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Let’s start with some honesty: I had never heard of Irving, Texas until I attended a travel blogging conference there. But goodness am I glad I’ve heard of it now because there are some pretty awesome things to do in Irving, Texas!
Irving, TX is located in the Dallas area. It was founded in 1903 as a rail stop connecting Dallas and Fort Worth. But it really became a popular location in the 1970s when DFW Airport, Texas Stadium, and Las Colinas (a planned development) all opened in Irving.
Today it offers historic sites, outdoor adventures, and luxury stays to visitors. In fact, during the pandemic, it became a popular “staycation” destination for locals. Now though, it’s just a great place to visit in Texas with plenty of fun things to do and see!
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Things To Do in Irving, Texas
See the Mustangs of Las Colinas
The Mustangs of Las Colinas are the most iconic sight to see in Irving. These huge bronze mustangs were unveiled in 1984 as a tribute to the wild mustangs that used to roam the area. They were made by an African wildlife artist, Robert Glen, who developed the molds for them in Kenya and then had them poured in England.
Today, these mustangs sit in the center of Williams Square Plaza of the Las Colinas area of Irving. Not only are these a great photo op, but it’s also a lovely plaza to hang out in for a bit.
Visit the Mustang Museum
If you want to learn more about the history of the Mustangs of Las Colinas and the process of making them, you can visit the nearby Mustang Museum of Las Colinas.
The museum is located in the East Tower of Williams Square Plaza. It features other sculptures by Robert Glen, who created the Mustangs of Las Colinas, as well as a film about the process of creating the Mustangs and models he used for the sculpture.
This is a small museum that will just take a bit of time to visit, but if you have an interest in art and sculpture it is definitely worth it! They do have limited hours though: They are open Wednesday – Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Walk Along the Mandalay Canals
Las Colinas is a planned mixed-use development that opened in 1972. It features apartments, homes, Fortune 500 Company Headquarters, hotels, dining, and more. One of the center features of Las Colinas is Lake Carolyn, which is home to the Mandalay Canals.
You can enjoy a relaxing walk along these European-style canals (seriously, they were modeled after Venice) that run between Lake Carolyn and the apartments and restaurants that line the lake. This is a great place to take the family, and it’s a generally quiet area that doesn’t get too crowded, so it makes for a peaceful escape in the middle of the city.
Take a Gondola Ride
Did you know you can take a European-style gondola ride in Texas!? Gondola Adventures, Inc. provides gondola rides through the Mandalay canals and Lake Carolyn. This is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Irving, Texas, especially if you are there on a romantic getaway.
Gondola Adventures has all kinds of cruise packages you can book, ranging from the Classic Cruise (the least expensive option) to an Exquisite Dinner Cruise (the most expensive option).
If you are celebrating a special occasion, this is definitely one of the things you’ll want to do in Irving. And it’s a great place to propose—in fact, they told us that a huge number of their cruises are for proposals!
Try Stand Up Paddleboarding
Not only can you take a gondola ride on the Mandalay Canals, you can also go stand up paddleboarding and kayaking! Stand Up Paddle North Texas offers paddle boarding, kayaks, aqua-cycles, and pedalboats.
If you want to get out on the water of the canals, but a gondola ride is a bit out of your price range, this is a great option! And if you need help learning how to stand up paddleboard (or SUP), they also offer lessons.
Planning a trip to Texas? Here are some books about Texas to read before you go!
Put A Lock on the Love Lock Bridge
Another romantic thing you can do in Irving, Texas is to put a lock on the love lock bridge in Las Colinas. For fans of the show Love is Blind, you may recognize this as the bridge two contestants put a lock on.
If you want to find the bridge, it’s on the Lake Carolyn Promenade right next to the Waterway Tower. If you’re strolling along the canals, you can easily make this one of your stops.
You can stop by just to see it of course, but if you want to put a lock on you’ll need to bring your own lock. Make sure to bring one that is relatively big too, because the bars are kind of thick and some of the smaller locks won’t fit around them.
Dine in Las Colinas
Las Colinas also has some fantastic dining options! Whether you want European-style dining, seafood, or Tex-Mex, you’ll find great options for everything. I’ve listed a few options that I know are beloved or that I’ve eaten at, but there are SO MANY more options in Irving for amazing restaurants!
- Monaco — European-style restaurant in the Water Street development on the Mandalay Canals. The food here is fantastic! (I’m still thinking about the bone marrow butter on my steak-frites!)
- Pacific Table — Another option at Water Street, this restaurant focuses on seafood. Their menu features everything from sushi to sandwiches to entrees like cedar-plank salmon.
- The Ranch at Las Colinas — Come here for a real Texas feel! This restaurant often has live music and their menu features all kinds steaks along with things like Gulf shrimp and BBQ ribs.
- Via Real — A popular fine dining spot with Southwest cuisine.
- Hugo’s Invitados — Modern Mexican food with an organic and largely gluten free menu.
- Thirsty Lion Gastropub — A bar in the Toyota Music Factory area with great burgers, sandwiches, and pub food.
See the Oldest Area of Irving in the Heritage District
The Heritage District is the oldest area of Irving that is undergoing some restoration. Here you can find Heritage Park with a small historic depot, dining options, and antique shops. It’s also where the Heritage House is located.
The Heritage House is one of Irving’s oldest homes, built in 1912. The home has been restored and furnished with antiques from the family that originally owned the home. It’s a little tricky to visit though, because they only offer tours on the first Sunday of the month. But you can always stop by and see the outside of it!
Enjoy the Outdoors at Centennial Park
Behind the Heritage House you’ll find Irving’s Centennial Park. This park opened in 2003 to mark 100 years of Irving.
It’s a gorgeous outdoor space along the water with statues of Irving’s founders, a history wall marking important points in Irving’s history, walking trails, and a picnic pavilion.
This is a perfect place to get a little sunshine in Irving, Texas and enjoy the outdoors while also learning a bit more about Irving as a city.
Learn About Irving’s History at the Irving Archives and Museum
The Irving Archives and Museum is a small museum about Irving’s history located in the Heritage District. But just because it’s small doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting!
This museum tells the history of Irving from early settlers to present modernity in it’s permanent exhibit: The Irving Story. There are some fun interactive elements like a wagon you can climb into, a plane cockpit the simulates a takeoff, and a general store.
There is also always a temporary exhibit on display. When I visited in Spring 2023, it was about African American experiences in WWII. Later in Spring 2023 it’s going to change to an exhibit about Dolores Huerta and her agricultural activism. So you’ll definitely always find something interesting!
This history museum is also a great place for kids to visit! Besides some of the interactive elements in the museum, this museum is home to Texas’s only Smithsonian Spark!Lab, where kids can become inventors with all kinds of STEM resources.
Visit the Ruth Paine House Museum
The Ruth Paine House may be a small footnote in the history of our country, but I thought it was one of the most interesting things to do in Irving! This small house was where Lee Harvey Oswald spent the night before he assassinated President Kennedy.
But the story behind that is even more interesting. Oswald wasn’t living in the house, but his wife was, with her friend Ruth Paine. Oswald came to visit the day before the assassination. His wife thought it was because they had had an argument. But really it was to get his gun.
The house has been restored to look just how it was when Oswald’s wife lived there. Really, they did so much research and looked at so many photographs to replicate things as closely as they could!
There is of course exhibit information throughout the house telling the story, along with photographs taken by a reporter inside the house in the aftermath of the assassination (I could not get over this!). And the museum had local actors reenact Oswald and members of the family talking in short films which are projected in various rooms of the house.
Because the Ruth Paine House is in a residential area, the address is not published online. If you want to visit, you can reserve a time through the Irving Archives and Museum and they will give you all the information you need for your visit then.
Visit the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center
Irving’s Bear Creek community is an important part of Black history in Irving, and you can visit some of the central buildings of this early community at the Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center.
After emancipation, former enslaved people began moving to Bear Creek. The area become an enclave for African Americans during a time of harsh racial segregation.
Today you can visit three different buildings: The Bear Creek Masonic Lodge, The Green House, and the J.O. Davis House. Inside, exhibits tell the story of Bear Creek from emancipation through the Civil Rights Movement.
The Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center does not have regular hours, so if you want to visit you will need to make an appointment. This is such an important part of Irving’s history though, so if you’re trying to get the full picture definitely make a point to visit.
Get Inspired at the Irving Arts Center
The Irving Arts Center is Irving’s central hub for community art. Not only do they have art galleries you can visit, but they also offer community music and theater performances.
If you’re visiting Irving, you can easily stop by to see some art. They have multiple galleries that feature a wide variety of artwork. One thing I think is so cool about this museum is the variety of their art sources: at the same time they can have art from an artist whose art is featured across the world to art from local students. In the Spring they host an annual exhibition of art from Irving Elementary, Middle, and High Schools, and I love that they give these young artists a chance to be featured in Irving’s galleries.
You can visit the Irving Arts Center Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.
Walk on Campion Trail
Campion Trail is a greenway that goes through Irving. It travels along some of the local rivers and is a perfect place to walk or bike and enjoy some outdoor time!
The ultimate plan for Campion Trail is for it to run 22 miles by 2025 and it will connect several Dallas/Ft. Worth area cities. Currently, there are several access points throughout Irving, making it a great place to get outside for a walk or a bike ride.
Enjoy the Outdoors at Mountain Creek Preserve
Mountain Creek Preserve in Irving is one of the areas connected to Campion Trail, but it offers tons of other amenities you can enjoy. There’s a playground, picnic areas, a basketball court, a cricket field, a canoe launch, and an equestrian trail.
This a great place to bring the family for some outdoor fun!
Treat Yourself at the Spa
If you need a relaxing day on your trip to Irving, there are several different resort spas you can enjoy. These spots offer a variety treatments for a luxurious experience.
Spend an Evening at the Toyota Music Factory
When you’re done with the day and ready for a fun evening, head to Irving’s Toyota Music Factory. This entertainment area in Las Colinas offers everything from live music to dining to movies and more.
The Pavilion is where they host their big concerts, while you’ll find FREE smaller concerts and even Saturday yoga classes at the Texas Lottery Plaza.
The Texas Lottery Plaza at the Toyota Music Factory is a great place to spend a Friday or Saturday night. It’s a green space to hang out in with places to get food and drink, picnic tables, and family friendly games like cornhole.
Have Indoor Fun at Pinstack
Looking for some indoor fun? Definitely make a trip to Pinstack. They may be known for offering bowling, but that have tons more indoor activities including arcade games, bumper cars, laser tag, and even a high ropes course.
They also offer food and drink, so you can easily spend a whole afternoon or evening here. Perfect for if you need to get out of the weather or want some evening entertainment!
Go Ax Throwing
For another indoor fun option, you can go ax throwing at Stumpy’s Hatchet House in the Toyota Music Factory. Not only do they have ax throwing, but they also have giant games you can play (like giant jenga).
On their website, they also list A/C as one of their amenities. Which, if you’ve experienced the brutal heat Texas can get, makes sense.
If you have a golfer in the family, there is no shortage of golf courses in Irving. Golfers can enjoy several world class courses in Irving:
Where To Stay in Irving, TX
My top recommendation of where to stay in Irving, Texas is the Texican Court by Valencia Hotel Group. I stayed here during my trip and LOVED. It’s charming hotel with a retro-Texas feel, relaxing outdoor spaces, and a super convenient location across the street from the Toyota Music Factory. It also happens to be one of the most Instagrammed places in Irving.
Another option near the Toyota Music Factory is The Westin Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.
When I went to Irving I really had no idea what to expect, and I was truly delighted at how much they had to offer. Visit Irving showed us a really great time, and I’m so glad I got to know this friendly Texas city!
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