Dallas is a vibrant city where something exciting is always going on. Concerts, sporting events, a lively nightlife, and a burgeoning art scene are some of the city’s offerings. Dallas has forged a modern identity while honoring its pioneer roots. Similarly, the city’s industrial past has also left its mark. Red brick warehouses, glass and steel skyscrapers, and Art Nouveau buildings help create Dallas’ individual character. This local’s only guide will help you experience the best of Dallas.
The Dallas Arts District
The Dallas Arts District is the city’s cultural hub, where green spaces merge with modern architecture. World-class museums, performance halls, hotels, parks, restaurants, and public art make the Dallas Arts District a perfectly enjoyable and walkable place to visit.
The visual arts are well represented. The tranquil spaces and galleries of the Crow Museum of Asian Art display a vast collection of ancient and contemporary works of art from a variety of Asian cultures. Modern and contemporary sculpture has a home at the Nasher Sculpture Center. As cliché as it sounds, the beautiful sculpture garden really is a quiet green oasis in the middle of the city.
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the country’s largest art museums. Its vast collections span 5,000 years of human culture, from the arts of the ancient Americas to modern European painting.
Not in a mood for a museum? Take the Texas Sculpture Walk at HALL Arts. The works of art are playfully displayed. Look up for sculptures climbing on buildings.
The Dallas Arts District is home to the AT&T Performing Arts Center. The venues comprised in this art campus offer opera, classical and folk ballet, concerts, and theatre.
If you need a break from art, or are visiting Dallas with children, head to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. The state-of-the-art building and exhibitions will blow your mind. After all, who doesn’t like dinosaurs?
Bishop Arts District
To experience a small-town feel, head to Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff on the Dallas Streetcar, which runs between the EBJ Union Station in downtown Dallas and Bishop Arts. You’ll see the Dallas skyline as you cross the Trinity River on the way back.
The streetcar line arrived in Bishop Arts in 1904 and its documented in the murals on and around Bishop Avenue. As the area grew in importance, warehouses and mercantile buildings began to go up. The area’s commercial importance peaked in the 1930s and then went into a steady decline until the 1990s and 2000s, when the area was revitalized.
Today, those warehouses and stores are home to independent boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and art studios. The Bishop Arts District is a perfect place to take a stroll along tree-lined streets, enjoy the murals, shop for unique items, and have a good meal.
Deep Ellum, east of downtown Dallas, was established in 1873 as the first business district for African Americans and European immigrants. The neighborhood’s industrial past, which included a Ford automobile plant, is still visible in the converted brick warehouses.
Music has always been a feature of Deep Ellum, from the 1920s jazz clubs to today’s music scene. You can listen to live music at historic venues like the Sons of Hermann Hall or Adair’s Saloon, or modern ones like The Bomb Factory.
Along with music, the visual arts have a place in Deep Ellum. Art galleries share space with public art and murals. Deep Ellum has become Dallas’ leading destination for Instagrammers thanks to the 42murals project and the Traveling Man installation, which is one the symbols of the city. If you visit in April, don’t miss the annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival.
Deep Ellum, Lower Greenville, and Uptown are Dallas’ nightlife hotspots, and each area has its own character.
Lower Greenville is a quaint neighborhood with tree-lined streets and Prairie, Craftsman and Tudor style homes. At night, the area comes alive along Greenville Avenue with its trendy bars and restaurants and the historic Granada Theater.
Uptown is a little north of downtown Dallas. It’s a popular place to live because it’s close to downtown and it has a wide range of shopping, nightlife and dining options.
Uptown comprises three areas, each with its distinctive character. Victory Park developed around the American Airlines Arena, where you can catch a Dallas Mavericks game or a concert. Knox/Henderson is the area around the intersection of Interstate 75 and Henderson Avenue to the east and Knox Street to the west. The West Village is an upscale outdoor shopping destination with a wide range of bars and restaurants.
Downtown Dallas is where it all started. The first settler, John Neely Bryan, built his cabin on the eastern bank of the Trinity River in 1841, very close to what is now Dealey Plaza. A replica of his one-room log cabin can be found on the corner of Elm and Market streets. Across Main you’ll see a big square cenotaph. It’s the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Memorial.
Right next to JFK’s memorial is the Old Red Museum of Dallas County. Built in 1892 as a courthouse, the museum tells the story of Dallas since prehistoric times to the present. Look out for J.R. Ewing’s Stetson hat, donated by the late actor Larry Hagman.
Dallas gained notoriety when President Kennedy was assassinated here in 1963. The place where it happened, the Grassy Knoll down on Elm Street, became a landmark. The Texas School Book Depository building is now the Sixth Floor Museum, which tells the story of the life, assassination and legacy of John F. Kennedy.
On a less somber note, close by on Young Street, Pioneer Plaza celebrates the 19th century cattle trails that helped make Dallas’ fortunes. The bronze sculptures represent three cowboys and a herd of 40 longhorns in a natural setting of native flora and a flowing stream.
The Main Street District comprises a rectangle formed by Lamar, Commerce, and Elm streets and US 75. The main attractions are the Giant Eyeball sculpture, Pegasus Plaza, Neiman Marcus flagship store, and the Main Street Garden Park. There are quite a few landmark buildings, like the Kirby, the Magnolia Hotel with the Pegasus sign, or the Mercantile Building. Most of them have been converted into condos.
It’s not just historic landmarks here. You’ll find a variety of upscale bars and restaurants, as well as hotels and boutiques on Main Street.
Getting around Dallas
In case you were wondering how to get around Dallas: the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) consists of a network of light rail trains, buses, a commuter rail (the Trinity Railway Express), a streetcar, and the M-Line trolley. You can also rent bicycles to move around.
Did we miss anything? Let us know your favorite hidden gems in Dallas on Twitter!