Discover a different side of Dallas-Fort Worth: 10 ways to go big in Texas

December 30, 2015                 5m read time
Stephanie Mee


They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and this is certainly true of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, one of the nation's largest metropolitan areas. From mountain biking to cattle drives, DFW makes for one hell of a ride that you don’t want to miss. Need a hand putting together an amazing itinerary? These are our top picks for things to do in DFW.

1. Get in the Saddle

Horseback rider in a field George Dolgikh

Horseback rider in a field

George Dolgikh

 

Do like a true-blue Texan would and hit the trails with your trusty steed. Riders in the know head to Walnut Grove Trail on Lake Grapevine, a particularly scenic horseback riding route just north of Dallas and Fort Worth that takes you through forests, over hills, and past meadows and creeks. One of the best ways to explore the terrain on horseback is with an open trail riding lesson. Chisholm Trail Rides caters to all levels of riders with beginner classes that teach newbies how to mount and maneuver the horse, and advanced classes that take you along the trails at your own pace.

2. Set Sail on Lake Lewisville

Lake Lewisville in Texas Michael R Ross

Lake Lewisville in Texas

Michael R Ross

 

What better way to spend a hot sunny day than out on the water with the wind flowing through your hair and filling your sails? Charter a sailboat on Lake Lewisville and do some socializing with the yachting set at Party Cove near West Lake Park, where you can tie up your craft and chill out to good music and a bevvy or two. For those seeking calmer coves, Little Elm Park Beach is a laid-back spot for swimming and sunning on the sand. Newbies still trying to find their sea legs can join award-winning sailor Captain Matt for an exhilarating hands-on introductory sailing course from Sail Dallas.

3. Visit Stockyards Station

Stockyards Station in the historic district of Fort Worth Stockyards Station

Stockyards Station in the historic district of Fort Worth

Stockyards Station

 

Celebrate the spirit of the wild west at Stockyards Station, located in Fort Worth's historic district. This was once the biggest and busiest livestock center in the Southwest, and since its inception in the late 19th century, more than 160,000,000 heads of livestock have been sold here. Today, visitors can witness the twice daily cattle drives, explore the Cowtown Cattlepen Maze, and visit the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. In addition, there are over 25 unique shops as well as restaurants serving BBQ, burgers, burritos, and other Texas fare.

4. Explore Trails on Two Wheels

Bikes at North Shore Trails at Grapevine Lake, TX dameon hudson

Bikes at North Shore Trails at Grapevine Lake, TX

dameon hudson

 

Cyclists love exploring the 200-plus off-road trails that snake their way through the surrounding areas of Dallas-Fort Worth. Whether you’re an intermediate or advanced rider, the North Shore Trail along Grapevine Lake has earned its place as the most popular of this varied trail system. Its terrain includes smooth bends and rock gardens. Big Cedar is another prime cycling spot located atop an escarpment at the highest elevation point in Dallas. The trails at Big Cedar wind their way through hardwood forests and into a valley of cactus and mesquite trees, and although they are always open to to the public, cyclists must first file a waiver with the trail steward.

5. Take to the Skies

Aircraft ready for takeoff Pinosub

Aircraft ready for takeoff

Pinosub

 

Join US Sport Aircraft on the flight of a lifetime. You’ll not only get to soar through the skies over Dallas in a SportCruiser Light Sport Aircraft, but you’ll also get to take the controls and fly the plane yourself. The lesson starts with pre-flight instruction from a professional pilot, and then the two of you hit the runway and fly high for some in-flight training in steering, accelerating, and banking. As an added bonus, you can count these hours towards a sport or private pilot license.

6. Practice Your Polo Swing

Player in a polo game  Ralf Maassen

Player in a polo game 

Ralf Maassen

 

Experience the thrill of racing across a field on the back of a galloping horse, all while trying to whack a ball with a mallet to score goals against the opposing team. The Dallas Polo Club offers invigorating polo lessons that teach you the basic rules of the game, mechanics of riding and hitting the ball, and the concept of “the line of the ball.” Although previous horseback riding experience is an asset, it is not necessary. The experienced instructors will outfit you with all the safety equipment you need and give you expert instruction.

7. Go Rock Climbing in Cattle Country

Climber at Lake Mineral Wells State Park in Texas turqy

Climber at Lake Mineral Wells State Park in Texas

turqy

 

Located just 45 minutes west of Fort Worth, Lake Mineral Wells State Park offers fabulous opportunities for hiking, camping, and fishing. But it’s particularly well-known among rock climbers for Penitentiary Hollow, an area of craggy sandstone walls ranging from 20 to 40 feet and one of the only natural spots to go rock climbing in North Texas. Climbers must sign in at park headquarters before scaling the rocks, and it should be noted that the rangers don’t allow climbing during wet weather.

8. Declare War on Your Friends

Paintball player Vanoa2

Paintball player

Vanoa2

 

Think you have what it takes to dive, dodge, and defend your territory in a no-holds-barred paintball battle? Gather the troops and take to the fields to play a variety of fun paintball games, like protect the castle, elimination, zombies, and re-spawn. With this action-packed paintball party from Paintball Tickets, you and six friends get entry to Cousins Paintball, Madd Dogz, or Hunt County Paintball for the day, plus paintball guns, safety gear, and safety instruction. Stock up on paint once you’re there for hours of stalking and splattering.

9. Paddle the Trinity River

 
Kayaker at Trinity River in Texas Patrick Feller

Kayaker at Trinity River in Texas

Patrick Feller

 

At 710 miles long, the Trinity River is the longest stream in Texas, and it makes its way through the heart of Dallas and Fort Worth. Rent a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board from one of the many vendors around town and paddle your way down the river past tree-lined banks and flocks of waterfowl. For the ultimate outdoor experience amid natural beauty, we suggest following the river below the Lake Livingston Dam and camping overnight at Lake Livingston State Park.

10. Satisfy Your Need for Speed

Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth Action Sport Photography

Texas Motor Speedway in Forth Worth

Action Sport Photography

 

If watching tricked out stock cars careen around a speedway at hair-raising speeds is more your style, the Texas Motor Speedway is where you’ll want to be. Located in the northern part of Fort Worth, this 1.5-mile track is home to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and Xfinity Series races, among others, and it also hosts regular classes and events. For the ultimate insider experience, sign up for Raceday U and spend a full day at the track learning the ins and outs of the sport with veteran and up-and-coming drivers.

Stephanie Mee

Stephanie Mee is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Bali, Indonesia. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, newspapers, and websites, and she is constantly on a mission to seek out new stories and adventures. In addition to being an avid wordsmith, she is also an incurable foodie and wanderluster.

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