In many places around the country, winter means freezing temperatures. Shoveling snow. Scraping ice off your windshield and bundling up in padded coats straight out of A Christmas Story. Vacationing in Dallas during the cooler months is a completely different experience.
The city only sees an inch of snowfall per year, on average. While travelers in New York and San Francisco are braving freezing winds and grey skies, Dallas tourists are enjoying the city in t-shirts and sunglasses. Last year, winter temperatures here reached 80° a record number of times.
What does this mean for tourists? More sunshine, better events and opportunities to see the sights. You may not be able to ski within city limits, but Dallas offers plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to captivate winter travelers. Here are five of our favorite Texas-sized winter activities in and around Dallas.
1. BMW Dallas Marathon
The state’s oldest continuously running (no pun intended) marathon is also the largest single-day sports event in Dallas. Hundreds of thousands line the streets every December just to cheer on the racers, which range from first-timers to seasoned racers testing their endurance on the grueling 26.2-mile downtown course. Runners, walkers and wheelchair racers also gain entry to the post-race bash featuring live bands and free beer.
2. Southfork Ranch
There’s no bad time of year to visit Southfork Ranch, the iconic filming location of long-running TV soap, Dallas. Southfork regularly hosts weddings and other private functions in 63,000-square-feet of dedicated event spaces, as well as public fun like concerts and mud runs. Most visitors come here to take the Dallas tour, offered daily from 10:15-4:15 even in wintertime. See the famous Ewing mansion in person, along with fun props from the show including the family breakfast table, Jock’s ’78 Lincoln Continental and even the gun that famously shot J.R.
3. KidFilm Festival
This January event is the antithesis of dry, arthouse festivals that put youngsters to sleep. Throughout the year, KidFilm takes submissions of long and short family-oriented films. Granted, some are small indie efforts, but many of the films here are blockbusters like The Lego Movie, Ice Age and Kung Fu Panda 3. The best part? All submissions must be Dallas premieres, so visitors get to check out the movies before they even hit local theaters.
4. Holiday at the Arboretum
You may not be able to build a snowman or sled down a snowy hill near Dallas, but there are still tons of holiday themed events fit for Frosty. One of the more popular winter spectacles is the annual 12 Days of Christmas at Dallas Arboretum. Open November through early January, the interactive display includes 25 gazebos filled with lights, animals and costumed characters from the Christmas carol. The Arboretum’s holiday décor also includes 500,000+ lights and a 30-foot-tall holiday tree.
5. Ice Slides and Snow Tubing
Craving a classic winter experience? Head to the Gaylord Texan resort near the end of the year and you’ll find a wonderland of ice and snow activities, including a 12-lane snow tubing hill and giant ice slide. Holiday decorations fill the hotel atrium, while travelers enjoy cool nights on the outdoor skating rink. The event has a Lone Star theme, so expect a little Western flair with your holiday visit.
Winter is one of the most pleasant times of year to experience Dallas. The night air is cool and crisp, cultural activities are still in full swing and the holiday spirit is all around. It’s also warm enough that outdoor activities remain popular. If you’re lucky enough to vacation or take a business trip here in the cooler months, just pack a few extra layers and prepare for a Texas-sized winter welcome.