One Day in Dallas on Foot and by Car
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This one-day tour of Dallas combines walking and driving around the city, starting in downtown Dallas and ending in Deep Ellum, with parks, museums, picnics, and happy hour in between.Dallas Farmers Market. Photo by Kevin Marple, courtesy of Dallas Farmers Market
To help combat the spread of covid-19, some venues below may be closed. Check opening hours before you go.
Fuel up for your day exploring Dallas at downtown mainstay Commissary, a deli and bakery with breakfast options like coconut chia pudding and sourdough toast with almond butter, banana, coconut, flax seeds, and agave. A cup of their cold brew will get you ready to take on the city. (Parking for Commissary customers is across the street at The Metropolitan Garage).Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Drive five minutes or walk 10 to your next stop, The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. The Museum—in a handsome 1930 Romanesque Revival building, the former Texas School Book Depository—is dedicated to the November 22, 1963 assassination of US President John F. Kennedy. (You can use your Dallas CityPASS here.) From the museum, it’s five minutes by car or 15 on foot to Eye, aka Giant Eyeball, artist Tony Tasset’s 30-foot high very realistic fiberglass eyeball—a fun backdrop for photos.The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Photo by The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, courtesy of Visit Dallas
Culture vultures should make a beeline for the Dallas Museum of Art (drive five or walk 10 minutes). Its collection of 24,000 pieces spans 5,000 years and the entire globe, with art from The Americas, Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Pacific Islands. The permanent collection is entirely free, so you can pop in and out during your stay in Dallas, enjoying a temporary exhibition of wearable raffia from Africa (not free—ticketed) or vibrant textiles from the Pacific Islands.Arts of Africa Gallery, Dallas Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art
Outdoor fun and farmers’ market
If you’ve got kids in tow and/or you’re ready for lunch, walk around the corner to Klyde Warren Park, which has two restaurants and a rotating cast of food trucks. This green lung in the heart of downtown Dallas is a fantastic place to let loose, with playgrounds, petanque, ping pong, board games and books, and live music.Food trucks, Klyde Warren Park. Photo © Trung Nguyen/iStock
Drive five minutes to Dallas Farmers’ Market, a food hall, shopping plaza, and farmers’ market. Here, local farms and purveyors showcase their ultra-fresh produce, baked goods, dairy, meat, seafood, and lots of prepared foods, from classic barbecue and salsa to colorful Laotian fare. There are also vendors selling cosmetics (Yenisi Beauty); upcycled, vintage, and handmade home goods (Create + Restore) and wine (Berkshire Farms Winery). Don a mask, grab a reusable tote bag, and head in. The farmers’ market is every weekend; the food hall and shops indoors are open every day (restaurant hours vary, see DFM).Jonathan Jackson of Berkshire Farms Winery at Dallas Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Berkshire Farms Winery
Where to eat lunch in downtown Dallas
The saying “everything is bigger in Texas” certainly rings true at Dallas Farmers’ Market. You can have lunch here or get takeaway and bring it to your next stop, the beautiful Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, but either way, you’re spoilt for choice: lunch options include Trinidadian street food from The Caribbean Cabana; Texan favorites gone vegan from Bams Vegan (think blackened cauliflower tacos and gumbo); Thai street food (Ka-Tip) and banh mi (Nammi).Dishes from Ka-Tip. Photo by Reed J Kenney, courtesy of Ka-Tip
Strolling through a garden
Sated or with picnic provisions acquired, drive 15 minutes to Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, 66 acres on White Rock Lake (kayak rental Wed-Sun). There are 20 small gardens here and they’re lovely to stroll between. A Woman’s Garden, with its infinity pool and fountains, is particularly serene. Crape Myrtle Allee is a pretty stone walkway under a tunnel of crape myrtle trees that lead to Toad Corner, where kids can splash in the Toad fountains. The Rose Garden is also delightful, with 200 hybrid tea roses in 16 varieties. One of the nicest spots to picnic is in the shaded Pecan Grove (in autumn there’s a pumpkin patch here and, in spring, 100 blooming cherry trees).Dallas Arboretum. Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas
Happy hour in Deep Ellum
From the botanical gardens it’s a 15-minute drive to Dallas’s vibrant Deep Ellum neighborhood, adjacent to downtown and also very walkable. Peruse the shelves at bookstore Deep Vellum— specializing in translations and authors female, local, and of color—or vintage and home goods market Flea Style. For happy hour, go to gastropub Braindead Brewing Company and cool off with a pint of their honey lager, made with Texas wildflower honey. Logo pint glasses or a growler filled with one of their seasonal brews make for nice souvenirs.
Sunset from a skyscraper
Before dinner, head back downtown to Reunion Tower and its indoor and outdoor observation decks (drive or take Uber eight minutes). Take in sweeping panoramic views of the city from 470 feet up and watch the sun set over Dallas and the city’s skyscrapers light up.Dallas skyline from GeO-Deck at Reunion Tower. Photo courtesy of Visit Dallas
Dinner in Deep Ellum
From Reunion Tower, it’s back to Deep Ellum, its pedestrian-friendly streets getting busier as Dallasites head out for dinner, drinks, or a stroll. Go for Lebanese small plates at Zatar, Texas barbecue at Terry Black’s, or vegetarian pan-Latin American street food at Shoals Sound & Service (come for the smoked jackfruit arepas, stay for a mezcal paloma).Terry Black's Barbecue. Photo courtesy of Terry Black's Barbecue
Deep Ellum is a fun neighborhood for bar hopping, but it also boasts experimental theater (Undermain), three live music venues (The Bomb Factory, The Door Clubs, Trees), and Dallas Comedy House. Check programming before you go to see which plays, musicians, and comedians are performing.
Where to stay
A century-old coffin-manufacturer is the setting for this Cedars district hotel whose 76 rooms have 12-foot ceilings, exposed brick, and work by local artists. The art that fills the hotel walls changes regularly, and its public spaces double as a gallery. The cool factor is capped off with a rooftop bar and infinity pool. Canvas is 15 minutes from downtown Dallas on the Red or Blue light rail lines.Canvas Hotel. Photo courtesy of Tablet Hotels