The Dallas skyline always dazzles — Photo courtesy of Dibrova
Everything is bigger in Texas, and America's ninth most populous city (which locals refer to as Big D) is no exception. In fact, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex prides itself on doing things big. The state fair is big, the NFL football stadium is big and the international airport is larger than the island of Manhattan.
Oh, and the city is also home to the largest urban arts district in the country. But don't be too disappointed if Dallas doesn't fit the image portrayed in the eponymous TV show. Instead of oil rigs and ten-gallon Stetsons, you'll find a bustling metropolis on the verge of a major transformation, thanks to a host of ambitious revitalization projects.
Whether you want to explore world-class museums, hit some of the city's hippest hangs or gaze at the world's best skyline that lights up downtown, Dallas has something for everyone. Here's how to make the most out of your visit.
It's no secret that Dallas has a reputation for urban sprawl. The good news is that there's a pretty decent light-rail system (DART) operating throughout the area, as well as to DFW Airport. Additionally, there is a complimentary D-Link shuttle and M-Line Trolley that circulates around downtown.
That said, if you're looking to explore different neighborhoods, having a car is a must.
Where to stay
With over 77,000 hotel rooms up for grabs, visitors to Dallas are spoiled for choice. But if you want to be in the heart of the action, you can't beat The Joule, a chic boutique hotel based downtown in a renovated 1920's neo-Gothic building. The hotel features fabulous restaurants, a cool subterranean cocktail lounge and a cantilevered pool that extends over the walkway below.
Or for a fantastic mid-range option, check into the trendy loft-style apartments at The Guild in Victory Park and Uptown. Both locations are within stumbling distance to eateries, bars and downtown's Historic West End District.
What to see
The Dallas Arts District is the focal point of the city's arts and culture scene — Photo courtesy of Nigel Young/Foster + Partners
As previously mentioned, Dallas has been undergoing a rebirth and nowhere is that more evident than downtown's Arts District, a 68-acre stretch of performance venues and world-class museums, some of which include the renowned Meyerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. The District also showcases one of the world's largest collections of buildings designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects.
Other Arts District highlights include Klyde Warren Park, a 5-acre community green space featuring children's playscapes, lawn games, food trucks and daily public programming ranging from fitness classes to concerts and films. And just a few steps away from the park lies the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, an award-winning architectural gem filled with five floors of mind-blowing exhibits.
The Sixth Floor Museum where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shot — Photo courtesy of Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
After you've conquered the Arts District, head over to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in downtown's Historic West End for a comprehensive look into the life and death of John F. Kennedy. Then go check out the legendary grassy knoll to get an even better perspective of the tragic event that unfolded on that fateful day in 1963.
Tempting as it may be to spend all your time downtown, you'd be remiss not to visit the George W. Bush Presidential Center. Situated on the Southern Methodist University campus, the center contains everything from a full-scale walk-through replica of the Bush Oval Office to a 22-foot tall ravaged steel beam from the World Trade Center.
Autumn in the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden — Photo courtesy of Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
If you have some extra time on your hands, make your way over to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. Set along the shores of White Rock Lake, this 66-acre oasis features stunning seasonal flowers and plant displays along with an interactive children's garden, including a treehouse and canopy walk.
The views from the GeO-Deck atop Reunion Tower — Photo courtesy of VisitDallas
Of course, a trip to Dallas isn't complete without a trek to the interactive observation deck (aka the GeO-Deck) at the city's most iconic landmark: Reunion Tower. Perched 470 feet up, the deck affords 360-degree views across Dallas and beyond.
Where to shop
Fancy a little retail therapy? Then you're in the right place; Dallas has more shopping centers per capita than any other city in the United States. And the cream of the crop is NorthPark Center, offering over 235 stores covering everything from Neiman Marcus to the Gap.
Speaking of Neiman Marcus, the historic flagship store on Main Street is also an ultimate place for a high-end shopping experience, as is Highland Park Village, which is renowned for haute couture boutiques such as Hermes, Dior and Chanel.
Where to eat
Dallas' diverse food scene goes way beyond barbecue, but you really can't come to town without a stop at Pecan Lodge in Deep Ellum, where the pit-smoked options are so good the line frequently snakes around the block.
Celebrity chef Dean Fearing's namesake restaurant in Uptown's Ritz-Carlton is another one not to miss. Fearing's Southwestern cuisine is fabulous, and the mesquite-grilled Texas Wagyu steaks are even better.
When to go
Though Dallas is a year-round destination, winters can be chilly (35– 47 degrees) and summers are always steamy with temperatures rising above 100 degrees. The best time to visit is during fall (from October through November) and in the spring when average highs range from 68 to 84 degrees.