CHEAP SUMMER FUN IN DENTON

SHAUN TREAT

Eureka 2 is Denton's newest playground and worth checking out. 

Eureka 2 is Denton's newest playground and worth checking out. 

Summertime is officially here, neighbors, which means a lot less student traffic but also an itch to maybe explore new entertainment options around Denton. Call me a cheapskate, but ain’t everything just a bit sweeter when it's not breaking the bank? As an update to our 2014 guide, here’s a glance at some of the weekly under $5 fun to be had in Denton. If you have any favorites we missed, scoop us in the comments!


First, let’s hit the sure bets. Longtime Dentonites hopefully already know that the Denton County Museums have some consistently cool exhibits, but I’m frequently amazed how many folks admit they’ve never been inside! The Denton County Courthouse On The Square Museum ain’t only the best looking spot to just wander around inside, but it also has rotating and guest exhibits up all its 3 floors as well as free lectures and special events you can find on their Facebook page. Their Historical Park, which includes the restored Victorian-era Bayless-Selby House and the Quakertown House of African-American History, offers free guided tours on Saturdays (and don’t miss the Juneteenth Story Time coming up). The Denton Firefighters Museum is open 8am - 5pm on weekdays, and it has nifty exhibits spanning from the 1800s, while the Hangar 10 Museum has some vintage planes.

Denton also has a solid selection of free Art Galleries to meander, as well as the several special collections you can tour the breathtakingly beautiful Blagg-Huey Library at TWU (seriously do this). And speaking of libraries, y’all shouldn’t neglect to check out the events at Denton Public Libraries, for kids and grown-ups! The Denton Public Library has tons of free summer programing that you should definitely look into. The Star Parties at the UNT Astronomy Center are far out, and their cheap Sky Theater is a fun way to cool off. 

If you’re looking for some urban adventure exploring, we got you covered there, too. In fact, we’ve got a series of “Offbeat Denton Oddities” (with a second and third installment) and more than a few “Secrets of Denton County” to peruse. There’s even a ton of foodie delights to explore along Denton’s Taco Corridor, or you might take the Digital Scavenger Hunt of the Downtown Square that our Discover Denton CVB put together. Several neighborhood pubs like RT's or Lucky Lou’s have free outdoor games to play over pints, and there are several Trivia Nights or Darts leagues around town.

The city holds Twilight Tunes every Thursday evening on the courthouse lawn. The event normally gathers lots of folks, features wonderful music, and is a great excuse for a picnic on the lawn. Additionally, the Greater Denton Arts Council has been hosting their free Summer Cinema series for the past several weeks. The event features some great live music followed by a classic movie. Tonight and next week are the last two events in the series and we highly suggest checking them out. 

Up at the North Lakes Recreation Center, you can find free fun at their Frisbee Golf Course. Further north, there's the free skate park off of Loop 288 and next door to Denton's Waterworks Park. Speaking of which, you can sign up for weekly text messages on their website that include deals and some discounts on admission from time to time. Other Denton park areas include batting cages, tennis courts, basketball courts and more. Additionally, the city's redesigned Civic Center Pool is now open for business and worth checking out!

If you’re the outdoorsy type, Lake Ray Roberts also has a slew of hikes or events, and the Diamond T Arena has weekend rodeo events. Jumping the A-train is also a fun road-trip to hit free events in Dallas, like free admission days at museums, art walks, or their parks!

Denton's Civic Center Pool is a great place to cool off. 

Denton's Civic Center Pool is a great place to cool off. 

When its too dang hot to trot outdoors, though, you can still have it made in the shade. You can play pool or darts in any number of pubs around town, although Sweetwater Grill & Tavern has a few awesome classic arcade games that are a blast for blowing a few free hours (and a full-fledged Barcade on the way). Bowling at University Lanes or Brunswick Zone is still cheap indoor fun, and there is an Adventure Zone in the mall. The cheap $2 movies at Silver Cinema in the Golden Triangle Mall definitely worth mentioning, although there are often free summer flicks shown in Quakertown Park or Unicorn Lake and even Twilight Tunes concerts that you can track easily on the CVB calendar! If you like board games or RPG, the More Fun Game Center is a cool stop-in with weekly events.

Denton is also enjoying a thriving comedy scene, with a Comedy Collective and LOL for a Cause, and then there’s a drink-&-think Nerd Nite Denton series that is a heckuva lot of fun. If you've got wee ones in tow, the new Altitude Trampoline Park is well air-conditioned and has weekly deals or season passes that are worth looking into

Those are just some of the cheap summer treats you can delve into in Denton this year. Know of any others? Let us know in the comments!


Shaun Treat is a former professor at the University of North Texas and founder of the Denton Haunts historical ghost tour. Doc has written about numerous local places and personalities at his Denton Haunts blog, and is forever indebted to the great work of our local keepers of history like Mike Cochran and Laura Douglas at the Emily Fowler Library for their tireless work in helping preserve Denton’s intriguing past. Be sure to check out our local museums curated by the fine folks at the Denton County Office of History & Culture, and follow @Dentonaut on Twitter for local happenings.