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
Plan your trip to Dallas
1. What’s the best time to visit Dallas?
2. A few facts about Dallas
3. One Day in Dallas Itinerary
3.1. Start the adventure up in Uptown
3.2. Check out the Arts District
3.3. Climb the Reunion Tower
3.4. Sit down for lunch
3.5. Visit Dallas World Aquarium
3.6. Afternoon at the Grassy Knoll
3.7. Dig into a typical Texan dinner
3.8. Catch the Deep Ellum Blues at Night
4. Where to stay in Dallas, Texas?
5. Day trips from Dallas
6. Extra tips for visiting Dallas
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.
Celebrations on on occassions such as the Fourth of July or St. Patrick’s Day are big and loud, so count yourself lucky if you find yourself here during those events. However, there’s always something happening here, and no matter when you come, you will find something interesting.
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. This is Texas at its very finest! Use this itinerary to find the best sigths and things to do in Dallas and you are bound to have a wonderful time. No doubt, this will be a day to remember!
Start the adventure up 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. The food trucks here are a great opportunity for a delicious breakfast!
Check out the Arts District
Once you’ve had enough of the park, hop 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.
Climb the Reunion Tower
One of the most famous landmarks in Dallas has got to be the Reunion Tower with its shiny ball on top. This is actually not a skyscraper per se, but an observation tower meant to provide every visitor with a breathtaking view, which it certainly does. And if you come here after dark, everything becomes even more magical.
The tower’s interior is full of interactive screens and cameras that take you even beyond the city, and all of this adds up to quite a special experience. Definitely, something you need to do during your one day in Dallas.
Sit down for lunch
If there’s one thing you can count on in Dallas, it’s good food! And there are plenty of great restaurants in and around the Arts District, so you can easily find a place where you can grab a delicious bite to eat when you need a break from all the sightseeing.
Sloane’s Corner always delivers fantastic burgers, and The Playwright Irish Pub has a great atmosphere. If you’re up for something Asian, however, Musume is the place to go, or you can sit down at La Stella Cucina Verace for something Italian.
In any case, no matter what type of food you happen to be craving on this particular day, you will find a great restaurant serving it here.
Visit Dallas World Aquarium
Another big Dallas attraction you can visit without wasting much time is Dallas World Aquarium. This fascinating place was once a warehouse, but now it serves a much more magical purpose. There is an incredible amount of different animals that you can see here, and they are native to many different parts of the world.
Two features of the aquarium stand out, though – a forty-foot glass tunnel you can walk through surrounded by water full of sharks and a recreation of the South American rainforest that spreads across three levels. No matter if you’re an animal lover or not, this is an experience you don’t want to miss!
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. For those who are eager to learn more about the conspiracy, a 2-hour tour would be a perfect option!
Dig into a typical Texan dinner
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 meat 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?
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Hotel Crescent Court
400 Crescent Court, Uptown Dallas, Dallas, TX 75201
Luxury accommodation in Dallas doesn’t come much better than what Hotel Crescent Court offers. A year-round pool, a wonderful terrace, rooms with french doors leading to their own balconies, a beautiful interior, and a coffee machine in each room are just some of the features you can expect to get here. The food is nothing short of spectacular, the location is very good too, and in short, there is nothing you will lack here. Just a fantastic hotel.
1530 Main Street, Main Street District, Dallas, TX 75201
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. Rooms come with minibars, flat-screen TVs, and other amenities, plus you will have access to a 24-hour fitness center. The food is also incredibly delicious and the people working here are so very friendly. You simply can’t go wrong with staying here.
Courtyard by Mariott Dallas Downtown/Reunion District
310 South Houston St, Dallas, TX 75202
Courtyard by Mariott Dallas Downtown/Reunion District is a lovely hotel in the heart of Dallas close to many of the main attractions, and the staff here will be more than happy to point you in the right direction. The rooftop bar provides the perfect views of the city, especially at sunset, and the rooms are large, perfectly clean and exceptionally comfortable. This is a lovely modern hotel that really helps you get into that Dallas-sightseeing mood. Without any doubt, this is a great pick for a place to stay.
MainStay Suites Dallas Northwest – Irving
2208 Royal Lane Building B, Dallas, 75229
If you’re looking for slightly more affordable accommodation in Dallas, MainStay Suites Dallas Northwest is an excellent choice. Modern interior, all units with a microwave, and free parking are included, but the thing that really helps this place stand out is its good food and the quality of service. Comfortable beds, clean rooms, quiet surroundings, and all of that at an agreeable price. Pretty attractive, right?
Day trips from Dallas
If you’re spending more than one day in Dallas, it’s perfectly natural to want to explore Texas a bit more. The Lone Star State has more awesome cities and other amazing places to offer. Here are a few choices for a day trip from Dallas that are bound to make a lasting impression. A day on a trip to any of these places is a day well spent.
Now, this is an interesting one. Canton is less than one hour from Dallas, and what makes it famous is the fact that it’s home to the largest flea market in the US. This takes place every first Monday in the month, but even if you can’t come on that day, there’s plenty to do here – huge zip lines, a water park and all other things that make for a fun-filled day out.
If you would like to get to know another Texas city, spending one day in Austin might be a good idea. Yes, it’s a bit longer ride (about three hours), but it can be done. And seeing Austin is quite an experience because that’s a beautifully quirky and special kind of city. See the state capitol, take a walk around Town Lake and try to discover what makes this place so unique.
Davy Crockett National Forest
How about a hike? Davy Crockett National Forest is ideal for all of you who want to spend a day in nature enjoying a breath of fresh air. There are even horseback riding trails! Miles and miles of pathways for you to enjoy how you see fit, just two hours away from Dallas. Camping is also allowed, and you will quickly fall in love with this huge green patch.
Thanks to Dallas’ position, it’s quite easy to hop over the state line to Oklahoma. The town of Durant, for example, is just half an hour away! This place is known for its Choctaw Casino Resort, so you can enjoy a few games and hopefully strike it rich. However, it is also the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation and home to the World’s Largest Peanut. Interesting destination, isn’t it?
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 a much smaller and more conveniently located airport.
- When checking out prices in restaurants, remember that they do not include the sales tax and tips.
- Getting a city pass is a great idea if you’re looking to save money. Having this with you means you can hope for a big discount when entering many of the most popular attractions.
- Have a water bottle with you! The tap water around here is absolutely fine to drink.
PIN FOR LATER!
If you have any other propositions for this One Day in Dallas Itinerary feel free to share it in the comments below!
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.
Hayden currently works to pay for his travel adventures, but hopes that someday adventure traveling will become his work. Until that day comes, he is an advertising copywriter and freelance journalist always searching for the next story to tell, whether it comes from across the world or just across the street.
Dallas does sound like an absolutely beautiful place to visit in USA. I love the sound of the brightly coloured buildings and the so many different parks you can visit.
It is a nice place 🙂
what is your suggestion for moving around from the one recommended spot to another. I know you mention the McKinney Avenue Trolley but I thinking this does not run between all the places you mention. Is driving your car the best means to do it in one day or is there another means to get from one place to another you would recommend? Don’t mind driving if there is parking but also want what is most productive to get to see as much as possible in a day.
Hi, in case you are in a hurry and want to save up some time, Uber is probably easiest option (that way you won’t have to worry about parking).
This Dallas guide is incredibly helpful. You’ve really thought through everything you need to know before planning a trip. Thank you for this helpful resource. Saving this guide for later!