State Fair of Texas
Carousels, the giant Ferris wheel, pie-baking contests, friendly 4H kids in overalls grooming their prize pigs—everywhere you turn at the State Fair of Texas (running this year through October 21), it's a scene from Charlotte's Web. If you haven't been to the fair in a few years, rest assured that it's still chock full of old-fashioned goodness. The junk food's fried without trans fats now, so go ahead and stuff yourself on Fletcher's Corny Dogs, Belgian waffles and funnel cakes. Filling the 277 acres of walkways, the Midway and the Art Deco exhibit buildings at Fair Park are new versions of the old favorites. Carnies still beckon you to take your chances pitching balls at milk bottles. Kids still scream on the Wild Mouse ride. The Frisbee-catching dogs draw big crowds, as do the horse trainers, cattle auctioneers and fast-talking guys demonstrating slice-and-dice kitchen gadgets. Around that corner is a hula girl, around the next are Irish dancers. Up there is a juggler on stilts and watch out for the Human Cannonball. Our State Fair is the best state fair. Still.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
You can swim and step in the fossilized tracks of Acrocanthosaurus, a three-toed, two-legged carnosaur, or Pleurocoelus, a four-legged plant-eating sauropod, at Dinosaur Valley State Park, located near Glen Rose, 90 minutes from downtown Dallas. The fossilized tracks are found beside the Paluxy River, which winds through the park, and quite a few families have discovered that this is a great place to swim (in relatively clean water) and learn something about science at the same time. The river isn't particularly deep, and while a few spots are faster-flowing, all but the smallest kids can handle the current. The park also offers hiking trails, picnicking facilities and wildlife viewing.

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