Besides being home to two universities, the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University, Denton has small-town charm and everything you’d want from a big city. Plus, you’ll find a thriving art and music scene and a charming downtown square.
At the very northern edge of the DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) Metroplex, Denton, with over 141,500 population, is ranked as the most livable city in Texas based on housing, education, social capital, and its active, artistic residents, and it’s easy to see why.
Things To Do In Denton
Discover Denton Visitor Center
Sheila at the Discover Denton Visitor Center on the square helped me pinpoint places on my list to visit and provided maps and recommendations for places to eat and stay. She is a retired teacher and enjoys teaching visitors about Denton these days.
Courthouse On The Square
Denton’s historic courthouse on the square, completed in 1896, hosts an impressive clock tower looming over four ancillary domes placed on each corner of the three-story structure. Tour the museum inside, honoring the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. You’ll see a firearms display and other local historical photographs.
The Chairy Orchard
Just another quirky place in Denton, a vacant lot between two houses, Chairy Orchard at 1426 Churchill Drive has a collection of dozens and dozens of chairs of all shapes and styles. You’ll see the Locks of Love Chairish Wall, where lovebirds can add a lock with their names on the back chain link fence, then deposit the key in the adjacent lockbox. There is no cost to visit Chairy Orchard, but you can deposit your donation inside a retro refrigerator along the fence line.
John B. Denton
John B. Denton, the founder of Denton and Denton County, was a pioneer preacher and lawyer killed in a fight with Native Americans in 1841. The courthouse square is his final burial place after being moved and buried two other times.
In a little alley on the south side of McKinney Street between Elm and Locust, you’ll find a perfect Instagram backdrop: a vibrant purple door halfway up a concrete wall with a ladder leading up to it.
Bayless-Selby House Museum
Located at Denton County Historical Park on Mulberry Street southwest of the historic square, the Victorian-style Bayless-Selby House tells the story of life in Denton before 1908 with its grand piano, elegantly set dining room table, and Eastlake-style bedroom suite.
Denton Arts And Jazz Festival
The Denton Arts and Jazz Festival, Denton’s signature event, was moved from April to October 1, 2, and 3 this year. See local, regional, statewide, and national musical talent on seven stages of continuous music, plus fine arts, crafts, food, and games.
North Texas State Fair And Rodeo Since 1928
Enhancing the historical tradition, rich heritage, and economic impact of the farming and ranching community in Denton County, the North Texas State Fair and Rodeo honors local cowboy competition and the added Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) along with student livestock and agricultural competitors.
The Denton Community Theatre and Music Theatre of Denton have joined together for live musical theatre performances at the historic Campus Theatre. See shows like Always…Patsy Cline, June 4-20, and Matilda, August 6-8, 12-15, and 20-22.
A City Of Murals
You could spend all day exploring the murals in this city. There are close to three dozen murals by artists Dan Black and Mick Burson. Find them using the map attached here.
Denton Horse Country
The North Texas Horse Country has one of the highest concentrations of horse farms in the United States, offering Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, Arabians, Paints, and Thoroughbreds. You’ll find large breed farms, equine specialists, mare care, training facilities for cutting, Western pleasure, reining, halter, and roping amid world champion horses.
Best Restaurants In Denton
Whether you’re looking for a tasty burger, a historic speakeasy, food trucks, craft beer, or quirky dessert, it’s all here.
Lone Star Attitude Burger Co.
Next door to Discover Denton, indulge in a Waylon Burger with a side of Garlic Parm Herb Fries with House Dipping Sauce at Lone Star Attitude Burger Co. on Denton’s first downtown rooftop bar. You can’t beat the creative burgers made from Nolan Ryan Angus Beef, hand-cut fries several ways, chicken tenders, or a veggie power plate. You’ve got your pick of beers on draft or in cans, margaritas, and sangria, or you can get a half gallon LSA Rita, a half-gallon of house rocks mix, and a bottle of Cuervo to go.
Denton’s Secret Speakeasy — Pachall Bar
Behind a hidden door and up a flight of stairs, Paschall Bar is a world-class cocktail lounge that serves original hand-made cocktails in an upscale environment. Residing in one of the oldest buildings since 1877 on the historic downtown square, you’ll find three stories of unique events under one roof. The basement boasts a menu of waffles, all kinds of ways. Explore the main floor bar and second-story cocktail lounge.
Pro Tip: Try the Espresso Martini.
Denton Food Trucks
The food truck business is big in Denton, and many park outside local craft beer pubs.
Feta’s Lone Greek, a father-son business, prepares gyros, feta fries, spinaki, and more. Get Korean street food, including noodle bowls and dumplings, at MiSeoul. El Taco Taxi offers mobile catering and is usually parked at Mulberry St Cantina, selling street tacos and elote. Street Eats Catering brings Mississippi Delta Southern-style food from Memphis to Texas.
Freddie’s Tacos serves traditional Mexican fare, including tortas, tacos, and elotes. Groovy Chicken and Waffles proudly serves chicken and waffles, mac and cheese, fried cabbage, and more. Get hibachi and teppanyaki street food at The Saucy Hibachi. You can order eclectic Asian-inspired cuisine at The Blind Fox. Gourmet cupcakes at your fingertips are available at Fancy Sweets.
Craft Beer Tour Of Downtown Denton
Howling Mutt Brewery is Denton’s newest nano-brewery serving craft beer, wine, cider, liquor-infused ice cream, and popsicles, along with food from 940s Kitchen and Cocktails.
Midway Mart hosts Denton’s Craft Beer To-Go with an extensive selection of craft beer with Instagram updates posting new offerings. The mart is known as the best beer store in Denton.
Located in the heart of downtown Denton, Barley & Board features a full bar with 36 Texas in-house beers on tap, wine, and handcrafted cocktails. Come for lunch, dinner, brunch, or happy hour for sandwiches, small plates, build-a-board, and large plates like BBQ shrimp and grits or pork tenderloin.
Pro Tip: Save room for bread pudding with vanilla bean ice cream, almond toffee crumble, and coffee honey.
In one of the oldest houses in Denton, Oak St. Drafthouse and Cocktail Parlor are one block east of downtown Denton square with a huge back patio with plenty of seating that is kid and dog friendly. You can select from over 70 beers on tap and 100 in the bottle. Watch for new arrivals. You’ll usually find a food truck parked out front.
Harvest House, just east of the square, is Denton’s most extensive all-in-one bar, concert venue, beer garden, and juice/coffee shop. Enjoy live music on the spacious patio with fire pits and yard games. You can select gourmet tacos, burgers, egg rolls, or the famous ban mi sandwich from the Pickled Carrot II resident food truck.
To try out Armadillo Ale Works, download the TabbedOut App, create an account, and search for Armadillo Ale Works to order to-go. Try the Quakertown Stout, Land Yacht IPA, or Greenbelt Farmhouse Wheat.
With neon signs lighting up a strip of dive bars, Fry Street is a historic hangout near UNT University. UNT has Fry Street, UT Austin has 6th Street, and A&M has Northgate. Do you remember the Bubble Man and his van with bubbles floating out from its roof, parked near Crooked Crust? It’s been there going on 20 years.
The Fry Street Tavern sells cheap pizzas and cheap drinks, plus tacos, wings, and nightly specials. Sunday Funday features a personal one-topping pizza and a domestic draft beer for $5. It’s the perfect place for dinner on a Sunday night when the dorms don’t serve dinner.
Secret After-Hours Gourmet Doughnuts
Pick up the freshest late-night doughnuts in Denton at the #Back Dough behind Queenie’s Steakhouse at the Austin Street Door. #Back Dough is open Saturday and Sunday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
All-natural gnome-made goodness! A collection of gnome-shaped shaved ice, Gnomesicles, and gourmet pops made all-natural and free from artificial preservatives, dyes, and sweeteners. Order a Sweaty Yeti, Troll’s Blood, or Goblin Berry at Gnome Cones.
Best Hotels In Denton
The Brownlow House offers the perfect place for a small wedding, graduation party, company retreat, or family getaway in a setting exuding Southern style and elegance. Choose from four suites with 100 percent Egyptian cotton bedding on a Stearns and Foster Estate, combining a luxurious pillow top and memory foam plus a spacious en suite bathroom and a claw foot tub. Enjoy the beautifully decorated historic house, lush garden, and private patio.
Old Irish Bed & Breakfast, five casual, custom cottages on an alpaca ranch, is 6.1 miles from Denton and 6.3 miles from the Clear Creek Natural Heritage Center. A place where every day is St. Patrick’s Day, spend the night in a tiny cabin and wake up to a home-cooked Texas breakfast.
In conclusion, if you are looking for a vibrant community with creative independence and small-town culture, Denton has it all!
For more Texas charm, consider