Set aside a whole day to enjoy this top-notch museum. My husband and I spent the afternoon there and only saw two of the four floors. The building with its intriguing architecture and creative native plantings are interesting in their own right. The museum is a couple of blocks from Klyde Warren park which is a green respite in an urban setting.
Almost every exhibit is hands-on, but be prepared to watch kids enjoy them since school groups will probably always be there. We arrived after lunch and a couple of bus loads were leaving. Of course, kids don't always know what to do so you can study the exhibit and try it out properly when the young ones tire of it. It was fun to watch kids race against athletes and a tyrannosaurus rex. We got to compare our football throws to Troy Aikman's.
We spent most of our time in the science room sponsored by Texas Instruments. This is great.for adults and children. You can program robots, create synthesized music, learn about hydraulics, build an earthquake-safe building. see the difference in X-ray, MRI and CAT scans, and, if you have time, conduct actual lab experiments (couple of hours to complete). The space exhibit takes you through the solar system and helps you identify types of stars. There is also a room of dinosaurs and another of birds. We couldn't go in one of the areas because we were not accompanied by a child under 5. (Looked for one to rent!)
Practicalities: Parking is under Woodall Rogers freeway. We took the Field St exit off Woodall Rogers (Hwy 366). Go through the light and turn left into the parking lot. There is a pedestrian crossing to the museum. When you get your ticket (either online or at the door), purchase a parking ticket also. You will pay with the ticket when you leave the parking lot. Since that lot is used for the West End businesses, the price may go up after 6 pm so paying at the museum could save you a couple of dollars.
There is also an El Fenix right next door and sometimes food trucks at Klyde Warren park, but it can be a trek to go to the park and back to the museum. (Wear comfortable shoes, not flip-flops or sandals unless you are used to walking a quarter of a mile in them.) The small cafeteria in the museum looked good, but was expensive. Two dollars for a bag of chips, $3 for a Coke (refillable). Healthy wraps looked good, but were over $10.
There were two shows when we were and it is an additional charge. Although the show we saw was interesting (and in 3D), we would have preferred going through the museum more. On busy days, you may have to line up 20 minutes ahead of time and the shows are 30 minutes with 10 minutes of trailers. We were there on a Monday afternoon with school still in session so the theater was almost empty; however, it was good to sit a while and drink a Coke waiting for the show to begin.
If you are from out-of-town you can spend a weekend in the area. Besides the Perot Museum and Klyde Warren park, there is the Dallas World Aquarium, fountains throughout downtown Dallas, world-renowned art museums, the McKinney Ave. trolley, and the 5th Floor Museum. These are all within walking distance for the average adult--maybe not young children unless you take it at a stroll. Definitely plan for heat. (water, umbrellas or hats, cool clothes, sun screen).
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