Suggested Itineraries for Visiting Dallas
From incredible art museums to honky tonk haunts, there are an amazing number of things to do in Dallas. Visitors can learn about the JFK assassination at The Sixth Floor Museum or enjoy the historic architecture of the Old Red Courthouse. No matter what your agenda, Dallas will live up to your expectations. Below, we have put together suggested itineraries in various areas of intestest; read them for help in planning your trip to Dallas.
Special Events & Attractions in Dallas
Special Events & Attractions in Dallas
Dallas has a wide range of special events and attractions, from Fort Worth's Stockyards National Historic District to tours of Southfork Ranch, the home featured in TV show Dallas. Here are some suggestions for taking in the must-see attractions in Dallas:
1 day: Visit Dallas's best-known site, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (411 Elm St), housed in the former Texas School Book Depository from which Lee Harvey Oswald took a fatal shot at John F. Kennedy. Exhibits include still photos showing the motorcade's approach to Dealey Plaza.
Nearby is the corner window, the vantage point from which the assassin allegedly shot the president. Today the corner is recreated to look as it did when investigators discovered it, with cardboard boxes used to store schoolbooks pushed to create a hiding place in the southeast corner.
You can't leave the metro area without experiencing some Western culture, so mosey over to Fort Worth's Stockyards National Historic District (121 E Exchange Ave). Do some western shopping, and belly up to the bar at the White Elephant Saloon (106 E Exchange Ave). Then do some boot scootin' at Billy Bob's Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza) and maybe even catch a rodeo at the Cowtown Coliseum (121 E Exchange Ave).
The Stockyards are also home to Riscky's Barbeque (140 E Exchange Ave), founded by a Polish immigrant who worked in the stockyards for $9 a week back in 1911. Joe Riscky went on to start several barbecue restaurants in Fort Worth before returning to the stockyards as an entrepreneur. Today the family carries on the tradition with sliced beef brisket and even barbecued bologna as well as Texas favorites like chicken fried steak and burgers.
Twice a day, at 11:30 am and 4 pm, you can experience the Fort Worth Herd, the world's only daily cattle drive. Cowboys drive the longhorns along the streets of the Stockyards, a must-see event.
2 days: Even if it's not time for the State Fair of Texas, you'll find plenty of reasons to spend a morning in Fair Park (1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd), which includes 277 acres of landscaped acres and cultural facilities, making it the city's largest cultural center.
With a minimum of driving, you can pick a museum to fit your interest. You can view murals, statues, and changing exhibits at the Texas Hall of State (3939 Grand Ave) or more than 375 species of marine, freshwater, and tropical fish and reptiles at the Dallas World Aquarium (1462 First Ave).
Spend an afternoon at Fort Worth's Cultural District, home of the Kimbell Art Museum (3333 Camp Bowie Blvd), considered one of the world's finest small public art museums; the expansive Fort Worth Botanic Gardens (3220 Botanic Garden Blvd) with its peaceful Japanese Garden; and the Fort Worth Zoo (1989 Colonial Parkway), housing both Texas and exotic species.
Break up your afternoon with a lunch of spinach pesto pasta or pecan encrusted chicken at the Botanic Gardens' Garden Restaurant, open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday offering a popular brunch.
3 days: Spend a day concentrating on fun. Depending on the season, opt for a day at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington (intersection of Interstate 30 and Hwy 360 or the Angus Wynne Jr. Fwy) and cool off at the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.
Even if it's not football season, you can still check out the Dallas Cowboys with a guided stadium tour in Irving (soon in a few years to Arlington). Tours of Texas Stadium (2401 E Airport Fwy, Irving) take place on the hour from 10am to 4pm Monday thru Saturday and 11am to 3pm Sunday.
Near the stadium, you'll find Webb's Bar and Grill (2224 E Airport Fwy, Irving). The bar hosts post-game parties but is popular anytime for burgers and home cooking like grilled pork chops.
Of course, an extended visit in the Dallas metro area has to include a stop at Southfork Ranch (3700 Hodge Dr), located about half-hour north of Dallas in Parker. Tours include the "Ewing" house and the "Dallas Legends" exhibit, which has the gun that shot J.R., Lucy's wedding dress, and other props from the popular show.
Arts & Culture in Dallas
Arts & Culture in Dallas
Dallas is truly an art-lovers dream. Check out the suggested itineraries below to help you fit in as many museums as possible.
1 day: The Dallas Art District can easily fill a day (and much more). Begin your day at the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 North Harwood St). Try to avoid the first Tuesday of the month when admission is free and crowds can be fierce. Some of the museum's best-known works include Frederic Church's "The Icebergs" and sculptor James Earl Fasier's "End of the Trail."
When it's time for a break, grab a curried chicken wrap at the casual (and family-friendly) Atrium Cafe or opt for the trendsetting Mobil Three-Star Seventeen Seventeen Restaurant, known for such dishes as tempura shrimp and beef tenderloin.
Near the Dallas Museum of Art, stroll to the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora St), the world's first museum focusing on modern and contemporary sculpture, housed both indoors and out.
More sculpture can be seen at the Trammell Crow European Sculpture Garden (2010 Flora St), part of the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, showcasing a permanent collection from China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia, and the country's largest collection of jade.
2 days: Today, branch out to Fort Worth's Cultural Center, home to three art museums as well as the city's largest concentration of art galleries.
Start your visit at the Kimbell Art Museum (3333 Camp Bowie Blvd), known not only for its survey collection but also for its modern building. Along with top names like Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Picasso, you'll find one of the largest collections of Asian art in the Southwest.
Next, check out the collection at the Amon Carter Museum (7501 Camp Bowie Blvd), featuring a collection of 19th- and 20th-century American art, sections devoted to Western artists Russell and Remington, and works by Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins.
Don't miss the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (3200 Darnell St, Fort Worth), the oldest art museum in Texas. Founded in 1892, it houses a collection of works by Picasso, Pollock, Lichtenstein, and others. At the museum, grab some lunch at Cafe Modern, known for its seasonal menu with dishes like jerk pork tenderloin and King Ranch chicken casserole.
Before you leave the Cultural District, save time to visit the area's art galleries. Both Texas artists and nationally known names are represented at William Campbell Contemporary Art Gallery (4935 Byers Ave) or visit the Galerie Kornye West (1601 Clover Lane), specializing in 19th- and 20th-century fine art.
Downtown Fort Worth holds another local treasure: the Sid Richardson Collection of Western Art (309 Main St). After closing for a year for a renovation and expansion, the Sundance Square museum continues to show the works of Frederic Remington and Charles Russell and pieces by several other Western artists.
3 days: Begin at the quiet Meadows Museum (5900 Bishop Blvd), located on oak-shaded streets on the campus of Southwest Methodist University. Madrid's Prado inspired the interior of this facility, and it highlights Spanish art, beginning with medieval and Renaissance paintings and continuing through Picasso.
From the campus, head to the art galleries of Uptown Dallas (area bounded by US 75 or Central Expressway, Blackburn St, Turtle Creek Blvd, and Woodall Rodgers Fwy). Art and antiques are the focal point of many galleries, including Gallery 2520 (2520 Fairmount St), showcasing the work of Dallas contemporary artists, and David Dike Fine Art (2613 Fairmount St), tempting serious shoppers with late 19th-century and early 20th-century European and American oil paintings.
You can stop for dinner at the Mobil Three-Star Capital Grille (500 Crescent Ct). Located in the Crescent Shops and Galleries, the elegant restaurant is known for its dry-aged steaks and seafood, including fresh lobster. A top choice is the dry-aged sirloin with caramelized shallots.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Architecture & Landmarks in Dallas
From Art Deco delights to Spanish-style treasures, you'll find plenty of must-see architecture and landmarks in Dallas. The following itineraries highlight some of the best spots.
1 day: The early morning hours are a good time to start a visit at Fair Park (1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd), the National Historic landmark that's chock full of Art Deco allure. Built to host the 1936 Texas Centennial Exhibition and now home to the State Fair of Texas in late September and October, many of the park's buildings showcase an Art Deco style.
One of the most notable buildings is the Hall of State (3939 Grand Ave). When it was built, it was the most expensive building per square foot ever constructed in Texas. Look for the bas relief carvings portraying soldiers, as well as the dramatic entrance.
While you're in downtown Dallas, visit the I.M. Pei-designed Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center (2301 Flora St). The notable building offers free tours on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 1 pm. Pei described the building as a combination of overlapping geometric forms. It starts with a rectangle set at an angle within a square and is enveloped by segments of circles.
As the day draws to a close, catch an elevator up Reunion Tower (300 Reunion Blvd East) for a birds-eye view of the metro area and either a drink at the Dome cocktail lounge or an elegant dinner at Antares, rotating one revolution every 55 minutes.
2 days: Western history stands side by side with modern history in Fort Worth. Start your visit at the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District (121 E Exchange Ave). Here a symbol of the stockyards (and of Fort Worth) is the Livestock Exchange Building (131 East Exchange Ave), constructed in 1902 and for decades was used as offices of the stockyards. The Swift and Armour plants once covered acres here, shipping beef around the country. Today the Spanish-style building is used for offices and is also home to the small Stockyards Museum, tracing the history of the district.
Wander among the historic streets of the district, making a stop at the Mobil Two-Star Stockyards Hotel (109 E Exchange Ave), celebrating nearly a century in Fort Worth and boasting a Western atmosphere. Saddle up -- literally -- on a hotel barstool topped with a saddle, or mosey over to the city's best known Mexican restaurant, Joe T. Garcia's, known to locals as Joe T's (2201 N Commerce St), located just a few blocks away and known for its frosty margaritas and enchiladas.
Further downtown, history and culture meet in the Sundance Square (area southwest of N Main St between Belnap and 6th sts), named for frequent visitor the Sundance Kid (partner of Butch Cassidy). You can't miss the Jett Building (400 Main St), constructed in 1907, which boasts an enormous Chisholm Trail mural by Richard portraying the Fort Worth stretch of the Chisholm Trail cattle drives.
Sundance Square is also home to one of the city's architectural gems, the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall (525 Commerce St). Completed in 1998 and designed by David M. Schwarz, the massive concert hall encompasses an entire city block. At the entrance to the hall, you'll see two 48-foot-tall limestone angels sculpted by Marton Varo. The artwork has become a symbol of the region's growing cultural offerings.
3 days: Near Fair Park you'll find Old City Park, a reminder that, for all its modern high-rises, Dallas is deeply rooted in history. Take a look back at the city's early days at the Old City Park Museum (1717 Gano St). The 13-acre park/museum, located just south of downtown, is filled with restored buildings, including a working farm that dates as far back as 1840. Costumed docents carry on chores and offer a peek back to the city's early days.
In downtown Dallas, the Old Red Courthouse (100 S Houston St), is presently under renovation, bringing the landmark back to its historic look. The renovated building will be home to the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History & Culture, completing a project begun in 2001. The courthouse is located downtown on a block formed by Houston Street, Main Street, Commerce Street, and the JFK Memorial Plaza.
Further east on Commerce Street, you can end your day at the Mobil Four-Star Adolphus Hotel (1321 Commerce St). The antique-filled 1912 hotel contains an eclectic mix of treasures ranging from early Flemish tapestries to a Victorian Steinway (once owned by the Guggenheims, no less). Dining at the hotel's Mobil Four-Star French Room Restaurant showcases both culinary and architectural masterpieces, including fresco-covered ceilings and hand-blown chandeliers.
Shopping in Dallas
Be sure to wear your most comfy cowboy boots while shopping in Dallas -- you'll have lots of ground to cover. The suggested itineraries below will help narrow down the field.
1 day: There's no better place to start a Dallas shopping excursion than the iconic Neiman Marcus store (1618 Main St). The posh store has a retro feel and is oh-so elegant a place to put on your best duds (and diamonds) and shop for the latest designer looks.
When it's time for lunch, the in-place to go is the store's Zodiac, where meals begin with the Neiman Marcus tradition of hot chicken consomme, popovers, and strawberry butter. Reservations are suggested.
After lunch, it's time to hit the mall with a start at the always-elegant Highland Park Village (Mockingbird Ln and Preston Rd). Valet parking is complimentary, all the better to free up your time for perusing the latest scarves from Hermes or must-have dinnerware at Williams-Sonoma.
Save some time (and money) for one more mall stop, though: NorthPark Center (8687 N Central Expressway) is the state's largest and a pleasant visitor experience even for non-shoppers. Watch for the mall's trademark sculpture displays, which have featured names from Andy Warhol to Frank Stella. Shoppers have another chance to visit a Neiman Marcus as well as international names like Burberry and David Yurman. If all this shopping leaves you tired, pop in one of the spas at Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom.
2 days: Western shopping is the name of the game in downtown Fort Worth, home to Fincher's White Front Western Wear (115 E Exchange Ave in the Stockyards District). Since 1902, this shop has outfitted cowboys with everything from hats to belt buckles.
Also in the Stockyards District, you can take home boots, or even a saddle, over at ML Boots and Saddlery (2455 N Main St). Boots range as far as ostrich and stingray and are accompanied by western wear that's designed for everything from cocktail parties to calf roping.
While you're on the western side of the metro area, stop by Grapevine Mills (3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine). The largest value retail and entertainment mall in the Southwest includes 15 anchor stores, more than 200 specialty shops, and the AMC Grapevine Mills 30 Theatres.
After your shopping day is done, head to downtown Grapevine's Main Street Blues Room (814 S Main St) to celebrate your shopping success with a grilled ribeye topped with bacon molasses butter or sauteed striped bass with a tomato-pecan relish, all accompanied by live jazz or blues.
3 days: Bargain hunters won't want to miss Grand Prairie's Traders Village (2602 Mayfield Rd), a 3,500-vendor flea market held every Saturday and Sunday. The state's largest flea market includes everything from comic books to ceramics, jewelry to junk.
A market atmosphere also prevails at the Dallas Farmers Market (1010 South Pearl St). Open-air sheds feature everything from produce to potted plants, plus the International Market showcases the work of artisans from around the United States and Mexico. Saturday shoppers can also take part in a cooking class featuring a local chef.
Bargain hunters shouldn't miss the Dallas-based Half Price Books (5915 E Northwest Hwy), which started in 1972 in a converted Laundromat and has now grown to multiple stores, but this one is the flagship store.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Nightlife & Entertainment in Dallas
While a honky tonk bar may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Dallas nightlife, there are dozens of other options to suit all desires. Check out the itineraries below for some of the best of the best.
1 day: If nightlife in the Dallas metro area means boot-scootin' to you, two big names stand out: Gilley's Dallas and Fort Worth's Billy Bob's Texas. Travelers can fulfill their "Urban Cowboy" fantasies every Friday and Saturday night on the 10,000-square-foot dance floor at Gilley's Dallas (1135 South Lamar), a honky tonk heaven that rose like a phoenix from the ashes of the original Pasadena, Texas, structure, which was destroyed in a fire in 1989. Courageous cowpokes can test their mettle on "El Toro," the actual mechanical bull that John Travolta and Debra Winger rode into cinematic history, or enjoy performances from top country and western, rock, and Tejano recording artists.
Over on the western side of the area, get a feel for the Old West at Los Vaqueros Restaurant (2629 N Main St), which serves such Mexican food staples as chimichangas, Steak Ranchera, and Tacos Al Carbon in a renovated 1915 packinghouse.
After eating, burn off those calories on the dance floor at nearby Billy Bob's Texas (2520 Rodeo Plaza), a 127,000-square-foot Fort Worth wonderland dubbed "The World's Largest Honky Tonk." Here 2,000-pound bucking bulls meet their match in pro bull riding exhibitions, top country crooners take to the stage, and the stomp of cowboy boots sound like a stampede on the dance floor of this former open-air barn.
2 days: In days gone by, the haunting melodies of such blues legends as Blind Lemon Jefferson and "T-Bone" Walker echoed throughout the streets of the Deep Ellum District, and today their spirits seem to linger at the club that pays homage to the area's rich musical heritage, Deep Ellum Blues (2612 Main St).
Follow the bohemian beat to Art Bar (2803 Main St), which offers a feast for the eyes to patrons who peruse the ever-changing displays of artwork on the walls as local musicians play an eclectic mix of styles and poets bear their souls at an open mike.
Nearby, the Gypsy Tea Room (2548 Elm St) showcases both local talent and touring national acts.
Sample South of the border and Tex-Mex treats at the Mobil Two-Star Monica's Aca y Alla (2914 Main St), where plates of cheese enchiladas smothered in chili con carne, onions and cheese, or shrimp fajitas served with side orders of rice and pinto beans, are ordered by patrons who are serenaded by a Latin jazz band each weekend.
3 days: Dia de los Muertos figurines and colorful Talavera dinnerware adorn the shelves at La Mariposa (2813 North Henderson Ave), just one of the myriad specialty stores and antique shops the dot the Knox-Henderson District.
At the end of the shopping day, drink a toast to your purchasing prowess at the Barley House (5612 Yale Blvd), a bar and restaurant where beer is revered every night of the week, or order a draft of imported Belgium beer to wash down the award-winning pub grub at the Old Monk (2847 North Henderson Ave).
For an authentic taste of the Lone State, the Mobil Two-Star Primo's Bar & Grille (3309 McKinney Ave) tempts the tastebuds with such Tex-Mex treats as chalupas, chimichangas, and chile relleno, all prepared from recipes held dear by the two cousins who operate the Uptown eatery. Continue the celebration of Latin culture at Club Babalu (2910 McKinney Ave), a nighttime hot spot that pulsates with the rhythms of salsa, merengue, and rock en espanol.
Following a day seriously contemplating the masterpieces displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art, have your funny bone tickled at Ad-Libs Improvisational Comedy Theater (2613 Ross Ave), located in the Arts District.
1-, 2-, and 3-Day Suggested Itineraries for Relaxing & Unwinding in Dallas
Hang up your cowboy boots and take a moment to unwind in Dallas. Here are some suggestions:
1 day: Start your day with a lazy stroll along the banks of White Rock Lake (8200 Garland Rd), have a picnic on the lakeshores, and enjoy some people- or bird-watching.
Stroll to the Dallas Arboretum (8525 Garland Rd) for an afternoon of flower gazing in one of the country's foremost floral gardens, and drop by the arboretum's 1.8-acre formal "A Woman's Garden," notable for its reflecting pool and view beyond to White Rock Lake.
Wrap up your lazy day with a massage at the Mobil Three-Star Spa at Crescent Court (400 Crescent Ct), followed by a luxurious Crescent Herbal Bath, soaking in botanicals like wildflower to ease your aching muscles and pine to invigorate you once again.
2 days: Head to the western portion of the metro area for a round of golf at the Grapevine Golf Course (3800 Fairway Dr), designed by Byron Nelson, or the Dallas Cowboys Golf Club (1600 Fairway Dr), the course of the football franchise known as America's Team.
Save the afternoon for wine tasting; you can sample the fruit of the Texas plains at downtown wineries like Su Vino Winery (120 South Main St) or nearby at Delaney Vineyards (2000 Champagne Blvd). If you're flying home that afternoon, you're covered as well -- one of Grapevine's wineries has locations in DFW International Airport. Look for La Bodega Winery and Tasting Room in Terminal A and D at the airport.
During the warm weather months, end your day with an evening cruise on Grapevine Lake (110 Fairway Dr) aboard the open-air Ducks, departing from Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center.
3 days: Let someone else take the wheel for a while: hop the M-Line Trolley and ride uptown for a leisurely breakfast or brunch at the Mobil Two-Star BreadWinners Restaurant (3301 McKinney Ave) with favorites like breakfast tacos and stuffed croissants.
You can window-shop at the galleries of Uptown or stroll to the Dallas Museum of Art for some serious eye candy. End the afternoon with a slow carriage ride at West End Historic District, admiring the redbrick buildings that date back to Dallas's early days. Every night, carriages pick up along Market Street by the old Marketplace; the cost is $35 for up to four passengers.
Dallas, or the Big D, may be big on the obvious "Texas things" like football, honky tonk, and barbecue, but this metropolitan city is also big on arts, architecture, and international cuisine. Come and experience Dallas -- you'll see that it's also big on fun.
©Publications International, Ltd.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
John Bigley are the authors of Texas Barbecue, Day Trips from Austin, and several other guides to the Lone Star State. The husband-wife travel-writing team edits TexasTripper.com Travel Guide and Lovetripper.com Romantic Travel Guide from its Texas home and office.