Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Denison, TX

  • Published 2023/04/18

The best things to do in Denison, Texas, revolve beyond the president born in this quaint, historic city.

Known as the birthplace of Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, the city of Denison is in Grayson County, Texas.

Established in 1872, Denison stood beside the Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad (MKT) as part of the “Katy” depot.

Katy’s vice president George Denison was the inspiration behind the city’s name.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find enough to do in Denison, but those looking for a more urban experience can also stay downtown.

One of Texas’ most popular vacation destinations, Lake Texoma, is just a few miles south of town.

You’ll also find an award-winning vineyard and distillery, a small brewery, and plenty of restaurants and retail establishments.

Here are the best things to do in Denison, TX:

Explore the Eisenhower State Park

A person about to ride a boat at Eisenhower State Park

Donna Beeler /

The Eisenhower State Park spans 1,785 acres.

Aside from Melvern Lake’s 6,930 acres, the park has 440-acre woods, a 1,000-acre tall grass prairie, and a full complement of recreational amenities.

Nature and a plethora of recreational opportunities await you at this tranquil hideaway.

Wildflowers along Eisenhower State Park

NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

There are more than four kilometers of routes to explore on foot or by bike.

Look for spots where you can swim, geocache, boulder, or have a picnic along the shoreline.

Take a turn at horseshoes or the swings.

Look for wildflowers endemic to Texas and saltwater artifacts from the past.

A trail leading to the waters of Eisenhower State Park

NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

Meet a President at Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site

Exterior of Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site

RaksyBH /

In 1890, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, the 34th president of the United States, was born in Denison, Texas.

Today, his birthplace has become the Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site, located in the heart of Denison.

With kids, this is one of the best things to do in Denison if you’re interested in learning about history through the eyes of fantastic displays.

Learn about Eisenhower’s working-class origins through the modest frame house’s antique furnishings.

Interior of Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Celebrate Ike’s accomplishments as a president and a war hero in the visitors center with artifacts and exhibitions.

Discover one of Denison’s most exciting and unique tourist attractions.

Visitors can also enjoy campaign memorabilia, an eight-minute Eisenhower documentary, and more at the Visitors Center.

Kitchen in Eisenhower Birthplace State Historic Site

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Eisenhower Veterans Monument

The Eisenhower Veterans Monument stands on a five-foot stone pedestal with five 35-foot flagpoles surrounding the Eisenhower bust, which is 16 feet tall.

David Adickes designed the monument.

One of the best free things to do in Denison this weekend is to check out the former president’s bust.

Night view of the Eisenhower Veterans Monument

Texas State Library and Archives Commission, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The purpose of this monument is to honor the service and sacrifice of the World War II veterans who built it.

In addition, it serves as a tribute to the late president.

It’s a revered and enduring tourist destination you may want to visit.

Visit the monument, take snaps, learn about its history, pay your respects, and unwind on one of the many seats in the area.

Step Back in Time at Grayson County Frontier Village

In 1966, county citizens decided to preserve the heritage of Denison’s early settlers.

They started looking for methods to preserve the structures, objects, and way of life commonplace in Denison’s frontier settlement.

Today, it is known as Grayson County Frontier Village.

This pioneer settlement, dubbed “One of the Country’s Best Kept Secrets,” will captivate visitors.

You won’t be able to get your eyes off the ancient vintage houses with antiquities.

Look inside pioneer homes in a beautiful village and experience what life was like for the pioneers back in the day.

As a fun date idea, take pictures, create lasting memories, and then return.

Couples visiting Denison should consider this one of the city’s most romantic attractions.

There’s also a children’s museum with a variety of hands-on activities.

Check Out Vintage Aircraft at Perrin Air Force Base Historical Museum

Are you a history buff or an aircraft enthusiast?

Visit this small museum to reflect on a piece of Denison’s history.

Following the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, the US Air Force opened Perrin Air Force Base, one of the earliest primary flight schools in the nation.

The United States entered World War II after the Japanese assault.

At the war’s end, the armed forces handed Perrin Air Force Base to the Grayson County Community College and the County of Grayson.

Since the early 1980s, a small group of Denison and Sherman residents has kept the memory of Perrin alive by holding nine reunions at Perrin Field each year.

Two locations now display donated memorabilia, including many historical photographs and artifacts from the Grayson County Airport.

Learn Local Locomotive History at Red River Railroad Museum

Exterior of Red River Railroad Museum

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was only a matter of time before a fire destroyed the original Depot building.

Finished in 1914, the MK&T Railroad’s offices were headquartered in the Katy Depot building on Main Street.

They restored the old depot and transformed it into a modest downtown commercial mall with retail shops, restaurants, a gallery, and professional office spaces.

The Red River Railroad Museum is located across the street from the Katy Depot at the Katy Antique Station.

The museum displays can keep a locomotive fan occupied for the better of an afternoon.

You can also learn the comprehensive history of the MK&T Railroad, emphasizing Denison’s origin and subsequent growth.

Artifacts, photographs, displays, and train equipment abound throughout the museum.

Indulge in Tasty Wine at Hidden Hangar Winery

Taste old-town Texas when you visit Hidden Hangar Winery.

This historic vineyard and winery boasts homegrown beverages and goods.

The site where it stands now was once the take-off spot for Barnstorming planes during the 20s up to 50s.

Now, the site blooms with green landscapes and has served the community since the 90s.

Join a wine tasting at this winery or book a tour of its refreshing vineyard.

You can get to Hidden Hangar Winery via Middle Road.

Spot All the Murals in the Denison Arts and Cultural District

Denison’s Arts and Cultural District is a 30-block area within the downtown area that’s solely dedicated to the art culture of the city.

Some of the buildings you can find in this district include museums, art studios, wine-tasting rooms, and theaters.

But what makes the area more vibrant is its collection of murals.

One of the more rustic and vintage mural examples within this area is Ashburn’s Ice Cream Mural on West Main Street.

If you prefer a contemporary art style, the Bella Fontana Flower Mural and the Steamboat Caravan Mural might just catch your eye.

Heading straight to South Austin Avenue, you’ll come across the prominent TV Muson Mural.

And there are tons more for you to uncover on your own during your walk.

Happy spotting!

Explore Contemporary Art at Zig Zag Galleries

Within downtown Denison, Zig Zag Galleries stands out as a spectacular art gallery and gift shop in one.

The center also comes with a workshop space that artists can use on their visit.

One of the highlights of the gallery is its hat bar, where you can customize the hat of your dreams.

From the color to the accessories, everything about your hat is entirely your choice!

Come by the gallery during artist showcases, too, and find your artistic inspiration without leaving the facility.

Discover a unique art experience when you come by Zig Zag Galleries on West Woodard Street.

Watch Out for the Costume Contest at Doc Holliday Festival

Denison’s Doc Holliday Festival is a celebration of the American gambler and gunfighter of the same name.

He owned an office in the downtown district of the city, too.

At this annual festival, the community comes together to watch reenactors bring to life events in the 1880s.

Other programs you can anticipate enjoying include an antiques fair, a petting zoo, and even photo ops centered on the Wild West.

Accompanying you on your trip to the past is live music and other free entertainment.

For a more immersive historical retelling, come by 700 Block.

Doc Holliday Festival takes place in the wondrous downtown area of Denison.

Dance to Groovy Music while Skating at Skatelands of America

Whether you see skating as a hobby or a passion, Skatelands of America is the place for you.

This indoor roller skating rink takes pride in its well-rounded amenities, including trainer rentals and concessions.

Opened in 1985, this entertainment center had its first facility in Carl Junction in Missouri.

Years later, owners Don and Audrey Brewer expanded their business to serve the community in Denison.

Aside from public skating hours, this center is open for private parties.

So, come by with your loved ones or a large group and have fun skating to your heart’s content.

Skatelands of America is on South Woodlawn Boulevard.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Fishing at Denison Dam

Daytime view of Denison Dam

Trong Nguyen /

Located on the Red River, Denison Dam, also known as Lake Texoma Dam, holds Lake Texoma in place.

You can find it in Cartwright, Oklahoma, ten minutes from Denison.

The Denison Dam area is home to several businesses that cater to anglers, including bait and tackle shops.

The closest boat ramp to Denison Dam is the Spillway Boat Ramp.

Fly fishing and using live bait are popular methods for anglers.

Aerial view of Denison Dam

Trong Nguyen /

The rocky beach of the tailrace attracts a lot of stripers.

It’s common for stripers to hang around on windblown points when the wind starts blowing in the appropriate direction.

In addition to bass and catfish, you’ll find a variety of other species.

Since the dam is between Texas and Oklahoma, anglers must have fishing licenses from both states to fish at the Denison Dam.

At the dam, game wardens conduct periodic licensing checks.

View of the Denison Dam

Mark royal /

Enjoy Various Water Recreations at Waterloo Lake Regional Park

Located in Waterloo Denison, Waterloo Lake has a surface area of 52 acres.

The recreational program started in 2018, and the park has 140 acres of land to explore.

This park in Denison has a plethora of free activities to choose from.

These activities are perfect for spending quality time together as a family.

Hike or bike around the beautiful Waterloo Lake, surrounded by a seven-mile route.

For bikers, the trailhead begins at the boat ramp and proceeds counterclockwise.

Softball and baseball diamonds and horseshoe pits are among the park’s other amenities.

One of Denison’s most unusual attractions is a gorgeous cave, so don’t miss it.

Go Camping at Damsite Texas Campground

Damsite Texas is a tiny campground with a total of 19 campsites.

Water and electricity are available at each of the campsites.

The campsite is a popular destination for campers because of its proximity to the Red River and popular outdoor pursuits like fishing.

Shade from pecan trees covers the majority of park campsites during warm months.

Before entering the park, guests can use the pavilion and many picnic tables.

Spend the day near the Red River without paying the campground’s overnight camping fees.

The Denison Dam has a popular overflow boat ramp area for those who want to bring a boat to explore Lake Texoma.

Play Ball Games at Ray Park

Ray Park is a four-acre park that the community frequently visits with a play area, basketball hoop, and baseball field.

A closer-to-home option completes this list of the best things to see and do in Denison.

It’s also a great place to picnic, read a book, or relax.

It’s a place where everyone can feel at home.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet location to take a stroll or a place to practice yoga or enjoy a basketball game, this park is the place for you.

Enjoy Disc Golf with Your Family at Munson Park

The grounds of Munson Park

Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can find a new 18-hole disc golf course at Denison’s Munson Park.

Inaugurated in 2011, the Munson Park Disc Golf Course provides terrific entertainment for guests.

Over 7000 feet in length, the 18-hole course has a Par of 62 and a par distance.

H.B. Clark, a well-known architect, planned and built it.

Even the most experienced disc golfers will have difficulty navigating this course because of its numerous hills and woods.

Every day during park hours, the course is accessible to the public.

Rent a set from the City of Denison Parks & Recreation, or bring your discs to play.

The whole family will have a great time!

Additionally, you may use the vast covered pavilion, picnic tables, softball field, two baseball fields, and playground equipment.

Explore Downtown Denison

The road of Downtown Denison

RaksyBH /

In 1988, Denison self-initiated the Main Street Program.

A year after, the Texas Historical Commission officially designated the city as a Main Street city.

In Denison, you’ll find some of the city’s most exciting activities right in the middle of downtown.

Buildings along Downtown Denison

RaksyBH /

Explore downtown Denison, and you might fall in love with it.

Take a stroll down the town’s main street, admiring the charming boutiques along the way.

You can include these vintage structures in any photograph of your loved ones.

Esler Paint and Paper storefront at Downtown Denison

Dene Brock /

Have a Blast at HeyDay Denison

The Texoma area’s most popular entertainment venue is HeyDay Entertainment.

Brad Little and Trey Bates founded it in 2007.

No matter how miserable the weather is outside, you shouldn’t give up until you’ve tried these activities.

The best night of your life is waiting for you in one of the city’s most extraordinary venues.

Bowling, billiards, shuffleboard, and laser tag are just a few activities you can do at a bowling alley.

In addition, there is a thrilling rope course, an outdoor mini-golf course, and an arcade for additional enjoyment.

Sip Fine Wine at Homestead Vineyard & Winery

North Texas’ Red River Valley’s Homestead Winery is the region’s first and longest-running winery.

A century ago, Gabe Parker’s grandpa started farming in North Texas, and his descendants Barb and Gabe wanted to carry on the family heritage.

They began growing Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay grapes in the fertile soils of Ivanhoe to replace regular wheat and maize.

Today, they produce a wide range of wines using grapes from various farmers.

Dr. Roy Mitchell, a seasoned winemaker, oversees the process.

The Denison winery now produces Sherry, Port, and Red Wine, in addition to the Ivanhoe plant.

Visitors to the Denison tasting room can taste and purchase our wines.

Denison has a long history of wine production.

Denison’s T.V. Munson sent grape rootstocks from North Texas to France in 1880 to save the Charante region from extinction.

French scientists worked with grape growers to graft the native grape varietals using their disease-resistant rootstocks.

Since then, Denison and Cognac, France, has maintained a special Sister City relationship.

Try Spirits at Ironroot Republic Distillery

The distillery‘s name pays homage to horticulture Thomas Volney Munson, a well-known resident of Denison.

Munson developed the first phylloxera-resistant vines by grafting European rootstock onto American vines.

Fresh, local, and non-GMO ingredients are the core of the distillery’s handcrafted spirits.

Most of the grains come from within a 60-mile radius of the distillery.

Every grain is mash-fermented and barrel-aged at the distillery itself.

They use a classic Scottish pot still for double distillation to help their whiskey and brandy achieve the desired flavor.

The distillery also uses Cognac and Armagnac’s élevage technique, based on the French method in the maturing process.

Final Thoughts

In Denison, you can spend your days exploring the great outdoors or taking in the sights and sounds of an art gallery.

Denison’s historic Main Street boasts many stores and restaurants to keep you entertained.

Meanwhile, Lake Texoma and its gorgeous blue waters are only a few miles distant.

Start planning your Denison trip today!

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