Funnel cakes! Corny dogs! Fried s’mores, fried PBJ, and…fried beer and sweet tea? Maybe they’ve gone a little too far with those, but to each foodie their own. As much as we all love the goodies the State Fair of Texas brings, there’s obviously more to it than yummy treats and gut-dropping rides…including fun attractions and areas for little ones.
When you think of the state fair, maybe you don’t exactly picture it being the typical place for a preschooler or small child to run around. However, if you know where to go and do some planning beforehand, it can be a worthwhile experience that maybe even turns into a family tradition. Without further ado, here’s what to know before taking small kids to the State Fair of Texas!:
- Children under the age of three get in for free, and admission for kids under 48” is $14. There’s a whole slew of discounts available for entry, including the classic ‘Dr Pepper Half Price After 5’ – bring in an empty Dr Pepper can for half price admission any day! You can see more discounts on the official website.
- Weekends are obviously the busiest time at the fair, so if you’re able to sneak in during the week, go for it. Schedules won’t always allow for that, so if you have to go on a Saturday or Sunday, maybe try the morning while it’s still fairly cool outside and not super packed.
- The fair is an absolutely buzzing place, with lots of sound, movement, and people around – it can be a lot for little ones, even adults! That being said, it might be best to limit your visit to around 2-3 hours. That’s about how long we made it with our daughter last year, when she was 18 months.
- Speaking of the busy environment, the fair offers a ‘Safe Kids Program’ for lost children. I get anxious having my child in crowded public places for this very reason, so we’ll probably make use of this. Stop at any Information Center around the fair and pick up a wristband for your little one.
- Grab a map upon entry (or print one out before you go). There’s a lot to see in all different directions, so it might give you an idea of where to head first.
Time for Fun!
- Alright, let’s start with the basics. Once you’re in the gates, stop for a photo in front of Big Tex! Chances are your little one will be energetic and fresh-faced, so go for it while you can. Toddlers aren’t known for being the most cooperative photo subjects, but it’s worth a try.
- The Kidway area on the Midway is geared toward younger fairgoers and features rides suitable for little ones two years old and up. My daughter is officially two and a half, so I’m looking forward to trying some of those out with her (if she’ll have it)!
- Head over to the Children’s Health Barnyard and see a variety of farm animals. Little ones can feed everything from zebras to goats (don’t worry, there are hand sanitizer stations). Last year, I fell head over heels in there for a mama pig and her PIGLETS! The barnyard is definitely worth a stop.
- Did you know the fair has a story time? Check out the Kids’ Boardwalk and enjoy Mother Goose Story Time with the Dallas Public Library. Children are read to by the beloved character, as well as sing songs and play games…while you sit down and take a break (and it’s all in the shade!).
- The Bank of America Discovery Farm is a new addition to the fair, where children can learn a bit about agriculture and the important roles livestock play in everyday life. Suitable for all ages, it’s another way for little ones to get up close and personal with some animals!
- For children 3 to 6 years old, the Pee Wee Stampede and Rodeo gives kids the chance to compete in a series of mock-rodeo events. There are three daily performances that take place in the Ranch Arena. Even if your little one’s not “competing,” they might get a kick out of it.
- Don’t you love all things MINI? Little Hands on the Farm is a miniature farm that allows kids the opportunity to plant seeds, collect eggs, and even drive a little tractor! It’s found on the east side of the Cotton Bowl and is suitable for toddlers to children 8 years old.
With all the fun activities for kids, make sure to treat yourself to some goodies. My favorite fair indulgence two years in a row has been the fried s’mores, mentioned above. Gooey, chocolate-y deliciousness – say no more. *drool emoji*
A Few More Tips:
- This year’s State Fair of Texas is Sept. 29 – Oct. 22
- You can bring in your own food and drink to the fair
- Single and double strollers, as well as wagons, are available to rent ($12-15)
- Changing tables are available inside all women’s restrooms, and most men’s
- Fair coupons can be purchased with cash or credit card for 50 cents each (making a sheet of 20 $10)
That’s that! Now let’s hope for nice weather with cool temps. Have you conquered the State Fair of Texas with small children before? Feel free to let us know any tips and tricks you might have!