Every season brings its own special something to Dallas, and fall is no different. With the skies cloudier and the temperatures a bit lower, there’s a certain excitement that envelops the city — and we’re not just talking about the return of football. Whether you’re looking forward to picking out a great pumpkin, embracing the spookiness of October or indulging in good food and drink while there’s perfect patio weather to be enjoyed, there is plenty to do in and around Dallas this autumn.
First up is a Dallas tradition: Autumn at the Arboretum (8525 Garland Rd.). For two months every year, bright orange pumpkins all but take over this 66-acre botanical garden, turning it into a pure seasonal delight. You can spot over 90,000 varieties of pumpkin, squash and gourd in the Pumpkin Village alone, where this year’s theme will be “The Adventures in Neverland.” Expect scenes from the classic children’s book Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie, including the Lost Boys hideout and a sailing pirate ship. But it doesn’t stop there. The festival is also home to over 4,500 chrysanthemums and 150,000 other fall-themed plants, as well as season-specific programming throughout late September, October and November. Tickets are on sale now.
If you love a good scare, then we know October is your bread and butter. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science (2201 N. Field St.) will be putting an educational spin on the haunted house with their Spooktacular Sleepover, happening Oct. 26. Kids will create ghostly screams, get up close and personal with a host of creepy crawlers and carve pumpkins with cutting-edge technology, all while showing off their costuming skills.
Adults with an interest in the paranormal, on the other hand, should consider making the trip to Denton for a tour of The Parker House (8550 W. University Dr., Denton, TX). Legend has it that operations at this 1940’s home-based mortuary went terribly wrong when daughter Mary Parker started more aggressively soliciting clientele. We’ll let you fill in the rest, but it’s safe to say a walk through the historic home should get your adrenaline pumping. Finally, Arlington’s Six Flags Over Texas (2201 Road to Six Flags, Arlington, TX) will play host to their annual Fright Fest starting Sept. 22. Choose from haunted houses and scare zones throughout the park and experience some of the most frightening thrill rides under cover of darkness.
If you’d rather trade that butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling for some delicious grub, make sure to put Dallas’ largest taco festival, Tacolandia, on your radar. This fiesta gets underway Saturday, Oct. 13, transforming the Dallas Farmer’s Market (920 S. Harwood St.) into a showcase for 30-plus local taco vendors. Did we mention the unlimited free samples that come with the price of admission? That’s not all — there will also be a cash bar on-site, as well as live music and entertainment.
Park and Palate, the annual fundraiser for Downtown Dallas’ Klyde Warren Park (2012 Woodall Rogers Fwy.), is another place to explore the cornucopia that is Dallas-Fort Worth cuisine. This two-day event features some of the city’s brightest culinary stars (including 2018 Host Chef Kent Rathbun, a four-time nominee for the prestigious James Beard Award) as well as beverages produced by local breweries and wineries. You can catch the best pairings at the main attraction — the Grand Taste — while enjoying live entertainment in the park, including music by DJ S.O.U.L.JAH. All proceeds benefit Klyde Warren and the more than 1,300 free events the park hosts throughout the year. Tickets for this Oct. 27 extravaganza are on sale now, and they promise to sell out quickly.
As the end of the season nears, don’t forget to sign up for another citywide tradition: the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot, one of the largest multi-event races in the country. Beginning at Dallas City Hall (1500 Marilla St.), this year’s event features a 5K run/walk, an 8-mile run and a new 1K junior trot. The popular race typically draws big crowds, some of who come dressed in full turkey getups, so it’s a great way to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday before you settle down for the year’s biggest feast.