Take advantage of the upcoming three-day weekend with a Labor Day road trip — in your own back yard.
There are dozens of smaller towns in the DFW area or within a short drive which will have activities and attractions that are worth the trip. We rounded up a sampler of some great things to see and do on a budget.
Fill up your gas tank and prepare to hit the road.
The Rosemeade Rainforest Aquatic Complex will be open Labor Day weekend. The outdoor water attraction includes a zero-depth entry pool, a lazy river and plenty of interactive water toys — think slides, bubblers and cannons. There is also an Olympic-sized pool with a large diving area, flume slides and a training pool.
Bring a picnic or purchase concessions. Daily admission is $10 ($6 with proof of Carrollton residency). Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Monday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday. 1334 E. Rosemeade Parkway, Carrollton. 972-466-6399; http://cityofcarrollton.com
While in Carrollton, you might also like:
▪ Sandy Lake Amusement Park. Fun comes in the form of 20 rides, paddle boats, a mini-golf course and indoor arcades. General admission is $2 per person; all attractions are ticketed. Tickets are 50 cents each; three to six tickets per activity. Labor Day weekend hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. 1800 Sandy Lake Road, Carrollton. 972-242-7449; www.sandylake.com
▪ Blooms Candy and Soda Pop Shop. This is a must-stop destination for folks with a big sweet tooth. It stocks hundreds of retro candies and more than 250 retro sodas. Find old favorites like saltwater taffy alongside new surprises like Dr Pepper-flavored licorice. 1104 W. Main St., Carrollton. 972-416-5230; www.candycarrollton.com
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is home to more than 50 types of exotic and native animals. Visitors can expect to see everything from zebras and rhinoceroses to the red wolf and American bison.
Drive your vehicle through a 9 1/2-mile scenic route. A self-guided tour lasts approximately two to three hours, with a scenic overlook at the halfway point where visitors can stop and get out of the car. The overlook includes a cafe, gift shop and Children’s Animal Center with goats, tortoises and exotic birds. Weekday scenic tour admission is $21, $15 for ages 3-11. Weekend rates are $15 and $19.
On Monday, the holiday rate will be $25 and $19. Guided tours have a higher rate and must be booked in advance. Vehicles are admitted daily 8:30 a.m.-5:29 p.m., and the park closes at 7:30 p.m. 2299 County Road 2008, Glen Rose. 254-897-2960; www.fossilrim.org
While in Glen Rose, you might also like:
▪ Big Rocks Park. This is a quirky roadside stop full of unusually large rocks, perfect for climbing, exploring and taking photos. Visitors can also walk along the Paluxy River. 1014 Southwest Barnard St., Glen Rose. 254-897-3081
Visit the Dr Pepper Ballpark and root for the home team during Frisco Rough Riders games against the Midland RockHounds on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
Saturday, Celebrate World Beard Day with discounts across the park for men — and women — sporting a little facial fuzz (real or fake). Sunday, kids can play some pre-game catch on the field with a parent and enjoy $1 ice cream sandwiches during the game.
Tickets are $9-$60. Games begin at 7:05 p.m. Saturday and 6:05 p.m. Sunday and Monday. 7300 Roughriders Trail, Frisco. 972-334-1900; http://frisco.roughriders.milb.com
While in Frisco, you might also like:
▪ Frisco Commons. As home to the city’s largest playground system, the 63-acre park includes dozens of climbing structures with swings, slides, ropes and bridges. The park also has a nature garden, splash pad, pond and walking trails. 8000 McKinney Road, Frisco. 972-292-6500; www.friscofun.org/parks.
▪ The Texas Sculpture Garden. This collection has metal sculptures, both abstract and familiar, created by Texas artists. Maps are available for self-guided tours. Interior collection hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. The garden hours are dawn till dusk. Hall Office Park, 6801 Gaylord Parkway, Frisco. 972-377-1100; www.texassculpturegarden.org
The annual Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival takes place Sept. 3-7 in Tuskahoma.
Visitors can learn about American Indian tribal culture through exhibitions, storytelling and demonstrations, including primitive weaponry, pottery-making and traditional arts and crafts. The event also includes live music and dance performances, horseshoe tournaments, pony rides and buffalo tours. Local artists will have original works on display.
Official Labor Day ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. Monday. 800-522-6170; www.choctawnation.com
While in Tuskahoma, you might also like:
▪ The Choctaw Nation Museum is open 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, noon-4:30 p.m. Sunday and 8-10 a.m. Monday. The facility houses exhibits on Choctaw history and culture, including artifacts from the Trail of Tears and the Code Talker Memorial. Council House Road, Tuskahoma, Okla. 918-569-4465; www.choctawnationculture.com
The annual Westfest Czech and Polka Festival in West begins Friday night with a preview and continues through the weekend.
Enjoy traditional food, music, live entertainment and tournaments for horseshoes and washers. Highlights include a carnival and midway, a tractor pull, and helicopter rides over the town. The Westfest Parade begins at 10 a.m. Saturday and is one of the largest parades in Central Texas.
General admission is $15 Friday, free for children 12 and younger; and $8 Saturday and Sunday, $6 for ages 6-12. Gates open 5:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m.-midnight Sunday. 1110 S. Main St., West. 254-826-5058; www.westfest.com
While in West, you might also like:
▪ The History of West Museum showcases the town’s history as a farming community and the impact of Czech culture, including artifacts and photos and a tribute to the heroes of the 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. It is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 112 E. Oak St., West. 254-826-4639; www.historyofwestmuseum.com
▪ Look for kolaches and other traditional Czech pastries at the numerous bakeries around town. Most have the option to purchase them in bulk, already wrapped and frozen, so bring a cooler. Choices include the Little Czech Bakery and Czech Stop, 105 N. College Ave.; Gerik’s Ole Czech Smokehouse and Bakery, 511 W. Oak St.; The Village Bakery, 113 E. Oak St.; and the West Baking Co. CEFCO, 215 S. George Kacir Drive.
The small town of Bridgeport is home to around 6,000 people and three dozen big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards and bobcats.
The Center for Animal Research & Education is a rescue facility that provides a home to exotic animals. In addition to the big cats, the center also has lemurs, llamas and a coati.
This weekend, bobcat kittens Mia and Max will make their public debut. Visitors can take a 90-minute guided tour to learn about the facility and the animals. Tours begin at 9 and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9 a.m. Monday. No reservations are needed.
Dress for a natural outdoor environment and don’t forget your camera. Note that children must be at least 7 years old. Admission is donation-based, with a recommendation of $10 children and $15 adults. 245 County Road 3422, Bridgeport. 940-683-8115; http://carerescuetexas.com.
While in Bridgeport, you might also like:
▪ The Bridgeport Heritage Museum. Located at the visitors center, this includes exhibits on the city’s 100-year history. The front of the building is glass to display a replica of a Concord Stagecoach, for which the city earned the designation “Stagecoach Capital of Texas.” 812-A Halsell St., Bridgeport. 940-683-2076; www.destinationbridgeport.com.
Families that enjoy fishing will find plenty of opportunities for it at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center.
Even if you have no experience, the staff provides an orientation and is happy to answer questions (and untangle lines). No license is required, and bait and tackle are included. Spend hours outdoors catching sunfish and catfish.
Other attractions include a 300,000-gallon indoor aquarium with native fish, an outdoor alligator exhibit and wetlands trails for hiking and turtle observation. The daily dive show begins at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $5.50, $4.50 seniors and $3.50 ages 4-12. Hours are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday. 5550 Farm Road 2495, Athens. 903-676-2277; www.athenstx.org
While in Athens, you might also like:
▪ The East Texas Arboretum. A 100-acre natural area with native woodlands, formal gardens and hiking trails, the arboretum is open 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends. Admission is $4 adults, $3 students and seniors, $1 age 3 and older. 1601 Patterson Road, Athens. 903-675-5630; www.easttexasarboretum.org
▪ The New York, Texas Zipline Adventure. With six zip line courses, this scenic spot offers treetop tours that last approximately 90 minutes to two hours. Visitors must be 5 and older, and reservations are required. 7290 County Road 4328, LaRue. 903-681-3791; www.goziptexas.com