State Fair of Texas … Best Things to Do, See + Eat!

All the best things to do, see, and eat at the State Fair of Texas!

Best things to do, see, and eat at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas! From the best Texas State Fair food to the ferris wheel, and other fun sights, this visitors guide covers and has pictures of it all. Lots of Texas State Fair tips and photos of everything from Big Tex to the rides ... add this fair to your Texas bucket list! | Hello Little Home

One of my favorite discoveries since moving to Dallas is the State Fair of Texas.

Before we even moved in, I kept hearing how amazing it was … but I was skeptical! I’ve never been a big fair person.

It’s practically impossible to escape the excitement surrounding the Texas State Fair living in Dallas though, so last year, I convinced my husband that we needed to go. And you know what? We had a great time!

We had so much fun, that this year we bought season passes. Yes, we went all in!

State Fair of Texas

The Texas State Fair is one of those bucket list items, especially if live in Texas. It’s kind of a big deal here!

It’s been around since 1886 and is held at the historic Fair Park in Dallas (more on that later). Most years, the fair starts on the last Friday in September, and it ends 24 days later.

If you’ve heard of this fair, you’re probably aware that it’s known for it’s fried foods … deep fried butter, anyone? But there is so much more to do, see, and yes, eat! Here’s a roundup of my favorite things to do at the State Fair of Texas.

Annual Opening Day Parade

Big Tex Float in the Annual Opening Day Parade for the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

The Texas State Fair kicks off every year with its annual parade through downtown Dallas. If you’re going to the fair, you need to check out the parade!

Last year, we lived on Main Street and had a bird’s eye view of the parade. This year, I watched it on street level.

The parade has a little bit of everything. You’ll find lots of marching bands.

Marching Band in Opening Day Parade for State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Being a Midwest girl originally, I’m fascinated by all things Texas.

And these girls above, with their short boots, cowboy hats, and twirly skirts are 100% Texas!

Marching Band in the Annual Opening Day Parade for the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

There’s a wide mix of bands and dancers, and that’s what makes watching it so fun!

Marching Band Dancers in the Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

It was raining the day of this year’s parade, so the streets were a little emptier than last year.

All the better to get some great photos though!

Cheerleaders in the Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

And of course, you’ll run into a mascot or two.

Rawr!

High School Mascot in the State Fair of Texas Annual Opening Day Parade | Hello Little Home

You’ve also got your cowboys!

Horseback Riders in the State Fair of Texas Opening Day Parade | Hello Little Home

And it wouldn’t be a parade without a bunch of colorful floats.

Colorful Float in the Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

One thing Texas definitely isn’t short on is beauty queens! You’ll find them on floats and in cars … they’re everywhere!

There is a beauty queen for pretty much every event in Texas, it seems.

Floats with Beauty Queens in the Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

The annual parade also features lots of classic cars.

This lady and her dog cracked me up!

Classic Car in the Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

 

Classic Cars in the State Fair of Texas Annual Opening Day Parade | Hello Little Home

And winding down the parade this year, was the Hella Shriners Band.

Did you miss the Texas State Fair parade in downtown Dallas? No worries … you can catch it nightly at the fair!

Shriners Truck in the Annual Texas State Fair Parade | Hello Little Home

Texas State Fair Basics: Getting There, Tickets, etc.

Once you’ve seen the parade, it’s time to head to the fair!

The fair is open daily, starting on the last Friday in September. It ends 24 days later and is open on Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

State Fair of Texas sign at the entrance to Fair Park | Hello Little Home

The best way to get to the Texas State Fair, in my opinion, is to take public transportation. That way, you don’t have to deal with parking fees and hassles.

If you’re coming from downtown Dallas, take the Green line train. It will drop you off right in front of the fairgrounds. Here is more info on getting to the fair, whether you’re planning to drive or take a train.

You can purchase your entrance tickets online or when you arrive at the fair. They’re sold individually and in packages, and there are all sorts of State Fair of Texas discounts that will help you save on tickets, too!

Ticket booth at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Once you enter the fair, you’ll need to get coupons.

The coupons are used for purchasing food, drinks, and ride admissions … you basically can’t do anything without them!

One dollar will get you two tickets.

If you want to play games, you’ll need to purchase a Big Tex Game Card. Look for booths and kiosks in the near the games to make a purchase.

Texas State Fair Tickets | Hello Little Home

Fair Park

One of the things I love most about the Texas State Fair is its gorgeous setting!

It’s held at Fair Park, which is located southeast of downtown Dallas. The park is a Dallas Landmark and a National Historic Landmark.

The Texas Centennial Exposition was held here in 1936, and that’s when many of the buildings were constructed.

Food stands at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Leading up to the centennial event, the park was transformed from 20th century fairgrounds into an Art Deco showcase.

A number of these buildings still stand, and you’ll see them throughout the park.

The view by the reflecting pool near the park’s entrance is especially beautiful. Art Deco buildings surround the pool on either side.

Reflecting pool surrounded by art decor buildings at Fair Park | Hello Little Home

It’s such a unique setting for a fair!

I love to walk around the esplanade and check out the buildings and statues.

Art decor building at Fair Park in Dallas, TX | Hello Little Home

Statue in front of an art decor building at Fair Park | Hello Little Home

There’s a huge auto show at the fair every year, and it’s held in these buildings.

Many of the buildings feature murals.

Mural on an art decor building at Fair Park | Hello Little Home

 

Mural on a building at Fair Park | Hello Little Home

 

Art decor statue in Fair Park at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

At night, the buildings and statues are illuminated. (And there’s a nightly light show over the reflecting pool, too.)

This area of the park is so pretty, especially in the evening!

Art decor buildings and statue lit up at night during the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home
Fair Park is open year round and is home to a number of museums. Events are held there throughout the year, too.

The statue below stands in front of the Women’s Museum.

Women's Museum at Fair Park lit up at Night | Hello Little Home

State Fair of Texas Food and Drink

No visit to the fair is complete without sampling plenty of delicious food.

Texas State Fair food is most well known for being fried and a little over-the-top. You’ll find everything from Fried Bananas Foster to Fried Cuban Sandwiches … if you can fry it, you can bet someone’s tried making it for the fair!

Fletcher's Corny Dog with Big Tex in the background at the State Fair of Texas

Our first stop at the fair is usually a classic corny dog from Fletcher’s. You can buy these yummy corn dogs throughout the park, but we always head to the stand near Big Tex.

There’s a vegetarian corny dog, too, so don’t feel left out if you don’t eat meat!

You’ll find food stands throughout the fair, but for lots of options in one place, head to the indoor food court.

Food Hall at State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Every year, food consessionaires compete in the Big Tex Choice Awards and invent some truly creative (crazy?) foods.

This year’s winners were a Funnel Cake Bacon Queso Burger (my heart!) and a Gulf Coast Fish Bowl drink.

At the main entrance to the food court, you can check out the winners from previous years.

Food Awards at the Texas State Fair

I couldn’t resist getting the Texas-shaped nachos. This is the small size!

I also tried fried avocados bought somewhere on the midway … they were okay.

We got an order of cowboy crunch at Magnolia Beer Garden, too. It’s basically fried creamy corn. I’m pretty sure there’s some bacon in there, which I didn’t realize until they were almost gone (#BadVegetarian).

Texas Shaped Nachos in the food hall at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

Wine lovers … make sure to stop by the Wine Garden to sample Texas wines.

I love the whimsical atmosphere!

Wine Garden at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

We usually stick to beer, and our favorite spot to sit and enjoy a few is the Magnolia Beer Garden.

You’ll find a range of craft beers and ciders here, and there’s food available for purchase, too.

Beer and food tent at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Doesn’t this look like a great spot to sit and relax for a while?

The colorful fall decorations are from Ruibal’s, a local gardening store.

Magnolia Beer Garden at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

It’s even a little romantic once the sparkling lights start to glow.

Cheers!

Drinks in the Magnolia Beer Garden at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

The Magnolia Beer Garden is perfect for those times when you want to sit down for a while, but I’ll let you in on a little secret …

For the cheapest beers (that I’ve found), head to The Beer Barn (it’s located near the Cotton Bowl, to the left of the Midway entrance). Beers there are only 6 tickets (basically, $3) vs. the 12 to 14 tickets you’ll pay at Magnolia.

The selection is a little more basic at The Beer Barn, but they had Shiner, so I was happy!

You can also find 6 ticket beers at the IceHouse on the Midway. It’s located near the Fast Trax slide.

The Beer Barn at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Want something nonalcoholic? You’ll find drinks at most food stands … I can never resist a lemonade!

Looking for a bargain drink? Keep an eye out for stands selling water for two tickets. There’s one near the mainstage and one near the neon Big Tex, and you’ll find others sprinkled throughout the fair, too.

Things to Do at the Texas State Fair

So what exactly is there to do at the fair? A lot!

Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

We’ve already talked about checking out the historic Fair Park grounds, and of course, Texas State Fair food.

Make sure your visit includes a stop by Big Tex!

He first debuted at the fair in 1952 and has been a fixture ever since. The original Big Tex was destroyed in a fire on the last Friday of the 2012 State Fair. He returned the next year with a makeover … taller and bigger with a 95-gallon hat and size-96 Lucchese boots.

To be honest, he’s kind of creepy. And just when you start to get used to him, he starts talking!

Neon Big Tex at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

There’s also a neon Big Tex.

He stands 38 feet tall, and he used to live at a local liquor store until he was purchased a couple years ago.

You can see both of them waving in the pic below!

View of both Big Tex's at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

After you’ve check out Big Tex, stop by the lake where you can sit in the shade on the water’s edge for a while or take a ride in a swan boat.

Doesn’t that look fun?

Swan Boats at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

You can see the Cotton Bowl across the lake.

The Red River Rivalry, an annual college showdown between Oklahoma and Texas, takes place here every year during the fair.

Cotton Bowl at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

You can also view the iconic ferris wheel from across the lake.

The side of the lake opposite the Midway is a little quieter … the perfect spot to escape to for a break. It’s also home to lots of children’s activities, like a farm and a Pee Wee Rodeo.

Ferris Wheel at the Texas State Fair

There are all sorts of shows at the fair, too. We saw a number of children’s shows with my niece, as well as the Lone Star Stampede, which is held multiple times each day.

If you’re at the fair late, make sure to catch Illumination Sensation, held nightly at 8 pm along the reflecting pool.

Speaking of animals, you can’t leave the fair without checking out the livestock in the barns or at one of the educational shows.

These pigs have had a long day!

Pig at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

 

Pig at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

Look at the size of the horns on this guy!

Huge steer at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

State Fair of Texas Midway

It wouldn’t be a fair without a midway, and the one at the Texas State Fair is huge!

Entrance to the Midway at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

For a great view of the midway, take a ride on the Texas Skyway.

You can enter it from either end of the midway, and it goes right over the top of it all.

The view of the ferris wheel is great from the Skyway, too.

Skyway at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

I like the visit the midway at night when it’s a little quieter.

Plus, it’s fun to see all the rides lit up!

Swing ride at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

 

Techno Power Ride at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

I’m kind of regretting the I did not check out the World’s Smallest Horse … it was only 4 coupons!

Guess I will have to go back.

The World's Smallest Horse at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

The ferris wheel looks so pretty lit up at night!

Ferris Wheel at Night at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

State Fair of Texas Music

One of my favorite things to do at the Texas State Fair is listening live music.

You’ll find a variety of acts on both the mainstage, as well as throughout the park.

Flo Rida at the State Fair of Texas | Hello Little Home

Last year, I saw Kacey Musgraves, and she was awesome!

This year, we’ve seen Flo Rida and La Mafia so far.

I have to admit that, although I’ve heard of Flo Rida, I couldn’t think of any of his song. Once I looked him up though, I knew them all … ha ha! It was a really fun show, and La Mafia was great, too.

Wilson Phillips is playing this week, so you know I’ll be back!

La Mafia at the Texas State Fair | Hello Little Home

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Texas State fair!

Make sure to visit the official fair website for more information, as well as daily schedules and events.

Best things to do, see, and eat at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas! From the best Texas State Fair food to the ferris wheel, and other fun sights, this visitors guide covers and has pictures of it all. Lots of Texas State Fair tips and photos of everything from Big Tex to the rides ... add this fair to your Texas bucket list! | Hello Little Home

Have you ever been to the State Fair of Texas? What was your favorite part?

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