Fair Park is not only one of the largest state fairgrounds in the country but a step back in time to 1886, when the Dallas State Fair—today the State Fair of Texas—first opened; the world’s fair also took place here in 1936. You can still view the park’s extensive original art deco architecture and ride the nation’s largest Ferris wheel.
Fair Park encompasses 277 acres (110 hectares) and is home to six recreational, sports, and entertainment venues, as well as eight museums. In addition to the State Fair of Texas, the park is home to Cotton Bowl Stadium, which hosts soccer games. Pay a visit to the Texas Discovery Gardens, the African-American Museum, the Dallas Aquarium, and the Dallas Museum of Natural History, featuring a planetarium and IMAX theater.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Fair Park has the largest collection of 1930s art deco art and architecture in the United States, making it a must-do for architecture fans.
- This is the only pre-1950s world-fair site in the US that has not been altered.
- Don’t forget your camera: Photo ops abound, from murals, sculptures, and the European-style Smith Fountain to Woofus, a statue of a mythical beast that is part Texas longhorn, in addition to other animals.
- Visitors can bring food and drink to the park, but those items may not be allowed in some museums.
- Wagons and baby strollers are allowed.
- Wheelchairs, electric carts, and baby strollers are available to rent on-site.
How to Get There
Fair Park is located at 1121 1st Avenue, about 15 minutes east of downtown Dallas. Take I-30 East just past downtown to exit 47 (Second Avenue/Fair Park) and continue to Fair Park. Paid parking is available on-site and off-site, and may vary depending on scheduled events. You can also take the DART Rail Green Line to Fair Park Station, conveniently located at the park.
When to Get There
Fair Park is open 6am to 10pm most days. You can take your own self-guided tour of the facilities anytime during those hours. The park hosts several annual events, including football games, the Big Texas Beer Fest in March, a 4th of July event, Taste of Dallas in June, and, of course, the State Fair of Texas, which runs for three-plus weeks in September and October.
Debuting in 1952, Big Tex is the 52-foot-tall (16-meter-tall) iconic greeter of the State Fair of Texas. He wears size-96 boots designed by Lucchese, a 95-gallon hat, and actual clothing—including Western shirt and blue jeans—that takes a team from Dickies weeks to assemble.