns sculpted in honor of the cattle drives that once defined Dallas and Fortworth, and it’s a fun sight. Nearby is the final resting place of many early Dallas settlers with gravestones dating from the 1850s to 1920s. The Pioneer Cemetery is a shady, atmospheric place in the middle of the bustle of the city. Locals walk their dogs among the scattered headstones, which date back to four cemeteries that originally stood here, including cemeteries for members of the Masonic and Odd Fellows Lodges, as well as the original Dallas Jewish cemetery.

7. White Rock Lake Park

Dallas has a certain love-hate relationship with water that either seems to find too much in the wrong places (like the Trinity River Floodplain) or not enough where and when it is needed, as was the case in the early 20th century, Dallas dammed White Rock Creek to create a reservoir. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps of the city of Dallas helped transform the shores of the man-made lake into the city’s backyard.

During the day, there are nearly ten miles of trails for hiking and biking, picnic spots to rent, the Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Gardens, an Audubon Society birding area, dog park, boat ramps, piers, and a kayak, SUP, and canoe rental kiosk. There is a weekend farmers market and all kinds of events held throughout the year, from charity walks and marathons to concerts. The Corinthian Sailing Club and White Rock Boat Club are also here – fishing is popular.

After dark, generations of children were made goofy by White Rock Lake’s own ghost story. According to legend, the lady of the lake, dressed entirely in white, haunts the shore and asks drivers to drive home or knocks on the residents’ doors – only to disappear, leaving behind a damp puddle and an uncanny coldness.

Grassy Knoll (site of the Kennedy assassination), Dealey Plaza Historic District, West End, Dallas, Texas, United States of AmericaGrassy Knoll (site of the Kennedy assassination), Dealey Plaza Historic District, West End, Dallas, Texas, United States of America stock photo

8. Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll

Dealey Plaza was originally built in 1935 to commemorate the original Dallas settlement that revolved around this property. But it’s notorious for the site of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the tangle of conspiracy theories that have made the neighboring Grassy Knoll synonymous with intrigue and paranoia. Grab a blanket and a good book on Texas history or Cold War-era politics and post yourself on the Grassy Knoll to relax in the middle of town.

9. Dragon Park

Tucked away in Oaklawn on Cedar Springs and Hood Street, Dragon Park is a curious photographer magnet full of statues of lions, angels and, yes, dragons. There is a beautiful wrought iron gazebo amid the gravel walkways and ornamental trees. Keep in mind that this pretty garden is technically private property so be extra respectful.

shutterstock_1051712708.jpgDallas, TX, USA May 19th Inspirational words appear on a mural in Thanks Giving Square in downtown Dallas, Texas. The area was designed as a spiritual oasis in the heart of a big city; Closure material ID 1051712708; You: Meghan O’Dea; gl: 65050; Netsuite: Onl Shutterstock / James Kirkikis

10. Thanksgiving place

Listen to your favorite insight timer flow or mindfullness podcast – this downtown pocket park, designed by Philip Johnson, is meant to be a “place where people can use gratitude as a foundation for dialogue, mutual understanding and healing.” There’s a meditation garden, an interdenominational chapel you might recognize from the 2011 film The Tree Of Life, a gratitude-themed museum, and even a Wall of Praise that shows a mosaic version of Norman Rockwell’s “Golden Rule” painting.

11. Bark Park Central

Under the US75 flyover in colorful Deep Ellum is Bark Park Central, 1.2 acres of furry fun where dogs can play off-leash and people can enjoy the shade. Like the rest of the neighborhood, Bark Park is decorated with murals, especially those with a dog theme. There are dog showers, drinking facilities, and a pet waste station to keep Fido feeling fresh. You can grab a sip or snack at the nearby Trinity Cider or Pizzeria Cane Rosso, both of which are pet-friendly – in fact, the owners of Cane Rosso run an animal rescue service too.

12. Dallas Heritage Village

Dallas Heritage Village is especially interesting for families and history buffs – you can see an indigenous teepee, civil war farmhouse, Victorian Blum house, general store, and preserved apartment buildings that were once home to enslaved people. The 38 buildings here were rescued from various locations around the Metroplex, from Plano to the grounds of DFW Airport, and are grouped in historic Old City Park to give a feel for life in 19th century Texas. Excursions are common here during school days and kids love the demonstrations of blacksmithing and other borderline skills. There is extensive park and farmland around the old train stations and school buildings where you can stretch your legs.

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