Dallas is a sprawling metropolis that’s bursting with fun and exciting things to do. It's the ninth-largest city in the US and the birthplace of the frozen margarita, packed with world-class shopping, delicious dining, a diverse art scene and plenty of history, outdoor activities and pop-culture curiosities.

Come for the scream-worthy roller coasters, sports teams and luxe malls. Stay for the barbecue, beer and mural-strewn neighborhoods, filled with musicians playing everything from the blues to hip-hop beats.

Metal sculpture Traveling Man, in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, Texas

Explore Dallas’ neighborhoods 

Dallas is an amalgamation of neighborhoods, each with their own flavor of fun. Shop and dine out in the laid-back and artsy Bishop Arts district. Deep Ellum is a great neighborhood for live music, beautiful murals, art fairs, and restaurants. Uptown attracts visitors for its strip of restaurants on McKinney Street that turn into bars at night, and Oak Lawn is a nationally known hot spot for the LGBTIQ+ community. 

Grab a bite at Allgood Cafe, rooftop drinks at the Green Room, or rub elbows with bikers at Renos Chop Shop Saloon. Pecan Lodge slings mean barbecue in Deep Ellum, while Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse is a beloved local favorite for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Near White Rock LakeMariano's Hacienda is where the frozen margarita was invented in 1971 – though the original margarita machine is now part of the Smithsonian Institution's collection in Washington, DC. 

Dallas Arts District
The Crow Collection of Asian Art in the Dallas Arts District © Alamy Stock Photo

Get cultured in the Arts District 

Downtown Dallas is home to the largest contiguous arts district in the United States, the Dallas Arts District. Spend time exploring an impressive selection of larger-than-life sculptures at the Nasher Sculpture Center before stopping in the Dallas Museum of Art (for free!) to admire more than 24,000 works of art spanning some 5000 years.

Walk across the street to the Crow Museum of Asian Art, or Klyde Warren Park, which sits on top of a highway. For an evening activity, buy tickets to a Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center. To be close to all the district offers, stay at the new HALL Arts Hotel – and be sure to check out its curated selection of art.  

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Root for the home team at an athletic event 

With seven professional teams in the area, it’s easy to see why this is a sports-loving city. Fans of pro basketball and hockey can cheer on their teams – the Dallas Mavericks and the Dallas Stars – at the American Airlines Center, while fans of WNBA and MLB can scoot over to Arlington, to take their loved ones out to the ball game at the new Texas Rangers stadium or watch the Dallas Wings hit the court at College Park Center. You can also make the short drive to Frisco to catch a soccer match with FC Dallas. 

Experience the thrill of race-car driving with NASCAR at Texas Motor Speedway, and of course, don’t miss a chance to watch America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys – though their home field at Jerryworld is also technically in nearby Arlington.  

Grassy Knoll (site of Kennedy assassination), Dealey Plaza Historic District, West End, Dallas, Texas, United States of America
The Grassy Knoll, best known as the site of Kennedy assassination, sits beside the Dealey Plaza Historic District in Dallas' west end © Alamy Stock Photo

Learn about the John F Kennedy Assassination 

One of the darkest moments in Dallas’ past is the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Pay your respects by visiting the Sixth Floor Museum to learn about the president’s life and death, then go outside to see the “X” on Elm Street that marks where he was hit. Just a block from Dealey Plaza is the John F Kennedy Memorial Plaza, which features a statue commemorating the president. 

For more JFK history, drive to Texas Theatre to watch a film in the same spot where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested, or to the Hilton Fort Worth, where JFK spent his last night alive.  

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge reflecting in Trinity River, Dallas, Texas, United States
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge reflecting in the Trinity River © DreamPictures / Shannon Faulk / Getty Images

Kayak on the Trinity River 

Outdoor lovers will find a plethora of activities in Dallas, from running on the Katy Trail to sailing on White Rock Lake. But the most unique experience one can have is kayaking on the Trinity River Paddling Trail, a National Recreation Trail with more than 130 miles of river.

Those with their own kayak or canoe can choose from 21 different launch sites, some of which lead through wilderness and others guide you under the city’s most notable bridges next to the skyline. Trinity River Kayak Co. offers various kayaking tours, including one at sunset. 

Dale Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum, Dallas, USA,
A Dale Chihuly sculpture at the Dallas Arboretum © Prisma by Dukas Presseagentur GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Unwind at the Dallas Arboretum  

Set next to White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful spaces in town. It’s known as one of the best arboretums in the world because of its phenomenal seasonal displays that celebrate Halloween, winter holidays and tulip season. Live concerts and art shows are also a common occurrence.  

The texas giant rollercoaster at six flags over texas
The Texas Giant at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington © Brandon Wade / Fort Worth Star-Telegram / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Spend a day at the first-ever Six Flags  

Six Flags is a worldwide name in amusement parks, and Dallas just so happens to be the home of the brand's very first park. Six Flags Over Texas is a located in Arlington, a suburb of Dallas, and is a great place to spend the day with friends or family. Have a blast on 14 roller coasters and 45 thrilling rides across 212 acres. Mr Freeze, the Texas Giant and El Diablo are just a few of their most exciting roller-coasters.  

The famed Ferris wheel at the State Fair of Texas © Shutterstock / Gunnar Rathbun

Go big at the State Fair of Texas 

If you visit Dallas between September and October, you must get a ticket to the State Fair of Texas and say "howdy" to Big Tex, a 52ft cowboy statue at the entrance of the fair.

As one of the oldest and largest state fairs in the country, the State Fair of Texas is a huge to-do in Dallas that draws millions of people state and nationwide, who love the thrill of amusement-park rides, agriculture shows and rodeos, live music, shopping and playing games. It's also known for having some of the most creative fair food in the nation, like cotton-candy burritos and waffles stuffed with fried chicken.  

Delve into Dallas fandom at Southfork Ranch 

Uncover the mysteries of who shot JR with a visit to Southfork Ranch, home of the Ewing Mansion from the 1978-1991 TV show Dallas. Fans of the hit series can explore the ranch with a guided tour – you’ll see spots made famous on the show, as well as a selection of memorabilia like Lucy’s wedding dress. After your tour, shop at a themed retail store and grab a bite from the on-site deli.  

Fair Park Art Deco
Dallas' art deco Fair Park hosts several museums, including the African American Museum of Art © Alamy Stock Photo

Museum-hop around the city  

Although there are quite a few museums in Dallas’ Arts District, we'd be remiss not to mention that there are other museums worth a visit.

In Fair Park, the African American Museum is the largest such institution in the southwestern US and has a selection of historical and cultural displays, while steps away from Dealey Plaza, the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum delves into the Holocaust and the development of human and civil rights movements that followed. 

Take your kids to the Perot Museum of Nature & Science to do hands-on science experiments, or explore the galleries of the Meadows Museum, which houses one of the largest collections of Spanish art outside of Spain.  

Dallas, Texas, USA. The Wild Detectives, West Eighth Street, Dallas, Texas, Stati Uniti
The Wild Detectives is an independent bookstore and coffee shop in Dallas' trendy Bishop Arts shopping and dining district © Mattia Sobieski / Alamy Stock Photo

Shop til you drop, all over town

Home not only to the oldest shopping center in the US, Highland Park Village, but also to the first Neiman Marcus store, which still welcomes customers today, Dallas has definitely earned the right to be called a shopper’s paradise.

Experiences vary between world-class malls, like the Galleria and NorthPark Center (home to an Andy Warhol painting!), and localized spots like Traders Village, the largest outdoor flea market in Texas, and the farmers market on the weekend.  

Camp at Cedar Hill State Park 

If you grow tired of Dallas’ urban sprawl and want to reconnect with nature, visit Cedar Hill State Park, just a 25-minute drive from downtown Dallas. The 1826-acre park offers overnight camping, as well as trails for hiking, running or mountain biking. Boat owners can spend the day on Joe Pool Lake, fishing for bass, crappie and catfish, while those without a boat can just jump on in for a swim.  

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This article was first published June 2021 and updated April 2022

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