In a word, Dallas is big — hence its nickname “Big D”. It’s a place where big business, cosmopolitan lifestyles, and good ol’ fashioned Texas charm collide to create a place not easily categorized but always striving to define itself. Beneath its glittering skyline and larger than life persona is a city that offers something for everyone. One day in Dallas and you’ll see why it is a city not to be missed.
Guest post by Hayden Bernstein
What’s the best time to visit Dallas?
It’s not up for debate — it is really hot in Dallas during the summer. Average temperatures exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit from July through mid-September with lots of sunshine and humidity. Luckily, Dallas has a deep relationship with air-conditioning and there are plenty indoor attractions to enjoy during the hot summer months.
When the weather finally cools off in October, it’s time for the State Fair of Texas. The fall weather is beautiful during this sprawling three week celebration of all things Texas. The Fair culminates during the annual “Red River Rivalry” football game between the University of Texas and Oklahoma University. It is one of the busiest, most energized weekends in Dallas all year.
A few facts about Dallas
- Dallas-Fort Worth is the largest metropolitan area in Texas (known as the Metroplex) and the fourth largest in the United States. Sprawling and flat, Dallas is not a city known for its natural wonders. That aside, it more than compensates with a robust economy, endless dining and shopping options and an affordable cost of living.
- Although Dallas boasts the most miles of light rail service in the United States, it’s absolutely a car-centric city. Renting a car would be advisable, especially if you plan to visit the surrounding suburbs or Fort Worth. Otherwise, the Uber and Lyft rideshare services are plentiful and the majority of the neighborhoods you will want to visit are only a 10-15 minute drive from the city center.
- Things invented in Dallas that we know and love today include: Frozen margaritas, 7-Eleven convenience stores, laser tag and the first microchip!
One Day in Dallas Itinerary
Despite its size, you can pack the highlights of Dallas into one day and leave with a great feel for the city. Follow this guide and make the most of your trip, even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Dallas.
Up and About in Uptown
Start your morning with a bold cup of coffee from Ascension Coffee, one of Dallas’ favorite local coffee roasters. There are three central locations, each offering a menu of farm-to-table breakfast and lunch options. After getting properly caffeinated, set out for Klyde Warren Park to see where Dallas converges. Bridging the downtown Arts District with the bustling Uptown neighborhood (the park is literally built on top of a highway), this thoughtfully appointed park is an urban design marvel and a great place to really feel the heartbeat of the city.
Take a nice walk around the park and have a little snack from one of the food trucks before hopping on the McKinney Avenue Trolley. These vintage trolleys are free to ride and take you on a loop through Uptown and back into the downtown Arts District. The Dallas Arts District is the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation, filled with world-class museums and performance halls. General admission to the Dallas Museum of Art is free (special exhibits cost), as is the Crow Collection of Asian Art.
Afternoon at the Grassy Knoll
After perusing the Dallas Arts District, take a quick stroll through the Historic West End, a collection of century-old brick warehouses that have been repurposed into urban residences, restaurants and shops on your way to Dealey Plaza.
Dealey Plaza is the most historically significant place in Dallas for one unfortunate reason — President John F. Kennedy was assassinated at this intersection in 1963. Today, tourists visit the infamous grassy knoll to see where this monumental event took place. The 6th Floor Museum beautifully recounts the people and events surrounding that day from the very same building and floor where the assassin fired his fatal shots.
Where Dinner Usually Means Barbecue
No trip to Dallas would be complete without some authentic Texas barbecue. Head over to Pecan Lodge for brisket and jalapeno mac n’ cheese — they often sell out, so you might want to call ahead to check! The line will be long, but it is well worth the wait for some of the best smoked meats in Texas, which is to say some of the best in the world. Other great BBQ options are Off The Bone and the original Sonny Bryan’s.
If ordering smoked meat by the pound isn’t your ideal dinner, there are great dinner options in Bishop Arts, a quaint neighborhood just across the Trinity River. Locally owned shops and restaurants dot Bishop Avenue for a quiet evening in one of Dallas’ most easy-going (dare I say hipster) neighborhoods. Hattie’s is great for classic Southern fare, or see if Lucia has any reservations available. And don’t leave the area without stopping for a slice of pie at Emporium Pies!
Catch the Deep Ellum Blues at Night
Explore Deep Ellum and soak in some of the area’s blues music heritage. In the 1920’s, Deep Ellum saw some of the blues’ most significant figures reside, play and record here, including Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly, and the infamous Robert Johnson.
The area remains a nightlife hotspot and the musical epicenter of Dallas. Dozens of music venues and clubs host local and national talent practically every night of the week. See who is playing at Trees or Three Links to get your live music fix. Otherwise, just enjoy the densely packed area of street murals, restaurants and bars. There is a bar here for every type, from the craft cocktail enthusiast to the metalhead.
Finish your epic day in Dallas from a rooftop bar overlooking downtown. Vetted Well has one of the best views of the skyline, as does the Green Room if you’re still in Deep Ellum. The kaleidoscope of neon lights that plaster practically every downtown building makes for quite the backdrop to end your night.
Where to stay in Dallas, Texas?
Cool, vintage and comfortable, The Belmont is perched just outside the city center overlooking the skyline. Fall right in with the creative-class guests this 1940s era roadside hotel attracts.
The Joule, a pinnacle of style and sophistication when staying in downtown Dallas. Enjoy the cantilevered pool that has you swimming literally above Main Street.
Deep Ellum Hostel
Dallas isn’t really a hostel city, but Deep Ellum Hostel is the one (of maybe two total) to stay at. Perfectly situated in the buzzing Deep Ellum area.
Extra tips for visiting Dallas
- – If you’re flying to/from Dallas, know that there are two airports. DFW Airport is a gigantic international airport about a 35 minute drive from downtown Dallas. It connects directly with the Orange line of the DART rail. Love Field airport is the much smaller and more conveniently located airport.
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