Things To Do In Dallas: Your Ultimate Guide To The Big D
(Photo by Danny Lehman / Getty Images)
— Updated on 1 July 2023

Things To Do In Dallas: Your Ultimate Guide To The Big D

— Updated on 1 July 2023
Chris Singh
Chris Singh

Looking for things to do in Dallas, Texas? Across several trips to the States over the past few years (pandemic withstanding), I’ve had the privilege to familiarise myself with Texas’ third-largest city and, with travel pumping, I thought it’d be a good time to put together a guide to Dallas for Boss Hunting’s readers.

If you’ve ever been on a business trip to the USA, chances are you’ve gone through Dallas Fort Worth International Airport before. For Australian travellers, so many of our direct flights to the States fly into DFW, and for good reason. I’ve always found the airport, the country’s second-largest after Denver International Airport, to be one of the easiest to navigate compared to alternatives like LAX.

While DFW is a popular hub for connecting flights, it’s well worth your time to stay on and explore what is honestly one of the most surprisingly diverse and welcoming cities in the country. I’ve always had a good time in Dallas so I want to direct our readers towards the best ways to experience the city in just a few days.

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What You Need To Know About Dallas

Airport: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.
Distance From Airport To City Centre: 31 km (~ a 25-minute drive).
Population: 6.57 million (as of 2023) – based on the population of the Dallas Fort Worth metro area.
Best Way To Get Around Dallas: Uber.
Best Neighbourhoods: Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts District, Knox-Henderson.
Nicknames: The Big D

Where Is Dallas, Texas?

things to do in dallas

Dallas is located in Dallas County, which practically defines North-Central Texas. It’s a popular arterial city for connections and is often seen as the gateway to the entire state given the airport is much easier to fly directly into for international visitors compared to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. You’re also just a three-hour drive from Oklahoma City and just under a three-hour drive to the city of Austin, where SXSW is held each March.

Is Fort Worth A Part Of Dallas?

things to do in dallas
(Photo by John Coletti / Getty Images)

Short answer: no.

Dallas is part of a wider metropolitan area that is referred to as the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metroplex, incorporating the smaller cities of Fort Worth and Arlington. Forth Worth is generally known as the home of modern cowboy culture in Texas while Arlington is mostly popular with sports fans given its AT&T Stadium out is the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

I’ve never personally been to Arlington so can’t attest to it as a city but Fort Worth is easily one of the more interesting places I’ve been to in the States and is a must if you want to experience a very well-maintained cowboy culture. As well as rowdy party spots like Billy Bob’s, the world’s largest honky tonk located in the historic Forth Worth Stockyards.

As the metro area’s second-largest city, Fort Worth isn’t actually a part of Dallas the city. Although it only takes just under 40 minutes to drive between the two, so you’d find that most travellers would tack on an extra few days to their Dallas trip to explore Fort Worth (and Arlington if they’re rabid sports fans).

Best Places To Stay In Dallas

The Joule

The Joule in Dallas, Texas
Average Rate: AU$437
Address: 1530 Main St, Dallas, TX 75201, United States
Contact: +1 214 748 1300
Hotel Group: Leading Hotels of the World
Reward Program: Leaders Club

Out of the few hotels I’ve experienced in Dallas, my first recommendation would be The Joule. This well-established property is located in Downtown Dallas in a 1920s neo-Gothic building and is just a short Uber ride to the trendy district of Deep Ellum, which is my favourite neighbourhood in the city.

I guess you could consider it an art hotel. The Joule has one of the most interesting hotel lobbies I’ve seen in North America, with a rotating selection of artworks from hotel proprietor Tim Headington’s personal collection. This ranges from a giant cog wheel that is constantly churning near the reception desk to rescued and restored glass mosaics. Visually, it’s a very busy lobby.

The comfortable rooms are sightly with their Merbau wood floors and the beds are some of the most comfortable I’ve slept on in the country. Throw in a lush rooftop bar with a cantilevered pool peeking over Main Street and an award-winning subterranean spa and you have yourself a winner.

The Adolphus

The Adolphus Hotel in Dallas
Average Rate: AU$417
Address: 1321 Commerce St, Dallas, TX 75202, United States
Contact: +1 214 742 8200
Hotel Group: Autograph Collection, Marriott
Reward Program: Marriott Bonvoy

If Dallas had one Grande Dame hotel it would be the Adolphus. Like The Joule, this property is located downtown and was built in 1912 as the city’s finest accommodation. Decades later, it still is, pitched as part of Marriott’s high-water mark Autograph Collection.

The prestigious hotel picked up a lot of international recognition after Queen Elizabeth stayed there in 1991 and most recently received a $1 million renovation in 2018. Apart from its reputation, however, it’s just a really well-oiled, exceedingly comfortable luxury hotel in a prime location.

Omni Dallas Hotel

Omni Dallas Hotel
Average Rate: AU$353
Address: 555 S Lamar St, Dallas, TX 75202, United States
Contact: +1 214 744 6664
Hotel Group: Omni Hotels & Resorts
Reward Program: Select Guest

Omni Dallas Hotel is where I stayed on my first trip to DFW and is also located downtown. It’s easy to get to and from the airport, has a boutique vibe and has an excellent view of the Dallas skyline from its rooftop bar.

As for the rooms. Well, they are very comfortable but not the biggest in the city, unless you’re going for one of the property’s massive suites. It’s not exactly a budget-minded hotel but is generally much less expensive than The Joule and Adolphus without compromising on comfort, service or amenities.

Most business travellers visitors would stay here because the hotel is connected to the Dallas Convention Centre via a handy sky bridge.

Best Restaurants & Bars In Dallas

Meso Maya Comida y Copas

Meso Maya in Dallas, Texas

Meso Maya was actually the biggest surprise for me in Dallas. I don’t readily associate North Texas with exceptional Mexican cuisine but that just shows how ignorant I was about the state before my first visit.

The elegant restaurant is a lot more upscale than your local taqueria, dishing up refined classics that mostly illustrate how earthy and rich the flavours of Mexico can be. Don’t leave without trying the cocktails either; beautiful, well-balanced concoctions that act as an extension of the food.

The restaurant is also a stone’s throw from the excellent Dallas Museum of Art on the edge of the City Centre so I’d recommend you give that a visit before or after lunch at Meso Maya.

Fearing’s Restaurant

Fearing's in Dallas, Texas

Bold, well-regarded and a bit of a dining icon for Dallas, Dean Fearing’s eponymous restaurant is well worth the price. Just about every important person who has passed through Dallas would have eaten in this large, well-dressed dining room, which is located in the splashy Ritz-Carlton Dallas and is connected to one of the city’s most beautiful cocktail bars.

Dean’s Tortilla Soup is a signature that has been on the menu since Fearing’s opened in 2007. Although I didn’t actually enjoy it as much, given it’s just a reasonably good deconstructed tortilla with a very rich taste. Nothing more. Much more impressive was the surf and turf carpaccio, the BBQ spiced beef fillet served with chicken fried Maine lobster on loaded whipped potatoes, and the exceptional Hudson Valley foie gras served two different ways.

The food at Fearing’s is interesting and innovative, which is probably why Dean is known as a bit of a pioneer when it comes to Southwestern cuisine.

HIDE Bar & Restaurant

HIDE Bar & Restaurant in Dallas

As one of the most acclaimed cocktail bars in Dallas, HIDE is a great way to end any night of the week. I can’t say much about the food here but the drinks are innovative and served with flair.

Service is also speedy and efficient while still making you feel you’re the centre of attention. That’s rare in the States. Especially at upscale cocktail bars, where I always feel like a number instead of a guest. This is what you’d expect from good ol’ fashioned Southwest hospitality.

Best Texas BBQ Spots In Dallas Fort Worth

Panther City BBQ

Panther City BBQ in Fort Worth.

You’ll find Panther City BBQ out in Fort Worth but even if you weren’t planning on heading out that way, this is worth the trip alone. The bare-bones BBQ shack is open-air with picnic tables laid out and a simple, straightforward menu of smoked meats worth working your way through.

I’d say out of all the Texas BBQ joints I’ve tried across my three visits to the state, this has been the one I rave about the most. I’d recommend going all out and getting the Hell’s Half Acre platter with every single thing you’d need, but if you’re short of time and stomach space then go straight for those jalapeno cheese sausages.

Terry Black’s BBQ

Terry Black’s has one of the biggest smokers I’ve ever seen tucked out back, showcased behind see-through glass while you queue up for one of the best Texas BBQ joints Dallas has to offer. The Austin-born outfit has nabbed a good position in the trendy neighbourhood of Deep Ellum, not far from the Dallas Comedy Club so you can chew apart some perfectly smoked brisket before seeing some stand-up.

Goldee’s BBQ

Goldee's BBQ in Dallas

Some claim this is the single best BBQ spot in all of Texas. Having tried the famed Franklin’s in Austin before, I’d have to disagree. However, Goldee’s is certainly up there if you want some deliciously tender ribs, crispy burnt ends and easily some of the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had.

What Else To Do In Dallas Fort Worth

things to do in dallas

Dallas, surprisingly, has some of the best art in the Southwest. A lot of America’s best museums are scattered around the city but if you’re short on time go straight for the Sixth Floor Museum. The book depository where Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy has been turned into this one-of-one, incredibly thorough exploration of what happened before, on and after one of the darkest days in American history.

Going through the Sixth Floor Museum and then heading on down to the Grassy Knoll where it all went down is a surreal experience.

You’re also going to want to go out to Fort Worth at some point to throw down at the aforementioned Billy Bobs. The largest honky tonk in the world is like one massive pub with a stage – I saw Willie Nelson there – and a dancefloor with plenty of locals coupling up for some two-stepping and swing dancing. There’s a separate open-air section out back if you want to watch a rodeo as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Dallas known for?

As one of the best big cities in the USA, Dallas is known for its vibrant music and arts scene as well as being the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

What are the best neighbourhoods in Dallas?

The best neighbourhoods in Dallas are Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts District and Knox-Henderson.

How long is the flight from Australia to Dallas?

Coming from Sydney, the flight straight to Dallas Fort Worth International would take 15 hours and 52 minutes.

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Chris Singh
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.


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