Dallas, located in north Texas, is one of the major cities in Texas and pretty exciting to visit. It is home to the Dallas Cowboys, one of the country’s major football teams. The city is also home to the Texas State Fair and its official mascot Big Tex. The city is often affectionately called ‘Big D’ by the locals.
Just as shown in the 1980s TV series Dallas, the city’s fortunes were built on cattle ranching and the oil industry. But modern-day Dallas is a major hub for information technology and financial services and has a fast-growing economy.
The city has many points of interest and tourist attractions from the Dealey Plaza which is of historical importance due to the assassination of JFK to the trendy nightlife of the Deep Ellum neighborhood.
The city also has a large number of museums and the Dallas Arts District is home to a large number of Arts Deco buildings. Dallas is perfect for couples as well as families and is one of the best romantic weekend getaways in Texas.
Along with all the cultural and outdoor attractions, you can also shop at the Highland Park Village and sample a variety of cuisines from Tex-Mex, Texas bbq, and frozen margaritas while on a visit to this vibrant city.
Also Read: 48 Best Day Trips from Dallas
Where to stay in Dallas
The popular neighborhoods of the Arts District, Deep Ellum, and West End Historic District are the three best areas to stay in while visiting Dallas. You will be close to the prominent attractions including the Museum of Art and the Reunion Tower.
For a luxury experience stay in the Omni Dallas in the Historic West End District. Or to stay close to all the museums, book a room at the Ritz-Carlton. If looking for elegance Uptown, you can’t go wrong with Hotel Crescent Court.
For a memorable experience, stay at the Joule on Main Street. The famous eyeball sculpture is located on the grounds of this hotel while the neo-gothic style of architecture makes for a charming stay.
If you’re looking for a budget to mid-range stay, then Dallas also has a variety of hotel chains including Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Days Inn, and Comfort Inn. You will also find motels and hostels within the city.
Best Things to do in Dallas
While Dallas is simply enormous and has innumerable attractions, a majority of them are located quite close to each other in the Arts District. The museums, parks, and other attractions here are located within walking distance of each other.
The other popular neighborhood is the West End Historic District where the assassination of JFK took place. A number of attractions related to the event and the president are located here.
Besides the attractions, Dallas has an amazing culinary and shopping scene. It is also renowned for its live music in the Deep Ellum neighborhood. Overall Dallas provides the ultimate city break in Texas for all kinds of visitors.
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Dallas on your next visit:
Be intrigued at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
All history nerds must visit the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. The museum also provides an educational and informative history lesson for the kids.
The Dealey Plaza was where JFK was assassinated and his shooter Oswald was on the 6th floor of the museum building, which was the Texas School Book Depository back in the day.
That very spot has been converted into a museum and you can even see the window from which Oswald killed the president. Out on the plaza, you can see the two X marking the spots where the bullets hit the President.
The Museum explores the life and death of President John F Kennedy and has plenty of historical exhibits and artifacts related to him. There is also an excellent narration of the assassination events in the context of the national and international political events happening in the 1960s.
This is a really cool museum that provides an amazing experience for the entire family. Visitors often find the museum an emotional experience too. We recommend keeping aside at least 2 hours for a self-guided tour of the museum.
Pay respects at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
Located a short distance east of Dealey Plaza, you will find the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. The simplicity of the concrete memorial feels even more tragic after experiencing the Sixth Floor Museum. A beautiful epitaph displays an apt tribute to the president.
Walking within the tall walls of the monument and stepping into the vast emptiness is a sobering moment. It is synonymous with the void that President JFK left in the nation. A black granite stone with his name is located in the center of the monument.
Take a stroll through West End Historic District
While the premier attractions of Dallas’s West End Historic District are the Sixty Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza and the John F. Kennedy Memorial, the neighborhood also has many other things to see and do.
The Old Red Museum, the Dallas World Aquarium, and the Dallas Holocaust Museum are located here. If you want to shop for cowboy hats and boots, then make a beeline for Wild Bill’s Western Store.
See the bronze cattle and cowboys sculpture at Pioneer Plaza
Located in the Dallas Central Business District, you will find Pioneer Plaza. This public park is famous for the sculpture of a herd of longhorns being rounded by three cowboys on horses. It depicts a traditional cattle drive. The bronze sculpture is simply massive and has 49 individual bronze steers.
The sculpture celebrates the city’s beginnings by pioneer settlers. This is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Dallas. The sculpture is also one of the most popular Instagram spots in the city and looks simply amazing in photos.
While you visit the park, be sure to go to the adjacent Pioneer Park Cemetery. Several of the city’s earliest founders, mayors of Dallas, and other prominent citizens are buried here. The Confederate War Memorial is also located inside the cemetery. The 65 ft tall monument honors the soldiers from Texas that fought during the American Civil War.
Enjoy nightlife in Deep Ellum
Deep Ellum is the funky, quirky, and edgy heart of Dallas. We love the unique vibe and character of this neighborhood. Here you will find antique stores and thrift shops, striking murals, block parties, events, and festivals. This is also the live music capital of North Texas.
As amazing as it is to explore Deep Ellum during the day, to truly experience it, you should come here at night. You can see a stand-up show at Dallas Comedy House or attend a concert at Trees, the city’s legendary music venue. The neighborhood has many restaurants, pubs, and eateries that cater to a variety of crowds at night.
Another essential in Deep Ellum: Pecan Lodge! This barbecue restaurant is a Texas institution. There’s almost a long wait line to sample their famous brisket and other barbecue meats.
Enjoy the vibe of the Dallas Arts District
One of the most amazing neighborhoods to visit in downtown Dallas is the Arts District. This is the city’s cultural hub and is known for its world-class museums and performance venues. This also happens to be one of the largest arts districts in America.
The district is over 20 blocks long and also has excellent restaurants, shopping, art galleries, music venues, and more. The Arts District is also famous for its Art Deco architecture. One of the best ways to explore the district is on a walking tour.
Some of the major attractions in the district include the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Garden, the Cathedral Guadalupe, Opera House, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, and more.
Ride the McKinney Avenue Trolley
Did you know that you can get around for free in Dallas on the McKinney Avenue Trolley?
Also known as the M-Line, the trolley takes visitors through the Dallas Arts District and its many attractions as well as areas in Downtown and Uptown. The trolley has convenient stops at Klyde Warren Park and near the art museum.
The trolley itself is a beautifully restored vintage streetcar that is fun to ride. Our kids especially love the trolley rides and that is one of the highlights of their visit to Dallas.
Besides the free trolley service, you can also go on a paid hop on hop off trolley tours to see the city. There are two trolley tours: the JFK tour and the Dallas tour. The Dallas tour is an excellent way to see over 15 of the cities most popular attractions in about 90 minutes.
See art through the ages at the Dallas Museum of Art
Located in the Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art is an amazing place. This is one of the largest art museums in the country and is home to many renowned pieces of art.
The museum collection is vast and extensive and spans several continents. You will find artwork from the Asian subcontinent, Africa, Greek and Roman antiquities, the Far East, and more. The museum also has an excellent collection of Islamic art. The museum’s contemporary art collection is also interesting.
General admission to the museum is free however visitors need to pay extra for special art exhibits on display. The museum makes an excellent date in Dallas or a fun family day. Devote at least a couple of hours to the museum and its amazing exhibits.
Admire the striking sculptures at Nasher Sculpture Garden
Nasher Sculpture Garden is located next to the Dallas Museum of Art and is an excellent place to spend some time outdoors admiring the artwork. The indoor building of the museum also has excellent sculptures.
This is one of the best sculpture collections in the world and has over 300 stunning thought-provoking modern pieces by renowned artists. You will see sculptures by artists such as Picasso and Rodin among others. This is one of the best places to take Instagram photos in Dallas.
The outdoor garden is very beautifully landscaped and very romantic. It is an amazing place to spend time with your loved one. We recommend keeping aside at least an hour or two to walk through this beautiful space. While the museum has paid entry it is free to visit on the first Saturday of each month.
Check out the food trucks at Klyde Warren Park
Located opposite the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Garden, you will find the Klyde Warren Park. This urban park is the epicenter of the arts district and hosts a bunch of events including fitness classes, music concerts, children’s events, and more.
The park has stunning views of downtown Dallas and it’s a beautiful natural oasis. It offers the perfect break between checking out all the surrounding museums and cultural attractions in the neighborhood. The park is an excellent place to let the kids run free and even has a splash pad for the little ones to beat the summer heat.
But the best part about the park is the plenty of food trucks that are parked here! You can buy meals from the food trucks and eat them at the picnic tables in the park. Our favorites are the Serious Salad, Yummy Pizza, and Wuden Chopsticks. We also love buying fresh fruits from the Fruit Lady Truck.
The park is especially stunning during the holiday season. It is home to a beautiful Christmas tree and looks very festive.
See the T-Rex at Perot Museum of Nature & Science
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a must-visit for families and kids of all ages. The museum provides a fun and interactive educational experience and you can easily spend half a day here looking at all the permanent exhibits and special event galleries.
Their main attraction is the amazing dinosaur exhibit hall. We found it comparable to the field museum of Chicago which has one of the best dinosaur halls in the country.
Here you can see rarely seen dinosaur species from as far away as the southern hemisphere. There are a lot of informative plaques and you do need to read a lot, but our kids always enjoy listening to the information. The T-Rex escalator as well as Stan, the gigantic T-Rex skeleton is also great.
We also love the museum’s vast collection of gems and minerals. Other exhibits include stars and the solar system, earthquake simulator, sports, and more. They also have a great children’s play space in the basement.
See the beautiful Cathedral Guadalupe
The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe is located in the Arts District and is a must-see attraction in the neighborhood. It was built in the late 19th century in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. Made of beautiful red brick the cathedral is 224 feet tall.
The interior of the cathedral is also beautiful and striking. It is large, ornate, and has beautiful stained glass windows. Attending mass at the historic Cathedral is an amazing experience. They also have Mariachi music in the service.
Photograph the stunning Old Red
The Old Red Museum in the historic West End district is a unique attraction in Dallas. The history museum is located inside the Dallas County Courthouse.
Built from red sandstone in 1892, this historic building has stunning architecture. It looks like a castle straight out of a fairy tale and is very photogenic.
Inside the museum, you will find a variety of historic exhibits narrating the history of the Dallas area from its earliest years as a trading center to the current day metropolitan area.
Admire the view from the Reunion Tower
Reunion Tower is a 561 ft tall observation tower. It is one of the most well-known landmarks in the Lone Star State. It is located in the West End Historic District and can be seen along with a trip to the Dealey Plaza.
You cannot really leave Dallas without seeing the view from the top of the Reunion Tower. This striking building has become the icon of Dallas and is a must-visit attraction. It has a cafe and an observation deck on the top floor. The building has been featured in numerous movies and TV series.
Visitors can write to the top of the Reunion Tower and enjoy the panoramic views of the Dallas skyline from the observation deck. If you visit around sunset, then you can see the city from above in daylight as well as lit up at night.
See the sharks at the Dallas World Aquarium
Also located in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, you will find the Dallas World Aquarium. This is one of the best family-friendly things to do in Dallas. The aquarium is a favorite with our kids and is one of the best in the state.
The highlight of the aquarium is the walk through the underwater tunnel. You can see a variety of colorful fish and even sharks swim all around you. You can also see other marine animals like manatees.
However, this is much more than an aquarium. The aquarium has a natural rainforest and has several land animals and exotic birds. You can see monkeys, sloths, jaguars, flamingos, and crocodiles.
Feed the giraffes at the Dallas Zoo
The Dallas Zoo is another great attraction for kids in the city. The vast zoo is located on a 106-acre campus and is the oldest as well as largest zoo in Texas. It has lots of animals that are well taken care of.
Expect to see gorillas, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs, penguins, flamingos, and more in their natural environments. They also have a kid’s play area and a splash pad. Families can easily spend half a day at the zoo.
Enjoy the beautiful Dallas Arboretum & Botanical Garden
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a 66-acre natural paradise located on the shores of White Rock Lake. The garden has several thousand species of trees, shrubs, and herbs, and the grounds are beautifully maintained. Visiting the garden is an amazing experience for the entire family.
The garden looks stunning year-round. Around Christmas, they have the Holiday at the Arboretum event where you can enjoy Christmas trees, lights, and other holiday attractions. In the spring, the garden is a paradise of tulips, roses, azaleas, and rhododendrons. In the fall, you will find tens of thousands of pumpkins creating one of the largest pumpkin patches in Texas. This is one of the best places to visit in fall in Texas.
Go kayaking at White Rock Lake
If you are tired of the city’s urban attractions and museums then spend a tranquil day in nature at White Rock Lake. Hiking and biking trails go around the lake and are perfect to explore the surroundings. The main loop around the lake is a little over 9 miles long.
Other amenities include picnic tables and restrooms. The lake is also a good place to go fishing. Other activities on the lake include sailing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. Birding around the lake is also excellent.
Attend the Texas State Fair at Fair Park
Fair Park in Dallas is home to the Texas State Fair. We always love visiting the State Fair in the summer. On a visit, you can see Big Tex. This 55 ft tall statue welcomes visitors and has become the cultural icon of Texas.
The fair is an amazing way to spend time with the family. There are a variety of rides for the kids and lots of fried food like corn dogs, fried Oreos, funnel cakes and turkey legs.
Fair Park itself is full of history. The historic buildings here were built for the Texas Centennial Exposition held in 1936. They have a beautiful Art Deco architecture. Fair Park and its buildings is one of the best places to photograph in Dallas.
Be awed by airplanes at the Frontiers of Flight Museum
Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas is a must for aviation enthusiasts. You can spend a quick hour here looking at various aircraft and understanding aviation history.
The aerospace museum has a vast collection of photographs, artifacts, and planes from the World War II era. Other special attractions include the Apollo 7 command module, a model of Leonardo da Vinci’s parachute design, and missiles.
See the blacksmith’s house at Dallas Heritage Village
Dallas Heritage Village located in the Old City Park is a living history museum in the historic Cedars neighborhood. The recreated village has a good collection of significant historic buildings complete with period furnishings. The buildings represent the late half of the 19th century.
This open-air museum is a nice educational experience for families. You can walk through the buildings like old houses, school rooms, hotels, and a church. You can also see volunteers dressed up as musicians, artists, and blacksmiths back in the day.
Take a picture of the eyeball sculpture
The eyeball sculpture is definitely one of the more weird and quirky things to do in Dallas. This 30-ft tall fiberglass sculpture is located on private grounds of the luxurious Joule Hotel but can be easily seen from the street. The giant eyeball is surprisingly lifelike.
The sculpture was created by artist Tony Tasset to display temporarily in Chicago but since then has found a home in the hotel’s private sculpture garden. To take close-up photos of the ‘Eye’ you need to bring a zoom camera as you cannot get close to the sculpture.
Take a photo with the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge is one of the striking landmarks of the Dallas skyline. The bridge spans the Trinity River.
Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge has distinctive features such as long sweeping curves and the white color. The cable-stayed bridge looks beautiful when lit up at night.
Visitors can take excellent photos of the bridge from Trinity Overlook Park or the pedestrian Ronald Kirk Bridge.
See the 9/11 exhibit at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Located in University Park near Dallas, you will find the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The presidential library and museum is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University.
Two of the main highlights of the museum are the 9/11 exhibit and the Oval Office replica. The collection includes many other historical artifacts and documents that narrate the life and work of President George W. Bush.
Enjoy the roller coasters at Six Flags Over Texas
Close to Dallas in Arlington, you will find the original Six Flags over Texas theme park. The park has a vast number of thrilling rides and roller coasters of every kind including wooden roller coasters and standing roller coasters.
They also have kiddie roller coasters for preschoolers. Visiting Six Flags and sitting on all the rides is a memorable experience. They also have seasonal events such as holiday light shows and Halloween fright fests.
We hope you liked our post on the best things to do in Dallas. Did we miss any popular attractions in this dynamic Texan city? Please let us know in the comments.