"You've got a baby...in a bar." --Sweet Home Alabama
I imagine taking your kids to RT is a little bit like this. But maybe that's because the only RT I've been to was in New Orleans which is, in my experience, one big party. (Until you come down with pneumonia; they say two thousand zero zero party over, ooops, out of time.)
But I digress.
If you're bringing your family with you to our fair city of Dallas (and I know a few of you are thinking about it because you've asked me to write this post), there are a lot of things your husband/wife/partner can do with the kiddos while you're enjoying the sessions.
A few of these you might be able to walk to from the conference hotel if you have hearty kids. But can I be honest with you? You're going to want to rent a car.
Full disclosure: I don't have kids. But I like kids. And I have friends with kids. I'm not employed by any of these places nor am I employed by RT. I'm just a happy citizen of Dallas, Texas. And I've been to all of the places I'm recommending, so, there's that buisness taken care of.
Click on the pink links to find out more about each of these places!
This place is pretty rad. Honestly, you could pick one floor a day to "do." There is tons of interactive stuff for the kids to do/play/learn. Down in the basement, there's videos that play. It's expensive, so fair warning. But it is totally worth it if you have cool little nerdlings. (If you're a member of a natural history museum in your neck of the woods, check to see if you get reciprocal admission to the Perot.) Also, it might be the best value to get a family membership--especially if you want to break up your visit on multiple days and/or want to see the films and the new Sherlock Holmes dealiebopper that looks like the coolest thing ever.
Note: if your kids are at all iffy in crowds and/or with noises, you might want to take care with them. This place is chock full of stimulus.
FREE FREE FREE
Did you get that? It's free, people.
Our newest jewel in Dallas is the deck park that bridges uptown and downtown. I freaking love this place. The food trucks are usually awesome. And I love people watching here. (Take sunglasses. Museum Tower will blind you.)
Be sure to check the website for daily offerings. There's a playground that's always open (I think) but there are also activities for the kids--and parents--throughout the day. The library has a branch out there; there's a game room; and it's next door to a couple of great restaurants AND two of the lovliest museums in Dallas. (But more about those in a sec.) They do movie nights and outdoor concerts, too.
The streetcar runs next to Klyde Warren, so you might want to check out how to use that to get there from the conference hotel. It is free, but taking the DART to get to where the streetcar runs is not.
Otherwise, be prepared to fight for street parking or pay to park in the DMA lot for $10.
MUSEUMS NEXT TO KLYDE WARREN
The Nasher Sculpture Center children under 12 are free but adults must pay admission
Dallas Museum of Art Adults and children are free, expect to pay for special exhibits, however
It's no secret I love museums. And I love seeing kidlets in museums. As far as the two right next door to each other and kids? Honestly, I think the DMA is a little more welcoming of children--espcially if you've got little ones and it's hot (which it will be) and they're tired (which they will be). The Nasher has an absolutely gorgeous sculpture garden. But it's not a run around kind of place. For that, go to Klyde Warren.
Here, in my opinion, the DMA is king. They've got the coolest kids area (crafts, interactive displays, etc.) and also special self-guided tours of the museum for kids and families. The museum cafe is very good (I eat there about twice a month) and the kids' meals are very reasonable and very tasty. Note: parents, if you ask nicely, you can also get a kids portion on the daily special. I recommend this, especially on pasta Thursdays. :) The Friday Late Nights at the museum are amazing and kid friendly, too. Just check out the website to see what's coming up.
You'll need a rental car to get here. It's out by White Rock Lake and is a gem. The Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden is so totally rad. It's an extra admission fee, but TOTALLY WORTH IT. It's 100% hands on, so littles will love this. And, if you've got older kids, well, they'll enjoy lounging on one of the lawns drinking coffee playing their video games.
I love the arboretum because it's a green oasis in my city. The restaurants on site are very good, if a smidge pricey. But you can BYO-everything here. Even booze. (Not for your kids, obviously.) So you can stop at the Whole Foods on Abrams and pick up a picnic lunch. Or the McDonald's if you're into that.
If your kids can make it, you can walk here from the conference hotel. It's in a fairly touristy area in the West End.
This place is pretty pricey but it's pretty cool. You walk in and you're immediately in a rainforest setting. There are birds that fly overhead. All kinds of critters--some you can even feed if there's an employee nearby. Then you migrate down into the aquaria with all kinds of fishies (and a shark tunnel!). There are penguins and seahorses and giant manatees you can make friends with.
You can take the DART Red Line to the zoo!
Okay, I don't think I've actually been to the zoo here in Dallas now that I think about it. I've been to the Fort Worth Zoo. But. It's a zoo. Animals. Cool stuff to do and see.
Bring your AmEx Black. And you'll definitely need a rental car to get here.
The American Girl Doll Store in Dallas is at the Galleria (a decent mall), and my brother's kids LOVE this place. And Auntie Lexi loves going there with them when they're in town. We usually do a tea--it's really reasonably priced--and I would recommend you making reservations to do so. It's a lot of fun. If your kids can't bring their dolls, they'll give you loaner dolls for the duration of the tea party, just inquire.
You'll need a car, here, too; although, you'll wish you could take a hovercraft over to Arlington because the traffic on I-30 will be all kinds of messed up for the rest of my entire life and then some.
I haven't been to Six Flags since I was twenty, but I imagine it hasn't changed that much. And it's a theme park. You know the drill. Take your sunscreen.
It's not called that anymore, but I can't remember what it's called. So, if baseball is your thing, you'll know.
There are always cheap tickets and deals to day games and special giveaways, so just check the website.
***You might also check local grocery stores (like Kroger or Tom Thumb) and even McDonald's--they sometimes have coupons for Six Flags and Rangers' games.
WAY OUT WEST
You'll definitely need a car for this as it's out in Glen Rose--south of Fort Worth. But it's worth the drive if you can swing it.
You can drive your car through about ten miles of wildlife--the giraffes particularly love a sun roof--or you can take a guided tour in one of their vans/buses. If I recall there's even a kind of petting zoo type place for the kids. So yay!
I almost forgot REUNION TOWER.
This is attached to the conference hotel, but you'll pay an additional fee to go up to the Geo Deck. Check with the hotel; they might have deals for hotel guests. (Note: if you go to the restaurant, it is free. However, the restaurant isn't really a kid-friendly place, in my opinion.)
The Geo Deck is super cool. Your older kids should like this a lot. There are basically giant iPad screens everywhere you can touch and interact with--like you're on the deck of the Star Ship Enterprise or something. The walls look like TRON. And the carpet is a map of Dallas.
On a clear day, you can see forever--or at least to north Dallas and over to the State Fair.
It's an indoor/outdoor experience. Going during the day and at sunset is amazing. There's a cafe at the Geo Deck that serves lunch that's not to terribly expensive. But unless you're just dying, I'm not sure I'd take my whole family to eat there.