Whoever said that you can’t get something for nothing was clearly not telling the truth. Rather, Internet and social-networking have made it easier than ever to track down free things to get or free things to do. And here in DFW, we are really at luck. The Texas Miracle has not only resulted in booming employment and soaring economic growth, it has also brought about an explosion of cultural arts to the area and with it a great selection for people wanting to spend a money-free day or weekend. Here are the five best ones.
Klyde Warren Park
2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 716-4500
www.klydewarrenpark.orgYearly attracting thousands of people seeking a bit of recreation, Klyde Warren Park connects the Art District and Downtown Dallas with Uptown. The 5.2-acre space located above Woodall Rogers Freeway opened in 2012 and is the brain child of oil-pipeline billionaire Kelcy Warren, who named the park for his young son on the condition that he helped clean the park once a month. The park’s walking trails, dog park, game area, performance pavilion, child area and food trucks provide not only daily free programming from yoga , lecture series, outdoor concerts and films, it also gives visitors an international feeling. “It feels like spending time in the famous Kings Garden in Stockholm,” a Swedish visitor said, “Klyde Warren Park has almost the same things except for the statue of warrior king KarlXII pointing towards Russia.”

Historical Downtown McKinney
111 N. Tennessee St.
McKinney, TX 75069
(972) 547-2660
www.mckinneytexas.orgThere is no doubt about the The National Main Street Center’s success in McKinney. Starting in 1980 to save historical commercial architecture and infuse economic development, the fastest growing north Texas suburb today offers the oldest thriving historic downtown in Texas. Here visitors can stroll through a commercial district that offers more than 100 unique shops, dozens of restaurants, art galleries and home decor shops. Every second Saturday, guests can explore local galleries and listen to local talent perform. The last Saturday every month the city welcomes classic car and truck enthusiasts of all ages between 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. The farmers market at Chestnut Square, open every Saturday, has really managed to recreate the feel of old market days where you can meet friends and chat.

The Continental Avenue Bridge And West Dallas Gateway
109 Continental Ave.
Dallas, TX 75208
(214) 671-9500
www.dallascontinentalbridge.comThe Continental Avenue Bridge has become one of the hottest gathering spots in Dallas, carrying pedestrians and bicyclists from downtown to Oak Cliff. The bridge, that was converted into a park in 2012, connects to the Trinity Groves, a 15-acre retail, artist and entertainment spot at the base of the bridge in west Dallas. This latest addition to the Trinity River Corridor, which features trails, the Great Trinity Forest and Texas Horse Park, is also a perfect place to enjoy a picnic, chill in the relaxing lounge chairs and admire an amazing view of the Dallas city line, Trinity River and the stunning white-arch Margret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Fort Worth Stockyards
130 E. Exchange Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76164
(817) 625-9715
www.fortworthstockyards.orgAs soon as you arrive in Fort Worth Stockyards you feel like you stepped back in time and that any time now cowboys that herded Longhorns from Texas to the railhead in Kansas will gallop down Exchange Avenue in the heart of the Stockyards. Well, you will get the next best. Plan your exploration of Fort Worth Stockyards around the cattle drive, which takes place twice daily, at 11:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Begin at the Stockyard Train Station, the start point for the historical walking tours and the cattle drive. Your might want to stay at the petting zoo, take a picture in the jail, try to stay on the mechanic bull or stand in the observation tower overlooking the maze. Or, just stroll down the street which offers numerous stores selling western wear and antiques, has several historic saloons and restaurants, and the Stockyard Hotel where famous outlaws Bonnie & Clyde once stayed in room 305. 

Oak Point Park And Nature Preserve
5901 Los Rios Blvd.
Plano, TX 75074
(972) 941-7250
www.plano.gov“Heaven’s almost as big as Texas,” country singer Johnny Paycheck once sang, and arriving at Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve, it’s easy to see the inspiration. With 3.5 miles of concrete trails, and five miles of soft surface trails located along the Rowlett Creek, the 800-acre natural preserve is Plano’s largest and most beautiful park and one of the best ways to experience Texas nature and wildlife. Whether you like fishing in the lake, biking on the concrete trails, watching birds, having a picnic at sundown or just take your horse out on the designated equestrian area — you are in heaven.

Caroline Calais M.S., M.A., is a journalist living in Allen, Texas. The ex-model, fashionista and afghan hound lover, was born and raised in Sweden. She moved to the U.S in 1995 and is a naturalized American citizen. Caroline rides and shows reining horses.

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