Featuring a storied past steeped in ranching, cowboys and oil farms, Dallas quickly rose to become one of the biggest cities in Texas. But with a reputation as a financial center, you may be surprised to know that Dallas is teeming with vibrant arts culture to match the many high-rise buildings.
Thanks to the city’s renowned arts district, Dallas is a great spot to enjoy a three-day vacation. Dallas has a glorious mix of museums, galleries, live events and a plethora of pro sport. Add in spacious parks, the cities of Arlington and Fort Worth and you’ll quickly find yourself with a packed itinerary.
That’s where we come in. Read on to discover the top attractions, hidden gems and delicious eats that will have you traveling around Dallas like a seasoned vet.
Where to Stay
Dallas is a spread out city with multiple hubs of activity and fun. However, within the expansive Historic and Arts Districts lays the vast majority of the top attractions in Dallas, Texas.
Covering 19 blocks in downtown Dallas, the Arts District is home to a series of world-class museums and galleries plus the city’s iconic symphony orchestra. This part of the city features the strongest network of public transport, including connections to the airport. Staying within downtown and Deep Ellum is the perfect way to have all the action on your front door.
When to Go
Given its location within Texas, it’s hardly surprising that Dallas features some scorching summer temperatures. While this may perturb some, the city comes with a lot of fascinating indoor attractions, museums, malls and, of course, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor.
But to experience the best of Dallas come during the shoulder seasons for milder temperatures. Make the most of the city’s parks and local hikes. Early fall especially comes with the perfect mix of indoor and outdoor fun. Thanks to a range of pro sports in action from baseball to football and the perfect weather for a day at the park.
Day 1: Parks, Museums, and Towers
Just out of downtown is the Dallas Arboretum, a top place to start your adventures in the Texan city. Sitting on over 60 acres on the shores of White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden are a pristine display of manicured nature.
Despite the city being presented with the idea of a botanical garden some fifty years prior, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden opened.
The arboretum has 14 impeccable displays that show off shrubs, trees, seasonal flowers and ornamental plant collections. Within these spaces are a series of festivals, shows, programs and tours that add a layer of atmosphere to the beautiful scenery.
Beyond the flora are several public art pieces, statues and storybook fountains in parts of the park called Pecan Grove and Texas Town. Once you’ve explored the gardens, link up with the miles of hiking and biking trails that wind around White Rock Lake.
After some sun and nature, visit one of the best attractions in Dallas, Texas. The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is housed within an architectural marvel. The building itself will make your eyes pop as you walk towards the entrance. But such is the quality of the museum that the building is quickly forgotten.
The Perot Museum is split into several sections that provide interactive displays, hands-on games and high-tech exhibits. The dominant themes that the museum covers include technology and engineering, evolution and earth sciences, along with innovation.
There is also a large 3D theater at the museum which captivates visitors with films about the world we live in. Families will appreciate the onsite Children’s Museum and ensuing playground. While after ticking off the museum, head up the 54-foot escalator that offers amazing views of Dallas and the architecture of the Perot Museum.
On any given day there are food trucks at Klyde Warren Park, the next destination on our Dallas itinerary. If the day is pleasant, walk down to the park and enjoy the beautiful urban space. Covering a large area between downtown Dallas and the Arts District, Klyde Warren Park is also a great launch point for activities all around the city.
But the park itself has a lot to offer visitors. After noshing on some local cuisine under the Texan sun, there are free daily programs such as yoga, boot camps along with outdoor concerts and film. To see what free events are on when you are in town, follow this link.
With some more sun under your belt, make your way to the Dallas Heritage Village. Within the village is the largest collection of 19th century pioneer homes and old commercial buildings in Texas. It’s rare to find such an insight into life in the 1800s, especially so close to a major city.
For this reason alone, it’s worth the visit. However, Old City Park, with over 20 restored historic buildings built in the mid-to-late 1800s, lives up to expectations. The village does a wonderful job in replicating 19th century life, in what feels like a functioning and sustainable township. Explore old schools, churches, banks and a wild west-style saloon.
As the sun falls over Dallas, Texas, there’s no better time to take the journey to the top of Reunion Tower. The tower may not be the tallest landmark in Dallas, but it’s sure the most striking. The building, which opened in 1978, features a geodesic ball which comes to life at night.
The ball, which stands upon five circular poles, like a golf ball on a tee, looks like a firework paused in time. While views of the tower are stunning, you can enjoy a spectacular sunset from the Geo-Deck Observation platform. The endless views of Dallas, the surrounding landscape and the dazzling horizon make for the perfect way to celebrate your first day in Dallas.
Although there are many ways to enjoy a night in Dallas, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is a top choice for many. The orchestra has been playing for over a century, growing into a world-renowned ensemble while performing in the inspiring Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
You may spot the building on your travels to the top of the Reunion Tower. The symphony center is an iconic landmark appropriately placed in the heart of the city’s Arts District. To see what concerts and events are on while you’re in Dallas, explore the symphony calendar.
Where to Eat
For lunch head to the local institution of Uncle Uber’s Sammich Shop. With cheap and delicious eats in a nostalgic decor, you’ll be enjoying the simple life before heading out to Klyde Warren Park.
For dinner, take your loved ones to The Woolworth. Featuring an upscale menu, craft cocktails and amazing share plates, The Woolworth is all about scratch made food and creativity.
Day 2: Markets, Art, and Cowboys
After a night of arts and culture, begin your second day in Dallas by experiencing one of the top local events. The Dallas Farmers Market is far from a pop-up collection of local vendors and farmers. The well-appointed public market is a permanent feature on the calendar selling fresh produce, fruit, veggies and farm-to-table cooking.
The market has a long history, having begun in the 19th century with humble beginnings. What was once a local collective selling their wares from wagons is now a market spread over four sheds. Sheds one and three are specifically for fresh produce. Shed 2 is home to delis along with a selection of small restaurants to enjoy. While shed four is all about wholesale vegetables and fruit.
Couples, friends and family will love beginning their day wandering past the stalls in each shed and sampling the local eats. With many parks well-placed around Dallas, why not pick yourself up some food for a midday picnic?
After the farmers market, the Dallas Museum of Art awaits. Along with the Symphony Center, the Museum of Art has long been a major part of the Dallas Arts District. Since its doors opened to the public in 1903, the museum has grown to be one of the largest in the country.
Featuring a collection of almost 25,000 pieces from all around the world, the Museum of Art covers many eras and subjects. Major exhibits include the European Art Gallery, with paintings from such icons as Claude Monet. Visitors will also enjoy artifacts and works from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt.
The Dallas Museum of Art has a series of rotating exhibits to complement what remains year-round. This provides fresh fun for returning visitors, keeping the art museum in its rightful place as one of the best in the United States.
Speaking of art, Dallas’ sprawling Arts District continues to grow with the addition of the Nasher Sculpture Center at the turn of the 21st century. The center is a collection of contemporary sculptures just a brief walk from the Dallas Museum of Art.
Within the tree-lined garden are several outdoor displays to enjoy, with the option of a picnic among the art. There is also a spacious indoor area with more sculptures and creations from the likes of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and more.
Football fan or not, AT&T Stadium, the home of the iconic Dallas Cowboys, is one of the top attractions in Dallas. Located half way between Dallas and Fort Worth, the stadium is a quick 20 minute drive from downtown. If you want to go see a football game while in town, nothing beats catching a Cowboys game.
Tickets can sell out, especially for important games, so if you know you want to see the Cowboys, or your hometown team in action at AT&T then book ahead. Otherwise, take your chance with last-minute tickets through sites like StubHub.
If you aren’t in Dallas when a game is on, then don’t fret, you can still take part in a memorable stadium tour. Explore the world-class arena, with the chance to throw a football on the famous turf, visit the Cowboys locker room, media areas and the Miller Lite Club!
After venturing to the stadium, continue on further until you reach Fort Worth for an evening of cowboy culture. The Fort Worth Stockyards are only 40 minutes from Dallas, and are packed with brick walkways featuring restaurants, clubs and boutique stores.
Depending on when you arrive, head to Exchange Avenue at 4pm to witness modern-day cowboys lead their massive longhorns down the road. Later, explore the Livestock Exchange. Once a live cattle auction site, it’s now a fascinating look in cowboy life and the local history.
When the night has truly arrived, wander into the largest honky-tonk on earth, Billy Bob’s Texas. Dance the night away with endless two-steppin’ fun and try your hand at the bar’s mechanical bull.
Where to Eat
Found in the Dallas Arts District, Ellie’s Restaurant and Lounge is home to one of the best brunches in the city. Although within the HALL Arts Hotel, expect a lively atmosphere featuring southern eats and delicious pancakes.
Before venturing to Cowboys Stadium, pay a visit to Monkey King Noodle Company for lunch. Come here for noodles that will send you to heaven, and soup dumplings that will have you reconsidering your evening plans.
When at the Fort Worth Stockyards, you must do what the locals do and eat steak. At H3 Ranch, within the Stockyard Hotel, you can enjoy a top-notch steak within a cowboy atmosphere.
Day 3: History, Rollercoasters, and Zoos
One of the top historical attractions in Dallas is the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The infamous building is dedicated to telling the story of the assassination of President Kennedy, who was shot dead in 1963.
The building that was once a book depository was where Oswald stood when he fatally shot the leader of the United States. The museum does an incredible job of highlighting the political climate leading up to the assassination, including a thorough insight into the last days of John F. Kennedy.
Afterwards, visitors will explore exhibits that focus on the days after the tragic event, including the ensuing investigations. Several artifacts like scale models used by the FBI and forensic evidence are on display.
To make the most of the experience, you can sign up for a guided tour that will go through the harrowing event in greater detail.
As your time in Dallas winds down, there are two remaining activities that will add the cherry on top of your vacation. One option is the popular Six Flags, the first of its kind in Texas.
Featuring endless adrenalin-packed rides and just 20 minutes from downtown, Six Flags will enthrall the entire family. The most iconic ride in the park is The Titan. The rollercoaster comes with an immense 225 ft (70m) drop and reaches speeds of up to 85 miles (137km) per hour!
There is also Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, perfect on a hot Texan day. Cool off on the water slides, in the wave pools or by riding the lazy river.
Your second option is perfect for those with younger children. The Dallas Zoo is one of the best things to do in Dallas with kids. The Dallas Zoo is one of the oldest in the United States, having opened in 1888. With over 400 species of animals in a variety of habitats, there is so much to see.
The zoo is sectioned up to represent different regions and continents, including the Giants of the Savanna, Wilds of Africa, and the Wildlife Amphitheater.
Grab a mix of the zoo and theme park experience thanks to the zoo’s Zero Gravity Thrill Amusement Park with bungee jumps and free-fall experiences.
Where to Eat
For breakfast on day 3, make your way to Uptown Dallas to dine at the Mercat Bistro. Serving French-inspired morning treats, relax and enjoy your delectable eats among gorgeous decor and antiques.
If you didn’t grab some eats at Six Flags or the Zoo, then finish your time in Dallas with some classic barbeque. Pecan Lodge pairs their smoked meats with a great selection of beer and wine. Celebrate your 3 days in Dallas with some mouthwatering brisket!
Whether you’re a history buff, foodie, sports fan or art connoisseur, Dallas has something to offer every type of traveler. With Dallas-Fort Worth nearby, accessing the city is easy, with hundreds of flights a day. So there’s never a bad time to visit.
Come for the Peret Museum and discover a city of underrated architecture and public parks. Time your run to see your hometown team play the Cowboys, the Rangers or the Mavericks to round out your weekend.
Better yet, bring the entire family to experience the Fort Worth Stockyards, Dallas Zoo or the Reunion Tower. Either way, keep this itinerary handy and have a memorable 3 days in Dallas!