Dallas boasts a unique cultural identity that sets it apart from other Texan cities. Undeniably flashy and glitzy, with deep roots in global trade and business, the city certainly occupies a big part of the country’s cultural imagination—but unlike the hit TV show "Dallas" would have you believe, it’s not all oil barons and socialites with sky-high hair here (though, let’s be honest, there’s some of that). Dallas is also home to a world-class arts scene, a slew of lush urban green spaces, iconic cultural attractions, and pockets of walkable, cool neighborhoods dense with hip eateries, breweries, and shops. If you’re on the hunt for the all-time best things to do in Dallas, look no further than this list.
Explore the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art is home to over 24,000 diverse works that span 5,000 years of history, representing a range of global cultures. Their permanent global collection includes works by Pollock, Manet, Rothko, O’Keeffe, Cezanne, Monet, and Van Gogh. There are also weekly lectures, literary events, dramatic and dance presentations, concerts, and more. Best of all? General admission is free.
Walk Around Klyde Warren Park
Klyde Warren Park is the (newish) crown jewel of Dallas’s cityscape. Perched atop the freeway between St. Paul and Pearl streets, this sprawling, 5.2-acre green space has much to offer visitors. You’ll find wide swaths of lawn, areas for croquet and chess, a dog park, a children’s park, and putting green, plus two restaurants and a rotating selection of food trucks. Apart from being a much-needed dose of urban nature, Klyde Warren boasts a wide variety of daily programming, from yoga classes and outdoor concerts to movies and festivals. Parking is conveniently located around the Park; we recommend checking out the calendar before your visit.
Try Dallas's Signature Cocktail at Mi Cocina
Dallas’s signature drink is the frozen margarita; in fact, some say the frozen drink was invented here. The Mambo Taxi at Mi Cocina was recently named D Magazine’s Favorite Margarita, and most locals would agree. Despite its fairly basic ingredients (Sauza Silver tequila, lime juice, house-made sangria, brandy), there’s truly something special about the ever-popular, ever-refreshing Mambo Taxi.
Go to a Concert in Deep Ellum
AddressDeep Ellum, Dallas, TX, USA
Deep Ellum is Dallas’s live music, arts, and culture hub. This bustling, graffiti-splashed district is the perfect place to see all your fave touring musicians and discover local artists, thanks to the vibrant collection of homegrown clubs and renowned venues here. (For a list of upcoming shows, check out the neighborhood's calendar.)
Delve into Political History at Dealey Plaza
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza examines the life, assassination, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. Prepare to be swept up in the history and political landscape of the early '60s — the museum is located in the former Texas School Book Depository, the spot where evidence of a sniper (Lee Harvey Oswald) was found following JFK’s assassination — in addition to the sniper’s perch, the permanent exhibits here include news reports, photos, and footage from the era.
Get a Fun Education at the Perot Museum
At the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, visitors can explore five floors of permanent exhibits that feature animals, gems and minerals, dinosaur bones, birds, a 3D animation lab, and more. With so much to choose from, be sure to plan your day carefully — you’ll need at least a full morning or afternoon to fully experience the Perot.
See Art at the Nasher Sculpture Center
Conveniently situated just across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art, in the booming heart of the Arts District, the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection, one of the most stunning collections of modern and contemporary sculpture in the world. Visitors can marvel over 300 masterworks by Picasso, Rodin, Ernst, Giacometti, Miro, Moore, and dozens of other world-renowned artists.
Hike or Bike Around White Rock Lake
AddressWhite Rock Lake, Dallas, TX, USA
Situated a few miles east of downtown, White Rock Lake Park is one of the city’s most popular green spaces, for good reason. There’s so much to do there, you’d need a whole weekend to be able to discover it all — in fact, the park is more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park. White Rock Lake Park features a scenic, 9.33-mile hike-and-bike trail that circles the lake, numerous picnic areas, playgrounds, an Audubon Society-designated bird-watching area and wetlands site, fishing piers, a cultural center, and a dog park.
Go to a Texas Rangers Game
If you’ll be in Dallas between April and September, there’s a decent chance the Texas Rangers will be in town. Check the website for tickets to upcoming games, and get ready to cheer on the Rangers with an infamous “Boomstick” hot dog in hand (we recommend sharing with a friend!)
Connect with Nature at the Cedar Ridge Preserve
Just a short 20-minute drive from downtown, the Cedar Ridge Preserve is a prime spot for dirt-path hiking and communing with nature. This 600-acre habitat has open meadows, vibrant wildflowers, sloping hills, butterfly gardens, wild grasses, and native trees galore. Bird-watching is a popular activity here, but it’s the hiking that sets Cedar Ridge apart from many other trail systems in Dallas. There are over 9 miles of trails that wind through the hilly terrain and afford great views of the area.
Enjoy the View from Reunion Tower
If it’s a clear, sunny day out, a visit to the Reunion Tower is a must-do. The view — a 360-degree look at Dallas’s glittering skyline and the surrounding area — is incredible. (Buy tickets in advance on their website.)
Stroll Around the Bishop Arts District
In recent years, Dallas’s Bishop Arts District, in the heart of Oak Cliff, has undergone a lightning-fast transformation. It’s a fun place to simply explore on foot (this is one of the most walkable areas in the city). There are over 60 independent shops, coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and art galleries to visit. Be sure to stop into The Wild Detectives, an indie bookstore that’s been deemed Dallas’s “literary heart,” where you can sip craft brews while you peruse books.
Have a Picnic at the Arboretum
Situated along the shores of White Rock Lake, just minutes from downtown, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is considered one of the top arboretums in the world. That’s because this 66-acre urban oasis is brimming with colorful display gardens, spacious stretches of lawn, and thick groves of trees: in short, it’s beautiful. Spring and fall are particularly good times to visit the Arboretum. Pack a picnic lunch or order food to-go from one of the many cafes and restaurants scattered around the grounds.
Ride the McKinney Avenue Trolley
The best way to get around Uptown is to take a ride on the McKinney Avenue Trolley. This fleet of vintage streetcars runs on a hop-on, hop-off route, 365 days per year. It’s a fantastic way to see the city: Get off at the St. Paul and Ross station for easy access to the Crow Collection, the Nasher, and the Dallas Museum of Art. The Trolley also goes to Klyde Warren. Rides are free but consider dropping a donation.
Check Out Where the Cowboys Play
You don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the cultural impact that the Dallas Cowboys have had on the world. If you can’t make it to a game, you can experience the AT&T Stadium, which is about 20 miles west of downtown, or check out The Star in Frisco, the team’s 91-acre, state-of-the-art training facility and multi-use development (including dining, shopping, and a hotel). The Star offers VIP tours every day of the week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sample Texas Barbecue at Pecan Lodge
Eating at Pecan Lodge is a rite of passage for locals and out-of-towners alike. What started as a tiny stall at the Dallas Farmers Market has since morphed into an iconic restaurant that serves the best barbecue in the city (and possibly in the state, which is really saying something!) Be prepared to wait in line, especially if it’s a weekend. For real-deal Texas barbecue, though, the wait is 100 percent worth it.
Walk Along the Katy Trail
The 3.5-mile Katy Trail is one of the city’s most popular places to get outside and soak up the great outdoors. The trail was built over an old railroad line, and it extends from the SMU campus to the American Airlines Center, winding through parks and several of Dallas’s central districts. To access the trail from the north end, there’s a parking lot near Knox Street; on the southern end, you can park at Reverchon Park. (For further trail info, take a look at the Trail website.)
Go Two-Stepping at the Round-Up Saloon
For a true Texas-style treat, country-western dancing is a great way to experience the soul of Dallas — and at the Round-Up Saloon, Dallas’s premier gay western dance club, you can learn how to two-step with the best of them. This Cedar Springs institution hosts free line dance lessons every week (check their calendar for more info), in addition to karaoke nights, freestyle dance competitions, rowdy happy hours, and RuPaul’s Drag Race watch-parties. Don a pair of cowboy boots and get ready to do-si-do around the dance floor; you’ve never experienced anything quite like the Round-Up.