12 Things to Do in Dallas in the Fall

Date: September 7, 2019

I'll admit, I have a love-hate relationship with the whole pumpkin spice thing. I hate Halloween (don't judge!) and I'm not a big football fan either. Yet fall is still my favorite time of year in Dallas.

We (eventually) get some absolutely glorious weather. There are so many annual events in the fall, I can never get to all the ones I want to go to. From decades-long Dallas traditions to up-and-coming new events, if you make a Dallas Fall bucket list, it's gonna get pretty full.

This list is pretty long and fairly detailed (that's the "just me" part.) So you can scroll around and see what you like and skip the things you hate. (I wont judge.) But if you find a topic that strikes your fancy, I've added links to a deeper dive with a longer post or even a whole page of blogs on a single topic.

So dive right in; some of these events are coming up very soon!

Be Charitable (and Have Some Fun)

I’m not sure it’s ever been this much fun to give, laugh, stride, sip, and save.

Big D has always been big on giving back, led by large donations from its billionaires, foundations, and donor-advised charitable fund contributors.  But you don’t have to be wealthy to experience the joy of giving. Dallas has dozens of events every month make it fun to give while making the most of small-dollar donations. These 5 things will give you all the feels.

North Texas Giving Day is September 19th. This 18-hour online event has raised over $240 million for local organizations since it started in 2009. Bonus funds and prizes are available to the participating charities and many have matching donation sponsors to increase the value of your gift.

Update: If you missed North Texas Giving Day, mark September 27th on your calendar for next year. This year, the annual online charitable fundraiser raised over 50 million dollars for local charities. 

Dallas Comedy House will ramp up the stand-up at a benefit show for Dallas Pets Alive on Saturday, September 14th.If you can’t make it to this show, check out one of their Thursday Philanthropy Night improv performances in their new digs in Deep Ellum.

The American Cancer Society’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk is Saturday, October 19th at Klyde Warren Park.

One of the biggest and most fun annual Dallas events is the Dallas Margarita Ball. It's November 23rd, and it's by invitation only. That means you need to start looking for someone who has an "in" with the Dallas Margarita Society! Otherwise, mark your calendar for November 24th to see all the pics and stories on social media.

Bring four cans of food to the fair any Wednesday of the State Fair of Texas and get your ticket for just $4.00. With regular admission priced at $18.00, this deal can’t be your donation goes to the North Texas Food Bank.

Head to the State Fair of Texas

This should count as 100 things by itself, but if you only do one thing in Dallas this fall, you should go to the State Fair of Texas. It’s by far the biggest thing to happen in Dallas every year, and whatever you love about Texas, you’ll find some of it here.

Deeper Dive: I've got lots more stuff about the State Fair of Texas - discounts you (really, really) might not know about, date night ideas, hidden gems in Fair Park, and lots more. I'll be adding more after I've been on Opening Day too!

Tour Some Beautiful Homes in Dallas

From the Swiss Avenue Historic district in East Dallas to the Modern Mile in Northwest Dallas, you can see architecturally significant homes in a range of styles simply by driving around. But in the spring and fall, you can go inside some of those lovely homes. A few more organizations may yet announce home tours for this fall, but until then, here are three you won’t want to miss.

Heritage Oak Cliff Home Tour

October 19th and 20th

The Heritage Oak Cliff Home Tour is the oldest and largest tour in Dallas. The Heritage Oak Cliff organization has been presenting their home tour for more than 40 years!

AIA Dallas Tour of Homes

November 2-3

Modern homes designed by Texas architects are the focus of this tour by the Dallas chapter of the  American Institute of Architects.

The Lakewood Home Festival

November 8-10th

This tour of six stunning Lakewood homes is an annual fundraiser for Lakewood Elementary School, J.L. Long Middle School and Woodrow Wilson High School.

Take a Scary Halloween Tour

If you’re looking for a great haunted house, you’ll have to head to the ‘burbs or to Fort Worth. (And I have a list for you in the Deeper Dive.) But you can take a haunted tour right here in Dallas, and they do it up Dallas style - with a pub crawl. Aptly named Nightly Spirits tells Dallas’s creepiest stories on a walking tour of haunted bars and buildings.

Denton has a (mostly) year-round ghost tour that surely has to be scarier around Halloween. Book this 90-minute walking tour with Ghosts of Denton for a night you won’t soon forget.

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos

If the whole eerie Halloween vibe is not your thing, you might enjoy a Día de los Muertos celebration. This traditional Mexican holiday coincides with All Saints Day and is a day to honor deceased loved ones. Yes, the festivities do involve a visit to the cemetery and face painting that resembles skulls, but none of this is done in a scary way - it is indeed a celebration.

This year, Dallas is hosting its first ever Día de los Muertos parade and festival at City Hall Plaza. On Saturday, October 26th, festivities will begins at 4PM with the parade taking place from 5 to 7 PM.

Deeper Dive: Find out all about how to be IN the Dallas parade and check out several other Dia de los Muertos events around DFW.

See a Scenic Pumpkin Patch (or Two or Three!)

Yes, it's true. Autumn at the Arboretum is spectacular and a must-see in Dallas in the fall. But did you know you can see two impressive pumpkin patches without spending a penny? They're right across the street from each other in a surprising place - downtown Dallas!  Dates haven’t been announced yet for the Dallas Farmers Market pumpkin patch but last year, it opened mid-September and ran through October 31st from 9AM to 7PM daily. Right across the street you’ll find Ruibal’s Plants of Texas and their wide selection of pumpkins and other pretty fall plant life.

Deeper Dive: Get the scoop on Autumn at the Arboretum and the pumpkin patches at the Dallas Farmer's Market and Ruibal's Plants of Texas.

Plus I've got a list of fun pumpkin-themed DIY Craft Classes in DFW that are sure to get you into the all-things-fall spirit.

Savor Some Fall Flavors

It’s not even fall yet, and a few pumpkin-spice flavored foods have already shown up on local menus. I've already seen Pumpkin Spice Latte Truffles at Central Market, pumpkin spice milkshakes at Steak-n-Shake and pumpkin pie Pop-Tarts at the convenience store. One of my favorite pumpkin-flavored dishes is the Pumpkin Pancakes, available any time at Maple Leaf Diner. Go get some of those if you can't wait another second  for all things pumpkin-spice.

Just remember there are many more fall flavors to savor, and in Dallas, there are lots of ways to savor them. I’ll be updating this segment and adding a deeper dive with food events and festivals and tours as we get further into the season. For now, here are a places that’ll get you in the mood for fall foods.

Dallas Restaurants With Fall Menus

Parigi in Oak Lawn - Parigi’s menu doesn’t just change seasonally; it’s update around once a month. With a focus on fresh-from-the-garden ingredients, their menu will surely deliver the best of any season.

The Mansion Restaurant in Turtle Creek - Whether you order the seasonal tasting menu or select from their regular offerings, your experience will be rich, in every way.

Local in Deep Ellum - After more than 15 years in Deep Ellum, Local feels like home with a menu to match. Choose the chef’s tasting menu or order from a well-curated dinner menu of “Local” favorites.

Bolsa near Bishop Arts - At Bolsa, you’ll find a menu full of seasonally inspired dishes with ingredients provided by nearby farms and ranches. They have a prix fixe menu option Monday through Thursday, and the full menu comes complete with local beers

Eat on a Pretty Patio

Whether or not fall weather has arrived, it's so very Dallas to eat (and drink) on the patio. Here are a few of my favorite Dallas restaurant patios.

Savor Gastropub at Klyde Warren Park - Their wide-ranging menu has already been updated for fall. Stroll through the park before or after lunch or dinner.

Goodfriend Burger and Beer Garden in East Dallas - Killer sandwiches and an amazing assortment of American craft beer reign supreme here but it’s worth a visit on taco Tuesday too. The pretty, pergola-covered (and dog-friendly) patio is a great place to chill on fab fall days.

Lekka in North Dallas - Once you discover this pretty patio and shop, you’ll definitely want to come back again and again. Their charms include live music, great Mediterranean food, and best of all - cake!

The Honor Bar at Highland Park Village - Night time is the right time for this patio in one of Dallas’s prettiest shopping centers. Greenery abounds and lights twinkle under the shade of a massive oak tree.

Smithy in Knox Henderson - Clever cocktails and locally sourced food (and beer) take the already awesome atmosphere up a notch at this pretty place by the folks who brought you The Woolworth in downtown Dallas. (You’ll love the stellar views from the rooftop patio at The Woolworth too.)

Blackfriar Pub in Uptown - Pretty patios abound in Uptown, but this former multi-level house with its beer-garden vibe is my favorite.

Enjoy the Best Fests!

A few years ago, I made a list of over 100 fall festivals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and beyond. Now I include a list of festivals in my weekly things to do post for Reddit (r/dallas).

Watch a Football Game

In Texas, it just doesn’t feel like fall if you don’t go to a football game. If you’ve got Cowboys tickets, head to Arlington and watch them play in that giant stadium. But if you’re not ready to cough up the big bucks and take one for America’s team, there are still plenty of ways to get your football fix.

Friday Night Lights

If you grew up here, head back to your alma mater for homecoming or a game against your school’s arch rival. If you’re not local, check out a home game of one of these highly ranked teams for the 2019 football season. Find their season schedules using the links below.

Allen Eagles - Watch this team in their 18,000-seat stadium and enjoy their marching band at half-time. With over 800 members, it’s the largest high school marching band in the U.S.

Duncanville Panthers - The Panthers placed second in the state for their division last year, beating the Allen Eagles (ranked by USA today as the top team in the country) to get there. They’re ranked number 2 in the state (6A Division) for this season by

Highland Park Scots  - The Scots won their fifth (Division 5A) state championship last year, and they’re a top pick to win their division this year too. In 2017, the Highlander band placed 10th in the state UIL band competition.

Southlake Carroll Dragons - The Dragons have won eight state championships; no team in Texas has won more. Watch them play this season and get a halftime treat - the Emerald Belles who made it to the quarter finals of America’s Got Talent.

College Football

College football is a whole different ball game and if that's what you love, you can take your pick of the SMU Mustangs, North Texas Mean Green, and TCU Horned Frogs.

Red River Rivalry - Texas v. OU

Watch live at the Cotton Bowl during the State Fair of Texas or join the watch party at the Granada Theater on October 12th.

Catch a Play

The play's the thing and Shakespeare in the Park is fantastic in the fall. This year's production is MacBeth, and as always Shakespeare Dallas puts their modern spin on the production.

Shows run from September 20th through the 28th with preview nights on September 18th and 19th at the Samuell Grand Amphitheater.

From October 3rd through the 13th, the show will go on at The Sound at Cypress Waters. If you haven't checked out Cypress Waters yet (near Las Colinas and Coppell) you're going to love it!  

Count the Days Till Christmas

Big D does Christmas REALLY big and I know some of you are already counting down the days. Just hold off with the decorations until after Halloween, please.

Check back here at for more Fall flavors, lots of things to do, and ways to find your happy, right here in Dallas and around DFW.