Irving sits neatly between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth and is an easy place to access and visit if you are looking to get away from it all and spend some time in a gorgeous setting deep in the heart of Texas.
Due to the fact that Irving is so close to other larger and better known cities, visitors may assume that there is little to do here, but Irving is actually full of amenities for guests, such as golf courses, water based locations, and shopping and dining options.
As well as all of these, there are a huge number of cultural sites to be enjoyed here, and visitors may be surprised at the role that Irving has played in the history of the United States, particularly when it comes to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, as well as during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 60s.
Lets explore the best things to do in Irving:
1. California Crossing Park
California Crossing Park may have an unusual name, considering that it is in Texas, but actually this park is dedicated to the memory of early pioneers who set out to cross the Trinity River here on the way to California.
The park spans over 30 acres of lush lands and has a historical trail and marker than tells the story of the travelers who would have been here in the 1800s.
The park lies along the East Fork of the Trinity River and offers stunning views over the water, especially if you are here around sunset.
2. Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center
Located in the west of Irving, Bear Creek is the oldest African-American community in the Dallas County area.
The Jackie Townsell Bear Creek Heritage Center is made up of three different museums that aim to educate visitors on the community here and their history, from the time of the end of slavery until the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s.
The center is named after Jackie Mae Howard who was a prominent member of the Bear Creek community and who served on the Irving City Council for 18 years.
3. Campion Trails
Campion Trails is actually a greenbelt that encompasses 22 miles of land that stretches along the Elm Fork and the West Fork parts of the spectacular Trinity River.
The Campion Trails are known for taking visitors who choose to walk along them past both natural beauty spots as well as more urban areas of land and one of the great joys here is to see how the scenery changes as you venture along.
If you like hiking then you should definitely not miss the opportunity to come here, and many visitors like to bring a picnic to enjoy at one of the many scenic areas that dot the trails.
4. Gondola Adventures
Las Colinas Urban Center in Irving is known for its Mandalay Canals and Lake Carolyn, and with that in mind it’s natural that visitors would want to explore these gorgeous waterways in style.
Now you can with a cruise with Gondola Adventures who will take you out on a neo-Venetian gondola and whisk you around to take in the very best of the local sights from the water.
There are romantic sunset rides if you prefer and you will have the chance to imagine that you have travelled to Venice rather than feeling as if you are in the heart of Texas.
5. Centennial Park
Centennial Park was dedicated in 2003 and was founded in order to celebrate the first 100 years of Irving’s existence.
When you first arrive at the park you will walk through Arrival Plaza which has statues of two of the founding fathers of Irving in 1903, namely J.O. Schulze and Otis Brown.
Inside the park you will come to a place called Founders Plaza where you will find the history of the city laid out on a memorial wall which will take you back in time and then up to the present day, taking in the city’s major milestones along the way.
If you want to take in the water when you are here then you can enjoy the lake in Centennial Park which is serviced by a stone and steel pavilion that is a popular place if you want to bring a picnic.
Hiking and rambling trails also run all over the park if you want to explore on foot.
6. Irving Heritage District
The Heritage District in Irving is known for having been created by the founders of this fair city, J.O. Schulze and Otis Brown in 1903. The district spans over 80 acres and is the place to come if you want to feel as if you have stepped back in time.
There are a huge number of vibrant antique shops and thrift stores here where you can hunt for a piece of vintage memorabilia or you can visit one of the classic stores here such as a period soda shop and pharmacy.
You will also find Heritage House where which dates back to 1912 and is one of the oldest buildings still standing in Irving.
7. Las Colinas Flower Clock
If you are looking for a cultural landmark in the city of Irving, then look no further than the Las Colinas Flower Clock which is part of the Las Colinas community.
Visitors who make the trip here will find this large timepiece that is made out of seasonal flowers, but is actually also an actual working clock that can be used to tell the time.
The clock is a riot of color depending on the seasons and is often used as a meeting point in the city.
8. Lee Park Recreation Center
The Lee Park Recreation Center is the place to come in Irving if you want to do something active, and with that in mind there are a whole host of amenities to choose from.
Some of these include a large swimming pool as well as playgrounds for youngsters of all ages and a teen center and game room.
There are also ball fields and racquetball fields and a kitchen and grill in case you get hungry.
9. National Scouting Museum
The National Scouting Museum is known for being the official museum in America of the Boy Scouts Association.
The museum has won numerous awards and is a great day out for the whole family, especially if you are travelling with youngsters.
Here you will find scouting-related memorabilia including camping equipment, and there are also interactive exhibits such as camp grounds, indoor caves, laser tag galleries, and other galleries that allow you to get hands-on.
10. Stand Up Paddle boarding North Texas
If you fancy trying something new then why not head to SUP North Texas where you can learn all about the exciting sport of paddle boarding? If you come here you can try your hand at this amazing new sport and paddle boards can be rented or bought on site.
There are also classes that you can take and staff are on hand to answer all your paddle boarding questions.
11. Heritage House
Heritage House is known as being one of the oldest homes in Irving that still stands and was erected in 1912. The building used to be the former home of one of the founders of this city, J.O. Schulze, and was gifted to the city in 1975. Now you can visit the house and take a tour with a friendly docent where you will get to learn how Irving came to be, as well as see a range of period furnishing that belonged to the Schulz family.
12. Irving Arts Center
When it comes to the arts, Irving is certainly no slouch, and if you fancy checking out what is on offer here then head to the Irving Arts Center where you find four art galleries, two theaters, and even a scenic outdoor sculpture garden.
The center is a member of the Smithsonian Affiliations program which means that you will often find rotating exhibitions that features items from the Smithsonian’s collections.
As well as travelling pieces, you can also expect art work from around the region and the center is also dedicated to showcasing up and coming local artists.
If you want to catch a performance, then there are over 200 held here every year including dance recitals and musical performances.
13. Mandalay Canal
Part of the Las Colinas community, the Mandalay Canal gives you a glimpse of an old world feel crossed with a feeling of romantic Venice.
There is a walkways that skirts along the canal which winds through the community and trees also dot the path so that you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon stroll here.
If you enjoy bird watching then there are a huge variety of water avians here and this is a relaxing spot that is popular with locals who often bring picnics to enjoy the weather in the summer months.
14. Ruth Paine House Museum
The Ruth Paine House Museum is most famous for being the place where Lee Harvey Oswald stayed the night before he assassinated John F. Kennedy in 1963. Now lovingly restored, the house is open as a museum, and there are multimedia galleries here that educate visitors about the historical and cultural impact of the house.
There are guided tours of the house that last for an hour and a half and a friendly docent will fill you in on all the historical details of the Ruth Paine House and its place in American history.
15. Trinity River Mountain Creek Preserve
The Trinity River Mountain Creek Preserve is known for its extensive trails that make it easy to explore if you want to get out and about and commune with nature.
The preserve links up with the Campion Trail system, so it can be a great place to hike to or from depending on the route that you want to take.
There is also a play area here for youngsters as well as basketball courts, a cricket pitch, and picnicking areas.