Even when I was young, I loved nostalgia, and I still do. Now that I’m old enough to know and appreciate some history, visiting downtowns is one of my favorite hobbies. I never get bored in a downtown, but to some people, they all start to look the same. Antique stores? Check. Diners? Check. Historical markers? Check.

But revitalization has come to many of the Main Streets in the USA, and many downtown districts host the latest trends right beside the antiquities. If you visit a few local downtowns, you’ll find some history, some great entertainment destinations, and a few things that aren’t traditionally “downtown” things. I found seven (more) surprising things in downtowns right here in DFW’s Mid-Cities.

Dance with the Stars in Southlake Town Square

So right off the bat, I cheated. Southlake’s downtown isn’t historic at all – it was born in 1999. But it’s an old-school town square with municipal buildings, so it should count, even if it’s the home of some decidedly modern shopping. Southlake Town Square is loaded with luxury boutiques and fine dining. Occasional celebrity sightings make the news, but at Dance With Me dance studio, the celebrity sparkle is on a higher level. The founders are Val and Maks Chmerkovskiy and Tony Dovolani of Dancing with the Stars fame. No word on how you get one of them as your teacher, but I’m willing to bet they DO drop in. Wait, what? Val is teaching a class in Southlake on June 6th? Sign (me) up quick!



Photo courtesy of Dance With Me USA

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Take a Chocolate-Making Class in Historic Downtown Grapevine

That’s right. This shop will help you further your education on the subject of chocolate. Of course, you don’t have to take a class. You can learn more about chocolate simply by sampling one of the many delectable varieties of artisan dark chocolate offered here. That’s right there are samples. You can also continue your education at home with a variety of ways to purchase your favorites in store. Their offerings also satisfy your souvenir craving – on my last visit I saw chocolates shaped like bunches of grapes and a few iconic Texas shapes too.



Photo courtesy of Dr. Sue’s Chocolate

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Hang Out with Horses and Cows in Old Town Lewisville

You won’t see livestock every day in downtown Lewisville, but cows and horses are definitely a part of its celebrated history. Less than a mile from the heart of downtown, you’ll find a rodeo arena that plays host to several events a year. At Lewisville’s signature annual September event, Western Days, they parade the cows in a cattle drive right down Main Street. If seeing live livestock doesn’t make your day, don’t worry. There’s still plenty of entertainment in store in Old Town Lewisville at the Lewisville Community Theater or Medical City Lewisville Grand Theater. You’ll find plenty of fun stores and great restaurants too.



Photo courtesy of Western Days in Lewisville, Texas

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Walk on a Mosaic Mural inDowntown Grand Prairie

The municipal buildings in Grand Prairie’s downtown mostly aren’t historic, but there are a few buildings downtown that have earned historical markers. Revitalizing downtown has made it feel new since the addition of the Market Square to host the farmer’s market a few years ago. The city’s most recent addition in the area is an art crosswalk that takes you across 2nd Street from the Farmer’s Market to the municipal court building.



Grand Prairie Mural. Photo courtesy of Grand Prairie Reporter

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Discover Mammoths and Mastodons in Historic Downtown Roanoke

The City of Roanoke has taken historic all the way back to prehistoric in its downtown museum. The Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum used to be the Silver Spur Saloon – in the 1880s that is. The building has been beautifully restored and now serves as a museum with both regional and local artifacts. Mammoths & Mastodons is one of three permanent exhibits, along with Honoring Our Veterans and Texas & Pacific Railway. Don’t care for dinosaurs? That’s okay, you can spend your time discovering one of many restaurants in this little city known as the unique dining capital of Texas.



Roanoke Visitor Center and Museum. Photo courtesy of City of Roanoke, Texas

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Frolic in a Fountain in Old Town Coppell

Just like in Grand Prairie, Old Town Coppell’s revival has been centered around a farmer’s market. Right across the street is a fountain that is part of the former farming town’s pride and joy. We’ve seen fountains and courtyards in downtowns before, but what’s different about this fountain is that you’re supposed to play in it. You might want to have lunch or dinner in one of the nearby restaurants too, but we’d suggest doing that before you get wet.



Photo courtesy of Coppell Parks & Recreation Department

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Crunch Chilaquiles for Breakfast in Keller

Part of the charm of Old Town Keller is its restaurant scene. There are several dining options centered around a redesigned city center and adjacent to a parked locomotive engine. But there’s dining down several blocks and across the street as well. One of these more hidden spots is Tres Casas, which serves Mexican breakfast items Friday through Sunday starting at 8AM. If you can’t come for breakfast, just come on anytime. Their garden-like patio is incredible, and the place is BYOB.



Photo courtesy of Tres Casas Mexican Grill

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That wraps up our unexpected downtown experience roundup, but expect a full feature on the historic downtown in Irving. It’s something else altogether! Did we miss any of your favorite out-of-the ordinary fun spots? Does your suburb have unique downtown attractions? Let us know in the comments below.

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7 More Surprising Things to Do in DFW Downtowns