BBQ. Big hair. The eponymous TV show. Cowboys (the football team and the men on horses). Oil. Is that what comes to mind when you first think of Dallas? Well, if you’re planning a weekend trip to Dallas, prepare to be surprised – it’s so much more than this.
Yes, some of the Texan stereotypes apply, but the United States’ 9th largest city is brimming with culture (yes, really), fabulous restaurants and friendly people (that southern charm is for real, y’all).
After living in Dallas for more than two years, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring its sights and tasting its food. Here, I’ve pulled together an itinerary for the perfect 48 hours in Dallas weekend getaway. It’s not often you explore the place you live through the eyes of a visitor, so it was fun to put together this guide to the best things to do in Dallas – it’s exactly what I tell people to do when they visit Dallas to see me!
To maximise your weekend in Dallas, fly in on a Friday afternoon and out early Monday morning. Read on for your Dallas travel guide!
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Map of Dallas
You can see everything I’ve listed in this blog post on this map, so you can figure out distances and the best place to stay in Dallas to suit your interests.
48 hours in Dallas
Catch happy hour at Parliament (2418 Allen St), an intimate wood-panelled and leather-clad bar in Uptown. Happy hour is 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the extensive list of cocktails are priced between $4 and $7. Plus, happy hour is on any time it rains!
Follow it up with dinner at Sixty Vines (500 Crescent Court), a huge, airy restaurant with dozens of wines on tap. This restaurant seems to be buzzing every night of the week. The menu features locally sourced ingredients and has a farm-to-table feel about it (plus, heaps of wine). Try the whole head of roasted cauliflower, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re after an cocktail to end the night, try The Tipsy Alchemist (2101 Cedar Springs Rd) or Happiest Hour (2616 Olive St).
Start your Dallas weekend the way every respectable Dallasite does – with brunch. Dallas knows how to do brunch better than any U.S. city I’ve ever visited, and the options are plentiful and ever-evolving. Over Easy (1914 Commerce St), located in the stylish Statler Hotel, is a retro-cool diner-style restaurant in the heart of downtown Dallas. The pancakes are a must – I don’t think I’ve ever eaten fluffier flapjacks in my life.
Grab a coffee to go from the window of Otto’s (1321 Commerce St), a cute little coffee shop and bakery in the Adolphus Hotel.
It’s time explore the culture of Dallas. You might be surprised to learn that Dallas has the largest contiguous urban arts district in the country. The Dallas Arts District spans 19 blocks and is filled with museums.
Visit one or two of the museums in Dallas, including the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N Harwood St) or, if you have kids (or are young at heart), the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (2201 N Field St). My favourite is the Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora St), which takes some of its art outside in the sculpture garden.
For lunch, wander across to the food trucks at Klyde Warren Park, a 5.2-acre public park built over a freeway. Every day the park is lined with food trucks serving Vietnamese food, BBQ, Cajun bites and even lobster rolls. The schedule changes frequently and you can check the culinary delights on offer online.
Now, head over to Elm Street where one of the most shocking moments in U.S. history took place. The Sixth Floor Museum is all about the assassination of John F. Kennedy. You can get an audio guide that explains the Kennedy’s visit to Texas, the lead up to JFK’s assassination and what followed. Outside, a white cross on the road marks the exact spot where he was killed. This is one of the most popular Dallas attractions, and you’ll always see plenty of people milling about here.
Later in the afternoon, take an Uber over to ultra-hip Deep Ellum. Spend some time finding and photographing the dozens of murals that grace the walls of buildings in the neighbourhood. Deep Ellum is a bit gritty but also very trendy, and is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Dallas. If you’re only in Dallas for a weekend, this is a must-visit area.
There are plenty of options for dinner in Deep Ellum.
No weekend getaway in Dallas is complete without some Texan BBQ. Pecan Lodge (2702 Main St) is a BBQ joint that regularly tops the list of the best restaurants in Dallas. The lines are long but move quickly. At Stirr (2803 Main St) you’ll be among the trendy people; grab a table on the rooftop for great Dallas views. Niwa Japanese Barbecue (2939 Main St) is a yakiniku restaurant where you cook your own food at your table. Or try Harlowe MXM (2823 Main St) for yummy food and cocktails. If Tex Mex is what you’re in the mood for, Pepe’s and Mito’s is an unpretentious spot (2911 Elm St).
One of my favourite things to do in Dallas at night is explore Deep Ellum. For some honky tonk, dance the night away at Adair’s Saloon (2624 Commerce St) or two-step at Mama Tried (215 Henry St) – both are fun venues.
If after all that you’re still standing, the cocktails at High and Tight Barbershop (2701 Main St), a “secret” bar behind – you guessed it – a barbershop, are killer. Depending on when you go, there could even be some live music or a DJ.
I don’t drink coffee (crazy, I know!) but I know many people like to start the day with a caffeine hit, so try LDU (2650 N Fitzhugh Ave). I know we’re in Texas (and that, as an Aussie, I’m biased), but this Australian-run place makes the best coffee in Dallas (according to my coffee-drinking husband). While my husband is ordering coffee, I’m ordering the divine toasted banana bread. They’ve also got a second shop (6913 Preston Rd) so you can pick whichever is closest to you.
You’ve now eaten and drunk a lot (but isn’t that what you do on weekend getaways?). If you’re feeling up for it, walk off last night’s decadence on the Katy Trail, a 3.5 mile trail that’s built on an old railroad line (does that make it Dallas’s version of the New York High Line?). White Rock Lake is another great spot for walking or biking.
Take a look at my Dallas brunch list and find something else to suit your tastes (or cure your hangover), before heading over to the Dallas Farmers Market. At The Shed you’ll find vendors selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, cheese and eggs, while at The Market you can sample macaroons, cheese from my favourite cheese monger, Scardello, or fresh seafood from Rex’s Seafood and Market.
Take an Uber to Bishop Arts District, a neighbourhood that is rapidly changing and growing. There are so many cute shops to explore around here. Wild Detectives (314 W Eighth St) has a great selection of books, Society by Jackson Vaughn (403 N Bishop Ave) sells divine-smelling candles and We Are 1976 (313 N Bishop Ave) has beautiful stationery and prints.
If you didn’t have BBQ for dinner last night, grab some brisket and ribs for lunch at Lockhart Smokehouse (400 W Davis St). If you’re barbecued out, try Oddfellows (316 W 7th St) or Hattie’s (418 N Bishop Ave).
Whichever you choose, make sure to save room for a slice of pie from Emporium Pies (314 N Bishop Ave). There’s only ever a handful of flavours of pie – but you’ll still have trouble deciding.
Bishop Arts Cider Company (509 N Bishop Ave) is a great place to try a flight of the locally made ciders.
To end your weekend trip to Dallas, make your way over to Lower Greenville – my ‘hood! This area used to be fairly dodgy, but is now the place to be seen. Restaurants and bars line Greenville Ave and the sidewalks are always filled with people regardless of the time or the day.
For a drink before dinner, try the Truck Yard (5624 Sears St) where you’ll meet plenty of people on the long communal tables plonked down among the eclectic items decorating the outdoor area. If you’re after something a little classier, Leela’s (1914 Greenville Ave) is a gorgeous wine bar (that also serves up a mean charcuterie plate – but save room for dinner!).
For dinner, grab a table on the rooftop of HG Sply Co (2008 Greenville Ave) for bar snacks or try the healthy proteins downstairs. This is the first place I ever visited in Dallas and the reason why we wanted to move to this neighbourhood.
Other delicious options are Wabi House (1802 Greenville Ave) for incredible ramen, or Gung Ho (2010 Greenville Ave) for American-Chinese fusion.
You can’t end the night without trying the gelato at Botolino Gelato Artigianale (2116 Greenville Ave). Their flavours include olive oil, dulce de leche, and mascarpone and figs.
This is just a sample of things to do on a weekend trip to Dallas – I guarantee you’ll want to come back to explore more!
How to get to Dallas
One of the best things about planning a weekend trip to Dallas is that it’s so easy to get to. Dallas has two airports serviced by all the major airlines.
Dallas Love Field (DAL) has undergone a huge renovation and is my favourite airport to fly in and out of. It’s small and it’s always quick to get through security. Southwest Airlines, Virgin America Airlines, Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines fly in and out of here. It’s also the closest airport to the downtown area, so you can be sipping cocktails in Uptown Dallas in under 20 minutes.
The larger Dallas-Fort Worth airport (DFW) is smack bang between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth. This is American Airlines’ hub, and Delta, Spirit, United and JetBlue, among others, also fly into here. It’s also where all international flights land (including Qantas, my home country’s airline!). From here, it’s a 35 to 45-minute taxi ride to downtown Dallas, depending on traffic.
The best time to visit Dallas
The best time to visit Dallas is between September and November when the weather has (hopefully) cooled down a little. The Texas State Fair is in September and is worth booking your trip around.
Summer is H-O-T, and from May to September the city swelters. But at least there’s no humidity like there is in Houston. And everywhere of course has AC so you’ll probably freeze inside and then melt as soon as you step outside.
After such hot summers, I was surprised to find how cold the Dallas winters were. The winter months can be bitterly cold and it has been known to snow (well, some cold, white stuff falls from the sky and everyone freaks out). Come prepared!
How to get around Dallas
This is Texas and as they say, everything is bigger in Texas! Dallas is no different. The city is spread out so you’re going to want to rent a car for your weekend in Dallas or rely on Uber.
The DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) is Dallas’s public transport system. This network of buses, light rail and commuter trains go around the city. But I have to admit, I’ve only ever used it once!
Where to stay in Dallas
There are plenty of Dallas hotels to suit all budgets. Although with the itinerary I’ve outlined here, you won’t be spending much time in your hotel room!
Budget (under $150 per night)
Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Dallas Downtown
Within walking distance of the JFK Museum, Fairfield Inn & Suites is in a great location. Guests love the big rooms. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of Fairfield Inn & Suites online here
Crowne Plaza Hotel Dallas Downtown
With a rooftop swimming pool and friendly staff, the Crowne Plaza is a good choice for those looking for a well-located hotel on a budget. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of Crowne Plaza online
Hampton Inn & Suites Dallas Downtown
Mid-range (under $250 per night)
This retro hotel has been refreshed and updated and is now known for its eclectic, hipster vibe. It’s located in West Dallas so you’ll need a car or Uber to get around. Read reviews of The Belmont and book online here
Located in a gorgeous building, this historic hotel is perfect for those wanting to spend time in downtown Dallas. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of Magnolia Hotel online
Hyatt Regency Dallas
This huge hotel is located at the base of Reunion Tower, which offers amazing views of Dallas from the revolving restaurant or observatory. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of the Hyatt Regency online here
Luxury ($250+per night)
An Autograph Collection hotel, The Adolphus is all class. It’s got a number of great restaurants and bars. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of the Adolphus Hotel online at TripAdvisor
As soon as you step into this luxury hotel you’ll be amazed by the artwork filling the lobby. The rooftop pool is glass-fronted so that you can see the city street below. It’s one of the most romantic hotels in Dallas if you’re visiting with your other half. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of The Joule online
One of the first modern hotels in the United States, this hotel has recently undergone a huge renovation. It’s perfectly located in downtown Dallas. Check prices and make your booking online here | Read reviews of The Statler online
I hope this weekend in Dallas guide has given you an idea of what to do in Dallas and help you plan your own trip!
Have you taken a weekend trip to Dallas? What are your favourite things to do in Dallas? Leave your tips in the comments below so that other travellers can plan a great weekend visit.
This blog post was originally written in October 2018, and was updated in April 2020.