Dallas City Guide

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Cowboys. Cheerleaders. Big hair. And who could forget the eponymous soap opera? Truth be told, the “Big D” just doesn’t go small.  

Often (begrudgingly) lumped together with nearby Fort Worth and anchoring the largest metropolitan area in the Southern U.S., Dallas is the birthplace of Morgan Fairchild, Meat Loaf and Luke and Owen Wilson. It also fostered the likes of Jessica and Ashlee Simpson, Erykah Badu and Norah Jones. Mark Cuban, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman, George W. and Laura Bush also call the city home. 

A sports lover’s paradise, Dallas is — despite what stereotypes suggest — an art aficionado’s dream, where top-tier museums and a whole lot of other cultural riches await. Not to be overlooked, Dallas is also where the margarita machine was invented, along with — wait for it — German chocolate at the good old 7-11. Whether you dig dining on small plates from James Beard Award-winning chefs, favor exemplary architecture or enjoy whiling away the day on verdant trails, Dallas delivers in droves. 

Just settling in or considering a move to the Dallas area? Immerse yourself in what locals know with Mayflower’s Dallas City Guide. 

Where to Get a Culture Fix in Dallas


The epicenter of North Texas’ art scene, Dallas makes its residents proud. From the downtown Arts District to jazzy Deep Ellum, artist enclave Cedars and the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff, without question, there is a lot to love. Think it’s anything like Austin though? Guess again. Dallas marches to a different beat. 

A good place to begin a cultural immersion is the Dallas Museum of Art, set in the Arts District downtown. Housing 22,000 works spanning 5,000 years of history, it’s among the 10 largest art museums in the country, welcoming more than 650,000 visitors each year. 

Consider yourself a natural history and science buff? Check out the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Victory Park. Named in honor of Margot and Ross Perot and designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, it sparks curiosity on five stories of exhibits covering everything from dinosaurs to DNA and diamonds. 

Discover rotating exhibits of contemporary sculpture at the Nasher Sculpture Center. Adjacent to the Dallas Museum of Art, it houses real estate developer Raymond Nasher and his wife Patsy’s collection of modern and contemporary works, complete with a scenic 1.5-acre sculpture garden in the heart of downtown Dallas’ Art District. 

Learn about the history of flight at the Smithsonian-affiliated Frontiers of Flight Museum, which chronicles the pioneers of flight from the 1920s and ‘30s to World War II and the present-day jet and rocket age. Exhibiting more than 30 aircraft and space vehicles, the aerospace facility is situated at Love Field. 

Located in Fort Worth’s cultural district, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art features an impressive permanent collection of paintings, sculptures, photography and works on paper by prominent artists working in the United States and its North American territories in the 19th and 20th centuries. Focusing on portrayals of the Old West by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell; works depicting the exploration and settlement of North America in the 19th-century; and masterworks that portray significant turning points in American art history, it also houses a 45,000-piece-strong collection of exhibition-quality American photography. 

Be sure to catch a performance by the Dallas Chamber Symphony, which performs at the intimate Dallas City Performance Hall. Offering a diverse, innovative and engaging roster of concerts, it delivers a chamber music experience complete with underrepresented and standard repertory spanning contemporary music to staged and narrative works, film, theater and dance. And if opera is more your thing, plan to see a performance by the Fort Worth Opera, one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. 

As for those seeking a quirkier take on the cultural experience, there’s always Rainbow Vomit, an offbeat, interactive art, light and sound experience brimming with Instagram-worthy opps. 

Giddyap for a dose of girl power at Fort Worth’s National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, which  memorializes pioneering women of the American West, who exhibited extraordinary courage and fortitude. Located across from the 120-acre entertainment, sports and livestock complex Will Rogers Memorial Center, its engaging exhibits give way to rare photographs, theater presentations and other culturally enriching activities. 

Feel like a kid again at the dog-friendly DFW Elite Toy Museum. Located about an hour outside of the city in the town of Grand Saline, it’s chock full of obscure and vintage items and displays everything from cars to model boats and antique pet toys. 

Want to skip a trip to the “City of Lights?” You can get a taste of it, sans flight, in the neighboring city of Paris, situated along I-30, northeast of the Metroplex. The star attraction is a 65-foot replica of the iconic Eiffel Tower that dons — what else? — a cowboy hat. Less than 1/10th the height of the original, it was erected in 1993. 

On a more somber note, Dallas’ Dealey Plaza was, of course, the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. A memorial worth visiting, it’s complemented by the adjacent Sixth Floor Museum, where you can explore the history and his legacy in-depth. 

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Things You Can Only See and Experience in Dallas


Let’s get something straight: Nowhere in the world is quite like Dallas. Although stereotypes abound, it’s safe to say there’s more than meets the eye. Dig a bit deeper and find any number of atypical locales, singular experiences and once-in-a-lifetime adventures waiting to be had. 

Do you know who shot J.R.? Find out or revisit the drama in person at Southfork Ranch, a conference and event center in Parker that includes the Ewing Mansion, setting for the television series “Dallas.” After pursuing memorabilia from the actual TV show, be sure to take a few snaps around the sprawling grounds. 

Dig “The Musters” TV series? Visit the Munster Mansion, a replica of the house used in the 1960s sitcom. Painstakingly recreated room by room, you can come to catch footage from the show, along with an ever-growing collection of pieces that appeared on the set. 

Rodeo enthusiasts will appreciate the year-round action at the Fort Worth Stockyards, where 
twice-daily longhorn cattle drives join a lineup of weekly Friday and Saturday rodeos, where cowboys and cowgals take on bucking broncos and feisty bulls. 

Take a step back in time at the Texas General Store on Main Street in Grapevine. Dedicated to all things Texas, it houses standard issue “Don’t Mess with Texas” gear, along with string art, metal works, photographs, gourmet goodies and much, much more. 

Join a FAA-certified Pilot at Future Flight LLC for a thrilling powered parachute ride free of windows and doors. Reaching speeds up to 32 mph and soaring up to 1,000 feet in the sky, it’s a singular way to take in the North Texas landscape from an aerial perspective. 

Want to get the heck out of dodge? Tired of the same old, same old? Book a lodge room or cabin at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a conservation preserve near Glen Rose, where they breed endangered species, educate the public, perform scientific research and manage the land. The 1,800-acre facility recollects an African safari and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Beyond its accommodations, the grounds feature a 7.2-mile scenic drive through live oak thickets, limestone outcroppings and sweeping juniper, a haven for aoudads, wildebeest, giraffes, Grevy’s and Heartmann’s Mountain zebras, maned wolves, southern white rhinos, and many more creatures. Just remember, you must always stay in your vehicle, with the doors and windows up. 

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Where to Get Outdoors in Dallas

Full of green spaces, waterways, and hiking and biking trails, D-Town offers an abundance of ways to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s taking in the skyline from White Rock Lake, meandering through Main Street Garden or pausing to appreciate the butterfly gardens at Cedar Ridge Preserve, there’s an activity to suit every mood, age and fitness level. 

Walk in the footsteps of real, fossilized dinosaur tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park. Situated about 90 minutes from Dallas, it’s where dinosaurs left footprints in the mud at the edge of an ancient ocean (now a riverbed). Pack a picnic and hit the trails or plan to camp in the picturesque surroundings. 

The untouched, 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest boasts groves of urban bottomland hardwood trees that follow the Trinity River. With a history that dates to prehistoric times, much of the forest sprouts from reclaimed land. If you’re heading deep into the forest, do gear up — the so-called Big Swamp harbors lairs of water moccasins, palm-sized spiders and feral hogs. It’s also the site of a horse trail and the seven-acre Trinity Forest Adventure Park, where thrill-seekers navigate aerial obstacle courses, complete with soaring zip lines, climbing trees and wobble bridges. 

Prefer to seek out something sweet? Teddy Bear Park (a.k.a. Lakeside Park) is a quiet respite marked by cute, cuddly sculptures nestled within a gorgeous, verdant setting. Keep your camera at the ready — the largest bear is 5’ 8” tall. Although it’s temporarily closed during a reconstruction project until 2023, in the meantime you can keep an eye on the progress online  

A few blocks from the heavily trafficked Katy Trail, GOT-like Dragon Garden on Cedar Springs Road is a quiet alternative, featuring a small garden punctuated by sculptures of winged lions, angels, gargoyles, and, of course, dragons. 

Built for urban adventurers, the Santa Fe National Historic Trail is a popular bike route that follows the course on an abandoned Santa Fe rail line, extending about four miles southwest from the White Rock Lake spillway, meandering to the Deep Ellum neighborhood and ultimately chugging through five states.  
Offering striking, canyon-like topography, the heavily wooded, 111-acre McCommas Bluff Preserve is a beautiful place to study and immerse yourself in nature. Whether you opt to picnic the day away or enjoy more active endeavors — like hiking fishing — the rare and rocky landscape reveals views of the serpentine Trinity River. 

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Local Eats in Dallas


It’s no secret that Tex-Mex and barbecue are staples. What you may not have realized is the impact waves of immigration have had on the city and suburbs’ cuisine scene. According to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, at least 17.5 percent of DFW’s population is foreign-born. A whopping 63 percent of them hail from Latin America, while 25 percent are of Asian descent; Africa accounts for about 6 percent of Dallasites; and 4.5 percent of residents hail from Europe. Want a full-on cultural experience? Head to the suburbs’ international enclaves, small towns and villages rich with an eclectic array of fare. 

Once the wholesale fruit and vegetable hub for Northern Texas, today the Dallas Farmers Market is a lively, community-centric spot to gather and nosh. Featuring a bevy of local retail and artisan vendors at the open-air pavilion The Shed, it also has a 26,000-square-foot food hall with everything from coffee to macarons, Thai street food to regional Mexican eats and Caribbean cuisine.  

One of the few enclaves in the country (shoutout, Chicago!) turning out traditional Czech — a.k.a. Bohemian —cuisine, the city of Dallas sports some standouts of its own. That includes Cafe Prague and McCook Bohemian Restaurant and Lounge. Less than familiar with this hearty, comfort-driven Euro cuisine? We’ll do you solid: Zero in on the breaded pork tenderloin, crackly roast duck and succulent beef svickova, with beef noodle or liver dumpling soup, bread dumplings and tangy sauerkraut to go with. Afterward, visit The Kolache Box for a sweet, fruit-christened bakery treat. 

When you have a hankering for classic Frito pie, head to Harvey B’s, a popular char-broiled burger joint where it’s heaped in quintessential fashion with corn chips, chili, cheddar cheese and onions. As for those burgers, they’re tempting, too, whether it’s the ½-pound Pancho Villa topped with hashbrowns, an egg, bacon, ham, cheese and thousand island dressing or the version slathered with cream cheese and mustard, finished with fresh jalapenos, pickles lettuce, tomatoes onions.  

Eating Tex-Mex cuisine is a ubiquitous pastime in the DFW area and you have countless options to choose from. Our advice? Start the party at Tupinamba Cafe, the oldest family-owned Mexican restaurant in Dallas. The cavernous spot, anchored by a long, bright bar that’s punctuated by colorful mosaic tiles, the spot’s deep-fried tacos are an absolute must. Just make sure someone in your party orders the No. 3 — featuring a cheese enchilada with chili, a soft cheese taco, rice and beans — or a No. 8, a calorie calamity with sour cream chicken enchiladas, rice, beans and a guacamole chalupa. That way, you can really get a taste. 

There are few better ways to start the day than over a chicken fried steak from a neighborhood greasy spoon. While options abound in a city that takes credit for the invention, the take at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House is far and away the gold standard. Perfectly crisp and loosen-your-belt large, it’s served in all-you-can-eat fashion, no less. The one in Roanoke is the original outpost. 

Adopted as the official state tree of Texas in 1919, pecans are synonymous with the state of Texas. So, it’s no surprise that pecan pie is Dallas’ dessert du jour. While you have ample options throughout DFW, a solid bet — and arguably an upgrade — is the bourbon-spiked Drunken Nut with shortbread crust from Emporium Pies. Other faves include the Smooth Operator (French silk with a pretzel crust) and the Papa Don’t Peach, tart custard pie with stippled with peaches and raspberries. 

Living in Dallas, you’ll likely make friends with the deep-fried corny dog, whose most stellar version can be found at Fletcher’s Original Corney Dog. If you’re a traditionalist, The Original will suit you just fine, though the jalapeno and cheese is better still. 

Want the best fries you’ll ever have? You haven’t lived until you try Snuffer’s legendary cheddar cheese fries. Enough said.

Sizzling, smoky fajita meat — in the traditional sense, beef skirt steak — comes courtesy of Spanish ranch hands from Texas. Served skillet-style with vegetables and heaped on a flour tortilla, you’ll find a truly Texas take, the platters at unpretentious Lalo’s Fine Mexican Cuisine are boss. That’s especially true of the queso fajitas, which are blanketed in a heap of friend onions melty cheese. 

Offering everything you want and need in a taco joint, Oak Cliff shack Taqueria El Si Hay is the no-frills spot of your dreams. Street taco central, locals know to head to its walk-up window after waiting in a long, long line for chorizo, al pastor, fajita or beef cheek versions with a Mexican Coke. 

When it comes to traditional Texas barbecue, suffice it to say you’re blessed.  Whether you tuck into brisket, ribs and baked beans at perennial favorite Hutchin’s BBQ, hit up weekends-only Cattleack Barbecue or opt for a counter-serve artisan purveyor like One90 Smoked Meats, you’re in good hands. Note there’s also a longstanding tradition of fine (and diverse) joints within gas stations. If you go that route, Rudy’s “Country Store” and Bar-B-Que is nothing short of bliss — if nothing else, do get the fatty brisket and smoky jalapeno sausage links. 

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Locally Loved Dallas Coffee Shops

Everyone needs a pick-me-up sometimes — Dallas residents included. From house-roasted beans to standard-issue diner brews, there’s some rocket fuel and a welcoming atmosphere waiting for you. 

Arguably the prettiest beanery in the state, Houndstooth Coffee currently has three Dallas locations, the first of which is at 42nd and Lamar. (Another five are located in Austin.) Of note, the location in Henderson is green, while the Walnut Hill address is a solar-powered tiny house-meets-cafe. The coffees served emphasize the brand’s sister company, Tweed Coffee Roasters, though you’ll also find other nationally beloved beans in rotation, such as Portland’s Roseline and Durham’s Counter Culture Coffee.  

Located in the Harwood District, cozy, moody Magnolias Sous Le Pont is exactly the sort of place you’ll want to curl up with a good book. Hip and low-key, it also features a patio perfect for lingering over an espresso and croissant.  

Come for the standards and return for the seasonal sips, like the smoked lavender and orange blossom-laced Steel Magnolia at East Dallas’ unpretentious Fiction Coffee. Among the popular options are the Dirty Chai and the Quixote, a fiery number with a double shot and milk that’s kicked-up with jalapeno syrup. 

Located outside The Joule Hotel, Weekend Coffee is known for its pour-over perfection. Whether you settle on a standard-issue latte or the Spanish-inspired take made with sweetened condensed milk and cinnamon, it’ll be a great start — or pick-me-up — to your day. 

If you come to Peaberry Coffee for one reason, make it the cult favorite cans of Oak Cliff-brewed Kiestwood Iced Vietnamese Coffee. Sold in plain, Vietnamese and Mexican vanilla varieties, they’re a potent and sweet caffeinated treat. 

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Dallas Happy Hour Haunts and Nightlife  

Dallas knows how to party. Yes, you’ll find honky-tonk mainstays galore, though plenty of craft creators have gone to great lengths to elevate the after-hours scene. Dig deeper and find culinary cocktail bars, low-lit lounges and internationally inspired enclaves. 

After relocating in 2022, the neon-lit, vintage art-hung Rodeo Bar is at home downtown, making it the perfect post-office pitstop for domestic beers, basic cocktails and boilermakers. Then again, you might want to swing by home for a fresh set of clothes, given its self-professed penchant for “tight jeans and loose morals.” There’s also a great happy hour and blue-plate specials worth checking out. 

Offering one of the best happy hours in town, cozy Tiny Victories is a hip Oak Cliff lounge serving classic drinks like the pisco sour, aviation and daiquiri, as well as fun, newfangled concoctions, such as the My Neck, My Daq — a Miller High Life pony with a snack-sized Snaquiri daiquiri — and the Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, crafted from tequila, mint, hibiscus and lime. 

An ode to agave, Las Almas Rotas in Fair Park really leans into mezcal and tequila offerings. Naturally, that means it sells margaritas on the rocks and frozen margaritas. You’ll also find sips like the El Borough, crafted from open-air fermented Rey Campero Espadin, along with amaro and Benedictine. There’s a worthwhile menu to soak it up, too, featuring the likes of lamb birria tacos. 

Switch up your routine with a night at Deep Ellum Izakaya Neon Kitten, which offers a full dim sum menu and 10 cocktails on tap. Given it shows a fondness for Japanese spirits and libations, you might also consider the Fukuoka, an unexpected blend of Japanese whisky, vanilla and soy sauce. 

Intimate and low-lit, Apothecary doctors up tipples incorporating lesser-known tools and techniques, like centrifuges, liquid nitrogen, sous vide and pyrolysis that take you on a bona fide journey. Case in point? The Kimchitini with house kimchi vodka, gentian, celery, mushroom soy and gochujang, or the Rhu-Barbara Streisand, made with Waterloo Antique and hints of rhubarb, amaro, strawberry, chrysanthemum, lemon, chamomile and pink sea salt. 

Moody and sultry with elaborate chandeliers and global drinks, Atlas is a Biship Arts District go-to for geography-themed beer and shot combos; world-wise cocktails, like the Jamaica with Plantation pineapple and Red Stripe or Singapore Sling; and edibles that range from German pretzels to pho and a croque-madame.  

A winning collab between Uchi and Austin’s storied Franklin Barbecue, airy, contemporary, Asian-inspired Loro is lauded for its house-smoked meats, plus curated wines, batched cocktails and boozy slushies (hello, frozen gin and tonic). Whatever you decide on, imbibe soak it up with the likes of snap pea, toasted coconut salad, green bean, Thai basil and peanuts salad, swathed in grilled pineapple vinaigrette. 

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Hidden Gems in Dallas

Hiding in plain sight, tucked off of main drags, nestled between office buildings and outside of hotels, wonder awaits. Look beyond the city’s most populated places and discover off-kilter, off-the-beaten-path and only-in-Dallas experiences you won’t soon forget. 

Dallas was the hometown of notorious criminals, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, who returned often to visit relatives. After a year-plus spent robbing banks and eluding capture by police across multiple states, the duo met their demise while driving a stolen car near Sailes, Louisiana. They were later buried here, Bonnie at Crown Hill Memorial Park and Clyde at Western Heights Cemetery.  

When you need peace and tranquility, head to Thanks-Giving Square, a hidden oasis in the Thanksgiving Commercial Center in downtown Dallas. With water flowing through it, it’s more than a park — it’s also a place for urbanites to reflect on and express gratitude. Be sure to stop by the magical Chapel of Thanksgiving, located at the back of the park. It features breathtaking stained-glass windows that set the tone for worship, meditation and mindfulness.  

Want to unleash your inner cattleman or woman? Enjoy a trail ride at Beaumont Ranch, located amid rolling hills about 90 minutes outside the city. Set on 800 rambling acres in Grandview, the working cattle ranch sports a herd of  Texas longhorns, as well as horses, llamas and goats.  

Talk about weird: There’s a 30-foot , glow-in-the-dark Giant Eyeball across the street from the hip Joule Hotel in downtown Dallas. Created in 2007 by artist Tony Tasset, it’s realistically rendered, made out of fiberglass and set within a scenic garden. 

A stunning respite amid urban climes, the Fort Worth Water Gardens is an architectural and engineering gem filled with lovely water features, including a reflecting pool fringed with bald cypress. Meanwhile, its Aerated Pool consists of a terraced canyon of concrete, which ferries rushing water to a basin 38 feet below. In the heart of it all, Central Square is marked by a grove of Bradford pears. 

Specializing in locally grown plants, fruits, vegetables and natural foods, Ruibal’s Plants/Rosemade Market has four picture-perfect locations around the Metroplex. Just wandering through the display gardens is enough to make you smile, while its greenhouses are equally enjoyable, especially on a rainy — or chilly — day. 

Situated in the heart of North Oak Cliff, the hip Bishop Arts District is lined with indie boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, bars and galleries. Once the site of Dallas’ busiest trolley stop, the now revitalized neighborhood is also known for its distinctive, colorful murals. 

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Getting Around in Dallas

Sprawling across more than 339 square miles, Big D is Texas’ fourth largest city geographically and the 20th in the nation. Getting around a city this size is no easy task without a car of your own, but a robust transportation system lightens the load. 


The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) provides public transportation throughout the city of Dallas. Operating from approximately 5 a.m. through midnight, its trains, buses, streetcars and trolleys are an affordable way to get around car-free. Use the DART Trip Planner to map your routes with ease. 

  • The Red Line runs along North Central Expressway from Parker Road in Plano to downtown Dallas and Westmoreland in West Oak Cliff 
  • The Blue Line journeys south from Rowlett and Garland to downtown Dallas and on to UNT Dallas in South Oak Cliff 
  • The Green Line services areas between North Carrollton/Frankford to Buckner in South Dallas 
  • The Orange Line connects neighborhoods between Parker Road and DFW airport station during peak hours on weekdays and between LBJ/Central and DFW airport station at all other times.  

Note that all four lines service downtown Dallas’ Pearl/Arts District, St. Paul, Akard and West End stations. 


With 692 buses and 6,878 stops, the yellow and white-hued DART Bus system runs an extensive network throughout Dallas and the surrounding suburbs.  


Running every 20 minutes, the Dallas Streetcar covers a 2.45-mile route between EBJ Union Station and hipster haven, the Bishop Arts District. Meanwhile, the M-Line Trolley links the Dallas Arts District to Uptown’s stylish shops and eateries. 


Need a carpool buddy? Try ridesharing, with choices like Uber, Lyft and Alto

Like most major cities, you’ll have no shortage of options when hailing a cab, whether it’s from Henry’s Cab Service, Irving Taxi Cab or Taxi in a Flash
Shuttles and Limos  

A quick online search will turn up loads of shuttle, executive car and limousine options that service Dallas and the suburbs, among them Premier Transportation, Dallas Limos and Heaven on Wheels

Offering helpful maps of its extensive bike trail system, Dallas encourages and supports biking to cut congestion throughout the city. You can also opt to rent wheels from a place like Pedego Electric Bikes

Looking for more ways to immerse yourself in the city of Dallas? Be sure to check out our blog for ideas that will help you settle in and start feeling like a local.   

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