Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in DeSoto, TX

  • Published 2023/03/08

If you seek a place in Texas with small-town charm, culture, and old-fashioned family fun, head to the city of DeSoto in Dallas County.

In 1847, DeSoto became one of Texas’ first settlements.

It developed from a farming community to an incorporated town in the 1940s.

It took its name from Dr. Thomas Hernando DeSoto Stewart, a beloved doctor devoted to his home.

DeSoto is a quaint and lovely cultural mecca hosting many family-friendly events and activities throughout the year, from concerts to fishing tournaments to dances.

It has a strong hometown spirit and offers a rich range of cultural experiences that give guests a chance to mingle with their community.

It’s also in a spectacular location, surrounded by sprawling hills, gorgeous vistas, and verdant thickets.

Find a wealth of natural areas and parks for an outdoor getaway.

Today, DeSoto is a quiet getaway with a quaint allure.

A world of adventure awaits you in the city and surrounding areas.

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

Soar into the Air with Texas Helicopter Experience

Texas Helicopter Experience is an aerial tour company that will give you a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the Dallas and Fort Worth areas.

These excursions take customers above the most popular spots in the metroplex, such as Downtown Dallas, the Fort Worth Stockyards, and AT&T Stadium.

They offer aerial photography, scenic tours, introductory flights, and hangar leasing for aircraft and events.

Their air-conditioned R44 helicopters offer comfy seating for two, including side-by-side seating in the rear seats.

At their Downtown Dallas tour, catch views of the Dallas Zoo, downtown Dallas, AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park, and Six Flags.

With their White Rock Lake Tour, spot the Cotton Bowl/Fair Park, Dallas Arboretum, White Rock Lake, Northpark Center, Park Cities, and downtown Dallas.

Feel the Thrill at DeSoto BMX

See expert riders go on thrilling races at DeSoto BMX, America’s first covered facility designed for BMX racing.

BMX racing is an exciting sport for the entire crew.

You can also get involved, whether as a racer, pit crew, spectator, or track volunteer.

Races are organized according to skill levels and age groups so that everyone can compete on a level playing field.

DeSoto BMX spans 72,000 square feet and hosts local, regional, district, and state races in every racing category.

The American Bicycle Association constructed the track, giving it 1,000 yards of hand-packed dirt and massive berms and jumps.

DeSoto BMX also hosts the USA BMX Super Nationals, which draws over 1,800 participants each year, including amateurs, professionals, and Olympians.

Step into the Past at the Historic Nance Farm

The historic Nance Farm is a Victorian home built in the 1850s by a famous farmer.

Today, the city owns the farm and its 19th-century farmhouse, turning it into a local history classroom for the schoolchildren of DeSoto.

In 1851, Otway Bird Nance brought his family and ten children from Illinois, buying 640 acres from Peter’s colony.

The patriarch built the house and milking barn that same year and bought more land.

Within the next few years, the Nance Farm had doubled in size.

The residence was originally a two-story home with a Greek revival façade.

Sometime in 1883, they added Victorian detailing to the house.

The residence initially faced north; however, they rotated it to the east in the early 1900s.

Today, accessory structures include a windmill, windmill well, curing shed, bucket well, milking barn, and tank house.

Enjoy Tee Time at Thorntree Golf Club

In 1983, the Richard Mai family built the Thorntree Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course.

The Dallas Business Journal named it one of the most challenging courses in the area.

It has a cozy clubhouse, fantastic practice facilities, and a unique course embraced by rolling open spaces.

It provides an inspirational golf experience for players of all ages, offering flawless fairways and gorgeously manicured Champions Bermuda greens.

There are also six tennis courts on the property and a 13-foot-deep junior Olympic-sized pool.

The course hosted the Byron Nelson qualifying tournament and the PGA sectional qualifying and staged qualifying tournaments for the Texas State Open.

Anyone can join Thorntree’s Men’s Golf Associations, Ladies’ Golf Association, and Senior Interclub.

Golf clinics are also available for golf outings, associations, civic groups, ladies, seniors, and juniors, from advanced players to beginners.

Enjoy a Great Stroll at the Windmill Hill Nature Preserve

Windmill Hill Nature Preserve is a 75-acre park filled with vivid trees and bumpy hills, which the Dallas Observer has named the “best hiking trail.”

It has plenty of amenities, such as extensive walking and hiking trails designed for sightseeing and leisurely exploration.

Windmill Hill was once owned by a developer who wanted to build new homes on the site.

When these plans didn’t push through, the county recognized the significance of such a large, heavily wooded site and acquired the property.

Even though a subdivision surrounds it, the preserve hosts woods, hills, meadows, and a creek.

Visitors can stroll into the woods and trails or ride bicycles on the natural surfaces that the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association helped create.

Along with steep land and rocky terrain, you can find a bridge that crosses the ten-mile creek named the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Bridge.

Get Pampered at My Choice Spa and Wellness Lounge

My Choice Spa and Wellness Lounge is an excellent destination for rejuvenation and relaxation in DeSoto.

Therapists deliver lifestyle solutions tailored to the body’s physiology and synergize the skin, body, and mind.

The lounge is also a premier destination for group events, spa parties, and corporate retreats.

Owner Ike Osuji is a physician specializing in internal medicine.

His wife, Tochi, is a cosmetologist with a medical background.

Together, they deliver state-of-the-art beauty and wellness treatments, including medically supervised weight loss, acne solutions, allergy testing, and hormone therapies.

Try their skincare services with My Choice Prescriptive Facial for a deep skin cleanse and Pure Clarity to rebalance excess oil and hydration.

Then, try their Express Skin Refresher Facial which includes steam and exfoliation.

Test their range of massages, including Swedish, therapeutic deep tissue massage, sports massage, and mother-to-be.

Celebrate Talented Youths with N.I.A. Kids Center

The N.I.A. Kids Center for the Performing Arts is a youth service organization in DeSoto that helps youth grasp their full potential in the performing arts.

Besides opportunities for youths and performing arts training, their programs enhance life skills by promoting accountability, perseverance, and creativity.

N.I.A. Kids has produced a plethora of programs, community events, and professional theatrical productions that provide opportunities for youth to develop mentally, socially, and artistically.

Their Summer Theater program provides intense training in music/vocal technique, acting/drama, and dance/choreography that culminates in a professional theatrical production.

Their Performing Arts program provides training through dance, acting, vocals, workshops, and theatrical production, preparing them for a future in the performing arts industry.

Their After School Arts program includes drama, dance, and vocals every day, culminating with a production/showcase at the end of six weeks.

With these programs, they hope to impart positive self-esteem, social opportunities, self-discipline, and self-expression to their students.

Join the Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration

Juneteenth is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

On June 19th, 1865, General Gordon Granger led his Union soldiers to Galveston, Texas, bearing news that the war was over and the slaves were free.

This event took place two-and-a-half years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

However, the proclamation had a negligible impact on Texas due to the low number of Union troops there to enforce it.

However, General Lee’s surrender in April 1865 and General Granger’s arrival in Galveston signaled the true end of slavery.

Today, African-Americans celebrate Juneteenth with skits, music, picnics, barbecuing, and ethnic dress.

Since 2004, the Best Southwest cities of Duncanville, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, and DeSoto have collaborated on the Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration, which rotates cities every year.

Kick off the summer with arts and crafts, entertainment, food, children’s activities, musical performances, and community festivities.

Explore the Heart of Desoto at Roy Orr Trail

For a bit of active exploration in DeSoto, Roy Orr Trail is your best choice.

Spanning almost 4 miles, this trail runs across a tree-lined route on concrete pavement.

Unlike nature trails, this urban route takes you on a journey along some of downtown DeSoto’s recreational spots and attractions.

It’s cut off into five sections—ideal for walking or strolling with your kids and families.

Roy Orr Trail has several Pet Mitt Stations as well, so you can freely traverse this site with your pet without worry.

You can access this trail from various points, but its trailheads are at Mirkes Parkway and Alpine Drive.

Browse through Art Collections at Bluebonnet Art Gallery & Framing

Make your DeSoto trip more memorable by adding Bluebonnet Art Gallery & Framing to your must-visit list.

Started in 1989, this gallery specializes in Western art and culture.

From memorabilia and photographs to a variety of artworks, this gallery has it all in its project showcases.

Get to see the recurring themes of the gallery’s featured artists while you’re at it.

But most of all, this gallery takes pride in its custom framing services.

Why not have your DeSoto trip photos framed at Bluebonnet Art Gallery & Framing?

This site is on Falcon Drive.

Challenge Your Friends to a Game of Arcade at AMF DeSoto Lanes

If bowling is your specialty, AMF DeSoto Lanes opens its doors for you.

This indoor entertainment features 40 bowling lanes with classic black lights and accompanying films on show.

The site also comes with a sports bar and billiard tables if you get too tired of knocking down bowling pins.

For the young ones and the young at heart, there’s an arcade center complete with old-school game machines.

Play games with the likes of Jurassic Park Arcade and Mario Kart.

Get ready for a day, afternoon, or night of fun at AMF DeSoto Lanes on Northgate Drive.

Spice Up Your Palate with a Crawfish Tasting at Crawfish Festival

You have never known DeSoto cuisine without a taste of its special crawfish dish.

And what better way to introduce your palate to this dish than by attending Crawfish Festival?

This annual DeSoto tradition brings live music and good food to the stunning outdoors.

And the star of the show—DeSoto’s famous spicy crawfish is a common delicacy served during the festivities.

Admission is free, too, so come with your loved ones and anticipate a good time.

Crawfish Festival takes place at Grimes Baseball Complex on East Wintergreen Road.

Bond with Your Family at Ernie Roberts Park

Developed in 2002, Ernie Roberts Park is one of the most-visited parks in DeSoto.

This is because of its family-friendly facilities, including a playground and a practice baseball diamond.

The play area is full of disability-friendly equipment, including swings, soft pavements, and shade coverings.

Take your intimate gatherings at this well-rounded park’s picnic tables.

It also offers access to the Roy Orr Trail.

This park spans almost 10 acres in the central part of the city.

Get going to East Pleasant Run Road for Ernie Roberts Park’s amenities.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Unwind at Cedar Hill State Park

A long boardwalk at Cedar Hill State Park

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cedar Hill State Park is a true outdoor urban getaway with sandy shores on Joe Pool Lake and 1,826 acres of beautiful terrain with limestone hills and picturesque trails.

At the park, you can go swimming and boating in Joe Pool Lake or go camping, birdwatching, and set up an afternoon barbecue.

Cedar Hill State Park provides over 300 campsites, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and the Joe Pool Marina.

Swimming area of Cedar Hill State Park

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It also has miles of hiking/biking trails for mountain bikers and trekkers who want an adventure.

You can also learn about local Texan history at the Penn Farm Agricultural Center, where you can discover how Texas family farms operated and changed through the years.

Joe Pool Lake likewise has two boat ramps, many fishing piers, and lakeside picnic and camping sites.

Its waters contain white crappie, catfish, and largemouth bass.

Duck pond trail at Cedar Hill State Park

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

Work up a Sweat at Altitude Trampoline Park Cedar Hill

Altitude Trampoline Park Cedar Hill, nine minutes away from DeSoto, is the 14th branch of the Altitude family of trampoline parks.

This branch has 20,000 square feet of interconnecting trampoline attractions.

The place includes high-octane equipment such as a foam pit, trampolines, tumble tracks, and more entertainment for individuals and groups.

You’ll find this park at Lakeridge Villa plaza, allowing children to play while parents grab a bite to eat or see a movie.

Altitude Trampoline Park ensures maximum safety, with soft but solid eight-foot-high trampoline walls, safety netting, several inches of padding, and more than four feet of soft foam.

Bounce on the wall-to-wall trampolines in the central court or take a giant dive into the foam pit containing 15,000 foam cubes.

Let your little ones jump around at the kids’ court, with dedicated court monitors and unique Toddler Times.

Get a full-body workout at trampoline dodgeball, and finish your day off with a dunk at the basketball court.

Have a Picnic at Lynn Creek Park

Joe pool lake at Lynn Creek Park

Trong Nguyen /

Found 25 minutes from DeSoto, Lynn Creek Park is in Grand Prairie, Texas.

It’s a day-use facility open from March to September, located along the northwest corner of Joe Pool Lake.

Within its 785 acres, you can find a beach for lounging and swimming, covered picnic areas, a sand volleyball court, some ramps for boating, and a concession stand.

People having a picnic at Lynn Creek Park

Trong Nguyen /

The beach is a pleasant swimming area with plenty of sand and a grassy section holding some covered picnic tables.

The park contains over 100 picnic tables, some covered and sitting on a concrete pad with a waist-high barbecue grill.

The park also has two pavilions: one a larger covered area that protects some picnic tables, the other a smaller site with six tables.

Lynn Creek annually hosts Prairie Lights, the holiday light display that begins after Thanksgiving, running until New Year’s Eve.

A hammock on a tree at Lynn Creek Park

Trong Nguyen /

Enjoy Spooky Chills and Thrills at Reindeer Manor

Reindeer Manor has been the oldest and creepiest haunted house in Texas since 1974 and is one of America’s longest-running Halloween attractions.

Located 11 minutes from DeSoto, this storied haunted mansion has group tours every weekend in the fall, along with hayrides and spooky entertainment.

At Copycat Killer, a rowdy mix of cheerleaders, geeks, jocks, mascots, punks, and bad boys find themselves stalked by a killer in a cat mask wielding peculiar weapons.

Meanwhile, the 13thStreet Morgue is confirmed to be haunted.

Real murder-suicides happened there, including a perpetrator dressed as Santa Claus to fool the home’s inhabitants.

Dungeon of Doom is a game filled with vivid imagery, fantasy, and nightmarish ghouls.

It has turned a gamer into a terrifying new character who awaits players to defeat.

The Bunker follows the survivors of a biochemical outbreak who battle mutant-like creatures seeking to control the New World.

Revisit the Bible at the Museum of Biblical Art

Exterior of the Museum of Biblical Art

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

The Museum of Biblical Art is in Dallas, Texas, located 28 minutes from DeSoto.

It’s an art museum unlike any other.

Mattie Caruth Byrd founded the museum in 1967 under its former name Biblical Arts Center.

In 2005, a fire destroyed the museum, along with 2,500 works of art.

In 2010, they rebuilt the museum into a modern building with 11 galleries.

The museum’s galleries exhibit American and European art, Israeli and Jewish art, Biblical archaeology, and rare editions of the Bible.

Via dolorosa sculpture garden at the Museum of Biblical Art

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

These galleries also contain drawings, fine prints, oil paintings, and bronze sculptures.

See the works of Marc Chagall, comprising 50 originals depicting Daniel in the lion’s den, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the crowning of Queen Esther, and others.

Check out Andy Warhol’s portraiture, which features famous Jewish people, including George Gershwin, Gertrude Stein, and Sigmund Freud.

Spot the creations of Barbara Hines, inspired by stories from the Torah, committed to sharing peace and understanding in the world.

View Pilgrimage pieces such as the 40-foot-long Resurrection mural by Ron DiCianni.

You can also check out the Tapestry of the Centuries mural by Vladimir Gorsky, which depicts 350 events and figures from Christ’s birth until today.

There’s no Biblical museum on the scale of the Museum of Biblical Arts anywhere else, a true treasure trove for people all over the world.

Wooden benches on the grounds of the Museum of Biblical Art

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

Sip Fine Wine at Cassaro Winery

Cassaro Winery is a family-owned business located 11 minutes from DeSoto in Ovilla, Texas.

John and Jill Matthews bring the Tuscan wine-tasting experience to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, blending Italian tradition with Texas wines.

Spanning nearly three acres in historic downtown Ovilla, their 1910 Texas farmhouse has become a Tuscan-style tasting room with several tables where you can sit and enjoy award-winning wines.

They also serve meat and cheese trays and delectable treats to complement your wine.

They have pleasant outdoor sitting areas, beautiful shade trees, a larger-than-life fire pit, and free music every Friday night.

They grow their Cabernet, Alberino, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese right in Texas, transforming them into fine wines to please the palate.

They also have Texas-grown Riesling, Rose, Pinot Grigio, and Tempranillo, blending them with a healthy splash of Italy.

Commune with Nature at Dogwood Audubon Canyon Center

Located in Cedar Hill, 13 minutes from DeSoto, Dogwood Canyon Audubon Center provides visitors and residents a chance to explore an immensely diverse natural environment.

You will see the east, west, and central Texas ecosystems converge there, featuring over 200 acres of natural habitat.

It teems with migrating and nesting bird species and rare native species of plants and wildlife.

The center has given guests the chance to admire the flowering dogwoods, juniper and ash trees, and native and non-native birds throughout the years.

Some birds at the center include European starlings, barred owls, American kestrels, painted buntings, and summer tanagers.

In the canyon’s trees, you can also see red-tailed hawks, Eastern screech owls, and greater roadrunners.

Dogwood Canyon has an indoor bird area, a resident raptor, education animals on-site, picnic tables, a gift shop, special events, and programs.

Final Thoughts

DeSoto is soaked in energetic activities, cultural havens, and natural escapes.

It’s a perfect place for a family getaway, home to a wealth of parks, attractions, and natural areas that will entertain and enchant.

Make DeSoto your new favorite vacation destination for your next North Texas adventure.

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