Dallas’ city limits, especially those that have been well-established since the middle of the 20th Century, contain many treasured parks. Among the most fascinating of these is Oak Lawn Park. Rich in history and offering a variety of amenities that are free to the public, this urban oasis is a great place to spend some quality time immersed in the outdoors.
The park was first established in 1909 and is located at the corner of Lemmon Avenue and Turtle Creek Boulevard. In 1936, it was redubbed Robert E. Lee Park, or simply Lee Park, after a six-ton bronze statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was erected on the grounds. However, the statue was removed by Dallas City Council in 2017, leading to the restoration of the park’s original name
Today, Oak Lawn Park is home to 14.1 acres of green space and plenty of amenities to keep nearby Uptown and Turtle Creek residents happy. It includes all the basics: walking trails, shaded benches, drinking fountains, a large pond and an open pavilion. It’s also a great place to bring your furry friend for a walk, with plenty of pet waste stations — although visitors should note that there are no off-leash areas for dogs at this time. The park also provides access to the Katy Trail, making it a particularly popular spot for any walker or jogger looking to take a slight detour from their accustomed route. Finally, those do not live within walking distance can take advantage of a parking lot located on the west side of the park.
However, what makes Oak Lawn Park most notable is one very special amenity: Arlington Hall. Arlington Hall is a scaled-down replica of Arlington House in Virginia (also known as Custis-Lee Mansion). Built in 1939, it quickly became the place for community members to gather. As time passed, however, neglect caused the Hall to fall into disrepair. Luckily, the facility underwent a major, multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion headed by The Conservancy. Modeled after the Central Park Conservancy in New York City, The Conservancy is also responsible for the surrounding grounds of Oak Lawn Park. The organization completed its renovation of Arlington Hall in December 2003. In the 15 years since, the structure has reclaimed its position as one of Dallas’ most popular wedding venues.
Oak Lawn Park also hosts a number of exciting city events each year. Easter in the Park is held in April and is most famous for its can’t-miss “Pooch Parade” down Turtle Creek Boulevard. Participants dress their pups in their Sunday best as part of this for-dogs-only costume contest. Festivities — involving live music and fun games as well as local food and drink vendors — continue in Oak Lawn Park after the canine winners are announced.
Oak Lawn Park also celebrates The Kentucky Derby each spring with a “Day at the Races” party at Arlington Hall. Guests are encouraged to dress in their finest Derby-inspired garb and enjoy a day of mint juleps, Southern cuisine, live music, dancing and more. Proceeds from these events typically benefit The Conversancy and contribute directly to the preservation of both Oak Lawn Park and Arlington Hall.