Dallas, the shimmering star of North Texas, is not just known for its robust economy, vibrant arts scene, and a rich tapestry of history. The city becomes an autumnal paradise when the air becomes crisp and leaves turn shades of gold and red.
Aside from some inconsistent weather patterns, September through November is an especially fun time to be in Dallas. It seems to be particularly made for families, friends, couples, and weekend travelers looking to fill their days with good food and new experiences.
The DFW metroplex comes alive during the fall season with special autumn events, seasonal food showcases, sporting events, and live music. Plus, there are still the year-round marvels the city is known for: museums, parks, shopping centers, and so much more.
Whether you want to enjoy a traditional fall activity or just get out of the house more often, making good memories in Dallas is easy.
Here is our list of the best things to do in Dallas in the fall:
1. Autumn at the Arboretum
It’s that enchanting time of the year again! The 18th annual Autumn at the Arboretum, generously presented by Reliant, is an event we eagerly anticipate. This year, prepare to be dazzled by a whopping 100,000 pumpkins, gourds, and squash, all sourced from the renowned pumpkin capital of Texas – Floydada. Complementing this autumnal display are 150,000 stunning fall-blooming plants that paint the garden in vibrant hues.
But that’s not all. This year’s theme, “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown,” brings the beloved Peanuts Gang back to Dallas. Themed pumpkin houses, which are part of the acclaimed Pumpkin Village, are sure to delight fans of all ages. And for our younger visitors, there’s an intriguing maze to explore. Visiting the Arboretum during this season is undoubtedly among Dallas’s best things to do.
Within the festival, they also have several seasonal events planned:
- Guided Pumpkin Hike — Every Wednesday 10 am
- Dallas Gourd Patch — Thursdays from 10 am-3 pm
- Gourd Show and Sale — Friday, Oct. 27, from 10 am-4 pm
- Memory Garden Fall Series — Sept. 15, 22, 29, Oct. 6 at 9 am
- Window to the Wild Flight Shows (Martin Rutchik Concert Stage) — Sept. 23 & Oct. 21 from 10:30-11:30 am
- Oktoberfest — Sept. 23 & 24
- International Coffee Day Celebration — Sept. 30-Oct. 1
- Fall Vendor Market & Craft Fair — Oct. 7 & 8 from 10 am-3 pm
- DISD Fair Day Family Fun Weekend — Oct. 12-16
- Cartooning Fundamentals — Oct. 21 &22 (10 am-4 pm)
- Halloweekend — Oct. 28 & 29
For all the details for these events and more information on Autumn at the Arboretum, you can visit their website here.
2. Texas State Fair
The Texas State Fair, one of the most anticipated annual events, is packed with many activities, making it one of the best in Dallas this fall. Running from Sept. 29 through Oct. 22, 2023, the fairground becomes a bustling hub of excitement and entertainment.
Step right up and test your skills with the various Midway games, or get your adrenaline pumping with exhilarating rides. For those who enjoy a bit of rugged action, the rodeo promises all the thrills of the Wild West.
But no visit to the Texas State Fair is complete without indulging in some iconic fried foods. From classic fried Oreos to innovative culinary creations, your taste buds are in for a treat. As you munch on your delectable snacks, you can groove to live music from various genres.
There are plenty of shopping stalls for the shopaholics, offering unique souvenirs and artisan crafts. Rounding out the fair experience are a variety of shows and attractions, ensuring there’s something for everyone making it clear why this is one of the best things to do in Dallas every fall.
3. The Red River Showdown
One of the absolute best things to do in Dallas this fall is to immerse yourself in the electrifying atmosphere of the Red River Showdown. Scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 7, (kickoff time to be determined), this annual football clash is not just a game — it’s an event deeply ingrained in the State Fair’s history and Texas sporting culture.
Attracting over 100,000 fervent fans from within Texas and beyond, the Allstate Red River Showdown sees the Texas Longhorns going head-to-head with the Oklahoma Sooners. This intense rivalry has been a pivotal feature of the State Fair since 1929, with every game played at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium. The energy, the cheers, and the spirit of competition make it a must-experience event, and it’s easy to see why it consistently ranks among the best things to do in Dallas during the fall season.
If you’re eager to be part of this iconic match, remember that tickets are acquired through each university’s athletic office. So, gear up, choose your side, and prepare for a football spectacle that will leave you with lasting memories.
4. The Fort Worth Water Gardens
A tranquil escape, the Fort Worth Water Gardens is one of the most serene attractions in the DFW area and the perfect fall weekend or late afternoon activity for both kids and adults.
Phillip Johnson designed the Fort Worth Water Gardens, an amazing architectural and engineering masterpiece built into an urban plaza. You can take your time (and fun pictures) walking through the pool areas: the aerating, the quiet, and the active pool.
We recommend visiting this famous Dallas summer attraction during slightly cooler times, such as before noon or after 3:00 PM. This way you’ll avoid the warmest part of the day and the potential consequences of the sun. Even during the fall months, Dallas can still get hot, so it’s important to stay mindful when doing an outside activity!
5. Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Just an hour outside of Downtown Dallas, Lake Mineral Wells State Park sits in the heart of cattle country, but you wouldn’t even know it by the lush yet rocky scenery.
The park has many miles of walking/biking/hiking trails, a lake, a rock climbing area, and campsites! At the lake, you can also enjoy fishing and boating. As the weather cools down and some leaves start to change, this is the perfect fall day trip or even hour getaway!
Learn more about Lake Mineral Wells State Park here.
6. Tailgating at AT&T Stadium
For many, when the crisp fall air sets in, it signals the onset of one of America’s most beloved pastimes: football season. In Dallas, there’s no grander stage for this than the AT&T Stadium, the formidable fortress of the Dallas Cowboys. One of the best things to do in Dallas during the autumn months is to immerse yourself in the rich tailgating traditions that unfold in the stadium’s sprawling parking lots.
The tailgating ritual is as much a game-day event as the match itself. Rows of vehicles open up to unveil grills smoking with barbecue, tents decorated in team colors, and fans of all ages dressed in jerseys passionately discussing game strategies and players. The scent of sizzling burgers, the sound of cold drinks being popped open, and the camaraderie among fans create an infectious festive atmosphere.
Tailgating is only permitted in the grass areas on the perimeter of the parking lots. The maximum area that any single tailgate space may occupy is 9 feet wide and 12 feet deep.
7. Go Shopping in DFW
More often than not, the fall season in Dallas calls for a shopping trip or two to either get some early holiday shopping done, new fall home decor, or to just treat yourself.
Luckily the DFW area is not short on incredible shopping districts, streets, and markets. Here are the ones you should check out this season:
- First Monday Canton Market — The largest flea market in the world, this is an incredible place to spend the day. Way more than your average flea market, this huge venue has become a hub for craftsmen and small businesses. You’ll find incredibly unique creations everywhere you look, from clothing to household goods to garden items and so on!
- Legacy West — The place to indulge in some high-end shopping and maybe a nice lunch or dinner, Legacy West is filled with glamorous stores that’ll make you fall in love with a whole new winter wardrobe.
- Inwood Village — With its historic art deco architecture, this shopping area has a refreshingly unique atmosphere and is a true Dallas original.
- NorthPark — With one of the finest shopping experiences in the world, you can enjoy an entire day marveling at the over 200 stores and likely find a million things you want to buy.
These definitely aren’t the only amazing places to shop in Dallas, but they’re at the top of our list and bring a lot of variety!
8. Ice Skating at The Galleria Dallas
The Galleria Dallas Ice Skating Rink is considered a top-tier rink in the city with a towering Christmas tree that gives you all the good holiday feels. Plus, it just happens to be the tallest tree in the nation!
This is the perfect activity for families, friend groups, and couples looking for a cool activity to do in Dallas.
In case you don’t know how to skate but want to learn, the ice skating center offers lessons for beginners, including holiday mini-ice skating in December.
9. Enjoy the Coolest Urban Green Spaces
Dallas has made significant efforts over the past few years to increase the amount of green space in its urban care. This has resulted in so many new, natural places residents and visitors can enjoy any day with good weather.
Here’s a quick list:
- Klyde Warren Park — a 5.2-acre green expanse built over a major freeway with endless entertainment.
- Pacific Plaza — a true urban neighborhood park nestled on Harwood Street.
- Main Street Garden Park — a great community gathering spot with a lawn, dog run, fountains, cafe, and art installations.
- Annette Strauss Square — a super unique place to catch performances and participate in events, this is one you’ll need to plan ahead for.
If you try to visit one a week, this is a super doable mini winter bucket list you can check off! Plus, it’s a great way to support the community and take advantage of the lack of sweltering heat.
10. Outdoor Dining
When the sweltering Texas summer heat gives way to the mild coolness of fall, alfresco dining becomes one of Dallas’s prime attractions. The city’s culinary scene truly blossoms this season, with restaurants and cafes rolling out patios, rooftop terraces, and garden seating.
Imagine savoring a succulent steak or a fresh salad, accompanied by a glass of wine or a hand-crafted cocktail while caressed by a gentle fall breeze. The twinkling stars overhead and the ambient streetlights create a magical atmosphere. Many options suit every palate and preference, from upscale eateries in the Arts District to cozy bistros in Bishop Arts.
If you’re a food lover or simply someone who enjoys a good meal in a beautiful setting, exploring Dallas’s outdoor dining scene is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Dallas this season. So, make a reservation, dress up a bit, and treat yourself to a delightful evening under the Texan sky.
11. The Fort Worth Stock Yards
Whether you’re a first-time Dallas visitor or a long-time local, the Fort Worth Stock Yards is a place for everyone and an experience for everyone!
Here, you can watch the livestock parade and end the night with a bang at either the Stockyard Championship Rodeo or the Cowtown Cowboy Rodeo! Just check out their website for dates, times, and tickets.
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but your favorite cowboy boots are a strict part of the required attire!
12. Explore the Great Trinity Forest
Did you know Dallas has a forest?
Some longtime locals don’t even know a hardwood forest is right in Dallas’s backyard. Somehow, the Great Trinity Forest has remained a hidden gem in the area, but not for long!
With paved trails, you can easily explore the different routes through the forest and meet some wildlife along the way, including birds, otters, and snakes.
13. Take a Historic Ghost Tour
As the nights grow longer and Halloween looms on the horizon, Dallas’s shadowy past comes to the fore with intriguing ghost tours. For those looking to combine spine-chilling tales with fascinating history, this is one of the best things to do in Dallas.
Stroll through dimly lit alleyways, past historic landmarks, and into old buildings while professional guides recount tales of legendary hauntings and unsolved mysteries. Hear stories of spirits that linger, legendary gunfights, and long-gone residents who refuse to leave. While the ghostly tales send shivers down your spine, the rich history of Dallas will captivate your mind. It’s an experience that promises goosebumps and newfound knowledge in equal measure.
The Best Fall Activities in Dallas
The array of activities in autumn is vast, making it no surprise that this season attracts both locals and tourists alike to explore the best things to do in Dallas. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a foodie, or someone who just wants to revel in the sheer beauty of the season, Dallas in the fall is the place to be. Happy exploring!