Exposing your kids to other cultures is a worthy goal, but during the school year, you may not have room in the schedule for a trip to Southeast Asia or the south of France. Instead, tour the world right here in Dallas-Fort Worth. From ogling contemporary Cambodian art to learning a traditional Mexican folk dance, you might be surprised how far you and the kiddos can travel without leaving North Texas.
The only museum outside of Japan dedicated to the art and culture of Japanese samurai, The Ann and Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum: The Samurai Collection showcases armor, masks, helmets, weapons and more from the 14th through 19th centuries. The highlight of the collection is the display of fully suited samurai warriors on life-size horses saddled with traditional armor and battle gear. Stop by the museum on the first Saturday of each month for Family Day from 1–3pm to embark on a scavenger hunt, make origami or design your very own kabuto, a samurai helmet. Admission is always free.
Find it: 2501 N. Harwood St., Dallas, 214/965-1032; samuraicollection.org
Celebrate the cultural traditions of Mexico through ballet folklorico, a folk dance form with quick steps and vibrant dresses made for twirling. Ballet Folklorico Azteca de Fort Worth offers classes for boys and girls 3 and older (including adults, if Mom and Dad get inspired) on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Between detailed toe and heel movements, students learn the history of the dance and the significance of the colorful costumes and cowboy hats. The next eight-week session starts Aug. 7 and ends with a recital; call or email to register.
Find it: 4200 S. Freeway, Suite 1830, Fort Worth, 817/454-2778; facebook.com/bfazteca
On the first Saturday of each month, head to the Crow Collection of Asian Art for Adventure Asia, a free day of performances, storytelling, arts and crafts and more from 10am–2pm. The museum is always free too — take the kids inside to marvel Hidden Nature: Sopheap Pich, a solo exhibition by a prominent Cambodian artist that features a 25-foot flower woven from rattan and bamboo. Call ahead to ask about the museum’s weekly docent-guided tours.
Find it: 2010 Flora St., Dallas, 214/979-6430; crowcollection.org
Get a taste (literally) of traditional Asian culture by visiting Dallas-Fort Worth’s only China Town, located on Greenville Avenue in Richardson. At the Dallas Chinese Community Center’s free library, kids peruse pages of Chinese symbols and illustrations and read bilingual children’s books. Don’t leave without dessert — visit Jeng Chi, where the chef prepares Taiwanese snow ice in flavors like green tea, mango, strawberry, caramel and coconut. Each plate of the creamy shaved ice serves 3–4 kids.
Find it: Dallas Chinese Community Center, 400 N. Greenville Ave., Suite 12, Richardson, 972/480-0311; dallasccc.org
Jeng Chi Restaurant, 400 N. Greenville Ave., Suite 11, Richardson, 972/669-9094; jengchirestaurant.com
To get the full experience at Edelweiss German Restaurant in Fort Worth, take the family on a Friday or Saturday night to catch the restaurant’s polka band and watch the kiddos get down to the chicken dance on the large wooden dance floor. While Mom and Dad enjoy authentic Wiener schnitzel or rouladen, a traditional German meat dish, children feast on the kids’ sausage plate with bratwurst and fries.
Find it: 3801 Southwest Blvd., Fort Worth, 817/738-5934; edelweissgermanrestaurant.com
It may be called a game, but capoeira looks more like a “dance fight.” The Brazilian art form combines music and movement with strikes and takedowns — all wrapped up in history, culture and the Portuguese language. At Fort Worth Capoeira, parents and kiddos move to the rhythm together (and learn some Portuguese along the way) during twice-weekly classes for ages 4 and older. Enroll anytime, and you’ll take an intro class before joining group lessons. Drop-in rates start at $20 per session. Want to try it for free? Attend the studio’s monthly community class for all ages.
Find it: 1800 McPherson Ave., Fort Worth, 817/586-2146; ftwcapoeira.com
Tucked away in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, the lush Fort Worth Japanese Garden is home to Japanese maples, cherry trees and bamboo, as well as koi fish that welcome handouts (fish food costs only a quarter per handful). Visit for the monthly docent-led tour, which is free with admission, or peruse the 7 ½ acres at your own pace and let the kids draw in the sand in the massive Zen garden. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for children ages 4–12 and free for children 3 and younger. On the third Saturday of each month, watch a traditional tea ceremony led by the Fort Worth Japanese Society (and perfect for a Mommy-daughter date). For $30 per person, you get samples of tea and candies and access to the whole garden to explore after. Call ahead to reserve your seats.
Find it: 3400 Japanese Garden Blvd., Fort Worth, 817/871-7685; fwbg.org/the-japanese-garden
Slip on your dancing shoes and head to Inishfree School Of Irish Dance, founded 40 years ago by Dublin-born Emily Touzin. Today her daughter Leslie Middleton coaches kids and adults (so Mom and Dad can try too!) in traditional Irish dance — no, not Riverdance, though you will be doing tap-like steps. Beginner classes for kids at the Lewisville location are offered Mondays from 5:30– 6:30pm. Fall classes officially start August 6, but newcomers are welcome to join anytime — drop in for a single class or sign up for the season. All levels, including beginners, take part in public shows throughout the year at libraries, churches and retirement homes.
Find it: 190 W. Main St., Lewisville, 972/979-2559; inishfreedallas.com
Hop from country to country in a single stop at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth. On Aug. 27, the museum unveils Casanova: The Seduction of Europe. Many of the 200 pieces are family friendly, including lavish costumes, musical instruments and large paintings of life in 18th-century Europe. (But you should expect a few artistic nudes.) Admission is $16 for adults and $12 for children 12 and younger. Visit on a Friday evening or Tuesday for half-price tickets, and check out the free permanent collection to see more art from around the world, including mosaic birds from Syria, decorated vessels from ancient Greece, and scrolls from China that are taller than the average 6-year-old.
Find it: 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth, 817/332-8451; kimbellart.org
In addition to splashing around in the fountains at Klyde Warren Park, try playing a classic French game that has been one of the country’s most popular pastimes for centuries. Pétanque is very similar to bocce, but the goal is to toss (not bowl) the lightweight metal ball close to the cochonnet, a small wooden ball used as a marker. Borrow pétanque equipment for free at the East Lawn game cart during the park’s hours: 6am–11pm daily.
Find it: 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas, 214/716-4500; klydewarrenpark.org
Carrollton’s Korea Town is the ideal spot for a culinary adventure with the fam. The melting pot of Asian culture is anchored by H Mart, the popular Korean supermarket where kids can nibble on treats like green tea matcha Kit Kat bars. (Let your daredevil taste the dried squid.) When you’re ready for a bona fide meal, head to nearby Omi Korean Grill and Bar. The hole-in-the-wall spot serves up some of the best Korean barbecue in the area — try the LA galbi (grilled short ribs) or bul go ki (grilled beef) for your little carnivores. And for dessert, stop by 85C Bakery Café to grab a Cantonese mooncake or frozen marble taro, an ice cream drink that’s naturally purple.
Find it: H Mart, 2625 Old Denton Road, Suite 200, Carrollton, 972/323-9700; hmart.com
Omi Korean Grill & Bar, 2625 Old Denton Road, Suite 326, Carrollton, 972/245-3565; omikoreanbbq.com
85C Bakery Café, 2540 Old Denton Road, Carrollton, 469/729-8585; 85cbakerycafe.com
The first Kuby’s opened in 1728 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, as a neighborhood meat market; two centuries later, Karl Kuby opened Kuby’s Sausage House in Dallas. Though the dinner menu changes monthly, it always includes traditional favorites like rouladen, a beef dish, and schweinebraten, a Bavarian spin on pork roast. The kids can order a pint-size sausage plate (or American classics like chicken nuggets and grilled cheese). Visit on Friday and Saturday evenings, when the restaurant brings in a live accordion player. And before you leave, purchase authentic German candies to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
Find it: 6601 Snider Plaza, Dallas, 214/363-2231; kubys.com
Take a stroll along the Venice-inspired Mandalay Canal, a tree-lined path that winds past restaurants and shops in Las Colinas — or better yet, embark on a classic gondola ride with Gondola Adventures, which offers both electric and man-powered excursions. With the kids in tow, opt for an hourlong classic cruise, which starts at $140 for two guests plus $25 per extra passenger and includes gourmet chocolates and sparkling cider. Romantically inclined couples are encouraged to share a kiss under every bridge. (Try not to gross out the kids too much.)
Find it: Gondola Adventures, 357 West Fork, Irving, 949/646-2067; irving.gondola.com
Satisfy your wanderlust with one stop in Duncanville. The Museum of International Cultures gives you and the kiddos a peek inside (almost) every part of the world: See traditional saris and elaborate jewelry from India, Japanese dolls and samurai weapons, masks from Africa and Cambodia, and Australian boomerangs and facial tattoos. As you tour the exhibits (with a docent, if you call ahead), kids compare musical instruments from all over the world and learn the history of wayang golek, a type of Indonesian puppet. The museum is open 10am–4pm Monday–Friday and by appointment on Saturday, so sneak in a visit before school starts. Admission is $7.50 for adults, $5 for children 4–12 and free for children 3 and younger.
Find it: 411 E. Highway 67, Duncanville, 972/572-0462; internationalmuseumofcultures.org
Head to Irving when you have a taste for Indian food and need a kid-friendly atmosphere. Locals love the lunchtime buffet, served from 11am–3pm Saturday and Sunday and until 2:30pm Monday–Friday, at Our Place, an eatery that specializes in tandoor (Indian clay pots) cooking and is always packed with families. Order the kids chicken makhani, a boneless chicken dish in a mildly spiced butter sauce, and navaratan koorma, a mild veggie dish, to share. (The menu also features chicken nuggets and fries for picky little ones.) We recommend you sample a little of everything and get the bread basket. For dessert, make the three-minute drive up the road to Kwality Ice Cream to try kulfi, an Indian dessert made from milk that’s simmered until it’s as thick as cream, caramelized and nutty and flavored with, among others, cardamom pods, pistachio or saffron.
Find it: Our Place, 8150 N. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 150, Irving, 214/574-7117; ourplaceusa.net
Kwality Ice Cream, 8600 N. MacArthur Blvd., Suite 154, Irving, 972/506-7861; kwalityfoods.com