Photo courtesy of Arlington Parks & Recreation.

Hooray! It’s spring break time across North Texas. For families who are NOT jetting off to ski the slopes or heading to the beach, there’s still plenty of fun to be had each day in Dallas-Fort Worth. We once called this "staying home." Now it's a "staycation!"

Most of the local museums, zoos, parks, and other kid-friendly attractions are offering special programs and special hours on this special week. You know them, you love them, you want even more to do.

We've rounded up 10 hot, fresh, new ideas to make spring break 2023 the best one yet - so fun and cool and exciting that your family's DFW staycation will make you forget all about your FOMO over your best friend's beachfront VRBO in Destin.

All of the attractions here are new since last year's spring break, or are here now or arriving for a limited time. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Climb and zip through the trees at a new adventure park
The new, high-flying Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park opened March 3 at Arlington's River Legacy Park East. The city’s parks and recreation department teamed up with Go Ape for a second Dallas-Fort Worth location after the first, smash-hit park in Plano. The new Arlington adventure park includes two ropes-adventure courses: the three-hour Treetop Adventure ($59.95-$64.95) and the one-hour Treetop Journey ($39.95). There's an axe-throwing range, too. More information and tickets are here.

Ride an epic new water slide ...
Epic Waters, Grand Prairie's popular indoor waterpark, just introduced a hair-raising new, seven-story slide called Locura. (Spanish for "craziness.") Riders climb to the top of a 70-foot tower, step inside a chamber, then wait for the door to close and the floor to drop, launching them down, down, down into a 40-foot freefall. Then they race through a horizontal figure-eight loop at 35 miles per hour. The whole slide is more than 387 feet long and exerts a force of 3.5 G's. Wheeeee! The park is open, rain or shine, and admission starts at $34. Special spring break hours, more information, and tickets are here.

...Or ride an epic new roller coaster
Adrenaline junkies, get in line and prepare to get drenched: The long-awaited newAquaman: Power Wavewater coaster is officially opening at Six Flags Over Texas on March 11. The revolutionary new roller coaster is touted as the first of its kind in North America. It's a multi-launch "water coaster" that propels riders in two 20-passenger boats back and forth along a 2,000-foot track and up two 150-foot towers. Then, riders are held, face down, at 90 degrees before being thrust 63 miles per hour straight down. Then, splash! The ride comes to a thrilling end with a plunge into a giant water wave. It's opening in conjunction with Six Flags' "Scream Break" evening events. Tickets for Scream Break can be purchased separately or added to any single-day ticket or pass for $39.99 per person; find them at sixflags.com.

View U.S. history up close
The just-opened exhibition "Freedom Matters"at the George W. Bush Presidential Center at SMU is displaying rare versions of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution of the United States, Magna Carta, Emancipation Proclamation, and more historically significant American documents. These documents were used to inform citizens in an era before mass media and social media - yes, kids, there was life before screens. Beyond just displaying documents and artifacts, the museum takes guests on "an interactive journey through the experience of freedom itself, including where freedom comes from, what it means, the characteristics of free societies, and the role of the individual in protecting and spreading freedom around the world," they describe. It's open to all ages and included in the price of admission to the museum; pricing structure and tickets are here.

See a movie high in the sky
This isn't grandma and grandpa's drive-in theater, but it's the same fun idea. Rooftop Cinema Club, which opened last fall on the rooftop terrace of a downtown Fort Worth hotel, has just come back from winter break. Spring break-week screenings include new movies and classics of all ratings, for all ages: Top Gun: Maverick (March 10), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (March 12), The Notebook (March 15), Dirty Dancing (March 17), Turning Red (March 18), Selena (March 18), La La Land (March 18), Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (March 19), and more. Tickets ($16.50–$26.50) are now on sale at rooftopcinemaclub.com/downtown-ft-worth. For tips and things to know before you go, check out this story.

Step right up to the circus
The Garden Bros. Nuclear Circus is coming to town, featuring special effects, concert-style lighting, the Human Cannonball, Wheel of Death, motorcycles in the Sphere of Fear, Human Slingshot, comedy, girls hanging by their hair, the Olate Performing Dogs, Cossack Riders, and more. Guests can come early and meet the circus stars, get their faces painted, ride the Monster Slide or play on a moon bounce, eat snacks, and more. The circus will be at Fair Park Dallas, March 9-March 19. Tickets are $15-$60, available here.

Go ghost hunting
Dallas-Fort Worth is (allegedly) full of things that go bump in the night, and no place is creepier when the sun goes down than the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. A new national "ghost adventure" company has launched a Cowtown Ghosts tour in the Stockyards that they tout as kid friendly (parents can decide after reading the description, of course). Stops on the one-hour walking tour include a couple of haunted hotels, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and more. The tour focuses on the stories behind the hauntings. Tickets are $25 per person and there’s a two-person minimum. There's also an option to add a 30-minute bonus tour of four additional stops for $6 per person. The same company conducts ghost tours of downtown Dallas, too; information here.

Adventure under the sea at a mermaid party
Save the date for this fin-tastic shell-abration. On Saturday, March 18, the Westin Dallas Stonebriar Golf Resort and Spa in Frisco will host a Mermaid Party for all ages. Beginning at 4:30 pm, kids (who are encouraged to wear their favorite princess/prince costumes) can interact with a real-life "Little Mermaid." Jewelry maker Greta Weller will be on hand to help them make some treasures of their own. Then, the family can sit down to dinner and a showing of the Disney movie The Little Mermaid on the resort’s 10-foot jumbo screen. (Parents, don't worry, adult bevs will be available for purchase.) The party is open to all ages, and you do not need to stay at the hotel to attend, but there is a discount. Tickets are $50 per person; $30 for guests with room reservations booked directly through the resort website.

Play in a bigger-better park for free
Last spring break, parts of Dallas' Klyde Warren Park were under construction. Patience has been rewarded with a newly expanded Sheila and Jody Grant Children’s Park. There's now an additional 6,000 square feet of play space, featuring a 35-foot climbing tower and slide, a kid-sized climbing wall, interactive water feature, shaded pavilion, renovated restrooms, and more. Klyde Warren Park has a full slate of free activities throughout spring break week, including a concert called “A Celebration of Latin America” presented by Cliburn KidsLive. It'll explore instruments, dances, and rhythms and language of the region. Come back March 15 for the popular "alive animal" experience featuring snakes, a tarantula, a beared dragon, and anopossum. Find out more on the park's website.

Go Ape Zipline and Adventure Park
Photo courtesy of Arlington Parks & Recreation.
The Treetop Adventure and Treetop Journey courses include several ziplines throughout the park.

Explore like a Smithsonian scientist
It comes at the tail end of spring break for most kids, but the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History will open a new exhibition called “Life in One Cubic Foot" on March 18. The exhibit follows the research of Smithsonian scientists and photographer David Liittschwager as they uncover what a cubic foot of land or water — called a "biocube" — reveals about the diversity of life on the planet, the museum describes. The showcase comes from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. In addition to exploring biocubes from environments around the world, visitors will get to make their own to take home and study. Find out more about the upcoming exhibit, including tickets, here.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

Country icon Willie Nelson returns to 'hillbilly' inspiration in new album

The Red Headed Stranger goes Blue

Almost as much as Willie Nelson is known for Austin, he's known for Nashville — and for subverting it. The 90-year-old singer has made an iconic, and extremely long career of conforming to and bucking against musical expectations, and now he's circled back around to tradition — without losing his own sound.

Nelson's new LP, Bluegrass, is his first album-length tribute to the traditional country genre. Yet, released on September 15, it's not even his first album of 2023. It follows I Don't Know A Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard, a tribute to the Nashville songwriter who gave folks "I Fall to Pieces."

Bluegrass, in a way, is Nelson's genre-bent tribute to his own work. The setlist gathers a dozen of the songwriter and his fans' "favorite" songs he wrote, according to a press release, re-rendered with a bluegrass ensemble.

The focus on orchestration highlights that this is a collaborative effort by the amiable, but largely solo performer. One song, "Good Hearted Woman," is the only track on the album not just written by Nelson, thanks to the similar creative genius of outlaw country great Waylon Jennings. Willie's son, Micah Nelson, created the cover art: an appropriately blue portrait of the singer with warm undertones and a wreath of familiar recreational leaves. The album was produced by Willie's longtime collaborator Buddy Cannon.

Willie Nelson BluegrassNelson's son created the cover art — in blue, of course.Image courtesy of Willie Nelson; created by Micah Nelson

Even if a listener doesn't recognize each song on the album, Nelson's voice is as unmistakeable as ever. Against a bluegrass arrangement, it floats undisturbed and unhurried. At times, it even sounds like Nelson and the band are performing in different meters, the band bustling along cheerfully while the singer lounges around the beat — but never on it.

In fact, listeners who avoid Bluegrass may find their tune changes when listening to these laid-back renditions. "Still Is Still Moving To Me" brings the more frenetic tempo and multi-part harmonies that the genre is known for at its most ferocious; but iconic songs like "Sad Songs and Waltzes" and "Yesterday's Wine" may not even strike listeners as bluegrass if they're not listening for it — just very string-heavy traditional country tunes.

"On the Road Again," "Man With the Blues," and album-opener "No Love Around" are perhaps the tracks that benefit the most from the Bluegrass treatment. All three seem a little more cheerful, a little more upbeat, and a little more reassuring than their original forms. There's nothing warmer than hearing the iconic "On the Road Again" melody on gut strings — except perhaps listening to the country legend offer his "advice" over that plucky, self-assured backcountry orchestra.

Most important, the arrangements rework rather than rewriting the songs. None of the renditions give off an air of hokeyness or trying to shake things up; These are just great country songs that sound even better with a banjo. It makes sense that the change in instrumentation wouldn't shift much, since according to the release, Nelson decided to record the tribute because the style informed so much of his natural songwriting style.

"Using his own catalog as source material, in the spirit of traditional bluegrass sourcing hillbilly folk music, Willie chose songs combining the kind of strong melodies, memorable storylines and tight ensemble-interplay found in traditional bluegrass interpretations of the roots (from European melodies to African rhythms) of American folk songs," acknowledges the release.

By Texas Monthly'scount (shared in the release), this is Nelson's 151st album. Avid collectors can look forward to a 12-inch special edition pressed in blue vinyl, available for purchase on September 29. Preorder ($29.98) at willienelson.com.

This year the songwriter was honored with a five-part documentary series, a blowout 90th birthday concert, the naming of a prestigious arts endowment by the University of Texas at Austin, and two Grammy Awards. His book, Energy Follows Thought: The Stories Behind My Songs, comes out October 23. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame days later, on November 3.

Listen to Bluegrass on your favorite streaming platform. More information is available at willienelson.com.

Flix Brewhouse set to open in Mansfield with food and beer brewed in-house

Let's All Go to the Movies

Austin-based Flix Brewhouse, famous for its first-run cinema and in-house brewery, will debut a new location in Mansfield, with an opening set for Thursday, September 28.

The theater will open at 416 N. US 287, in The Shops at Broad, with its trademark full menu of sandwiches, salads, burgers, and pizza as well as beer that's brewed in-house.

Mansfield marks the chain's 10th location and the fifth in Texas, joining the original in Round Rock, along with Frisco/Little Elm, El Paso, and San Antonio.

But Mansfield will offer something new that no other location has: the ability to order your meal directly from your phone. Instead of pressing the button at your seat and waiting for a server to take your order, orders can be transmitted directly to the theater's kitchen. So convenient!

Call buttons are still available to order for moviegoers without smartphones or for those who prefer that method.

The 38,000-square-foot theater and brewpub will have nine auditoriums featuring reclining chairs and personal, pivoting tabletops.

A full bar incorporates a fully-functioning brewery where a team of brewers craft beers that are unique to the location and the featured films. A small taproom is available for guests to enjoy a brew before or after a movie and play movie-themed pinball.

In addition to new releases, Flix Brewhouse offers their Flix Picks program, which curates specialty monthly FanFests around cult classic movies that are paired with a themed menu and souvenir glassware.

For those who go to the movies a lot, Flix has The Circle, a loyalty program with special perks like discounts, birthday tickets, and more. Early sign-ups for the free program receive an exclusive invitation to the theater's soft opening event.

The opening date coincides with the release of PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie for the younger set, as well as the sci-fi epic The Creator and the latest in a gruesome horror franchise, Saw X.

“Moviegoers can expect to have a transformative experience when they visit a Flix Brewhouse location,” said Chance Robertson, Flix CEO, in a statement. “Our team pours its passion into every aspect of the theater whether that is in a glass of award-winning, freshly brewed beer, a delectably-themed meal, or the state-of-the art audio visual experience of a movie."