Your Trip to Dallas: The Complete Guide

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Courtesy of Visit Dallas / Dibrova

There's more to Dallas than JR. This Texas boomtown has transformed into a thriving metropolitan city that is slowly becoming a destination in its own right. If you've never considered Dallas as a leisure spot, it's time to reconsider—you're sure to be surprised by the variety of outdoor activities, worldly cuisine, Fifth Avenue-worthy shopping, and award-winning arts scene.

Thanks to a sprawling international airport, an abundance of luxurious and welcoming hotels, and activities for visitors young and old, there's never been a better time to book a ticket to the Big D.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit: Fall is the best time to visit Dallas. Summertime heat has subsided, football season is in full swing, and Texas State Fair, one of the largest in the country, is held.

Language: You'll mostly hear English, but the city's growing Latino influence means that Spanish is common, too. Dallas also has large pockets of Vietnamese and Chinese speakers.

Currency: U.S. dollar

Getting Around: You'll need a car—while public transit has improved in recent years, the Metroplex is sprawling. Pockets of downtown are serviced by a quaint trolley line, while North Dallas is connected to downtown by DART, Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Travel Tip: Did we mention Dallas is big? Plan your days wisely around specific neighborhoods or parts of town; otherwise, you'll spend time sitting in traffic instead of exploring.

Things to Do

Whether you're a football fan or foodie, a shopaholic or a sage, Dallas has something for you. The city is home to world-class museums (don't miss Southern Methodist University's Meadows Museum, home to the largest Spanish art collection outside of Spain), department stores (it's the birthplace of Neiman Marcus, after all), and arguably, Tex-Mex. Like to get outdoors? Go horseback riding along the Trinity River or run the trails around White Rock Lake.

  • Go catch a show at Granada Theater. Originally a cinema, the 1940s venue now hosts the top touring acts when they pass through the Big D.
  • The Dallas Museum of Art became the first museum in the country to offer free admission and free membership. The collection includes by Rothko, Monet, Pollock, and other artistic visionaries.
  • While many think of barbecue when they think of Texas, few foods are more symbolic of Dallas than fajitas and frozen margaritas. Try the former at El Fenix, a Tex-Mex stalwart, and the latter at Mi Cocina.

    Of course, there's no shortage of things to do in this worldly city, whether you're with kids or traveling on a budget.

    What to Eat and Drink

    Befitting of a city its size, Dallas' culinary scene goes well beyond the Tex-Mex and barbecue mentioned above. While you'd be remiss to skip margaritas, brisket, or enchiladas on your visit, focusing solely on those foods mean you'd miss out on the other cuisines the city excels at. From Vietnamese to Italian, there's truly a restaurant in Dallas for every taste—literally.

    Don't forget about beverages, either. While the summertime heat can make it tempting to just crack open a cold one, the craft cocktail and wine scene in Dallas is buzzy. Some of the country's best bartenders are slinging drinks in Dallas, riffing on everything from high-end classics to wild and wacky tiki creations. (Of course, if you do need that beer, the Dallas brewery scene has expanded massively in the past decade.)

    Whatever you do, there are some foods you just can't miss in Dallas.

    Where to Stay

    Most visitors to Dallas are coming for business, and thus stay downtown—but it's not a bad idea. Once a ghost town outside of the 9-5 office crowd, downtown is hip and happening. It's home to top museums, great restaurants, and the city's landmark Klyde Warren Park. For old-school luxury, check out The Adolphus, while younger partygoers will love the Joule, a chic hideaway made Insta-famous for its cantilevered pool.

    For a quieter, more suburban feel, check out the Oak Lawn/Turtle Creek area—it's home to the iconic Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the grassy Turtle Creek Park, and a thriving LGBTQ nightlife scene.

    Learn more about the varied neighborhoods of Dallas and check out the best hotels in town.

    Getting There

    Dallas is home to two major airports: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) and Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL). The former is among the largest airports in the country and is served by all major carriers. In addition to connections to smaller cities throughout the Midwest and Southwest, DFW also has abundant flights to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Dallas Love Field is a much smaller, city-owned airport that is primarily served by Southwest Airlines.

    Money-Saving Tips

    • Car rentals are inexpensive in Texas and will prove to be the best way to get around, especially if you're planning on taking a day trip or two.
    • The Texas State Fair is a rite of passage for most Texans, and luckily, it also makes for an inexpensive outing for the entire family. Just don't overload on the fried Twinkies!
    • If you're out barhopping in Uptown, save money on Ubers by taking the McKinney Avenue Trolley instead. It operates 365 days a year and connects some of the city's most popular tourist sites.

      Go beyond this list and check out more free and fun things to do in Dallas!

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