Hooray! The seemingly endless school year has finally come to an end.
The bad news: There are only 76 days until school starts again. To help you make the most of each one, we rounded up a summer calendar’s worth of kid and family activities in the area. There are plenty of free things to do around DFW, plus some great attractions that are worth every penny.
There’s plenty more going on in the Metroplex, of course, so if you see your favorite neighborhood venue missing, be sure to check its website and social media pages for special summer happenings and hours.
Use this guide to plan a family staycation or a few special surprises for school-age kids.
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Learn and discover
Family Discovery Days at the Botanic Garden
June 10 and July 7
At the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, families with kids of all ages can have hands-on fun in the Backyard Vegetable Garden and learn about nature. The June program is nature painting and in July, a scavenger hunt. Programs follow the TEKS educational guides for elementary schools. No reservations are needed, but space is limited to two children per adult.
WFAA Family First Day
The Dallas Arboretum hosts a family event in the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden. Activities include puppet shows, hands-on science experiments and a Dallas Junior Players performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Meteorologist Greg Fields will lead a program at the indoor OmniGlobe, which uses computer technology to track weather and project it in real-time on the giant globe. Admission to the arboretum and garden are discounted for this event.
Nash Farm Dairy Month Celebration
Nash Farm in Grapevine hosts regular events to teach families about frontier life and homesteading. The farm celebrates National Dairy Month on June 13. Learn about cows, watch milking demonstrations and churn butter. Wagon rides are $1 per person. No registration necessary.
Celebrate Scottish heritage at the museum’s second Kimbell Festival. The event is inspired by the current exhibition “Botticelli to Braque: Masterpieces From the National Galleries of Scotland.” During the festival, families can participate in art activities, face painting and take selfies in the photo booth.
There will also be historical demonstrations, traditional dance performances and music by Texas rock bands. Food trucks will be on site and Texas Silver Star Whiskey and Lost Oak Winery will offer tastings for adults.
Fantasy in Sand
Daily through Aug. 23
Click your heels and head to Globe Life Park in Arlington for Fantasy in Sand. The experience features 16 scenes from L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz carved in detail from 3 million pounds of sand, along with iconic American landmarks like the Statue of Liberty.
There’s also a hands-on playground for the kids and an observation deck. To combat the Texas heat, everything is located under a giant air-conditioned tent in Parking Lot F. The area is stroller and wheelchair-accessible.
National Day of the American Cowboy
National Day of the American Cowboy is an annual event that celebrates the West and Texas history. Activities include CowKid Roundup, a cap gun quick draw, living history presentations and buckaroo coloring. The highlight of the event is the contests: cow chip throwing, watermelon eating, seed spitting and several others, open to everyone. Stockyards Station will also have its daily cattle drive at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Daily through Aug. 22
The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth opens three of its outdoor pools to all area residents for two hours each afternoon. No membership dues are required. The pools are at the Eastside YMCA (1500 Sandy Lane), E.R. Van Zandt Southwest YMCA (4750 Barwick Drive) and Westside YMCA (8201 Calmont Ave.)
Daily admission is $5 for children age 17 and younger, $6 for adults. Public hours are 2-4 p.m. daily. www.ymcafw.org.
June 14-Aug. 30
Sundays are for family fun at Panther Island Pavilion on the Trinity River. Rent a tube, canoe, or paddle board or bring your own. Games like corn hole are available, and visitors can bring activities. No outside food or drink is allowed, but local businesses will have concessions.
On the stage
Concerts in the Garden
Weekends through July 5
The Concerts in the Garden summer music series celebrates 25 years of live music featuring the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and other musicians in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.
This year’s schedule includes old favorites, like “Star Wars and Beyond: A Laser Light Spectacular,” as well as soon-to-be family favorites like “Video Games Live.” At this concert, the symphony will perform a variety of video game themes accompanied by synchronized video and lighting. Bring a picnic and blankets for lawn seating or reserve a table.
WFAA Children’s Concert Series
June 10-July 8
Arlington’s Levitt Pavilion hosts concerts all summer, including a children’s series on Wednesdays. First in the lineup is Aaron Nigel Smith, who encourages audience members to dance and participate in the show. Along with the morning show, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the City Vehicle Rodeo will introduce kids to unique city vehicles.
Upcoming performances include Terrance Simien, Vocal Trash, Sara Hickman and Joel Laviolette & Rattletree Marimba.
Symphony Arlington KidsNotes
June 11, 16, 27
This Symphony Arlington program teaches kids about music and provides hands-on fun. The program includes story time, games and a musical performance. Participants will get an introduction to musical concepts and the four orchestra instrument families. At the end, an instrument petting zoo allows kids to touch and try out instruments.
KidsNotes programs will be held at Lake Arlington Branch Library, 2 p.m. June 11; at Barnes and Noble at The Parks mall, at 11 a.m. June 16; and at Southeast Branch Library, 10:30 a.m. June 27.
Cliburn Junior Competition
The Cliburn, the foundation that presents that famous quadrennial battle of highly talented ivory pounders, presents the first Cliburn International Junior Piano Competition and Festival on June 21-28 at PepsiCo Hall and Ed Landreth Auditorium at TCU. The competition will feature 24 pianists between the ages of 13 and 17; most are far along in their studies at elite music conservatories. And about half will come from outside the U.S. The pianists will compete through four rounds for cash prizes and scholarship money; three finalists will get to perform with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. Kids ages 8 and older are welcome to attend the performances and festival seminars and workshops.
Tickets are free for the June 21-22 preliminary round, $10 for the June 23-24 quarterfinal round, $20 for the June 25-26 semifinals and $40 for the June 28 final round, www.cliburn.org or call 817-738-6536.
Cinderella, times three
There are three chances to see Cinderella on stage this summer, no fairy godmother required. Catch a tour of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Tuesday-June 21 at the Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas, and then at Bass Hall, June 23-28. (Dallas tickets: $25-$98, http://DallasSummerMusicals.org or 1-800-514-3849. Fort Worth tickets: $44-$132, www.basshall.org, 817-212-4280.)
On the screen
Movie Night in Sundance Square Plaza
Wednesdays through Aug. 12
Sundance Square hosts its annual family-friendly movie night with old and new favorite films. This year’s lineup includes a special activity with the June 24 screening of The Lego Movie. From 5 to 9 p.m. meet a Master Builder from LEGOLAND Discovery Center and help build part of an 8-foot-by-30-foot pirate-themed mosaic that is traveling around the area.
The completed mosaic will be displayed at LEGOLAND on Sept. 19.
Summer Movie Clubhouse
June 8-Aug. 13
Local Cinemark Theaters at North East Mall, Ridgmar Mall and Alliance Town Center screen family films (rated G or PG) on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Showtime varies by location, and the full schedule is available on the theater website.
The lineup will include previously screened favorites such as How To Train Your Dragon 2 and Penguins. Purchase an advanced package that includes all 10 films for half-price.
$1 per person per film. Dates and times vary by location. http://Cinemark.com/summer-movie-clubhouse
July 11, 25, and Aug. 8
Forest Park Pool and Marine Park Pool are open for the summer and will be screening family films for their dive-in movie series at both locations. At Forest Park, the dates are July 11 and Aug. 8; at Marine Park, July 25. Films start at dusk and visitors can bring transparent floats for the pool or towels for poolside. Proceeds benefit the Learn to Swim Scholarship Program.
Float in the water or stretch out on dry land while a movie plays on the big screen, starting at dusk, at the Trophy Club community pool. Big Hero 6 is scheduled for July 10 and The Lego Movie on July 31.
Modern Kids Summer Flicks Series
Aug. 11, 12, 13
The Lone Star Film Society is screening children’s films at The Modern that relate to the gallery exhibits. Before or after, families can walk through the museum. Sketch books are available for free at the front desk. Morning films are intended for kids ages 3-7; afternoon films are for ages 8-12. No reservations are needed, but seating in the auditorium is limited.
What’s new at old favorites
Fort Worth Zoo
New for this summer, Safari Splash is a zero-depth water area. The 14,000-square-foot splash pad is the perfect way to cool off before or after a zoo visit. It features a water playground with climbing areas, slides, water cannons and a water dump tower. The zoo also has daily Wild Encounters keeper chats and a “Backyard Adventure” Live Animal Stage Show. Get the daily schedule on the zoo website.
Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
In addition to its regular exhibits, the science museum’s current temporary exhibit is “Design Zone,” a hands-on lesson in math that is fun for all ages. In the Omni Theater, watch the new film Robots for a look at modern robotics and how it has changed the world. The Omni is also showing Humpback Whales and Journey to the South Pacific all summer.
Six Flags Over Texas
The 200-acre theme park recently opened Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, a 4-D ride through the city complete with 3-D glasses and a stun gun to take down animatronic villains.
$50-$72. 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m. through June 17; until 10 p.m. starting June 18. 2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington; www.sixflags.com/overtexas
Popular water park Hawaiian Falls in May opened its newest location in White Settlement. The venue is a combination adventure park and water park.
The adventure park, which opened last fall, has a ropes course, climbing wall and indoor arcade. Water highlights include a wave pool, lazy river, floating obstacle course and slides. Most activities are kid-friendly and all allow anyone over 48 inches tall to participate. Season passes grant visitors access to all seven water parks and to adventure parks through Labor Day.
Louis Tussaud’s Palace of Wax
Meet more than 200 of your favorite celebrities, who promise to remain perfectly still for your selfie. The Palace of Wax is home to lifelike replicas of actors, musicians, movie characters and historical figures and just renovated its Hollywood Gallery, complete with a red carpet.
See everyone from Beyoncé to Batman to President Barack Obama. Next door, Ripley’s Believe It or Not is filled with strange discoveries from around the world that are sure to leave you wide-eyed.