Photo courtesy of Epic Waters

Hooray! It’s spring break time across North Texas. For families who are NOT jetting off to ski the slopes or heading to the beach, there’s still plenty of fun to be had each day in Dallas-Fort Worth. We once called this "staying home." Now it's a "staycation!"

Most of the local museums, zoos, parks, and other kid-friendly attractions are offering special programs and special hours on this special week. You know them, you love them, you want even more to do.

We've rounded up 10 hot, fresh, new ideas to make spring break 2023 the best one yet - so fun and cool and exciting that your family's DFW staycation will make you forget all about your FOMO over your best friend's beachfront VRBO in Destin.

All of the attractions here are new since last year's spring break, or are here now or arriving for a limited time. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Climb and zip through the trees at a new adventure park
The new, high-flying Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park opened March 3 at Arlington's River Legacy Park East. The city’s parks and recreation department teamed up with Go Ape for a second Dallas-Fort Worth location after the first, smash-hit park in Plano. The new Arlington adventure park includes two ropes-adventure courses: the three-hour Treetop Adventure ($59.95-$64.95) and the one-hour Treetop Journey ($39.95). There's an axe-throwing range, too. More information and tickets are here.

Ride an epic new water slide ...
Epic Waters, Grand Prairie's popular indoor waterpark, just introduced a hair-raising new, seven-story slide called Locura. (Spanish for "craziness.") Riders climb to the top of a 70-foot tower, step inside a chamber, then wait for the door to close and the floor to drop, launching them down, down, down into a 40-foot freefall. Then they race through a horizontal figure-eight loop at 35 miles per hour. The whole slide is more than 387 feet long and exerts a force of 3.5 G's. Wheeeee! The park is open, rain or shine, and admission starts at $34. Special spring break hours, more information, and tickets are here.

...Or ride an epic new roller coaster
Adrenaline junkies, get in line and prepare to get drenched: The long-awaited newAquaman: Power Wavewater coaster is officially opening at Six Flags Over Texas on March 11. The revolutionary new roller coaster is touted as the first of its kind in North America. It's a multi-launch "water coaster" that propels riders in two 20-passenger boats back and forth along a 2,000-foot track and up two 150-foot towers. Then, riders are held, face down, at 90 degrees before being thrust 63 miles per hour straight down. Then, splash! The ride comes to a thrilling end with a plunge into a giant water wave. It's opening in conjunction with Six Flags' "Scream Break" evening events. Tickets for Scream Break can be purchased separately or added to any single-day ticket or pass for $39.99 per person; find them at sixflags.com.

View U.S. history up close
The just-opened exhibition "Freedom Matters"at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU is displaying rare versions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, Magna Carta, Emancipation Proclamation, and more historically significant American documents. These documents were used to inform citizens in an era before mass media and social media - yes, kids, there was life before screens. Beyond just displaying documents and artifacts, the museum takes guests on "an interactive journey through the experience of freedom itself, including where freedom comes from, what it means, the characteristics of free societies, and the role of the individual in protecting and spreading freedom around the world," they describe. It's open to all ages and included in the price of admission to the museum; pricing structure and tickets are here.

See a movie high in the sky
This isn't grandma and grandpa's drive-in theater, but it's the same fun idea. Rooftop Cinema Club, which opened last fall on the rooftop terrace of a downtown Fort Worth hotel, has just come back from winter break. Spring break-week screenings include new movies and classics of all ratings, for all ages: Top Gun: Maverick (March 10), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (March 12), The Notebook (March 15), Dirty Dancing (March 17), Turning Red (March 18), Selena (March 18), La La Land (March 18), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (March 19), and more. Tickets ($16.50–$26.50) are now on sale at rooftopcinemaclub.com/downtown-ft-worth. For tips and things to know before you go, check out this story.

Step right up to the circus
The Garden Bros. Nuclear Circus is coming to town, featuring special effects, concert-style lighting, the Human Cannonball, Wheel of Death, motorcycles in the Sphere of Fear, Human Slingshot, comedy, girls hanging by their hair, the Olate Performing Dogs, Cossack Riders, and more. Guests can come early and meet the circus stars, get their faces painted, ride the Monster Slide or play on a moon bounce, eat snacks, and more. The circus will be at Fair Park March 9-March 19. Tickets are $15-$60, available here.

Go ghost hunting
Dallas-Fort Worth is (allegedly) full of things that go bump in the night, and no place is creepier when the sun goes down than the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. A new national "ghost adventure" company has launched a Cowtown Ghosts tour in the Stockyards that they tout as kid friendly (parents can decide after reading the description, of course). Stops on the one-hour walking tour include a couple of haunted hotels, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and more. The tour focuses on the stories behind the hauntings. Tickets are $25 per person and there’s a two-person minimum. There's also an option to add a 30-minute bonus tour of four additional stops for $6 per person. The same company conducts ghost tours of downtown Dallas, too; information here.

Adventure under the sea at a mermaid party
Save the date for this fin-tastic shell-abration. On Saturday, March 18, the Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort and Spa in Frisco will host a Mermaid Party for all ages. Beginning at 4:30 pm, kids (who are encouraged to wear their favorite princess/prince costumes) can interact with a real-life "Little Mermaid." Jewelry maker Greta Weller will be on hand to help them make some treasures of their own. Then, the family can sit down to dinner and a showing of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid on the resort’s 10-foot jumbo screen. (Parents, don't worry, adult bevs will be available for purchase.) The party is open to all ages, and you do not need to stay at the hotel to attend, but there is a discount. Tickets are $50 per person; $30 for guests with room reservations booked directly through the resort website.

Play in a bigger-better park for free
Last spring break, parts of Dallas' Klyde Warren Park were under construction. Patience has been rewarded with a newly expanded Sheila and Jody Grant Children’s Park. There's now an additional 6,000 square feet of play space, featuring a 35-foot climbing tower and slide, a kid-sized climbing wall, interactive water feature, shaded pavilion, renovated restrooms, and more. Klyde Warren Park has a full slate of free activities throughout spring break week, including a concert called “A Celebration of Latin America” presented by Cliburn KidsLive. It'll explore instruments, dances, and rhythms and language of the region. Come back March 15 for the popular "alive animal" experience featuring snakes, a tarantula, a beared dragon, and anopossum. Find out more on the park's website.

Epic Waters Locura slide

Photo courtesy of Epic Waters

The new Locura waterslide at Epic Waters.

Explore like a Smithsonian scientist
It comes at the tail end of spring break for most kids, but the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will open a new exhibition called “Life in One Cubic Foot" on March 18. The exhibit follows the research of Smithsonian scientists and photographer David Liittschwager as they uncover what a cubic foot of land or water — called a "biocube" — reveals about the diversity of life on the planet, the museum describes. The showcase comes from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In addition to exploring biocubes from environments around the world, visitors will get to make their own to take home and study. Find out more about the upcoming exhibit, including tickets, here.

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New exhibition at Dallas Center for Photography is all about the ladies

Gallery News

A new exhibition at the Dallas Center for Photography spotlights women in photography: Called Hold Up Half the Sky, it features work created by women from diverse backgrounds and geographies, and will debut at DCP's community gallery, at 4756 Algiers St. on June 10.

The exhibit includes works by 42 women from around the globe, with images that tell stories, consider our planet, and the journey of women in today’s world.

The juror for Hold Up Half the Sky is Aline Smithson, a visual artist known for her conceptual portraiture. She sought work by all women regardless of age, experience, education, race, sexual orientation, or location, with the goal of creating an exhibition that reflected a broad array of approaches to creating photographs.

Prizes have been awarded to first, second, and third place.

Smithson says in a statement that she's excited to celebrate and shine a light on women in photography.

"Today, women are commanding significant recognition for their profound storytelling and ways of seeing and understanding the world," Smithson says. "Our stories are important, and our photographs reflect an expanded and exciting time in photography. We’ve created an exhibition that reflects a broad array of approaches."

Hold Up Half the Sky will be open to the public through Saturday, July 1. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Friday from 11 am-5 pm and by appointment at info@dallascenterforphotography.org, or by calling 214-630-4909.

DCP will celebrate the photographers who have been selected for this juried competition and exhibition at an opening reception on Saturday, June 10 from 6-8 pm. This event is free and open to all, but RSVPs are required; RSVP here.

Dallas Center for Photography is a 501c3 nonprofit with a mission is to serve as a focal point for photography through education, mentorship, exhibitions, and community outreach, and to establish North Texas as a national leader in the art of photography.

DCP’s year-long dedication to women in photography is supported in part by the City of Dallas Office of Arts and Culture, Dogwood Commercial Real Estate, MEXZIM Construction Services, and Photo Chick’s Boutique presented by Arlington Camera.

Dallas restaurants have summer on the brain, plus more dining news

News You Can Eat

This roundup of Dallas dining news has an unprecedented number of restaurants offering special seasonal menus for summer, most starting on June 1. We're so seasonal right now.

Here's what's happening in Dallas restaurant news:

Saaya Lounge, a Mediterranean oasis at 2511 Swiss Ave. from Milkshake Concepts (Vidorra, The Finch, Harper’s) will open on Friday, June 2. The menu will be in mezze form - small Mediterranean-style shared plates – such as Spicy Feta Dip, marinated Shawarma and Kebabs, and Lebanese-style pizzas, also known as Manakeesh. Plus Greek and Lebanese Caesar. Cocktails include the Ombra of Anubis with Sombra Mezcal, Ancho Reyes, and Ramazatti; and Not Your Habibi, with Ketel One vodka, St. Germain, and Dill Yogurt.

Leela's Pizza & Wine has introduced weekend brunch at its new Uptown location at McKinney & Olive, Saturday-Sunday from 11 am-3 pm. The menu features frittatas, breakfast pizzas, $2 mimosas, and cold pressed juices. Entrees include bacon & cheddar frittata with egg, bacon, white cheddar, tomato, arugula, & avocado crema; vegetable frittata with egg whites, manchego, spinach, red pepper, mushrooms, romesco; bacon & sausage breakfast pizza with an over easy egg; vegetable breakfast pizza with spinach, mushrooms, red onions, tomato, over easy egg; and an acai smoothie bowl with acai, strawberry, banana, blackberry, oats, and honey. Drinks include $2 mimosas and $5 cold-pressed juice mimosa.

Sister on Greenville Avenue has an unusual new item: Called the One Night Stand, it features a bottle of prosecco and a room key to one of the three boutique apartments above its sibling Cafe Duro next door. Guests have special access to the neighboring Duro concepts including private dining experiences and priority access to reservations at Sister and their other sibling, The Charles. The sparkling and overnight stay are $299.

Chef's Palette, the restaurant at the Canvas Hotel, has a summer new menu from Executive Chef Emerio Viramontes, featuring pepita-crusted salmon on poblano cream rice with a green bean and pepper medley and blood orange-mezcal glaze; NY strip with goat cheese polenta, broccolini, and blackberry demi; red snapper with black rice and charred baby bok choy; and pork chop with roasted parsnips, carrots, and whipped potatoes. Viramontes is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Austin who joined the Canvas last year. The new menu debuts on June 1.

Mendocino Farms has a new summer menu featuring: Strawberry Fields Salad with chicken, strawberries, watermelon radish, fennel, mint, red onions, goat gouda, and pistachios; Hot Honey Peach & Prosciutto Sandwich with mozzarella, honey-roasted almonds, Calabrian chili aioli, hot peach honey, and arugula on a toasted sesame roll; Turkey Avo Salsa Verde Sandwich; Italian Roast Beef Sandwich; and new sides: Watermelon Street Cart Salad, Southern Macaroni Salad, and Oaxacan Potato Salad.

Grimaldi's Pizzeria has a new Summer Selections menu with Smoked Brisket Pizza and Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce; Spinach Salad with feta cheese, red onion, almonds, and strawberries; Cheesecake topped with blueberries or strawberries; a charcuterie board with prosciutto, salami, mozzarella, Spanish olives, and antipasto peppers; and the Bourbon & Blues cocktail with Tincup American whiskey, lemon juice, muddled blueberries, and thyme. It runs June 6 through September 11.

Salad and Go has a new summer menu with four new dishes: Antipasto Salad with romaine, salami, feta cheese, cucumbers, banana peppers, kalamata olives, red onions, and croutons in red wine vinaigrette (can also be ordered as a wrap); Mediterranean breakfast burrito with spinach, eggs, feta cheese, and avocado with green tomatillo salsa (can also be ordered as a bowl); Minestrone Soup, a vegetarian soup with kale, cannellini beans, and pasta in a tomato-based broth, which will become a permanent menu item; and the return of Blueberry Basil Lemonade. The dishes will debut on June 1.

Modern Market has brought back its cult classic Street Corn Pizza, with corn, jalapeño, chile powder, cilantro, lime, smoked crema, cotija, mozzarella, and cheddar cream sauce. Their pizzas are really a deal. A whole Street Corn Pizza is $12.45, but they also thoughtfully offer their pizzas in a half-size for $7.45. They have locations at Preston Hollow/Dallas, Plano, Southlake, Las Colinas, and Richardson, and their website is one of the easiest and most sophisticated in the restaurant industry.

Smoothie King smoothie chain has brought back its X-Treme Watermelon smoothie and a new Watermelon Lemonade smoothie for the summer.

Chili’s has new Chicken Crisper Combos with Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Fries, and two dipping sauces: new Buffalo Ranch and Sweet Chili Zing. Their OldTimer burger can now be ordered with double patties because more meat is appealing to some people? New premium margaritas feature high-end tequila like Casamigos and Teremana Tequila.

Yardbird, the Miami Beach concept with locations in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Singapore, Chicago, and Denver (opening summer 2023), is doing two pride items during June: Key Lime Pie with toasted meringue, raspberry sauce, and fruit and a Berry Prideful cocktail with Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Lime, Strawberry, and Agave.

Naturli’ is a Danish brand launching its award-winning plant based butters in the U.S. The products will initially launch in H-E-B stores across Texas. Naturli’s vegan butters are among the best on the European market thanks to their exceptional taste and healthy ingredients. Made with cocoa butter, almond butter, coconut oil and canola oil, they are dairy-free and palm-oil free. The Butter Spread is for spreading on bread; Plant Butter Block is for baking. Both are made to taste and perform like traditional butter; Plant Butter Block is approved by professional bakers.

Orange Leaf, the Dallas-based self-serve, choose-your-own-toppings frozen yogurt chain with a location at 6076 Azle Ave. in Lake Worth, has brought back fan-favorite froyo flavor Watermelon.

Gong Cha the drink chain with 7 stores in the Greater Dallas area has a special Pride drink running June 1-30. It's a sweet and tart Lemon Ai Love Yu bubble tea with white pearls and edible glitter.

H-E-B is opening a new eCommerce Fulfillment Center in Plano later this summer to service its new stores in North Texas.

Texas Dairy Queen Operators’ Council is launching a contest to find The Biggest Fan in Texas. You have to write an essay, plus tell what your favorite DQ item is, your favorite location, and a photo with a DQ memory. The winner gets free Treats & Eats for a year, plus swag from Josh Abbott Band, DQ, and Dr Pepper. The contest is open only to legal residents of Texas, 13 or older. Entries must be received by August 6 at 8 am. The rules can be found on the dqtexas.com/biggestdqfan website. The winner will be announced on August 14.

José Andrés Group has partnered with Loliware, the world’s first seaweed-resin company, to launch Loliware straws at all restaurants. Loliware’s innovative seaweed-resin straws and utensils look and act like plastic but can compost completely within 50 days. They've already debuted at Chicago restaraunts Bar Mar, Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, and Jaleo, and will expand to José Andrés Group restaurants across the country.

Nueva Pescanova, a Spanish seafood company, is trying to open an industrial-scale octopus farm, and scientists and activists are calling for it to be quashed. Octopuses are intelligent and curious sentient beings, able to solve complex puzzles. They're also territorial and solitary animals who may resort to cannibalism if kept in tanks together, as Nueva Pescanova intends. The company also plans to subject breeding females to 24-hour periods of light, which would cause extreme discomfort, and their proposed method of slaughter — death by ice slurry —causes significant pain as animals can take hours to die. If you don't care about the cruelty aspect, consider the health threat: Octopuses are known to carry over 20 different pathologies, including vibrio cholerae which causes cholera in humans; octopus farming would increase the risk of spreading more zoonotic diseases like COVID among humans. IDA USA has a form you can fill out to log your protest.

The Alamo previews awe-inspiring new exhibit ahead of 2024 debut


Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain: the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.

Starting May 25, visitors have been getting a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.

The historical re-creation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.

The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.

When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historic sites.

"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," says Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., in a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."

Alamo Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Alamo.

The Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit gives visitors an understanding of the original grounds' scale.