With its twinkling lights, heart-pounding rides, and ample opportunity for snuggling up with your SO, there's no more quintessential Lone Star date than the State Fair of Texas. Even LeeAnne Locken agrees — the Real Housewife of Dallas got engaged at the Fair on a recent episode of the Bravo reality show.
The Fair runs September 29 through October 22 at Fair Park in Dallas. Whether it's your first time visiting or your fiftieth, plan a date around these must-do activities:
1. Take a selfie with Big Tex
Since 1952, the giant cowboy has been welcoming folks to the Fair. Give him a wave back as you pass by, or better yet, stop and snap a picture with the big man. Use forced perspective to your advantage if you want to make it look like you're giving Big Tex a high-five or a smooch.
2. Ride the swan boats in the Leonhardt Lagoon
Escape from the crowds with your sweetie by pedaling for a while in these picturesque boats, which seat two adults and offer another unique backdrop for that perfect State Fair picture.
3. Stroll through the Midway and admire the lights
You'll find dozens of try-your-luck games and more than 70 rides on the Midway, but it's possible to enjoy this area of the Fair just by walking through it and basking in the blinking, shimmering lights. The neon tubing of the main sign was restored in 2012, meaning that it's shining its brightest for your romantic walk.
4. Ride the Texas Star Ferris wheel
At 212 feet tall, this iconic ride is the tallest Ferris wheel in Texas. It was originally built in Italy, then shipped to Dallas for its debut in 1985. Now it's the most popular ride at the Fair, giving riders — and enamored couples — a view all the way out to downtown Fort Worth on a clear day. At night, 16,000 red, white, and blue turbolights create a dazzling display.
5. Share a cotton candy cone
It's not the Fair without the food. Even though the fried creations earn their outrageous fame, there's still something about chowing down on a Fletcher's Corny Dog or getting a sugar high from sharing some freshly spun cotton candy. Plus it makes for some seriously sweet kisses.
6. Enjoy live music
Arguably the best part about the Chevrolet Main Stage concert series is that it's included with your Fair admission. That means you have the opportunity to listen to 75 different headliners and regional musicians, all for free. This year, get ready for Wilson Phillips, The Spazmatics, Charlie Daniels Band, Flo Rida, Maren Morris, and Pat Green, among others.
7. Check out the new car models
Since 1913, Texans have been oohing and ahhing over the latest autos at the Fair. Now the Texas Auto Show (it got a fancy new name this year) is the largest new car show in the Southwest, with approximately 400 of the latest models on display across three areas of Fair Park: the Automobile Building, the Centennial Building, and the Truck Zone.
8. Show off your Midway game skills
Is there anything more traditionally adorable than winning a prize for your date? Carnival classics abound on the Midway, so warm up your throwing arm and get ready to win big. But note: In order to play games at the Fair, you must purchase a Big Tex Game Card (found at booths and kiosks adjacent to the gaming areas).
9. Get half off Fair admission
There are several ways to score discounted entry to the Fair, but if you don't want to keep track of special days just remember this: Bring an empty Dr Pepper can to the gate after after 5 pm, and you're in.
10. End the night by watching the Mattress Firm Illumination Sensation firework show
Cap off your visit with this nightly display at the Esplanade reflecting pool. At 8 pm, marvel at a water and laser show featuring sparkling fireworks, liquid-fire fountains, dancing waters, and colorful music.
To learn more about the State Fair of Texas and purchase tickets, visit BigTex.com.