Dallas’ culture and imagination finds unique expression in the city’s Arts District. Amazingly, many of the sights, sounds, and experiences to be had downtown are available to city residents free of charge. Whether your goal for the day is to find creative inspiration, play among the statues, check out a concert or get fit, the Arts District’s parks, theaters and museums are brimming with low-cost and no-cost activities.
Adjacent to the Winspear Opera House, Sammons Park hosts free concerts, dance performances and other events throughout the year. Its verandah shades a soft green lawn ideal for picnicking. (If you prefer slightly more formal dining, outdoor table seating is also an option.) Or just take a stroll across the park’s landscape, which features native plants as well as a black granite reflecting pool where wading is encouraged.
Klyde Warren Park is another popular destination for thrifty downtown fun. Each day is bursting with activities. Challenge a friend to a game of chess or table tennis, see if you can finish a board game marathon, participate in a read-in, sit down for story time, enjoy a free concert — or just hang out with your special someone. And there’s so much more! For instance, the Dallas Center for Architecture hosts 360-degree tours of the Dallas skyline every Monday at 12:30PM, and you can relax with the Heartfulness Meditation group or El Centro College’s tai chi class every Saturday at 8AM. Regular class offerings in African dance, yoga and Zumba fill out the park’s schedule as well.
The HALL Texas Sculpture Walk is a self-guided tour highlighting 18 different sculptures by Lone Star artists. The walk begins at 2323 Ross Avenue and continues north to Flora Street as it winds by indoor and outdoor sculptures at sites across the KPMG Plaza. And you can extend your Arts District sculpture tour even further simply by crossing the street to view “Les Ondines” and “De Musica” in the Betty B. Marcus Park at the Meyerson Symphony Center, or the Pegasus statue in front of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
Art For Everyone
The Dallas Museum of Art offers free general admission to the galleries displaying its permanent collection. Museum visitors can also expect to attend select exhibitions and many regular events at no charge. The First Tuesday series allows children to enjoy art and play activities from 11AM to 2PM on the first Tuesday of every month. Each Wednesday, the museum sponsors a lunchtime gallery talk beginning at 12:15PM. Speakers include DMA staff, local artists and visiting scholars. Saturdays, the DMA presents the Bancroft Family Concert Series featuring Dallas’ own Fine Arts Chamber Players. And during Sunday DMA Family Days, ticketed exhibitions are free to the public, as are special music performances and hands-on art making experiences for both children and adults. Check the DMA calendar often for information on the Museum’s many free events and programs.
The Crow Collection Museum of Asian Art does not charge admission. Moreover, its community engagement activities and wellness sessions (meditation, yoga, etc.) are free to attend. The museum holds a special Adventure Asia event on the first Saturday of every month. This slate of performances, workshops and art activities allows visitors to more deeply explore the current exhibition on display. Face-painting and play areas for the kids are also part of the fun. The Crow Collection’s calendar has the scoop on upcoming exhibitions and events.
The Nasher Sculpture Center offers ongoing free admission to children under 12, police officers, firefighters and other first responders. But everyone is welcome to visit the museum at no charge during Target First Saturdays. Story time and scavenger hunts, artist demonstrations and art projects, yoga in the sculpture garden — you name it and it’s happening from 11AM to 5PM on the first Saturday of each month. The Nasher also hosts free outdoor concerts during the spring and summer, as well as other monthly public events such as the Ultra-seeing Film Series. Reserving a seat is often as simple as making an RSVP at the Center’s website. Consult the Nasher’s calendar for additional information.
Finally, browsing the museum stores of the DMA and Nasher, as well as the Crow Collection’s award-winning Lotus Shop, is also a fun free activity. Each carries a unique selection of art items and prints that you won’t find anywhere else.
Performances For a Song
Although it’s not completely free, the Dallas Theatre Center’s Pay-What-You-Can ticket option allows you to attend select performances for as little as one dollar. You can purchase up to four general admission tickets this way, but be aware that seating is still available on a first-come-first-served basis. Dramatist Guild members can also take advantage of the Samuel French Playwrights Welcome Here program at DTC, which provides free day-of-show tickets to playwrights.
If you’re a young person (or know one), be on the watch for the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s special discounts. Students with valid I.D.s can often purchase rush tickets in person at the box office on the day of the performance. Dallas Symphony Orchestra student rush tickets are available for the Meyerson Symphony Center as well, and they may be purchased up to 10 days in advance of the performance.
Each of these discounts and complimentary services attests to the Arts District commitment to making great culture accessible to all Dallasites. The next time you head downtown, get creative and take advantage of what the city’s world-class parks, museums and performing arts venues have to offer. Better yet, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and share your tips for enjoying the Arts District on a budget.