Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Richardson, TX

  • Published 2023/01/06

Experience the best of North Texas by exploring the city of Richardson, home to the region’s top attractions and most anticipated festivals.

Founded in 1873, Richardson in Collin County provides easy access to visitors with its close location to downtown Dallas, DFW International, and Love Field airports, plus major highways and routes.

Richardson, also known as the Telecom Corridor, exudes a sophisticated, modern vibe due to its number of high-tech and telecommunications companies.

Nonetheless, it’s still an excellent outdoor destination with several scenic parks and more than 80 miles of trails and walkways.

Arts and culture enthusiasts may visit the state-of-the-art Eisemann Center for Performing Arts, and food lovers are also in for a treat as Richardson is among the hailed “best foodie cities” in the country in 2020.

Even if you’re traveling on a budget, you can still make the most of your trip with these free things to do in Richardson, Texas!

Take in Picturesque Views at Crowley Park

Scenic view of Crowley Park

A Stock Image /

A large park where you can spend time outdoors sits on Spring Drive.

Spanning over 58 acres, Crowley Park consists of naturalistic areas and facilities for recreational activities.

Lay a blanket on the grassy, open area near the pond and have a feast outdoors with your family, friends, or special someone.

See fishes, turtles, and ducks on the waters while birds serenade you.

Coyote at Crowley Park

Robert Nunnally from Allen, TX, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Admire the beauty of the wildflowers in bloom and the many lush trees that provide shade to visitors.

Break a sweat by playing basketball, a game of catch, throwing a Frisbee, and the like.

Kids can also have a great time at the playgrounds in the northern and southern parts of Crowley Park.

Celebrate the Cottonwood Art Festival at Cottonwood Park

Bask in the vibrant atmosphere of the Cottonwood Art Festival at Cottonwood Park on the first weekends of May and October.

The festival traces its roots to 1969 when local artists displayed some of their works at the park.

Today, the Cottonwood Art Festival is a community tradition and one of the country’s most prestigious fine art festivals.

During this juried semi-annual art show, Cottonwood Park transforms into an outdoor fine arts gallery where you can meet hundreds of local, national, and international artists.

Browse a variety of artworks like paintings, sculptures, ceramics, photography, and more.

Watch local musicians on stage and enjoy live music.

Festival admission is free, although some activities require a nominal fee in the ArtStop Children’s area.

If you’re visiting on regular days, there are other recreational activities available at Cottonwood Park, which stretches 25.31 acres on Belt Line Road and Cottonwood Drive.

Kids will have fun at the 11,000-square-foot Ann Eisemann Inclusive Playground with swings, merry-go-round, see-saw, and sensory garden.

Cottonwood Park has picnic areas, two lakes, a swimming pool, lighted courts, and 1.1 miles of trails.

Spend Quality Time with Family at Breckinridge Park

Bicycle race at Breckinridge Park

Bert Templeton /

Breckinridge Park is among the largest beautiful parks in the city, spanning 417.13 acres on Renner and Brand Roads.

It opened in 1992 and features various facilities such as picnic areas, playgrounds, soccer and baseball fields, restrooms, pavilions, and a gazebo.

Breckinridge Park also encompasses a 10-acre lake and two additional lakes on its northern side.

Soak up picturesque vistas as you navigate the more than seven miles of multi-use trails winding through the park.

A bird at Breckinridge Park

Robert Nunnally from Allen, TX, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Use the open spaces to play catch, throw Frisbee, and fly kites with family and friends.

For more fun, come over to Breckinridge Park to celebrate the city’s annual Family 4th Celebration on Independence Day!

Pack your favorite snacks and picnic blankets, or enjoy a treat from several food concessionaires.

See synchronized fireworks that light up the sky and listen to patriotic tunes performed by the Richardson Community Band.

See What’s Happening at the Huffhines Harvest Fest at Huffhines Park

The Huffhines Harvest Fest began as a simple event in 1976 where local artists displayed their talents and masterpieces.

Formerly known as Huffhines Art Trails, it has evolved into a fall tradition attracting art enthusiasts across North Texas and beyond.

See several exhibits by artists and craftsmen showcasing contemporary and traditional works along the trails.

Enjoy the performances of local musicians playing on two different stages at the park.

The Huffhines Harvest Fest also features a craft beer garden, food vendors for delicious treats, and different family activities like decorating contests and a scavenger hunt.

Dog lovers will have a blast in the Pawtoberfest highlight of the festival!

Huffhines Park hosts the two-day festival on the third weekend of October; admission is free, but you have to pay a nominal fee for some activities.

The 54.54-acre park also offers recreational activities in its picnic areas, playground, sports fields and courts, two lakes, and trail for hiking and biking.

Visit Huffhines Park on Plano and Apollo Roads.

Get Closer to Nature at Spring Creek Nature Area

A trail at Spring Creek Nature Area

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

Just south of CityLine sits 100 acres of hardwood forest at Spring Creek Nature Area.

It’s accessible through the Spring Creek Trail or Central Trail, while parking is located along Braeburn Drive close to Foxboro Park.

Spring Creek Nature Area and nearby properties hold historical significance as a site that Caddo Indians and early pioneers once occupied.

Escape the daily hustle and bustle by taking a hike on the trails winding through the nature area.

Enjoy spectacular views of Spring Creek and observe the natural flora and fauna flourishing at Spring Creek Nature Area.

Don’t miss the unique entry portals at the nature area’s northeast and northwest corners, made of textured Kenoran Sage granite with leaf-shaped openings.

Towering trees provide shade in the portal plazas, each with a leaf-shaped sculpture and seat pods that are perfect for resting.

Go Sightseeing in CityLine

CityLine is a mixed-used development off the intersection of President George Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway that’s packed with exciting entertainment options and several restaurants specializing in different cuisines.

It also boasts multiple parks, open spaces, and trails for outdoor recreation.

The one-acre CityLine Plaza serves as the heart of this urban hotspot where you can see some eye-catching public art pieces, enjoy live music and interesting events, or go picnicking.

You’ll find more picnic areas at CityLine Park and Fox Creek Park, which have playgrounds to entertain young park-goers.

For more adventure, these parks have trails that connect to Richardson’s trail system.

Go Bird Watching at Galatyn Woodland Preserve

Trail at Galatyn Woodland Preserve

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

Galatyn Woodland Preserve is an eight-acre preserve on Lookout Drive, connected by a trail to the Spring Creek Nature Area.

Take a breather by jogging or walking on the trail circling the preserve, and unwind in the picnic areas.

Bring binoculars and a spotting scope to get the best views of the birds nesting, and visit Galatyn Woodland Preserve, which encompasses wetland ponds and has a boardwalk for birders.

You may also want to sketch the wildflowers in bloom at this small preserve.

Galatyn Woodland Preserve also has an animal sculpture playground and three horseshoe pits.

Take Photos of Beautiful Structures through the Public ArtWalk Richardson

In an effort to promote art and make it accessible, the city conceptualized the Public ArtWalk Richardson where anyone can take a free, self-guided art and nature walk.

The Public ArtWalk Richardson lies on the northern part of the longer Central Trail, starting at Eisemann Center near Performance Drive and ending in CityLine.

Encounter eight pieces of public art, ranging from choreographed fountains to different sculptures.

Among these is the bronze sculpture of Angela Mia De La Vega called the Whirlwind, showing two children in a whirling dance and is said to resemble the young ones’ carefree attitude.

Widen your imagination or find a personal connection to the spectacular structures of the Public ArtWalk Richardson!

See the Waterfalls at Prairie Creek Park

Boardwalk at Prairie Creek Park

Daniel I /

People visit Prairie Creek Park along Prairie Creek Drive and Campbell Road for its natural beauty and unique historical features.

The Texas Recreation and Parks Society has identified Prairie Creek Park as a Lone Star Legacy Park, citing its historical significance and connection to many of the city’s popular founding settlers.

The city acquired 37.2 acres of land for the park’s creation in 1966 to promote the conservation of nature and wildlife habitat.

Capital improvements have been minimal over the years, which makes it more like a nature preserve than a neighborhood park.

The waters of Prairie Creek Park

Daniel I /

Catch spectacular vistas as you navigate the soft-surfaced Huck Finn Trail taking you to natural areas the park preserves.

Discover native trees, wildflowers, and animals along the way, and get Instagrammable photos on the two wooden pedestrian bridges.

Don’t miss the highlight of Prairie Creek Park: its stunning waterfalls that gives a calming feeling to anyone who stands before it.

You may also enjoy picnicking since the park has benches and picnic tables.

The grounds of Prairie Creek Park

Daniel I /

Hike on Duck Creek Trail

Duck Creek Trail stretches four miles long in a residential neighborhood from Jupiter Road and Ponderosa Drive to Plano Road.

You can go hiking, running, or cycling on this trail which connects with Owens Trail to the north and Glenville Trail to the west.

Duck Creek Trail also gives great views of Duck Creek, where you can spot wild animals like ducks.

Duck Creek Linear Park is situated along the trail and makes a nice spot to take a rest.

Picnic areas, plazas with playgrounds, and ponds make up the 26.26-acre Duck Creek Linear Park on Apollo Road.

View the “Rocket” Art at Heights Park

Rocket ship slide at Heights Park

Nathan Beach, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Heights Park is a 33-acre park stretching along Arapaho and Floyd Roads with plenty of visitor facilities.

It has playground equipment, a swimming pool, a splash playground, sports fields, and lighted courts.

Engage in various activities at this park, like picnicking and playing outdoor games.

Take photos with the Rocket, a three-dimensional sculpture representing Heights Park’s history, which was unveiled in 2013.

The sculpture stands today as the park’s gateway and commemorates the former rocket ship playground installed in the 1960s but was removed in 2008.

The initial idea for the sculpture was to use the original playground equipment, but inspection showed its metal is unsuitable for the public art piece.

Explore DFW China Town

Located along Greenville Avenue, DFW China Town is a one-stop location for Asian food and culture in the Dallas metro area.

If you’re interested in the authentic cuisines of China, Japan, Korea, and more, you must include DFW China Town in your itinerary.

You’ll find several restaurants and bakeries that will take you to different parts of the world with their savory dishes and baked goods.

You can also simply tour this destination and go window-shopping at Good Fortune Supermarket, a 25,000-square-foot Asian grocery store.

Browse rare imported spices, exotic dried goods, and other essential items that make the distinct flavors of Asian cuisine.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Make the most of your visit to Richardson by checking out other regional attractions located in the nearby cities of Dallas and Plano.

The following destinations are around five to 10 miles away from Richardson and will only take less than an hour of travel time by car.

Bask in Nature at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

Daytime view of Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

Nina Nelson /

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve in Plano abound with spectacular vistas and wildlife.

Revel in the beautiful, serene atmosphere in the city’s largest park sprawling 800 acres off Los Rios Boulevard.

Embrace the great outdoors as you explore every corner of Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, with nearly eight miles of concrete trails and five miles of soft surface trails along Rowlett Creek.

People at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

NicholasGeraldinePhotos /

Encounter different natural habitats of various animals and plants of North Central Texas.

You can also try kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding on the pond if you have your own watercraft.

Boardwalk trail at Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

Jackilometresan, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go Mountain Biking at Harry S Moss Park

If you’re in the mood to hit the off-road, you may visit Harry S Moss Park off Greenville Avenue between Royal Lane and Walnut Hill in Dallas.

Challenge yourself on the mountain bike trail stretching 5.46 miles along the bank of White Rock Creek.

The Harry S Moss Park bike trail ranges from beginner to intermediate level and consists of at least five connected loops.

Towering trees provide shade in most of the trail, while in some parts, you can get a nice view of White Rock Creek.

Aside from mountain biking, you can also go on a hike and jog here to explore the natural areas and observe local wildlife.

Tour the Grounds of the Interurban Railway Museum

A railcar displayed beside the Interurban Railway Museum

Valerie Johnson /

The construction of railroads has been significant to the development and growth of Texas.

If you visit the state, you’ll likely come across railroad museums, train rides, and old depots preserving and displaying its rich railroad history.

In Plano, you may visit the Interurban Railway Museum on 15th Street in historic downtown!

The museum hosts permanent and temporary exhibits, as well as mini-exhibits, that provide a glimpse into Texas’ earlier days.

Exterior of the Interurban Railway Museum

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

Have a closer look at its 1920s O-Scale model of downtown Plano, featuring two train cars traveling through the city.

Learn new things about the history of the Texas Electric Railway system in the main exhibit hall.

Inside the interactive electricity room, pick up scientific concepts as you engage in different activities.

Interior of the Interurban Railway Museum

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

Final Thoughts

You won’t have to break the bank to enjoy a vacation at Richardson.

It’s abundant with well-kept parks and splendid nature preserves where you can retreat from the urban jungle and bask in natural wonders.

Bring home memorable arts and cultural experiences from the amazing festivals the city celebrates.

There are also urban attractions perfect for sightseeing and engaging in retail therapy.

Plan your budget trip with these free things to do in Richardson, Texas!

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