Fast, Frugal & Fun: Quick day trips for the familiy that won't break the bank

05/28/2011 7:58 AM

05/28/2011 7:58 AM

All families are on the go nowadays. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, work full-time or are somewhere in between like me, we all are looking to find fun things to do with your kids. The problem is with only a little time to go do something and sometimes a minimal budget to do it, it's hard to find something that will make you, your kids and your pocketbook happy. So I've started to explore some "hidden gems" around DFW that serve all these purposes - especially when you can land only 1-2 hours to get away and do something with your kiddos!

Forest Park Train in Fort Worth (1 hour & less than $10):

I actually heard about this place from another mom and since my little boy is obsessed with trains, this seemed like a good match. What I found out is that this train is just across the street from the Botanic Gardens in Fort Worth, so it was easy to get to (well, I thought). Even better was that the train was adorable, went through the park and to the Fort Worth Zoo, and was only $3! We took the train and brought a snack to eat at the park, so all together we spent $9 cash (we brought grandma, too.) This was a homerun, but it took me a while to find using the physical address in my GPS, throwing me into circles. So heed my advice: the entrance to the park is directly across from the Botanic Gardens. Spot the gardens and then turn your head across the street and there it will be.

Dallas Zoo Children's Aquarium (1.5 hours & less than $10):

My little one is also presently obsessed with sharks, so a trip to the zoo was in order. However, we had done the FW Zoo many times and considered visiting the Dallas Zoo to change it up a bit, but at 6 months pregnant and the May heat creeping in, the thought of taking my 2 year-old to the zoo, did not seem like a good idea...However, when I looked at the Dallas Zoo page there was a link to a "Children's Aquarium" at Fair Park.  They has also undergone a makeover, so it seemed like a plausible choice - especially at $8 for me and free for him (until he turns 3 next month) compared to the Dallas Aquarium at almost $30. It was easy to get to, easy & free parking (although we had to walk just a bit) and was not crowded. The place wasn't huge, but was perfect for an hour with him. We looked at alligators, sharks, fish, octopus and turtles. We also got a chance to touch and feed the stingrays and got some great photos! This was a great score and we got home before DFW traffic kicked in!

I can't always get away for the day or even a whole afternoon, but for the time of a little over a lunch break I was able to spend some quality time with my son.  No weekend crowds (both of these activities were done during the week) and for around the same price as lunch for the two of us - so if you've got an hour, why not try to fit some fun in?!?

Do you have any suggestions?

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