Photo Courtesy of Daxis
As the third largest city in Texas, Dallas lives up to the expectation that everything really is bigger in the Lone Star State. Situated in North Texas, roughly 70 miles from the Oklahoma border, Dallas is one of the largest cities in the region. The best way to explore it is to divide your time bet…ween Dallas’s unique districts and neighborhoods, so you can get a sense of the distinct sub-cultures represented in each. The locals tend to give a warm welcome to visitors and are happy to share their personal favorites in the city.
What to know before you go to Dallas
The Arts District links together Downtown and Uptown Dallas and is a must-see if you want to understand the city better. The depth and range of the museums and venues in this area makes for a perfect day of educating yourself on the cultural epicenter of the city. Experience a vast array of artwork at the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Watch a performance by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson Symphony Center, or a theater production at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, which was added to the district in 2009. Klyde Warren Park and The Perot Museum of Nature and Science (named after the family of the politician) opened in 2012, signifying the completion of this district.
The dining culture in Dallas is ever-evolving, energetic, and comprehensive. As expected in Texas, one of the highlights on every menu is an excellent steak, and Dallas has the top-tier steakhouses to prove it. Tillman's Roadhouse, Nick & Sam’s in Uptown, and Al Biernat’s in Highland Park all fit the bill for a proper steakhouse experience. Dallas is also known for its Tex-Mex, Mexican food, and barbecue, among other Southern-inspired cuisines. Food trucks are becoming more popular (largely thanks to their prevalence in Austin), and don't even think about leaving Dallas without trying one of the margaritas.
As a visitor, it's important to understand just how seriously Dallas natives take their state culture. As the second largest U.S. state, Texan pride runs deep, and visitors may notice the local infatuation with the state flag, the bluebonnet flower, and the longhorn bull. Dallas is also home to the State Fair of Texas, where another state symbol is located: Standing 55 feet tall, the Big Tex cowboy is a cultural icon of Dallas that welcomes everyone to the fairgrounds every autumn. Visitors are always encouraged to do as Big Tex does, and embrace the local culture by dressing in their best denim and cowboy boots.
One of Dallas’s biggest draws for visitors and locals alike is its shopping scene, with major designer brands and boutique labels. If you're looking for large malls and shopping centers to peruse some of the biggest names in fashion, NorthPark Center and Galleria Dallas have you covered with every store imaginable. If you seek a more boutique shopping experience to pick up cowboy boots, custom home decor, or art, roam neighborhoods like the Bishop Arts District, Knox-Henderson, and West Village, or explore Highland Park Village plaza for shops and finds that are unique to Dallas.
The easiest way to get to Dallas is by flying to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which is a 30-minute car ride from the city center. Flights are available to Dallas from almost all major domestic and international cities. The weather in Dallas can be quite temperamental. Although the summer months are consistently very hot, the rest of the year varies greatly, so be prepared for an array of weather conditions if you are visiting in the non-summer months. Although Dallas does have the DART transportation system, the city is best explored via car, so be prepared to rent one.
read before you go
Sandra Ramani New York City–based writer and editor Sandra Ramani has been covering travel, wellness, and lifestyle topics for over 17 years. In addition to AFAR and Afar.com, her work has appeared in such publications as Travel + Leisure, Departures, Robb Report, Conde Nast Traveler, Bridal Guide, Organic Spa, NYMag.com, Fodors, Bloomberg Businessweek, and WORTH, among others. She is the author of Day Trips from Dallas & Fort Worth (Globe Pequot Press), and has lived in England, France, and Italy.