Big hair, big oil, big bucks. Dallas may not have a reputation for subtlety, but that’s definitely a good thing. Beyond the fancy cars and glitzy social scene, Dallas is a sprawling city of green spaces, art museums and historic districts. By balancing doses of culture and nature with fantastic shopping and a sophisticated bar and restaurant scene, you can spend your weekend immersed in the very best of the Big D.
The stunning Thomas Mayne-designed structure is impressive enough, but this museum (named for that famous big-eared Texan) houses 11 equally impressive permanent exhibit halls. Interactive immersive exhibits allow visitors to experience an earthquake, launch a ping pong ball using their brain waves and play with engineer-developed robots. Friday evening’s Social Science program lets adults explore the exhibits or listen to a lecture while sampling signature cocktails
Anchoring Dallas’s expansive downtown arts district, the DMA, is not to be missed. Its wide-ranging permanent collection features objects from the ancient world, paintings from impressionist masters and an extensive database of Texas artists, so you can discover the local cultural community. On the third Friday of every month, the museum offers free entry and stays open until midnight, featuring special exhibits, concerts and film screenings.
Located in the notorious former Texas School Book Depository building, this is your chance to examine the Kennedy Assassination in Dealey Plaza. It may sound bleak, but the beautifully designed building has amassed a significant collection of materials dealing with the day of the assassination and its aftermath to show in fascinating detail how that one afternoon irrevocably changed American history
Unlike anything else in Dallas, Trinity Groves is a 15-acre destination “incubation center” that hosts dozens of startup businesses, including various new restaurant concepts. Stroll the rehabilitated warehouses at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, on a mini food-tour, tasting Latin Fusion dishes, contemporary Italian and Middle Eastern cuisine. Once you’ve filled up, hit the on-site microbrewery and take in some live music.
If you’re not in Dallas to eat barbecue, why’d you come? This Deep Ellum spot is one of the most award-decorated in the city. It’s family owned, too, and you can taste the love when you’re biting into the most flavorful brisket, pulled pork and short ribs you’ve ever had. Don’t miss the “Hot Mess,” a sea salt-crusted sweet potato topped with shredded brisket, chipotle cream and scallions.
For the ultimate beef experience, head to downtown where this modern steakhouse has a dry-aged cut for just about everybody. Not in a beef mood? Try the seafood or a medley of the seasonal appetizers crafted from the freshest local ingredients. Don’t forget the martini.
With over 400 species of animal the Dallas zoo has one of the country’s most impressive—and impressively displayed—wildlife collections. In one day you can see dinosaurs in the Giants of the Jurassic exhibit, observe a giraffe feeding and spend some time with a herd of mature female elephants affectionately known around the zoo as “The Golden Girls.” With behind the scenes tours available, and opportunities to actually handle some of the animals, there’s something to delight every traveler in the family
Because at some point the kids are going to get tired of walking. Consistently named one of the top children’s theaters in the country, DCT produces high quality family friendly performances based on biographies, great works of literature and new, original plays. The programming changes each season, so check the calendar for showtimes.
Named for its geodesic shape, the observation deck at Dallas Reunion Tower is a must visit for first-timers to the city. Start at the top of tower, where high-powered telescopes let you examine the city skyline, and take photos with the kids in front of a variety of backdrops.
When in the southwest, you gotta mount up. But don’t let the ominous name fool you—the guys who run Widowmaker Trail Rides are former mounted patrolmen and dedicated guides who will match horses to riders based on experience. On the two-hour ride you’ll amble through dense woods, rolling hills and beautiful shorelines, getting a break from the city and a sense of the uniquely serene landscape of the Lone Star State.
Sure, you could always take a jog through the city, but why not mix things up? Summit gyms offer a variety of wall-climbing classes that burns calories by challenging your muscles to adapt to new movements. For the less adventurous, they also offer an array of yoga flow classes to develop core strength, balance and flexibility.
Charming and cozy with an earthy vibe and premium organic products, this spot in Uptown Dallas is the perfect escape for a quick-and rejuvenating-pampering session. The “Muscle Relief Body Ritual” features a sugar scrub, a balm-wrap, and a shoulder massage, while the “Soundgarden Ultrasonic Facial” uses lilac stem cells, and ultrasonic waves to give you that lit-from-within look. Fell in love with the fragranced products used in your treatment? Understandable, and no problem. The spa’s apothecary is fully stocked.
They’ve squeezed quite a bit into this five-acre park joining Dallas’s uptown and downtown neighborhoods. There’s a reading room, a children’s park, an expansive lawn for picnicking, a performance area and a bevy of food trucks lined up around the eastern perimeter at lunchtime. Laze around on the grass, chow down on a burrito and then consider burning it off with one of the instructor-led yoga sessions throughout the day.
Take an afternoon stroll along this picturesque trail that connects the southern Victory Park neighborhood and the Mockingbird DART station in the north of Dallas. Stop for a drink along the way at the Katy Trail Ice House, an Austin style beer garden with more than 50 beers on tap and views of the trail.
Explore 66 acres of lush meadows, blooming flowers, trees and gorgeous estate buildings. Take a tour of the DeGolyer House, a magnificent, newly restored estate with a 1940s aesthetic. Stroll the Boswell Family Garden, overlooking White Rock Lake, one of the city’s most popular parks, and one of the best spots in town for sailing, birdwatching or a lakeside jog. You’ll also find the McCasland Sunken Garden, with wide stone steps and the kind of dramatic hedge work that makes you feel like you’re in a Merchant Ivory movie.
For the fashion obsessed, this is the mother ship. Shop high-end designer everything, from shoes to bags to denim to furs, at this, the original Neiman Marcus. Sure, outposts exist in other cities, but there’s nothing like indulging in a spree at the place where luxury department store shopping was born.
It’s got a cute name and a cuter exterior. The pink and yellow-trimmed Victorian that houses this boutique is packed with wares from a variety of contemporary women’s designers, including local artists. Drop by and scoop up a few graphic tees, bright printed dresses and cute accessories.
With more than 60 independent retailers, cafes and restaurants, this neighborhood is charm epitomized. Stroll the tree-lined streets with a latte, drop into art galleries, home furnishings stores and fashion boutiques, and assuage any shopper’s guilt with the knowledge that you’re supporting local, independent businesses.