Cosmopolitan, unapologetically glamorous, and chock-full of art, culture, and sports galore, Dallas has its own thing goin’ on. Here’s what to do and see if you only have 48 hours to experience it all.
Day One: Morning
9 a.m.: Start your day off right with classic breakfast comfort food at Lucky’s Cafe, a lively Oak Lawn diner that’s been in business for over 30 years. Do yourself a favor and order the Banana Cognac Pancakes, a decadent pile of buttermilk goodness topped with roasted, cognac bananas and plenty of maple syrup. Walk off your food coma and head over to Uptown Station, where you’ll catch the McKinney Avenue Trolley and ride it downtown to Klyde Warren Park. (The experience of riding the Trolley, a fleet of historic streetcars that runs on a hop-on, hop-off route, is a must-do.)
10 a.m.: Perched atop the freeway between St. Paul and Pearl streets, smack-dab between Uptown and Downtown, Klyde Warren Park is where green-seeking urbanites go to get their fix. This sprawling, 5.2-acre park has much to offer visitors, including lush swaths of lawn, areas for croquet and chess, a dog park, a children’s park, and free classes daily (like yoga, tai chi, Zumba, etc.), plus two restaurants and a rotating selection of food trucks.
Noon: After spending some time in the park go on a walking tour of the Dallas Arts District; spread over 20 square blocks, this walkable district features an array of world-class museums and collections. The Dallas Museum of Art holds more than 22,000 works by renowned artists like Pollock, Rothko, O’Keeffe, and, best of all, general admission is always free. Conveniently located across the street is the Nasher Sculpture Center, home to the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, one of the most incredible collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. The Crow Museum of Asian Art is one of just a handful of museums in the country that’s dedicated solely to Asian art and culture.
Day One: Afternoon
1:30 p.m.: Fill your stomach and fortify your soul at Ellen’s, a beloved West End eatery serving up plates of hearty Southern faves like chicken fried steak, cheesy grits, biscuits and gravy, and meatloaf. Come hungry; the portions here are Texas-sized. After your meal head to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which examines the life, assassination, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. You don’t have to be a history nerd to appreciate this (fascinating, chilling) museum, located in the former Texas School Book Depository, the spot where evidence of a sniper (Lee Harvey Oswald) was found following JFK’s assassination. Get an audio guide to hear all the details.
Day One: Evening
6 p.m.: The 560-foot-high Reunion Tower offers panoramic views of the city’s swanky skyline and suburban sprawl; enjoy pre-dinner drinks at either Cloud Nine or Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty. You can buy tickets to the top of the tower in advance online. After enjoying the view, head back down and treat yourself to dinner at Bullion, where over-the-top luxury is the name of the game. The food here is classic Northern French, with staples like canard a l’orange, côtes de boeuf (for two), and pate en croute.
8 p.m.: Grab post-dinner cocktails at Midnight Rambler, arguably the best bar in Dallas, located in the Joule Hotel. Husband-and-wife duo Chad Solomon and Christy Pope are responsible for some of the cleverest drink concoctions in town, including the must-get Savory Hunter, made with lemongrass and makrut leaf gin, lime, coconut, cilantro, and Thai chile.
Day Two: Morning
9 a.m.: Wake up and eat breakfast at The Heights, an unassuming little Lakewood neighborhood cafe—linger over your cortado made with Full City Rooster beans and your tasty eggs and rosemary potato hash.
10 a.m.: Need a dose of nature after your action-packed day downtown? White Rock Lake Park is the perfect spot to get away from the chaos and traffic. There’s so much to do here, and the park is massive—in fact, it’s more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park—whether you want to fish, kayak, paddleboard, hike, ride bikes, or have a picnic, there’s a little something for everyone to enjoy at White Rock Lake.
Noon: Stop by Mia’s Tex-Mex for lunch, one of the best and busiest Tex-Mex joints in town. This cozy, friendly establishment has all the essentials: brisket tacos, chiles rellenos, and chimichangas, just to name a few.
Day Two: Afternoon
1:30 p.m.: Dallas’s Bishop Arts District, in the heart of Oak Cliff, is a great place to explore on foot; it’s one of the most walkable areas in the city. There are over 60 independent shops, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries here., perfect for boutique hopping. Stop by The Wild Detectives (an indie bookstore where you can sip craft brews while you peruse books), do some cider taste-testing at Bishop Cider Company, and have a slice of pie at Emporium Pies.
Day Two: Evening
6 p.m.: You can’t leave town without dining at Pecan Lodge. What started as a tiny stall at the Dallas Farmers Market has since become an iconic culinary powerhouse that serves the best barbecue in the city. Be prepared to wait in line, especially if it’s a weekend; your efforts will be well worth it.
8 p.m.: End the night in Deep Ellum, East Dallas’s live music hub. This vibrant, graffiti-splashed district—with its homegrown clubs and popular venues like Tree’s, Adair’s Saloon, and The Bomb Factory—is the perfect place to discover your new favorite local band. (For a list of upcoming shows, check out the online calendar.)