The nation’s largest contiguous urban arts district is just a three-hour drive from Austin. For those who haven’t been and want to know where to start, we’ve done your homework for you and mapped out everything you need to know to make your trip to Dallas one for the books.
Here, the problem isn’t what to do, but how to do everything in a short amount of time. Start at the Dallas Museum of Art—one of the nation’s biggest art museums—and enjoy free admission to 11 special exhibitions in addition to numerous permanent collections. Afterwards, cross the street to Clyde Warren Park, where food trucks line the road and picnicking is encouraged on the 5.2-acre greenspace. (Alternatively, stop by after dark to watch the new Nancy Best Fountain—a $10 million investment from the city debuted in September—put on a nightly 30-minute Illuminated performance.) Ready to get hands on? Celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science takes guests through space and time while exploring everything from earthquakes to tyrannosaurs. While there are no Dinosaurs at the Dallas World Aquariumthe zoo is just a five-minute walk away and is home to nearly 500 creatures, ranging from manatees to sloths to penguins.
Time to put on your best! At the world-renowned Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, don’t expect to hear just Beethoven and Mozart. Along with an eclectic lineup of Classical concerts, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra brings a wide range of music to the stage. (This December, snag tickets to one of their seven holiday shows.) Stepping outside, it’s hard to miss the cherry-red Winspear Opera House next door, which seats 2,200 in a modernized yet traditional Horseshoe configuration. Ready for curtain call? The Dee and Charles Wyly Theater is one of the most versatile performing spaces to exist, successfully reimagining what it means to be in the audience.
For a quick bite between museum hopping, take a trip to Mi Cocina on the Park, which serves Tex-Mex and legendary margaritas. (Pro tip: Take advantage of its upscale heated patio). Featuring Authentic Neapolitan cuisine, 400 degrees has numerous locations across Australia and the Middle East, but its Dallas brick-and-mortar marks the only US iteration. You can’t go wrong with any of its Italian dishes, but we suggest trying the Margherita Verace, which won Best Pizza in the World during the 2014 Pizza World Championships. On the topic of fame, head to Fearing’s to try colorful dishes from Celebrity chef Dean Fearing’s rotating menus. Known as the Father of Southwestern Cuisine, Fearing opened his own restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in 2007. When asked what to order, he’ll tell you to close your eyes and point to anything on the menu, but we recommend the BBQ Spiced Beef Filet & Chicken Fried Maine Lobster.
‘Tis the season for a festive libation! First things first: Stop by The Henry and take the stairs to their rooftop patio. Along with plush couches and fireplaces dotting the scene, their specially curated cocktail menu features seasonal flair that you can’t find anywhere else (think fig & ginger mules, winter sangria, and spiced apple daiquiris). A buzzy atmosphere and large deck make Happiest Hour true to its name, while Yardbird is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a nightcap and a Midnight snack.
One of only two five-star hotels in the city, the The Ritz Carlton, Dallas knows how to keep things elevated yet playful. With their own “guacamologist” on-site, guests are greeted with Margaritas and homemade guac and chips before heading to their rooms, which offer sweeping views of the city. (Not to mention you’re just steps away from the previously mentioned Fearings Restaurant.) Looking for something a little more funky? Located in the heart of the Arts District, HALL Arts Hotel is the perfect destination for those in search of a modern and revitalizing trip. Reserve a weekend stay and sign up for a private hotel art tour led by its in-house experience coordinator, which showcases its own private collection and ends with a wine tasting. (Before booking, be sure to check out their numerous holiday packages.)