While historic tours are not typically the most exciting activity, what kid doesn't like a good story about outlaws hiding from the law? Historic Mesquite, Inc. hosts tours of the Opal Lawrence Historical Park, including its centerpiece, the 1876 Lawrence Family Farm.
Frank and Jesse James, also known as the Jesse James Gang, are believed to have occasionally used the house as a hideout after their notorious railroad robberies. While the facts about the gang’s hideout are up for debate, the sprawling 17-room homestead is quite the masterpiece. Tours are available Tuesday through Friday, the fourth Saturday of the month or by appointment.
3. Go-Karts, Slot Cars, Play Gyms and More
Get behind the driver’s seat, strap on a seat belt and race your kids at Celebration Station’s go-kart track. The track has enough twists and turns to challenge the heaviest of lead feet. On Mondays, you can get unlimited go-kart rides for just $12. It also has arcade games, miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, a climbing wall, laser tag and paintball — enough activities to tire out the most energetic of children.
Kids Empire features an indoor playground that’s filled with fun activities for younger children, including climbing structures, slides, and mazes. You can spend hours exploring all there is to do and engaging in creative play. Another option is the Urban Air Adventure Park, which includes activities for older kids as well. You’ll find giant trampolines, a rope course, an obstacle course and an indoor sky rider, just to name a few. Older kids can play a game of dodgeball or time themselves on the challenge courses, while there’s a tube playground and dedicated trampoline space for the young ones.
Finally, put your racing skills to the test at Dallas Slot Cars. Rent a slot car or race your own on a variety of tracks, including the 180-foot course with a number of twists and turns that put your skills to the test.
4. Hit the Paschall Park Butterfly Trail
Is there anything more magical than walking through a trail full of butterflies? The Paschall Park Butterfly Trail runs along a meadow of native wildflowers that attract various species of butterflies. The trail was designed to educate the public on the butterfly population, nectar, host plants and how our behaviors affect their habitat. The beautiful butterflies fluttering around are so mesmerizing your kids will not even realize they are learning—make a trip in October during the height of the butterfly season.
5. Watch Car Racing at the Devil’s Bowl Speedway
For families who want a little more excitement, head to the Devil’s Bowl Speedway for some auto racing. Late model, sprint and modified cars race around a half-mile outdoor dirt track on Saturday nights from mid-spring to mid-fall. There’s not a bad seat in the house at the 10,000-seat venue, but consider getting a pit pass to hang out with the cars and drivers before the race. Just make sure to bring ear plugs for the little ones.
6. Go Fishing At City Lake
For such an urban area, Mesquite has plenty of outdoor spaces and parks to let kids run, swim, or just play. If you are looking for a tranquil way to enjoy the great outdoors head to City Lake. City Lake is part of Texas Parks & Wildlife’s Neighborhood Fishin’ program, in which the outdoor organization stocks 18 urban lakes around the state with catfish and trout big enough to catch and eat. The program is designed to create places to catch fish — as opposed to just fishing — in populated areas. Children younger than 17 don’t need a fishing license to fish at City Lake. The annual free KidFish tournament in March is a great introduction to City Lake, with prizes awarded in a number of categories.
7. Play on the KidsQuest at Debusk Park