38 Things to Do in Dallas During Your Next Trip
Deciding what to do in Dallas can be tricky, but we're here to help.
With more than 385 miles to explore and over a million people to sort through, deciding what to do in Dallas can be tricky. Fortunately, the city is pretty easy to navigate—especially with an organized itinerary in hand.
The ninth largest city in the United States, Dallas is home to a few of the nation's most famous museums and landmarks. The community culture has also helped cultivate some of the best cuisine and local sounds in the country.
Here's a fun fact: Did you know that Dallas is also informally known as "Big D"? It comes from former Dallas Morning News writer Paul Crume, who used it as the name for his column. He got the idea from the 1956 musical The Happy Fella, which features Bing Crosby singing a tune about the city. The lyrics to note include, "I mean Big D, little A, double L-A-S."
If you're interested in learning more about the city, be sure to keep reading below. We've outlined the very best of what Dallas has to offer!
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38 Best Things to Do in Dallas
Whether you're traveling with friends, family, or all on your own, you'll be happy to hear there are lots of things to do in Dallas. From open green spaces, to live music venues, and local eateries, you're sure to have a blast. Check out our list of suggested activities before you land.
A leisurely stroll through downtown Dallas is a great way to kick off your visit. The area, which runs along Main Street, is packed with areas to dine, drink, and explore.
Shopping opportunities await at farmer's markets, downtown shops, vintage outlets, and more. If the weather is nice, you can always break up the day by stopping in at one of Dallas's famous rooftops or patios. Not only will you eat well, but you'll also enjoy some of the best views in the city.
For a little more structure, check out what local events are scheduled during your stay. The area frequently hosts workshops, talks, night markets, and outdoor screenings. And if you're in the mood for even more time outdoors, you can sign up for a yoga class in the park, explore some of the bike trails scattered around the city, or simply lounge around one of Dallas's many outdoor plazas.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens contain 66 acres of some of the world's most celebrated gardens. Earlier this year, it was voted a top travel destination by MSN Canada. Not only does the venue contain thousands of spring blossoms, but it also hosts annual events and educational programs for children and adults, with an emphasis on family-oriented activities.
One of the most popular areas in the arboretum is the Woman's Garden, which contains statues, fountains, an infinity pool along with a beautiful view of White Rock Lake. Of course, the Jonsson Color Garden is a close second. This 6.5-acre garden features large beds of seasonal flowers along with lush green lawns for visitors to enjoy an afternoon picnic. The area also contains over 2,000 varieties of azaleas, daffodils, and tulips.
The Dallas Museum of Art is a great way to spend an afternoon in the city, especially if you're visiting during the summer months, where temperatures typically hover around the mid-90s.
Established back in 1903, the museum ranks among the 10 largest art museums in the country. Every year, over 3.2 million people visit to enjoy its 24,000 works, spanning over 5,000 years of history.
The institution is also a major contributor to the community at large, engaging residents with a range of programming, including exhibitions, lectures, concerts, literary events, and dance presentations.
Located within the downtown area, the Dallas Arts District spans over 118 acres, making up the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation. The area also contains a record number of buildings designed by Pritzker award-winning architects.
The district is home to a number of notable museums, theaters, and events, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, as well as the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Visitors can enjoy one of the district's many parks, restaurants, and plazas in between shows.
There are also lots of hotels located in this part of the city, for those who plan on spending most of their time within the district during their visit.
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The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, located within the former Texas School Book Depository building, chronicles President John F. Kennedy's assassination, along with his legacy.
The exhibit outlines major social movements and political events that took place during Kennedy's early presidency, as well as the investigations that took place following the attack, carried out by Lee Harvey Oswald. The curators even recreated the crime scene based on photographs taken after his death.
For something a little lighter, think about taking a trip to the largest (and oldest) zoo in Texas. The Dallas Zoo was originally founded back in 1888 with just two deer and two mountain lions. Today, the organization spans over 106 acres and is home to over 2,000 animals representing over 400 species.
Those traveling with kids will be relieved to hear that the zoo also offers tons of family-friendly activities, including animal adventures and backstage safaris. Camps and full-day education programs are also available, leaving parents with some welcome time off.
If you haven't had enough of the animal kingdom just yet, then head over to the Dallas World Aquarium. Having opened to the public back in 1992, the aquarium features several exhibits on animals from around the world.
Before the pandemic, feedings and talks were offered daily, though these events have been canceled for the time being. Still, visitors are free to roam around and experience the exotic animals at the aquarium, such as eagles, ocelots, flamingos, and other reptilian species.
There are also plenty of dining options on-site, so you don't have to worry about packing lunch!
With over 277 acres to explore, Fair Park offers plenty to do. The park originally opened in 1886 to host the Dallas State Fair, which later evolved into the State Fair of Texas.
Over the next few decades, several celebrated structures, including the Centennial Building and Cotton Bowl Stadium, were constructed on the grounds.
Though it wasn't until 1936 when Fair Park really made its way onto the national radar after state leaders decided it would host a world's fair commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Texas Republic.
Artists and architects came from all over the world to design buildings, statues, and murals for the event reflecting Texas' history, economy, flora, and fauna. They also helped establish the unique Art Deco architecture the park is now known for. The zone remains the only intact and unaltered pre-1950s world fair site in the United States.
Today, locals continue to flock to the area in search of workshops, lawn games, and food trucks. Events take place in the park all year long, from musical performances to bike races and more. Some of the most popular points of interest include Centennial Hall, the Smith Fountain, and Grand Place. It also contains the Texas Star, one of the tallest Ferris wheels in North America.
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Klyde Warren Park is the brainchild of creative city planners who wanted to create more green space amidst a heavily industrial environment. The deck park, which spans over five acres, hovers above the eight-lane Woodall Rodgers Freeway. The project was designed by award-winning landscape architect Jim Burnett and took over $100 million to build. The urban oasis was finally completed in 2012 after three years of construction.
Today, Klyde Warren Park houses 37 native plant species and 322 trees. The park also contains splash zones and playgrounds for kids, a fenced-in space for dogs, fitness classes, and plenty of places to picnic and relax. Seasonal events also take place, from outdoor movies in the summer to trick-or-treating come fall.
The area connects Dallas's Uptown neighborhood with its award-winning Arts district, helping cement its nickname as the city's beloved "town square." Every year, over one million visitors come to enjoy the green space.
Hailed as one of the nation's top arenas, the American Airlines Center is a popular destination for sporting and live entertainment events. Major names like Elton John, Madonna, and Justin Timberlake have performed at the center. It also serves as the home for the NBA Dallas Mavericks and the NHL Dallas Stars.
Dallas's African American Museum places a spotlight on African American culture, art, and history. It also accounts for one of the largest collections of American American folk art in the country.
Founded back in 1974 on the campus of Bishop College the Museum now contains over sixty archival collections, over 200 African artifacts, and over 150 paintings and sculptures. Two of its most successful exhibits include "The Paradox of Liberty: Slavery at Jefferson's Monticello" and "The Kinsey African American Art and History Collection," which attracted over 75,000 visitors.
Musical festivals, awards ceremonies, and educational programs also take place at the museum throughout the year.
Designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano in collaboration with landscape architect Peter Walker, the Nasher Sculpture Center first opened back in 2003.
Nowadays, it maintains one of the most sought-after collections of modern and contemporary sculptures worldwide, featuring over 300 works by celebrated artists including Matisse, Miró, de Kooning, and Picasso.
The institution also presents rotating exhibits along with special showings drawn from other museums and private collections. The Center contains an auditorium, education and research facilities, a cafe, and a gift shop.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a popular family destination where you can learn about nature and science through a range of innovative and accessible experiences.
The facility opened its doors in 2012 as a result of a merger between the Dallas Museum of Natural History, The Science Place, and the Dallas Children's Museum.
Some of the most popular exhibits feature animals and rare fossils from the past, interactive stargazing adventures, indoor nature walks, and more. The Museum also contains a world-class theater, featuring a 4K digital projection, immersive surround sound, and RealD 3D capabilities.
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Reunion Tower stands 470 feet high, providing stunning 360-degree panoramic views of the Dallas skyline. There is also an indoor/outdoor observation deck for visitors to take in miles of uninterrupted scenery in any direction.
The building hosts a range of special events throughout the year. Think of things like magic shows, arts, crafts, special visits, and more. Packages are also available for more adult-themed evenings that include perks like complimentary bottles of wine, reserved areas, and specialized photos.
If you need a break from museums and architecture, spend some time outside at White Rock Lake. The 1,015-acre city lake is located just five miles northeast of downtown Dallas. Apart from swimming and boating opportunities, it offers 9.33 miles of hiking and bike trails, dog parks, picnic areas, and pavilions. The lake also hosts tons of special events and runs throughout the year.
Highland Park Village accounts for the first planned shopping center in the United States. It also served as the prototype for similar projects around the country.
The development first opened back in 1931. Five years later, the landmark Village Theater was established. Today, the self-contained shopping center has become a nationally recognized landmark and houses some of the world's most celebrated fashion brands including Christian Louboutin, Dior, Fendi, and Harry Winston.
There are also 11 restaurants on-site along with additional services like personal shopping, valeted parking, chauffeur car service, and property-wide WiFi. During the holidays, visitors can also enjoy its annual celebration featuring 1.5 million Christmas lights on display throughout the property.
Sports fans might want to reserve a day to watch the Dallas Cowboys play in their home city. To do so, you'll need to head over to the AT&T Stadium, one of the most expensive sports venues ever built. The stadium cost about $1.2 billion to complete and can now accommodate upwards of 100,000 guests.
It also contains one of the largest video display boards in the world, measuring around 25,000 square feet and weighing in at 1.2 million pounds.
In addition to the Dallas Cowboys Art Collection, which features sculptures, signs, and other original pieces, the venue also hosts musical artists, truck shows, and motorsports experiences throughout the year.
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum accounts for another important cultural landmark within the city. The Museum was founded in 1984 by a group of Dallas area Holocaust Survivors and remains the only one of its kind serving North Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
In 2018, the Museum hosted more than 80,000 visitors, including 34,000 school children. There, they were able to take in a range of permanent and special exhibitions and digitized survivor testimonies.
These features provide a glimpse into Jewish history and what life was like during WWII. Artifacts from this era, including suitcases, boxcars, and Soviet propaganda are also on display.
In addition, the museum provides access to rare books, photographs, manuscripts, and collections where researchers and archivists alike can help preserve items collected from this chapter of history.
You can see this talented group of musicians play at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Guided by the internally renowned music director Fabio Luisi, the DSO puts on a variety of musical performances featuring classical composers like Beethoven to more contemporary artists like Stevie Wonder.
The group even covers some of the most celebrated film scores to date, with shows dedicated to Star Wars, Toy Story, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Other events, like wine-tasting, meet-and-greets, and musical talks are also available throughout the year.
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Old City Park doesn't just account for Dallas's first and oldest park, it also houses a collection of historic buildings and artifacts dating back to 1840. Kept alive with the help of historic interpreters, these items are used to educate visitors on past trades and traditions.
In addition to its open green space, the park offers visitors the ability to participate in a number of programs, from blacksmithing classes, guided tours, barnyard visits, and more.
The venue, which used to be known as the Dallas Heritage Village, can even be rented out and used as an event space for weddings, reunions, or birthdays.
The Texas Discovery Gardens contains 7.5 acres of native and adapted plants. The institution also features different exhibits that help educate visitors on different aspects of the natural world. The Snakes of Texas Exhibit, for instance, displays species of venomous and non-venomous native snakes in a safe environment. The idea is to help individuals understand the vital role snakes play in our ecosystem.
Next, you'll find a two-story butterfly house and insectarium containing hundreds of free-flying tropical butterflies on the property. There's also an art museum and model train garden worth checking out.
Well, it doesn't get much more Texas than this. Wild Bill's Western Store is the place to go for authentic western apparel and accessories. We're talking cowboy boots, western shirts, bolo ties, belt buckles, straw hats, and more.
The shop maintains they have the largest selection—anywhere—for western wear for men. Don't worry, the ladies' and kids' sections don't fall too far behind.
Stop by the store during one of their regular events for a chance to meet Wild Bill himself. He and his staff regularly invite customers in for a more personalized visit.
Pioneer Plaza is located just next to the Dallas Convention Center and represents the largest public open space in the central business district. The area includes a waterfall, man-made cliffs, native plant life, and statues depicting Texas longhorns being herded by cowboys on horseback.
The figures are meant to represent the trail that brought the original settlers to Dallas. Each piece was created by artist Robert Summers and is made entirely out of bronze.
The area remains one of the most visited landmarks in downtown Dallas, second only to Dealey Plaza.
The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge was designed by the internationally renowned architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava. The bridge contains a 400-foot center arch that connects the Woodall Rodgers Freeway to Singleton Boulevard in West Dallas.
In addition to helping bring new industry to the area, the bridge has also made an artful contribution to the Dallas skyline: 58 cables dangle between the bridge and its arch, which is stationed above the Trinity River. In the time since the bridge was constructed, the area has become a popular place for people to eat, drink, and enjoy live music.
Joe Pool Lake provides Dallas residents with another way to beat the heat during those hot summer months. The lake opened back in 1989 and provides a range of outdoor recreational activities for visitors to enjoy, from fishing and jet skiing to birdwatching and barbecuing.
The lake also contains a full-service marina with boat slips, rentals, gas, ramps, and a restaurant onsite. The area actually encompasses four separate park areas: Cedar Hill State Park, Loyd Park, Lynn Creek State Park, and Britton Park. Each park provides unique access to beaches, campsites, picnic facilities, hiking trails, and equestrian areas.
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The Dallas County Courthouse certainly stands out as an architectural staple. Also known as the "Old Red Courthouse," the building is constructed entirely of red sandstone with rusticated marble accents. Built back in 1892, the structure finally made it onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
In 2007, it was converted into a local history museum filled with exhibits, historical artifacts, interactive touch screen computers, and four mini theaters. As of 2022, the city has plans to return Old Red to its original civic use.
Passersby will notice four decorated creatures stationed on top of the building. The terra cotta figures represent wyverns, derived from the Latin word for "serpent," with two legs, wings, and a spiny back. Inside the building, you'll find more than 100 stained glass windows, an original vault, and the grand staircase.
Located in the neighboring city of Fort Worth, the National Cowgirl Museum remains the only institution worldwide dedicated to the women of the West. Museum-goers will receive fascinating histories of women from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures that helped shape the region.
Currently, the Museum's archives contain more than 4,000 artifacts and information on more than 750 remarkable women who made their mark on history. Visitors will also get to experience the Western Design Room, an interactive exhibit that allows you to digitally create your own boot, shirt, and horse. All images are later projected onto one of the exhibit room walls.
Of course, the Bucking Bronc Room is also worth visiting, where you can test your skills on a mechanical horse. You'll even be superimposed into real rodeo footage which can be emailed or texted to your friends and family.
Dallas's Historic West End District was originally established as a trading post back in the 1840s, though it is believed the area had been occupied for thousands of years prior by the Caddo Nation. The collection of Native American tribes hunted and farmed the area well into the 1770s, up until the arrival of French and Spanish colonists.
Over the years, industry continued to evolve, with most of the action taking place on the eastern bank of the Trinity River. National entertainment brands arrived in the area along with urban redevelopment projects, and modern workplace environments.
The West End Historic District is also home to some major historical events, most notably the assassination of JFK in Dealey Plaza. Visitors staying in the area will enjoy easy access to the Sixth Floor Museum, which is entirely dedicated to the event. Those staying in the district will also be within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and other attractions in the area.
The Frontiers of Flight Museum serves as Dallas's premiere destination for information on air and space. The Museum serves to educate, motivate, and inspire all ages with aviation and space flight history through exhibits, collections, programming, and STEM curriculum. Whether you want to know more about Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers, or the status of spacecraft during the 21st century, the museum curators have you covered.
The institution opened back in 2004, after George Haddaway, noted aviation historian and publisher of Flight magazine, donated an enormous collection of artifacts and archives to the University of Texas. Today, the collection remains open to the public, housed in two climate-controlled, hangar-like buildings.
The Deep Ellum neighborhood remains one of the most historically and culturally significant areas of Dallas. Established as both a residential and commercial center back in 1873, the district soon began attracting African-Americans and European residents.
Over the years, the area became home to major industrial developments, including the Continental Gin Company and one of Henry Ford's earliest automobile plants. It also housed the Grand Temple of the Knights of Pythias, which contained some of the city's earliest offices for Black doctors, dentists, and lawyers. It also became known as a cultural center for the greater Black community.
Of course, the area's main claim to fame revolves around its musical heritage. By the 1900s, Deep Ellum had become a popular destination for aspiring jazz and blues museums. Over the next several decades, legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter, Texas Bill Day, Blind Willie Johnson, Lightnin' Hopkins, and Bessie Smith made it a point to perform in Deep Ellum.
While the neighborhood took an economic hit in the aftermath of WWII, the musical scene was reignited during the 1980s. Today, its legacy remains intact, with people traveling far and wide to see live performances at venues like Adair's Saloon, The Bomb Factory, Ruins, Three Links, Reno's, and Sons of Hermann Hall, which is nearly 100 years old.
The Crow Museum of Asian Art first made its mark on the Dallas community in 1998, after the Crow Family opened the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art. Though the Crow Family had traveled all over the world, Asia remained their favorite destination. They even received special permission to visit China during the 1970s, right before Chairman Mao Zedong died—a privilege very few foreigners received.
Eventually, they decided to have their collection of art purchased overseas evaluated, and 569 of their finest pieces were selected for inclusion in the official Crow Collection. In 2010, these works were moved to a permanent collection, located within the city's famous arts district.
Today, the Museum remains one of only a handful of institutions in the country solely dedicated to the Asian art. Visitors can also participate in community events, seminars, workshops, children's activities, and cultural classes. Tai Chi, yoga, and meditation sessions are also available.
Not only is the Magnolia Hotel a luxurious place to stay in downtown Dallas, but it also accounts for one of the city's most notable landmark buildings. The century-old structure can be easily spotted by the iconic Pegasus flying horse sign stationed above. The building was actually considered one of the city's first skyscrapers, standing over 400 feet, with over 29 stories.
Mia's Tex-Mex is one of the most well-known places to eat in Dallas. The family-style eatery is famous for its signature dishes including brisket tacos, chimichangas, and homemade rellenos.
Having been around for decades, the restaurant quickly became a favorite for Cowboys legend Tom Landry. The Hall of Fame Coach even became friends with its owner, Butch Enriquez. In 1989, the restaurant even hosted a rather important meeting between Jerry Jones, the new owner of the Cowboys at the time, and Jimmy Johnson, the man who would eventually replace Landry.
As a newer area of the city, Victory Park is buzzing with new businesses and retailers. The neighborhood has become a known shopping and dining destination, filled with local vendors, live music, and outdoor patios to enjoy. The development is also home to the W Dallas Hotel, the American Airlines Center, and the House of Blues, along with a one-acre park.
As of now, the Victory Park neighborhood is home to over 2,000 residences, 620,000 square feet of office space, and street-front retailers and restaurants, though the city predicts those numbers will eventually jump upwards of 4,000 and 4,000,000, respectively. The area also maintains a high walkability score. Visitors can easily bounce around from restaurants to concerts, sporting events, and more.
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The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum help preserve significant moments from the President's time in the White House. With the help of artifacts, documents, audiovisual, and interactive components, visitors will be able to experience key events associated with the era, including important legislative moments, policy initiatives, and the fallout from September 11.
The 14,000-foot exhibition space contains approximately 43,000 gifts given to the President and First Lady, almost 70 million pages of textual materials, about 30,000 audiovisual recordings, and just over 3.8 million photographs. A full-size replica of the Oval Office and 200 million email messages are also on display.
Located in the neighboring city of Grand Prairie, the Epic Waters Indoor Water Park remains a favorite among families traveling around the area. The park provides some welcome relief from the Texas heat with a variety of slides, rides, and pools. There are also designated areas for young kids and toddlers, so you don't need to worry about anyone getting in over their head (literally).
If you really want to make yourself at home while there, think about renting out a cabana for the day. This option allows for private seating and exclusive amenities (food included). If that's not enough to satisfy your hunger, then you can head over to their onsite dining facility, which serves American classics like burgers, pizza, and french fries. Oh, and there's also an arcade in case the family needs a little on-land action.
The Swiss Avenue Historic District was originally mapped out as an upscale residential community. Today, that legacy lives on, exemplified by the range of grand and stately homes it contains.
The district is also home to the first paved street in Dallas. A trolley line was also installed to provide residents with convenient transportation to the downtown area. The prominent families who moved to the area recruited nationally renowned architects like Bertram Hill, Lang & Witchell, DeWitt & Lemmon, Charles Bulger, Hal Thomson, and Marion Fooshee to design their homes.
In 1973, the area was designated as Dallas's first historic district. One year later, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, architectural enthusiasts can enjoy a range of residential designs such as Mediterranean, Spanish, Spanish Revival, Georgian, Mission, Prairie, Craftsman, Neoclassical, Italian Renaissance, Tudor to Colonial Revival.
Go to the Meadows Museum
The Meadows Museum has one mission: to advance the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for Spanish culture and art. The idea came from Texas philanthropist and oil financier Algur H. Meadows who frequently traveled to Spain for business during the 1950s.
Having spent hours admiring the spectacular Spanish masterpieces hanging in the Museo Nacional del Prado, Meadows began curating his own collection of Spanish art. By 1962, he had acquired enough pieces to put them on display. Through his foundation, Meadows gifted Southern Methodist University the funds needed to construct a museum for his collection.
Though Meadows died back in 1978, the Museum continues to develop its permanent collection, having almost doubled the amount of art it contains since it was founded. Visitors will find art born from the early Renaissance to the more modern works of Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, and Juan Gris.
The majority of the collection, however, was created during the Spanish Golden Age by Baroque artists such as Diego Velázquez, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, and Jusepe de Ribera.
That's a wrap on the best things to do in Dallas, but be sure to check back in with us soon! Travelicious, supported by Best Life, is committed to helping you find your next adventure. Sign up for our newsletter to enjoy expert-backed tips for navigating our favorite U.S. destinations!
What is Dallas known for?
Dallas is known for a range of cultural activities, from opera, ballet, concerts, and live theater. These events are scattered across a dozen neighborhoods located within the city. From a historical perspective, the city is also well known for being where the JFK assassination took place. The event was commemorated with the construction of the Kennedy Memorial Plaza. In addition, Dallas is known for its barbecue and Tex-Mex cuisine, jazz musical legacy, and sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Mavericks.
What are the best things to do in Dallas for couples?
Dallas is home to some of the most beautiful parks in the country. Couples can enjoy a romantic day out at the botanical gardens, Klyde Warren Park, and White Rock Lake. Other establishments, like the Reunion Tower, offer package deals for couples to enjoy wine and private seating.
What are fun things to do in Dallas for adults?
Dallas has amazing nightlife. Adults can enjoy some local cuisine before heading out to drinks or to see some live music. The Arts District is particularly popular among adults for its restaurants, music, and walkable entertainment area.
What are the best things to do in Dallas for kids?
Some of the most popular destinations in Dallas for young kids include the Dallas Zoo, the Dallas World Aquarium, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. For some time outdoors you can head to White Rock Lake or Klyde Warren Park.