Two universities, a thriving arts scene, and lots of small-town charm make Denton a must stop in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Advertisement
Victorian architecture of Denton County courthouse
Recently restored Denton County Texas courthouse at North Texas town of Denton.
| Credit: dhughes9/Getty

Austin's slogan may be "Keep Austin Weird," but Denton, Texas isn't far behind. This town at the northern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is a quirky, fun, and vibrant place doing things a bit different than the surrounding area. Home to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman's University, Denton is definitely a college town with a thriving music and arts scene. Here, you'll find a charming downtown square giving off major small-town vibes, but you'll also find a hopping bar and restaurant scene plus live music and colorful, modern murals all over town. Stop in for a long weekend trip or spend the day here before heading toward the larger cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. Either way, Denton is sure to make you smile. 

Go Bar Hopping on Fry Street

Every college town has a popular bar scene, and Denton is no exception. Fry Street is right next to the University of North Texas (and not far from Texas Woman's University), and has often been described as a smaller version of Austin's Sixth Street. Fry Street Tavern is right across the street from UNT and serves up classic bar foods such as wings and pizza, plus any drink you could wish for. Just off Fry Street, Lucky Lou's has daily drink specials and Riprocks has loads of late-night options like fried pickles and breakfast tacos. For a slice of pizza on the go, check out Crooked Crust for a slice of the "Mean Green," pizza with chicken, artichoke, pesto, and mozzarella.  

Visit the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum

Inside the 19th-century Denton County courthouse, you'll find the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum, which contains exhibits telling about Denton history, including historical photographs, Native American pottery, farming and ranching artifacts, pressed glass, weaponry, and even genealogical records and research for Denton County family histories. The courthouse itself is a beautiful example of Texas' storied courthouses. Built in 1896, it's made from Denton limestone, pink granite from the Austin area, red sandstone from the Pecos region of Texas, and tan sandstone from nearby MIneral Wells, Texas. 

See the Texas Fashion Collection 

As a part of the UNT College of Visual Arts and Design, the Texas Fashion Collection preserves and documents historically significant fashion. It is used as an educational base for students, researchers, and anyone with an interest in fashion and design. Today, the collection contains more than 18,000 items, including dresses, shoes, ties, handbags, hats, accessories, and more. The Fashion Collection has partnered with numerous institutions, including the Costume Institute at the MET, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library, to mount exhibitions. Currently, access to the Texas Fashion Collection is by appointment only

Visit the Old Alton Bridge 

Also known as Goatman's Bridge, Old Alton Bridge is a Texas Historic Landmark that serves as a walking and hiking trail. The bridge, a historic iron truss bridge, was built to create a link for those going from Denton to Copper Canyon, located near the tiny town of Alton. There was once hope that the bridge would revive Alton, but as Denton continued to grow, Alton dwindled.

Explore Denton's Downtown Square

Surrounding the historic 19th-century Denton County courthouse, you'll find lots of local eateries and shops that visitors and residents alike adore. Recycled Books, Records, & CDs holds half a million books up for grabs, plus movies, music, and more. For a sweet treat, head to Beth Marie's Old Fashioned Ice Cream for unique ice cream flavors like Texas Honey Whiskey, Campfire S'mores, Cupcake, and the Bees Nees (raw honey with lavender). Atomic Candy has retro and modern candies, sodas, and oddities, including finger puppets, vintage lunch boxes, and stocking stuffers. For a charcuterie board or great meal, Barley and Board is a local gastropub with an array of items. Make a stop at the Discover Denton Visitor Center for additional info on must-see things around town, and fuel up with a specialty coffee from Jupiter House

Visit the Chairy Orchard

In a quaint neighborhood in Denton, the Chairy Orchard is a whimsical art installation set between two homes. The Chairy Orchard was a vacant lot between neighbors Judy's and Ann's homes, that they've transformed into an Alice in Wonderland-esque site. Judy and Ann have been collecting chairs of all sorts for years and decided to use their vacant lot to showcase these eclectic chairs by creating a "Chairy Tree," where they nailed some of the chairs into a large tree on site. Their original goal was to collect and display 100 chairs, but they've since doubled if not tripled that number to create the Chairy Orchard. Find chairs in every shape and size: dining chairs, wheelchairs, rocking chairs, baby chairs, salon chairs, and more. Swing on the hammock if you wish, or pay your respects at the Cemechairy. Open from dawn to dusk every day. 

Check Out Denton's Brewery Scene

Grab a pint and relax at one of Denton's spots for craft beer. Denton County Brewing Company serves beer made right in Denton, plus offers guest taps, sake, wine, and cider. If you like funky and fun beers, try the Dreamsicle IPA with hints of orange and vanilla. Lonesome Kolsch is a light, easy to drink beer, and Devil's Tears is an American lager. The Bearded Monk is a craft beer bottle shop and growler fill bar. They also have a bar you can sit at and enjoy a pint. The focus here is great craft beer, so brews are coming from all over the U.S. On Cedar Street, Howling Mutt Brewing Company serves their own brews as well as a few selections from Texas breweries. 

Support the Greater Denton Arts Council

For almost 50 years, the Greater Denton Arts Council has served Denton as a foundation for artist and community arts organizations. The Council often works with Denton's universities and schools for year round programs and exhibitions. It's flagship facility is in the downtown Patterson-Appleton Arts Center, which has two galleries, an art studio, sculpture garden, and a dance rehearsal hall, plus a 5,000 square-foot exhibition space where talented artists showcase their works. For those more interested in performing arts, the Campus Theatre is also a part of the Council, and acts as the central location for performing arts in Denton. More than 100 performances happen here annually. The Council brings in more than half a million people a year to these exhibitions and performances, and provides access to the arts for over 12,500 students attending Denton ISD.