You don’t have to embark on a staycation to enjoy all that Downtown Dallas has to offer. All you need is a free Saturday and a willingness to explore. With recent developments in the West End, the Main-Elm-Commerce corridor, the Arts District, the Dallas Farmers Market and Deep Ellum, there’s almost too much to see and do on any given visit. That’s why we’ve put together this planning tool to help you get to know your city better.
Downtown Dallas is more walkable than it’s ever been. Before you start your trek through town, make your first meal of the day a hearty one. Ellen’s Southern Kitchen in the historic West End offers traditional fare — grits, biscuits and gravy, hotcakes and even a bowl of “Texas red” (chili) topped with two fried eggs — that’s sure to fuel a morning’s worth of activities and more. If your morning coffee takes precedence over all else, consult the baristas at The Joule Hotel’s Weekend Coffee. In addition to their gourmet roasts (supplied by Seattle’s renowned Victrola Coffee), Weekend also serves unique pastries and other noshables.
Tours, In Less Than Three Hours
If you’ve ever wondered what the official name for “the green building” is or were curious about just how tall the tallest skyscraper in Dallas is, the Dallas Center for Architecture has answers. For $10, you can spend 90 minutes with an expert in Dallas’ skyline, strolling from one historic structure to another. Tours commence at 10AM. (Please note: Tour reservations must be made in advance.) For a little less leisurely option, check out Dallas Segway Tours. The “Dealey Plaza Then and Now Tour” hits highlights such as the Old Red Museum, Pioneer Plaza and the John F. Kennedy Memorial. You’ll even get a driving lesson (assuming you need one) before taking in the sights.
Main Attractions on Main Street
A long stretch of Main Street, between Griffin and Harwood, is now technically a garden district. Bound by Belo Garden to the west and Main Street Garden at its eastern edge, these half a dozen or so blocks have been revitalized by these developments. Landmarks of Dallas’ urban core, such as the five-star Adolphus Hotel and Neiman Marcus’ flagship department store, can now count a giant eyeball, upscale steakhouse and innovative clothing boutique as neighbors. The window-shopping alone along Main Street is enough to delight even the most discriminating tastes.
The Art of Lunch
By now it’s probably time for a snack. Head to Klyde Warren Park for a quick bite from one of the many food trucks treating visitors to one of Dallas’ most popular attractions. Pizza, barbecue, tacos and even Vietnamese bánh mì (sandwiches) are all on the menu. And you can savor your lunch plein air at any of the park’s open seating areas. Once you’ve finished, you’re just a few steps away from the city’s museums. The Nasher Sculpture Garden is a one-of-a-kind experience and showcases one the world’s best collections of modern sculpture. Next door, at the Dallas Museum Art, you’ll find treasures from cultures ancient as well as contemporary, and both near and far. Be sure to check out the Center for Creative Connections. Here, you can interact with exhibits, spend some time with a visiting artist or even make your own masterpiece. The Crow Collection of Asian Art sits just one block east, at Flora and Olive. At the Crow, you can also take a midday breather: The museum regularly hosts yoga and other wellness classes.
If you haven’t sampled the goods on display at the Dallas Farmers Market in a while, you may be surprised at what you’ll find in the booths and sheds just south of Marilla Street. The produce is more local than ever before, and the vendors more plentiful and diverse. Spending some time at the Farmers Market is a great way to support the area’s small businesses, not to mention get a glimpse of how Downtown Dallas is a community as much as it is a neighborhood. Head across Good Latimer Expressway and you find the entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in Deep Ellum. Kettle Art (which consistently takes “Best Gallery” honors from the readers of the Dallas Observer), Jade & Clover (eco-friendly housewares), Local Hub Bicycle Company, the Rocket Fizz vintage soda pop and candy shop and Deep Vellum Books each have a regular clientele and charm all their own.
Wind Down Over Dinner
Maybe you bought some fresh, organic ingredients for your evening meal (and maybe a bottle of Texas wine, too) at the Farmers Market and are looking forward to recapping your day around the dining room table. Then again, maybe you’re not quite ready to go home. Whatever ambiance appeals to you — and whatever you’re craving — you can find satisfaction Downtown. Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty atop Reunion Tower will give you a whole new perspective on Dallas. Closer to the ground floor, Meso Maya specializes in modern Mexican cuisine. You won’t find comfort food like its budin azteca (“tortilla lasagna”) anywhere else, much less at your average Tex-Mex joint. If you’re a diehard eclectic, then Café Momentum has incredible suggestions for four courses, including dessert. And when you pay your tab at Café Momentum, you’re supporting a worthy cause. The restaurant provides culinary training to nonviolent juvenile offenders through a partnership with the Dallas County Youth Village. (Be aware: Reservations are a must.)
What are your favorite destinations in Downtown Dallas? Where do you go and what do you do when you really want to celebrate your city? Keep the conversation going about what makes our city great by sharing your thoughts in the comments on Facebook.