Since its inception as a business and trading center for cattle, cotton and oil, Dallas has a long history as a boomtown for business.
Today, Dallas is buzzing with a different kind of energy. Attracting just under 50 million visitors to the Metro area each year, the Big D is one of Texas’ premier travel destinations full of unique neighborhoods to wander through, new restaurants to discover, museums to inspire and adventures to partake in.
From cool margaritas (the frozen margarita machine was invented in Dallas) to the hottest shopping (America’s first shopping center, Highland Park Village was developed in 1931), Dallas has a lot to offer. Here are eight must-see, must-do things to put on your Dallas bucket list.
All-Star Sports Lineup
Dallas is one of the premier sports destinations in the country and when most people think of Dallas, they think of the Dallas Cowboys. You can catch this beloved NFL team during a game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, but die-hard Cowboys fans will really want to sign up for a behind-the-scenes tour of the world’s largest domed structure.
But Dallas sports is so much more than football. Dallas is home to six major league sports teams. Head over to American Airlines Center for action on the court with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks or on the ice with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Watch the MLB’s Texas Rangers swing for the fences at the new Globe Life Field in Arlington, check out the pitch with MLS’s FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium in Frisco or get courtside with the WNBA’s Dallas Wings at College Park Center in Arlington.
Rev Your Engines
Adrenaline junkies: Start your engines, because Dallas is home to some major motorsports adventures. The Texas Motor Speedway in nearby Denton hosts the NASCAR All-Star Race and its companion NASCAR Open. If drag racing is more your scene, head 40 miles south of downtown Dallas to the Texas Motorplex in Ennis. Or get dusty at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, a half-mile, half-banked dirt track located in Mesquite.
Get behind the wheel by signing up for one of the many driving experiences at The Texas Motor Speedway or test the throttle on an exotic car at DriveXotic at Motorsport Ranch in Cresson. For real thrills try powered parachutes, which is a propeller driven cart attached to a parachute. Future Flight takes off from Caddo Mills Airport, a short drive northeast of Dallas, and offers you a chance to experience the thrill and excitement of flying over Lake Lavon.
A Different Type of ‘Drive’ in Fort Worth
For a real taste of the Wild West, drive 30 minutes straight west to Fort Worth and head directly to the Fort Worth Stockyards. This historic district has 25 restaurants, 14 bars, and 50 shops as well as the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, but the real stars are the cattle. Real Texas cowhands drive a herd of 17 Texas longhorns down East Exchange Avenue from the Livestock Exchange Building every day at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.
To see the bulls in action--ok, not the Fort Worth Herd exactly, but other bulls—get tickets to the Stockyards Championship Rodeo, the world’s only year-round rodeo. Rodeos are held nearly every Friday and Saturday night at the Cowtown Coliseum.
If you haven’t had enough of cows yet, head over to Riscky’s Steakhouse. Culinary adventurers can try the cowboy delicacy known as calf fries--bull testicles battered, fried and covered in homemade gravy. Or, play it safe with a chicken fried steak or ribeye.
Shop Till You Drop
Indulge in Dallas’ other major sport: Shopping. Dallas shopping covers the retail spectrum from luxury brands to budget-friendly boutiques. Visit the flagship location of Neiman Marcus in downtown, malls like NorthPark Center, Galleria Dallas and Highland Park Village, and smaller shopping neighborhoods like the Design District, the hip Bishop Arts District, and West Village in Uptown.
Things really heat up in Dallas once the sun sets. Whether you like cocktails on the rooftop, belting out karaoke, or catching some live music, Dallas has plenty to offer for a great night out. The historic Deep Ellum neighborhood bustles with bars, clubs and small music venues – it's the perfect place for a drink, a concert and a late-night snack. Be sure to check it out during the daytime to see dozens of murals painted on buildings.
Located in East Dallas, Lower Greenville Avenue is known for its swoon-worthy restaurants but is also home lively, yet down-to-earth nightlife scene made up of live music spots and folksy bars. For live music, check out the beloved Granada Theater, a former movie house built back in 1946 and is now a music venue. Next door is Sundown at the Granada, a beer garden offering farm-to-table fare, 60-plus beers and live music amid plank and brick walls.
Once owned by Gene Autrey, the historic Kessler Theater in Oak Cliff/South Dallas, is one of the best music venues in town and boasts an eclectic marquee of local, national and international artists as well as a bar and dining room.
Dallas has a world-class art scene centered around the Dallas Arts District--the 68-acre, 20-block urban arts district is the largest in the nation. The Dallas Museum of Art has works from artists such as Van Gogh and Warhol, while the Nasher Sculpture Center is home to sculptures by Picasso and Rodin and the Crow Museum of Asian Art brings together historical and contemporary art from different parts of Asia.
While not necessarily a museum, Klyde Warren Park is an amazing work of engineering. The 5.2- acre deck park is built over a recessed freeway connecting two Dallas neighborhoods, Uptown and the Dallas Arts District. The park hosts a variety of community events including Music in the Park, dance lessons, and yoga. Be sure to check out the Food Truck Lane.
Located in the heart of North Oak Cliff, the Bishop Arts District is home to over 60 independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and art galleries, making it one of Dallas' most unique neighborhoods.
Get Stuffed on BBQ
Sure, Dallas has a fantastic restaurant scene ranging from Texas mainstays like steak and Tex-Mex to internationally-inspired dishes like Chinese hand-pulled noodles or traditional South African fried bread (vetkoek), but can you really say you’ve been to Dallas without having barbeque? Bring an empty stomach and load up on Texas’ finest barbeque at one (or more) of Dallas’ famous barbeque joints.
The Bryan family are Texas barbeque royalty and Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse has been serving up brisket sandwiches and giant onion rings at the same location since 1958. It’s also the only barbecue restaurant in Texas open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Lockhart Smokehouse has three locations and is the only destination in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro area where you can find Kreuz Market Sausage, served on butcher paper, just like the original.
Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum always has a long line out the door, but their signature Hot Mess (a brisket stuffed sweet potato) makes the wait worth it.
Recently named to Texas Monthly’s Top 10 BBQ spots in the state, Cattleack Barbeque serves some of the best Texas spareribs, brisket, and sausage, along with North Carolina–style whole hog barbecue sandwiches with slaw and cracklins. Be sure to plan ahead: Cattleack is only open Thursdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of the month.
Get Ready for Real Horsepower
Because everything truly is bigger in Texas, Dallas is the host city for NADA Show 2023. Polish up your cowboy boots, dust off your Stetson and saddle up for the Auto Industry Event of the Year, held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas, January 26-29. See y’all there!
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