18 Cool Things to Do in Dallas This Winter

Celebrate the season with ice skating, bar games, two-step, and more.

Summer and fall are firmly behind us, but the fun doesn’t stop just because there’s a chill in the air. Now is the perfect time to get outside and explore all that Dallas has to offer. We have options for staying indoors and making new memories, from ice skating (or making an attempt) and crafting to cheering on one of our professional sports teams, enjoying a show, or crossing a rodeo off your “True Texan” to-do list. And, of course, because we’re in the Lone Star State, many days throughout winter are mild enough to enjoy a few outdoor activities, so we’ve included options ranging from horseback riding to hiking through our local forest. In total, we have 18 ways you can spend your time off this season in addition to hitting the slopes and volunteering to help others.

Head to the Stockyards to ice skate and watch rodeo pros

Fort Worth Stockyards
The historic Stockyards district is home to Hotel Drover, Mule Alley, and several great restaurants, but this winter it debuted Rodeo Rink, a 4,000 square foot ice-skating rink that will stay up through February 5. Located on the lawn of the Livestock Exchange Building, it’s where you can rent skates, perfect your edges, and try to hit a quad. Or you can watch other people do that while you listen to music and drink cocoa. To make the most out of your trip, head over on a Friday or Saturday to watch cowboys and cowgirls take on bucking broncos and feisty bulls in addition to other traditional events. And while you’re in the area, make sure to check out the country’s only twice-daily cattle drives through the historic district.

Deep Ellum
Upstairs Circus is a hybrid venue that combines a DIY workspace with a bar. Join one of the Project Socials, and you can learn a new skill alongside other attendees, like leatherworking or jewelry making. Or start your own project, choosing from one of the 25-plus options they have available, like making a butcher block and concrete coasters, or fashioning a new collar for your pet. The bar serves beer, wine, and cocktails, so you can drink while you work.

Hotel Vin has transformed its al fresco WineYard into a winter wonderland with eight igloo-style bubbles, evergreen trees, and a canopy of string lights. Book a happy hour session or a private dinner through February 14, and you’ll get to hang out inside one of the bubbles, sipping wine and eating fondue while cozying up with fur blankets and heaters.

If you’re one of the many viewers who thought, “I could do that,” while watching curling during the Olympics, now you can prove your point—or learn that it’s a lot harder than it looks. The DFW Curling Club holds public and private lessons to show you the ropes, and it also hosts league play at its home ice in Irving. The winter season begins in January and features weekly games, so form your team and go throw some stones.

Victory Park
Football may get the majority of airtime during the winter months, but don’t forget the Mavericks and Stars play 41 games apiece at the American Airlines Center in Victory Park. Watch Slovenian superstar Luka Dončić and friends play their fast-paced brand of basketball, or catch the Stars in action, as they take the ice under new coach Pete DeBoer.

Take a self-led barbecue tour

Various locations
Cold weather demands comforting, hearty foods, and there aren’t many foods more comforting than Texas barbecue. DFW is home to some of the best barbecue joints in the state, including Cattleack and Slow Bone in Dallas, Goldee’s and Panther City in Fort Worth, and Zavala’s in Grand Prairie, so plan a mini road trip to try them all. Sample the local brisket, ribs, and sausages to find your favorites of the bunch, knowing you can always eat a salad tomorrow.

Play games while you drink

Various locations
It’s becoming increasingly easy to eat, drink, and entertain yourself, as more entertaining/dining hybrid concepts pop up across town. Two Bit Circus puts fair-style games, an arcade, and VR experiences under one roof. Electric Shuffle pairs a full bar and restaurant with high-tech shuffleboard that allows big groups to play simultaneously. And Chicken N Pickle has several indoor pickleball courts, so you can play the country’s fastest growing sport while still being able to feel your hands.

Glen Rose
This-drive through wildlife center is dedicated to the preservation of animal species and helps to support giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, bison, wolves, cheetahs, kudu, and plenty more animals that you’d like to stick around. Stay in your car and traverse the seven miles of roads, stopping to take photos or to feed the giraffes—and only the giraffes—by hand.

Koreatown’s King Spa is not your ordinary spa. Sure, it's got massage rooms, whirlpools, saunas, and steam rooms, but it also has a series of themed rooms meant to heal the body via hot stones, cypress wood, salt, and infrared rays. There’s also a waterpark, where you can relax in pools, zoom down the 30-foot water slide, and score drinks at the swim-up bar. There’s even a food court doling out spicy soups, bibimbap, wings, and bubble tea.

Downtown Dallas
Formerly the wholesale fruit and vegetable hub for all of North Texas, the Dallas Farmers Market has evolved into a community-oriented space where urbanites congregate to shop and dine. Each weekend, local vendors set up shop under The Shed to peddle fresh goods of all kinds. What’s more, the indoor area features a food hall with more than 20 restaurants and shops open throughout the week. Procure the best seasonal ingredients for your holiday parties and meals all in one place.

Various locations
When the weather outside gets frightful (which it tends to do between random days of 80-degree highs and sunshine), it’s always a good idea to retreat indoors. But rather than wandering aimlessly around a mall (especially this time of year), support the art scene across Dallas-Fort Worth while cozying up in a seat with a cocktail and settling in for a transformative experience. From musicals and plays to rock bands and symphonies, you’ll find tons of options at the AT&T Performing Arts Center venues, as well as productions from Uptown Players, Theatre 3, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Theatre Denton, Texas Ballet Theater, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Bass Hall, and Broadway Dallas.

Nightly Spirits
Nightly Spirits

Downtown Dallas
Nightly Spirits Dallas hosts 2.5-hour ghost tours four nights per week, taking patrons on a pub crawl that visits a few of the city’s most haunted haunts. You’ll meet your guide and anyone brave enough to join at Green Door Public House and then wind through Downtown, exploring the spooky side of Dallas’s history and learning creepy, unexplained tales from its past. The tour stops at several bars along the way, so you can have a drink to calm your nerves.

Caddo Mills
Less than an hour’s drive from Dallas, Future Flight LLC Powered Parachutes offers thrill-seekers the chance to take flight among the birds with an FAA Certified Pilot in a powered parachute. See the North Texas landscape without the hindrance of windows or doors for an exhilarating journey at speeds up to 32 mph and altitudes up to 1,000 feet. And if you get hooked, you can buy your own starting at a cool $10,000.

Drag brunch at Commons Club at Virgin Hotels Dallas
Drag brunch at Commons Club at Virgin Hotels Dallas | Photo by Kathy Tran

Various locations
Drag brunch was one of the things we missed most when indoor dining was on hiatus, but the queens have returned in full force to venues across town to dance, lip-sync, and stare at your mimosas with envy. Some of the best meal-and-a-show combos can be found at Mr. Misster in Oak Lawn, Tequila Delicious in Uptown, and Commons Club at Virgin Dallas Hotel in the Design District. Once a month at Cedar Springs Tap House, Marsha Dimes presents a version where all proceeds (sometimes thousands of dollars in one day) benefit a local LGBTQIA+ nonprofit.

Oak Lawn
Every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (and some Saturdays), beloved LGBTQIA+ honky-tonk, the Round-Up Dance Hall and Saloon will be hosting lively dance classes for folks of all abilities. Practice your two-step, mambo grooves, honky-tonk twists, and other boot-stompin’ moves. Beginners are always welcome, and if you’re not inclined to boogie, sidle up to the bar, grab a draft beer in a cowboy boot glass, and cheer them on from the sidelines.

Downtown Dallas
The Lighthouse ArtSpace in downtown Dallas hosts immersive exhibits that display art from top masters, including Vincent Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, and Claude Monet. Step into the space, and see the artists’ work projected across the walls, floor, and ceiling.

Benbrook Stables
Benbrook Stables

Fort Worth
Live like a true Texan (or at least the stereotype so many people outside the state envision) by climbing atop a horse for a ride through the scenic winterscape trails around Lake Benbrook. You’ll be matched with a horse that complements your riding experience (or matches your outfit, whichever you prefer), so whether you’re a beginner or expert they’ve got an equine that’s right for you. We’re guessing the horse named Turtle goes pretty slow, but don’t take our word for it.

South Dallas
Even some longtime Dallas residents don’t know about the hardwood forest right in our collective backyard, but heading off into the lush green space can quickly remedy the oversight. Paved trails make it easy to explore nature on routes rife with everything from birds and waterfowl to river otters and maybe even a snake or two. In the cooler weather of fall and winter, feel free to hit up the woods almost any time of day thanks to mild-to-cool temperatures instead of the blazing summer sun.

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 Steven Lindsey is a Thrillist contributor
Kevin Gray is a contributor for Thrillist.