Summer brings a lot more free time for many people, but how to fill up all that time without breaking the bank? Fortunately, Dallas and the surrounding area does not lack for free things to do. Check out this wide variety of events and activities that won't cost you a single cent.
Audubon Centers in Dallas
You can't let the higher temperatures prevent you from enjoying the great outdoors, especially when you have places that help you get the most out of it. The Trinity River Audubon Center in Dallas is free every Thursday and the Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center in Cedar Hill is free every day, allowing visitors to explore theirs grounds and learn about conservation, wildlife, native plants, and other ways to appreciate the local environment.
Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts Summer Series
Throughout June and July, Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts in Arlington is hosting a series of free concerts and kids movies. On most Thursdays, families can enjoy movies like Moana, Sing, The Secret Life of Pets, and Finding Dory, while local and regional musicians like Reckless Kelly, Somebody's Darling, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Terry Hendrix & Lloyd Maines, and Junior Brown take to the stage on the weekends.
Addison Summer Series and Monday Medley
On select Mondays and every Saturday during June-August (except July 1), the city of Addison presents free evening entertainment. On Mondays in the park at Addison Theatre Centre, you can watch dance, comedy, and music performances, and on Saturdays at Beckert Park, local and regional singers and bands like Prophets and Outlaws, The O's, and Bidi Bidi Banda play.
Outdoor movie series
There's nothing like watching a movie while sitting outside to start the nostalgia going. Several different locations offer outdoor movies this summer, including Main Street Garden, which is celebrating the revival of The Statler with a throwback movie once a month; Dallas Farmers Market, which offers up the feel-good Hidden Figures on June 16; The Shops at Park Lane, which provides a weekly screening every Friday in June; and West Village, which shows a free movie every third Wednesday with live entertainment beforehand.
Explore local parks
The parks that Dallas has to offer are as interesting and varied as almost any other city. From the unique position of Klyde Warren Park over a freeway, to the scenic nature and great hike and bike trail at White Rock Lake Park, to the Trinity River Greenbelt, there is much to see, do, and appreciate in Dallas' park system.
Bass Pro Shops presents Gone Fishing
For many people, summertime means a trip to the lake or other bodies of water to go fishing. At this free event at Bass Pro Shop in Garland, taking place June 10-11 and June 17-18, kids and others can learn how to cast a reel at a catch-and-release pond to earn a “first fish” certificate. They also give you tips for family-friendly fishing outings, and there will be special giveaways.
NorthPark Center presents ArtRocks!
If you look at any open space in NorthPark Center, you'll find one type of artwork or another. The mall continues to celebrate art with its ArtRocks! events, where kids can take part in an art project themed around a particular famous artist. The event on June 10 is sure to be a fun one, as it focues on Jackson Pollock, who's known for his messy art. There's also another ArtRocks! event on August 12.
Dallas Museum of Art Family Day
The permanent collection at the Dallas Museum of Art is always free, but Family Day, taking place on June 11, allows free access on a first come, first served basis to the museum's three current paid exhibits: "México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde," "Iris van Herpen: Transforming Fashion," and "Visions of America: Three Centuries of Prints from the National Gallery of Art." Make sure to get there early, though, as lines get long quickly.
You may not associate Dallas with hiking, but that doesn't mean it doesn't offer plenty of opportunities. In addition to the aforementioned Audubon centers and go-to paved areas like the Katy Trail, there are places like the Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, which features 8 miles of trails; Cedar Ridge Preserve, which has 9 miles of trails; and Oak Point Nature Preserve in Plano, which has almost 8 miles of trails.
Dallas Symphony Orchestra's 2017 Parks Concerts
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra takes their show on the road with family-friendly concerts at three Dallas-area outdoor locations, including Timberglen Park (June 13), Kidd Springs Park (June 14), and Paul Quinn College (June 15). Assistant conductor Ruth Reinhardt leads the DSO in a program featuring light classics, patriotic tunes, movie music, and other popular fare.
Vitruvian Nights Live Concerts
On various Thursday nights in June and July, Vitruvian Park in Addison hosts free concerts by a variety of tribute and party bands. They include Infinite Journey, a Journey tribute band (June 15); The Spazmatics , a New Wave '80s band (June 29); With or Without U2, a U2 tribute band (July 13); and Warehouse, a Dave Matthews tribute band (July 27). The concerts include food trucks, drinks, and mobile boutiques.
Dallas Arts District presents Summer Block Party 2017
Every three months, the Dallas Arts District's three museums — Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and Crow Collection of Asian Art — join forces for a special block party. They are celebrating summer by closing down Flora and Harwood streets on June 16 and lining the roads with food trucks, activity booths, and more. Naturally, all three museums also showcase their world-class art.
Dallas Arts District in general
It's worth exploring the Dallas Arts District even when it doesn't have special events going on. In addition to the always-free admission to the Dallas Museum of Art and Crow Collection of Asian Art, there are multiple outdoor art pieces to see and places to sit and just take in the city. Also, the first Saturday of every month you can participate in a free tour of AT&T Performing Arts Center's various venues.
Four Corners Brewery tours
While every other local brewery charges a nominal fee for tours of their premises, Four Corners Brewery — God bless them — offers up two free tours each and every Saturday. For the low, low price of nothing, you can learn about the brewery, how the beer is made, and sample a few brews, as long as you're of-age. The in-depth tour is limited to 50 guests, so make sure to sign up ahead of time.
Reunion Lawn Party
For the third year in a row, Reunion Tower will throw a free monthly party on the grassy expanse right next door. Every event includes live music, food trucks, lawn games, and special Lawn Takeovers by Dallas pro sports teams. June 24 features a performance by The High Definition Band, with a takeover by FC Dallas, followed by Special Edition Band and Dallas Stars on July 29 and Petty Theft and Dallas Mavericks on August 26.
Addison Kaboom Town!
Naturally, pretty much every Fourth of July fireworks show is free if you position yourself in the right spot, but Kaboom Town in Addison, taking place July 3, ups the ante with the Addison Airport Air Show, a performance by the Dallas Wind Symphony, the fireworks themselves, and an after-party featuring a performance by Emerald City, so you can dance while others get stuck in the post-fireworks traffic.
Fine Arts Chamber Players' Basically Beethoven Festival
For four weeks in July, Fine Arts Chamber Players showcases both up-and-coming and established musicians with free concerts at the newly renamed Moody Performance Hall (formerly Dallas City Performance Hall). Every Sunday between July 9 and July 30, a different group of performers take the stage, culminating with a performance by various members of both the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra.
Granada Theater presents Free Week Dallas
For the second year in a row, the Granada Theater is opening its doors for a week-long celebration of free music, July 16-23, as a way of saying "thank you" to the fans. Free tickets are available each day at the door, and Sundown at Granada is hosting after-parties following each concert. Among the performers are Valise, Mickey + the Motorcars, Quaker City Night Hawks, Eisley, and more.
Barcadia free play night
There's something about video games that will always keep you feeling young. Barcadia in Dallas offers the opportunity to play vintage arcade games every day, but each Tuesday it lets you play for free. True, if you want to eat or drink you still have to pay for that privilege, but even then there are several drink specials on Tuesday night.
Admire public art
Unfortunately, there is no official self-guided public art tour that you can use to let you marvel at the breadth of art on display in the Dallas area. But CultureNow.org has a close-to-comprehensive list of each and every sculpture, mural, and other type of art out there, so you can make up your own tour. Just think of it as a special kind of scavenger hunt, with getting cultured being your reward.