PeaceJoyAustin

Cheap, free, and local-endorsed things to do in beautiful places

Dallas

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  • Sprawling suburban region centered around major cities Dallas and Fort Worth
  • Home to the country’s largest urban arts district
  • Fun fact: the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport is larger in area than Manhattan

Metro population: 7.1 million (#4 in the U.S.)

When To Visit: Year-round

Climate: Mostly sunny with some rain year round. Warm winter and hot spring, summer, and fall.

Dallas is one of the country’s most underrated cities – most people are unaware that is so large and has so many fun and unique tourist destinations. Most of the city’s landmarks are located in or near the highly walkable Downtown area; a journey over to its sister city Fort Worth is worth it to get a taste of Texas’ Wild West culture.

Photo: Giant Eyeball, Downtown Dallas

Where To Go in Dallas

Downtown Dallas

Chase Tower: Simply check in with the attendant in the lobby and take an elevator up to the 40th floor pavilion of this office building for an epic view of the Dallas area. Free. 2200 Ross Avenue, Downtown. (214) 777-5300

City Hall: There’s not much to see inside, but walk to the north end of Dallas City Hall to see a breathtaking view of the Downtown skyline with a large reflecting pool in the foreground. Free. 1500 Marilla Street, Downtown. (214) 670-3111

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Dallas skyline from City Hall

The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe: This stunning church dating back to 1898 serves the largest cathedral congregation in the country with over 25,000 households! Outside of services, it is open to the public. Free. 2212 Ross Avenue, Downtown. (214) 871-1362

Klyde Warren Park: This forward-thinking park with walk-in fountains and peaceful grassy areas was built above a freeway in 2012 and has served as the inspiration for similar parks around the world. Free. 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Downtown. (214) 716-4500

Perot Museum of Nature and Science: Even if you don’t want to pay the admission fee, a walk around the exterior of this stunning modern building and its gardens is worth it. $18 admission. 2201 North Field Street, Victory Park. (214) 428-5555

McKinney Avenue Trolley: This adorable old-school trolley runs from Downtown to Uptown. There are stops throughout the area, mostly along its namesake avenue. Free, operates 365 days a year. 3153 Oak Grove Avenue.

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge: Park on the west side of this modern, aesthetically pleasing bridge which was just built in 2012. You can get a nice view of the MHH Bridge and the Downtown Dallas skyline from the park on the west side or from a walk across the pedestrian-friendly Ronald Kirk Bridge just a few blocks away. Free. 3011 Gulden Lane, Trinity Groves.

Dallas Museum of Art: Located in the largest arts district in the U.S., this large museum has rotating exhibits and a peaceful sculpture garden. Fun fact: Dallas is the largest American city with a free art museum. Free. 1717 North Harwood Street, Arts District. (214) 922-1200

Founders Plaza and West End: Founders Plaza is an open space in the center of the West End, Dallas’ historic district which has beautiful old-school buildings dating back to the 19th century. Be sure to walk by the Old Red Courthouse, John Neely Bryan Cabin, and Kennedy Memorial while in the area. Free (unless you want to go inside a museum). 600 Elm Street, West End.

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Old Red Courthouse

Reunion Tower: Dallas’ most iconic building, this 561 foot observation tower known as “The Ball” has incredible views of the city at day and night. $17 admission. 300 Reunion Boulevard, Downtown. (214) 712-7040

Pioneer Plaza: Head to this park to see a huge, jaw-dropping art installation that showcases dozens upon dozens of herding cattle. Free. 1428 Young Street, Downtown. (214) 953-1184

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Pioneer Plaza

Fountain Place: Take a stroll by this modern kite-shaped 60-story skyscraper complemented by beautiful gardens and fountains. Free. 1445 Ross Avenue, Downtown. (214) 855-7766

Thanksgiving Square and Dallas Pedestrian Network: Thanksgiving Square is a green area with great views of the surrounding skyscrapers. From the east end of the park, you can access the city’s Pedestrian Network, a 36 block series of underground tunnels which connect many of Downtown’s buildings and were built to help locals beat the heat. Free. 1627 Pacific Avenue, Downtown. (214) 969-1977

Pegasus Plaza: A small green space with fountains surrounded by beautiful skyscrapers. Free. 1500 Main Street, Downtown.

Belo Garden Park: A two acre park in the heart of Downtown with interactive play fountains, native plants, and lovely flowers. Free. 1014 Main Street, Downtown. (214) 744-1270

Greater Dallas

Lakeside Park: A tranquil 14 acre park with great creekside walking paths famous for its super cute teddy bear sculptures. Free. 4601 Lakeside Drive, Highland Park.

Dragon Park: This charming tiny park is filled with unique sculptures and plants. Free. 3520 Cedar Springs Road, Oak Lawn.

Freedman’s Cemetery: A memorial to former slaves who were buried in this area which was the 19th century center of the city’s black population. A quiet spot, it features eye-opening plaques and walking paths. Free. 2601 Lemmon Avenue, Uptown.

UT Southwestern Bird Sanctuary: This forested sanctuary on the UT Southwestern campus spans four acres and is home to hundreds of beautiful nesting birds. 2000 Inwood Road, Stemmons Corridor.

Katy Trail: This 3.5 mile long pedestrian and cycling path set amidst trees and greenery follows the path of an abandoned railroad track and is a popular workout spot for locals. Free. 3377 Blackbird Street, Uptown.

Deep Ellum: This up-and-coming area is a bustling center of arts and entertainment and has plenty of unique eats, fun shops, and exciting bars. 2702 Main Street.

Bishop Arts District: You’ll find many murals, quaint shops, fun galleries, and good eats in this revitalized area with a small-town feel. Free. 419 North Bishop Avenue, Oak Cliff.

White Rock Lake: A large urban lake surrounded by a peaceful park, walking trails, and picnic areas. Go for a stroll or rent a kayak. Free. 8300 Garland Road, Lakewood.

Piedmont Ridge Overlook: A 1.3 mile round trip trail takes you to this excellent view of the Great Trinity Forest and Greater Dallas. If you’re lucky, you’ll see wildflowers in spring and fall foliage in autumn. Free. 1300 Jim Miller Road, Piedmont Addition.

Fort Worth

Fort Worth Water Gardens: This unique park in Downtown Fort Worth features several stunning fountains, some of which you can climb into. Free. 1502 Commerce Street, Fort Worth. (817) 392-7111

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Fort Worth Water Gardens

Fort Worth Stockyards: Go back in time to North Texas’ Wild West days at this popular area with real live Texas longhorns, shops, and food. Free. 130 East Exchange Avenue, Fort Worth. (817) 624-4741

Airfield Falls: A 0.9 mile walk takes you to this tranquil multi-level waterfall situated amidst stones and trees. Free. 200 Pumphrey Drive, Fort Worth.

What To Eat in Dallas

Dallas restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.

Cosmic Cafe: This colorful Indian vegetarian joint has on-site yoga classes and creative dishes influenced by the Indian subcontinent and other cuisines. 2912 Oak Lawn Avenue, Oak Lawn. (214) 521-6157

Babbs Brothers BBQ: Traditional home-style Southern BBQ is on the menu at this large eatery with red tablecloth picnic tables and a delicious selection of sides. Frequent live music. 3015 Gulden Lane, #105, Trinity Groves. (214) 745-2224

Keller’s: This Dallas institution is a drive-in that also has indoor seating. You’ll find traditional burger joint eats at low prices. 6537 Northwest Highway, Northeast Dallas. (214) 368-1209

Truck Yard: A collection of rotating food trucks with picnic table seating and a down-home vibe, this popular space also has a large beer garden. 5624 Sears Street, Knox/Henderson. (469) 500-0139

Spiral Diner: You’ll love this 100% vegan take on Southern soul food with hearty bowls, scrambles, and sandwiches. They even have a delicious vegan bakery.  1101 North Beckley Avenue, Oak Cliff. (214) 948-4747

Pecan Lodge: This restaurant has been named one of the Top 4 BBQ joints in the world! The very reasonable prices attract crowds so expect to wait in line unless you show up early. 2702 Main Street, Deep Ellum. (214) 748-8900

Dallas Nightlife

Dallas bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city  B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time  C) Beautiful decor or view

HG Supply Company: This multi-level venue that attracts big crowds has a gigantic rooftop bar with distant views of the Downtown skyline. There’s a great $5 happy hour food menu. 2008 Greenville Avenue, Greenville. (469) 334-0895

Grapevine Bar: This large dive bar is a great mix of cozy and crazy – with colorful decor, a rooftop deck with a great view of Dallas, and lots of games – even a basketball court! 3092 Maple Avenue, Oak Lawn. (214) 522-8466

Truth and Alibi: Check this speakeasy’s Facebook page for the weekly password to enter through a candy shop into the underground bar. Purple lighting and shapely chandeliers make for a unique vibe. 2618 Elm Street, Deep Ellum. (469) 417-9660

SODA Bar: One of the best views of the Dallas skyline can be enjoyed from this rooftop bar atop the Nylo Hotel with a small but stunning infinity pool and a $5 happy hour. 1325 South Lamar Street, South Dallas. (214) 421-1080

Round-Up Saloon: This cowboy-themed bar is exactly what you’d expect a Dallas gay bar to be – a classic saloon vibe with a big city crowd. There’s also a large dancefloor – with a mix of country and popular music. 3912 Cedar Springs Road, Oak Lawn. (214) 522-9611

Nearby Side Trips from Dallas

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Mt. Bonnell in Austin

Austin: “Keep Austin Weird” is this liberal haven’s unofficial motto. The city 3 hours south of Dallas has some of the country’s best live music and tons of natural beauty to explore. Read more.

San Antonio: You’ll have to go beyond the iconic Alamo and RiverWalk to experience the true character of this city 4 hours to the south which has been heavily influenced by its large Latino(a) population. Read more.

Houston: One of the country’s largest cities 3.5 hours to the south, Houston’s growth has been accelerated by its position as a hub of the country’s oil industry, but its diverse population is shaping it into a more cosmopolitan city. Read more.

 

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