The Perfect Weekend in Dallas

A weekend in Dallas offers the perfect city basecamp to explore the Dallas Forth Worth area. Once your bags are dropped off at your hotel of choice, head off to visit a selection of Dallas neighborhoods--don’t miss Deep Ellum or the Bishop Arts District. As you wind your way around the city, take in the Dallas Arboretum, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Square, and all the shopping you can handle. Keep your energy up by stopping for some Tex-Mex, a barbecue meal or two, and some of the city’s fine dining spots.

Hotels
2332 Leonard St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
A trailblazer of the boutique hotel scene, Hotel ZaZa has become a Texas-grown mini-chain over the last decade, with two properties in Houston and one in Austin. But this Uptown outpost remains a true original. The Mediterranean-inspired main building houses the bulk of the 168 accommodations, which include well-sized rooms with generous seating areas, plush king beds and, in some, private balconies. The real ZaZa flair, however, is reflected in the higher categories: 19 Concept Suites are done up in styles like “Bohemia,” “West Indies,” “Opium,” and “Shag-a-Delic;” upgrade further to a super-sized Magnificent Seven Suite (in themes like “Leonardo,” “Crouching Tiger,” and “Rock Star”), or one of the 12 one- and two-bedroom Bungalows, which are set in a 1930s-era former home away from the main hotel and feature individual touches like a vintage 1960s VW Bug tailgate, a 1940s TV fitted into a wooden cabinet, and furniture and artwork handpicked from around Texas. Guests of all rooms have access to free champagne and snacks in the lobby, the ZaSpa wellness retreat and gym, the lively Dragonfly restaurant, and the cabana-ringed pool, which turns into a party scene with DJs spinning after 10 p.m. Another ZaZa signature is the “Magic Carpet Ride,” the hotel’s version of a complimentary house car, which ferries you within five miles of the property in a decommissioned highway patrol car or a Cadillac hearse.
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219, USA
It took a 1920s cotton magnate and a 1980s oil heiress to create the city’s most iconic stay, the former incorporating hallmarks of European design into a 10,000-square-foot house the likes of which had never been seen in Dallas—think Italian marble columns, 19th-century Spanish cathedral doors, and a ceiling inlaid with 2,400 separate pieces of wood. The latter transformed it into the Mansion Restaurant, which remains an award-winning favorite, adding a new wing with 143 guest rooms and suites and establishing the first property in the now-global Rosewood chain. Past the signature peach facade, the since renovated accommodations mix modern technologies with gracious amenities, historic touches, and residential-style décor—a combination that’s proved a hit with visiting dignitaries, international business travelers, and privacy-seeking celebs. A small pool, fitness center, and massage treatment rooms round out the facilities in the new wing, while meeting rooms and event spaces are located in the mansion’s gorgeous former living quarters. Young professionals flock to the leather-walled Mansion Bar for after-work craft cocktails and live music on weekends, while the brunch crowd heads to the Terrace restaurant to dine around outdoor fireplaces and oak trees hung with lanterns. Just don’t pass up ordering the legendary tortilla soup at The Mansion.
2121 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
When the Ritz-Carlton Dallas opened in 2007, it didn’t have to go far to find a star chef for its gourmet restaurant. Dubbed the father of Southwestern cuisine, and the author of notable cookbooks like The Texas Food Bible, Dean Fearing had helped earn the restaurant at the Mansion on Turtle Creek numerous awards during his two decades there—but was now up to the challenge of opening his own place. A decade-plus later, the James Beard Award–winning Fearing continues to be a favorite for its Southwestern-accented American menus crafted with regional products. Depending on the seasons, you might find barbecued shrimp tacos with mango and pickled red onion salad, Dr. Pepper–braised short ribs with crispy tobacco onions, wood-grilled antelope sirloin, or the mesquite-grilled Rattlesnake Burger topped with smoked bacon. But along with the Texas flair, the menu also surprises, thanks to curveballs like an Indian-style chicken makhani with grilled naan, and dedicated vegetarian and “simply prepared” healthy menus. With something for everyone, this is a popular pick for lively brunches out on the terrace or in the glass pavilion, business lunches around the open kitchen, and special occasions in the private dining room or the wine cellar. The revamped bar is an easy choice for its stylish atmosphere, weekday happy hours, and tacos-and-live-music Thursdays.
408 W Eighth St #101, Dallas, TX 75208, USA
With its tiny, intimate location (inside a 1920s-era former home) and all the accolades (including a James Beard semifinalist nod for Best Chef, Southwest), this Bishop Arts District spot remains one of the harder reservations to snag in town—but it’s well-worth it to keep trying. When you do make it in, you’ll be treated to chef/owner David Uygur’s seasonal Italian-inspired menus, which might include crostini topped with a Calabrian chili and bacon pâté, risotto with celery root and foie gras, or duck leg confit served with polenta, topped off with olive oil cake with prune jam and burnt-cinnamon gelato. The meats are house-cured, the pasta homemade, the ingredients local, and—with Uygur’s wife overseeing the dining room—the atmosphere full of charm, all of which has helped make this a favorite for date nights, special occasions, and foodie splurges.
400 West Davis Street
Eating here might get a little messy, but it’s worth it. One of Dallas’s favorite BBQ spots smokes its meats over Texas post oak, serves them wrapped in butcher paper, and pairs them with cold draft brews—and the crowds go wild. Savor classics like brisket, sausage, pork chops, and ribs, plus the specialty Kreuz Market sausage (this is the only place in town that stocks it), all sliced to order, fresh off the smoker, and served by the half- and full-pound, so it’s easy to mix and match. The so-called TX Vegetarian section cheekily lists chicken and turkey, but there are several sides for noncarnivores, including mac-and-cheese, potato salad, and two kinds of slaw. The atmosphere is casual—think counter service and shared tables—but the clientele always leaves happy (and slightly perfumed by the smoker).
1601 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75202, USA
While it’s tough to verify El Fenix’s claim that this was one of the forefathers of Tex-Mex, there’s no denying that the homegrown chain is as much a part of culinary history as it is of Dallas’s. Started in 1916 by Mexican-immigrant Mike Martinez (and renamed El Fenix in 1918, as a nod to the phoenix, a symbol of rebirth), the original café first served standard American fare, then slowly began introducing more “exotic” Mexican flavors, then combination platters that featured both cuisines—thus was born Tex-Mex, El Fenix style. Generations of Dallasites have grown up with signature dishes like the homemade chile con queso dip, cheese or sour cream chicken enchiladas, and legendary tortilla soup, which is loaded up with crispy tortilla strips and chunks of cheese and avocado. As at the beginning, you’ll find American dishes with a Mexican twist, too, like cheeseburgers topped with Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo, and guacamole. The combination platters are particularly popular, as are the lunch specials. Though there are now over 20 locations all over the Metroplex, the downtown and North Dallas spots are notable for their long histories and old-school vibe—and for the real feeling you get that many of your fellow diners have been El Fenix regulars their whole lives. You might even spot a famous face among them, as the casual restaurants are a popular stop for visiting celebs, musicians, and pro athletes; Mick Jagger was even known to pop in when he was dating Dallas girl Jerry Hall.
2821 Turtle Creek Blvd, Dallas, TX 75219, USA
Since 1980, when well-heeled Dallasites have needed a restaurant for a special family occasion, power breakfast, proposal, or impressive first date, they’ve come to The Mansion. One of the city’s most acclaimed restaurants—which, over the years, has been the domain of several noted chefs, including Dean Fearing—is set in the 1925 private home that forms the centerpiece of the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel, so the elegant rooms are filled with original details (like oak paneling, inlaid ceilings, and stained glass) and antique furnishings, including a 16th-century stone mantel. The menus are equally refined, while still approachable and creative to keep up with the city’s ever-evolving and elevating food scene. Breakfast and brunch are popular for dishes like the smoked brisket tacos and hazelnut brioche French toast, while lunch favorites include the signature tortilla soup, prime burger with kale, bacon aioli, and truffle fries, and generous salads. Dinner’s fine-dining menus change with the season but may include treats like Wagyu beef tartare or lobster ravioli; opt for the five-course chef’s tasting menu for a handpicked sampling of the current standouts. Vegetarian options are also available, as is an expertly curated wine list that takes you around the globe. If the weather is good, enjoy brunch, drinks, or a more casual meal on the terrace, around the fireplace, or under the lantern-adorned oaks.
1617 Hi Line Drive
In its modern, warm wood-accented digs with retro design touches, FT33 serves up the most talked-about dishes in Dallas. Executive chef Matt McCallister’s profile has grown immensely on the strength of his hugely creative farm-to-table menu, inventive cocktails and well-curated wine list. With each dish as mind-blowingly unique as the next, it’s best to round up a few friends and sample from each others’ plates for a heady culinary adventure!
5624 Sears St, Dallas, TX 75206, USA
In 2013, Jason Boso, the founder of the popular Twisted Root burger joints, felt the city was lacking a bar where he could feel equally comfortable taking his dad for a beer, hanging out with his buddies at night, and treating his wife to brunch—so he created one. Granted, this is no ordinary bar: Truck Yard draws inspiration from traditional beer gardens, old-school honky-tonks, and a treehouse Boso had as a child, all ringed by colorfully painted and graffiti-adorned trailers. Enjoy cocktails in the treehouse bar and craft beers in the outdoor seating areas as you wait for eats from the rotating collection of food trucks; depending on the schedule, you might find BBQ, Greek favorites, gourmet sliders, authentic tacos, and more, as well as the house signature Philly cheesesteak. The casual vibe and national praise mean there’s always a lively crowd.
13350 Dallas Parkway
When Texans think about shopping on a grand scale, they think of Galleria Dallas. The expansive, multi-level retail hub is shopaholic central, with more than 200 stores and restaurants ranging from budget-chic shop H&M to Nordstrom. Go for a spin on the ice rink, then rest your feet and dive into a Mambo Taxi at Mi Cocina.
8525 Garland Road
Set on the banks of White Rock Lake, this 66-acre sanctuary offers scenic trails, blooming gardens, and peaceful green spaces for when you want some quiet time with nature—plus kids’ areas, holiday events, and a packed calendar of festivals and concerts for when it’s time for something a bit livelier. Take in the vibrant hues of the Jonsson Color Garden, Crape Myrtle Allee, and gardens dedicated to roses and camellias, or do some contemplating in the Palmer Fern Dell or the McCasland Sunken Garden. Opened in 2017, A Tasteful Place is a 3.5-acre garden focusing on fruit, veggies, and edible herbs and flowers; tastings, demo, nutrition sessions, and cooking classes are held throughout the year. Don’t miss some of the main section’s events, too, such as the annual Dallas Blooms fest and summer concert series.
2201 North Field Street
Named for Dallas-based billionaire entrepreneur (and sometime politician) Ross Perot and his wife, Marjorie, this engaging center is actually split into two campuses: one on the grounds of Fair Park in East Dallas, and the other in Victory Park, near the Dallas Arts District. It’s the latter that garners the most attention—perhaps thanks to the 35-foot Malawisaurus fossil that greets you in the lobby. Earning immediate raves when it opened in 2012, the center woos kids of all ages with its cutting-edge ways of celebrating topics like engineering, conservation, and technology. Past that lobby figure, find five floors of galleries (including 11 permanent exhibit halls) filled with interactive kiosks, games, and lifelike simulations; there’s also an education wing and children’s museum. In addition to all the content, the museum has garnered worldwide attention for its ecoconscious design. Under the direction of Pritzker Prize–winning architect Thom Mayne, the 180,000-square-foot building features touches like a 54-foot continuous-flow escalator, solar-powered water heating, LED lighting, and a rainwater collection system.
2001 Flora St
It seems wrong to call this Renzo Piano–designed complex a museum—it’s more like a “sculpture safari,” on which you get to experience the pieces in their intended habitat. Opened in 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is a two-acre homage to modern and contemporary sculpture that was founded upon the private collection of the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher, then grew to include new acquisitions and special exhibits on loan from other institutions. Wander the peaceful indoor and outdoor galleries and gardens to spot works by artists like Giacometti, Moore, Serra, Rodin, Picasso, Calder, and de Kooning; many of the larger pieces invite interaction. The lush setting and bold pieces create an idyllic backdrop for the center’s year-round calendar of events (which include movie nights and family-friendly fun)—and make it a top pick for weddings, too.
Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX, USA
One of Dallas’s earliest neighborhoods, this formerly industrial area just east of downtown has a long history as an entertainment hub, from its days as a hotbed of blues and jazz clubs in the 1920s, to the 1980s, when local bands like the New Bohemians, Butthole Surfers, and Old 97’s were launched from its clubs. Today, the area is not quite as counterculture as in the past, but it’s still got an indie steak, with vibrant street murals and public art providing the backdrop for a host of independent galleries, shops, bars, breweries, cafés, tattoo studios, and over 60 restaurants and 30 live music venues. Among the most iconic music spots are Club Dada and Trees, both of which have been revamped in recent years, as well as The Door, the Prophet Bar, jazz/blues favorite the Free Man, and the century-old Sons of Hermann Hall. As it has grown, the area has also become more family friendly, particularly during events like the annual Deep Ellum Arts Festival, which features stalls from around 200 juried visual artists, and five stages hosting 100 musical acts.
403 N Bishop Ave, Dallas, TX 75208, USA
Home to warehouses and bustling trolley stops in the 1920s and ’30s (with the warehouses becoming artists’ studios and storage facilities in the ’70s), these few blocks in South Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood were designated a National Historic Landmark in 199O—right around the time the area was experiencing a decline. In the new millennium, however, there’s been a revival: Today the area’s brick buildings and charming former homes hold over 60 independent shops, restaurants, bars, cafés, and galleries. Grab a coffee or glass of wine and browse the tomes at the Wild Detectives bookstore, shop for furniture and local artwork at Neighborhood, and find unique gifts and design items at Bishop Street Market and We Are 1976. Foodies also flock to top spots like Hattie’s for Southern low-country–inspired fare; the much-acclaimed (and often hard to reserve) Lucia for Italian fine dining; Eno’s Pizza Tavern for thin-crust pies; Tillman’s Roadhouse for Texas- and Southwest-flavored favorites; and the legendary Lockhart Smokehouse for pit BBQ. Save room for artisan sweets from Dude, Sweet Chocolate (which has garnered national acclaim) and a slice of fresh-from-the-oven pie from Emporium, where the menu changes seasonally. With the area now firmly enjoying “features on travel TV shows” status, and private residences still lining the side streets, parking here can be tricky—especially on the weekends, or during a festival or one of the regular wine, art, or jazz nights.
1300 Robert B Cullum Boulevard
If you’ve ventured to this complex only for the annual Texas State Fair, you’re missing out—there’s much more to this National Historic Landmark. Spread out over 277 acres east of downtown, Fair Park does have fairground roots (it was built in 1886 for the Dallas State Fair), but by the early 1900s, it had become the city’s second public park. Its time in the spotlight came in 1936 when, in preparation for the arrival of the Texas Centennial Exposition, the city built a number of art deco buildings throughout the grounds. Set around the peaceful Leonhardt Lagoon, several of these structures have been restored in recent years, and continue to serve as prime examples of the deco style. Both these original buildings and a few newer additions now house notable cultural institutions, including the African American Museum, dedicated to works by African American artists; the Hall of State, operated by the Dallas Historical Society; and the Texas Discovery Gardens, focusing on native horticulture. There are also several performance venues—from the 5,000-seat Fair Park Band Shell amphitheater to the Music Hall at Fair Park, home to the annual Dallas Summer Musicals series—as well as the Cotton Bowl stadium, which hosts the annual rivalry game between the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma. The Texas Skyway is an art deco–styled gondola ride that whisks you 65 feet aboveground, while the Texas Star is one of the largest Ferris wheels in the country. But of course, the arrival of Big Tex and his gang is still the park’s biggest draw: Each fall, the grounds are transformed into the lively, 24-day State Fair, with rides, games, livestock competitions, countless spots to eat and drink, live music, and more—all watched over by the iconic 55-foot grinning cowboy.
411 Elm Street
When President John F. Kennedy was shot in Dallas in November 1963, the world was introduced to the Texas School Book Depository building, which became the primary crime scene for the assassination. It was from a sixth-floor window in this brick warehouse that the shots are said to have rung out toward the Grassy Knoll and the motorcade along Dealey Plaza—and it’s that same floor that now houses this excellent museum dedicated to the event and its aftermath. The engaging permanent exhibits focus on everything from the political climate of the era and the actual assassination to the immediate chaos, the investigations, and even the conspiracy theories; you’ll also have the chance to watch and analyze the Zapruder film, and stand at the famous window itself. Rotating temporary installations may showcase topics like artwork inspired by the event, while a library and reading room offer opportunities for a deeper dive.
920 S Harwood St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
As proof that Dallasites aren’t all about the carnivore life, this downtown market has been peddling farm-fresh veggies, dairy, and more since 1941. What started as a small horse-and-wagon wholesale market is now a 26,000-square-foot hall lined with farm stands, artisan food vendors, and specialty purveyors, plus food hall–style stalls and four permanent restaurants. From fresh baked goods to gourmet cheeses, globally sourced spices to locally grown produce, and seafood to spirits, you’ll find everything you need to stock your pantry or picnic basket. After shopping, grab some coffee or lunch to enjoy at the indoor or outdoor seating areas—the latter facing views of the downtown skyline.
1010 North Riverfront Boulevard
It’s easy to burn a day simply poring over the lovingly curated used treasures at Lula B’s—there’s just so much to see. Stroll through the aisles, leaving no corner unturned, and you can be rewarded with stylish, retro-fantastic pieces for your living room, bookshelves, or even your closet. It’s a terrific place to uncover items you may want to refurbish, reupholster, or revamp—the creative possibilities are truly endless.
2010 Flora St, Dallas, TX 75201, USA
As the patriarch of one of the most prominent real estate empires in the country, Trammell Crow’s work took him all over the globe—including on frequent trips to Asia, during which he and his wife, Margaret, developed a passion for Asian art. Over three decades beginning in the 1960’s, the Crows amassed a deep and diverse collection of important works from all over the region, from a six-foot Ming Dynasty-era seated Buddha and stellar examples of 18th-century jade sculptures to intricately-carved panels from Indian temples. For many years, these pieces were scattered between family properties and commercial buildings, until they all came together under one roof in 1998, with the opening of this Arts District museum. Featuring open galleries framed by natural light and greenery, the jewel box museum is a serene space in which to contemplate pieces from the ever-growing permanent collection, which now includes over 1,000 works from a dozen countries, as well as a library of over 12,000 books and journals; along with all the treasures inside, don’t miss the 15 sculptures in the garden, which span from the ancient to the 20th century. Temporary exhibits might highlight specific techniques (like lacquer work or miniature painting), genres (like the art of the Japanese samurai), or the works of contemporary Asian artists and sculptors. Entrance to the collection is always free; additional fees may apply for tours, talks, or events like yoga and meditations sessions. In 2019, the entire museum was donated to The University of Texas at Dallas, which will continue operating this original location, as well as a future outpost slated for the UTD campus.
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