I love my city and showing people what makes Dallas unique. Dallas is packed with interesting sites: restaurants, clubs, and neighborhoods to explore—if you know where to look. For first time visitors, the following is my
top five list of not to be missed attractions in Dallas.
The 6th Floor Museum Book Depository (I call this the Who Killed JFK tour)
This is the number one place I always recommend. Through film, video, photographs, and other artifacts, the museum presents the facts of this tragic and tumultuous time in American history. You can read my full review of the museum and self-guided tour here.
Local tip: Outside the museum, you can meet conspiracy theorists who love to share their thoughts about who really killed JFK. There were several investigations into his assassination, but many people are not satisfied with the final conclusion of the Warren Commission. Was it truly Lee Harvey Oswald? Did he act alone? Was it LBJ? Visit the museum, then chat with some locals—and decide for yourself.
See Dallas from 560 feet
Just a short walk from the museum is the Hyatt Regency Reunion Tower, with its iconic golf ball-shaped tower. You have probably seen it in the credits for the TV series Dallas, or maybe you saw it on The Amazing Race finale a few seasons past when the finalists rapelled down the tower! Yikes!
Take the elevator to the observation deck (also called the Geo Deck) for 360-degree views of the Dallas-Ft.Worth area also referred to as the DFW Metroplex. I recommend going to the Wolfgang Puck restaurant 560 for the same view but from a higher vantage point. Bonus: the restaurant rotates 360 degrees every hour.
From the Hyatt Reunion, walk to the Omni Hotel to see another iconic piece of Dallas history: a neon flying Pegasus sculpture, perched atop an oil well. This is the original sculpture created in 1934, now restored. Do not be confused by the copy flying atop the Magnolia Hotel a few blocks away. The Magnolia Hotel was the home of this original sculpture until 1999 when it was removed and replaced with the copy you see there now. Some years later, the original was discovered in a city-owned storage building and relocated to its new home at the Omni Hotel.
Local tip: Go at night to see the Pegasus and the Omni Hotel illuminating the night sky.
Next up: the Arts District tour
The Dallas Arts District is another of my favorite recommendations. There are three museums located in this district: the Dallas Museum of Art, The Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art. Pick one, or visit all three. It’s possible to see them all in one day since The Nasher and The Crow are small museums.
If you’re in town on a Friday night, you can enjoy Late Night at the DMA, when the museum is open until midnight. There are food trucks, live music, events for kids, literary readings, and more.
For music lovers, the Meyerson Symphony Center, featuring the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, is just two short blocks from the DMA. If you’re lucky, Italian conductor Fabio Luisi the new music director who is gradually taking the reins with The DSO, will be in town. Adjacent to the Meyerson is the Winspear Opera, a great space to catch a Broadway musical. Only a minute away is the Wyly Theater, where you can see classics such as A Christmas Carol or find something more offbeat. The Dallas Arts District truly encompasses all of the arts.
Just across the street from the Dallas Museum of Art is Klyde Warren Park, a five-acre green space built on top of the Woodall Rogers Freeway. The park connects the Dallas Arts District with downtown and uptown neighborhoods. On weekends, there is free yoga in the park.
Relax with a popsicle on a hot summer day, or dine parkside at Savor, where you can observe all the goings-on through the glass walls.
Explore some television history
Fans of the hit television series Dallas will want to visit Southfork Ranch, where the original series was set. It’s about a 40-minute drive north of downtown Dallas. You’ll need a car or rideshare for this one, but it’s worth it. I have worked with a film crew at the ranch, and can confirm the grounds are really lovely—plus, you can tour the home of the infamous Ewing family and see the room where JR was shot. All the sets and furnishings date back to the original series, so it’s quite a nostalgic experience.
If you want to check out some local clubs featuring jazz musicians don’t miss, 10 Great Places For Jazz in Dallas.
Best Local Travel Tips for Visitors Arriving via DFW
Travel tips for visitors arriving from the UK
Travel to the USA from the United Kingdom has never been easier, despite some confusion around the difference between an ESTA and a visa.
To be clear: you really don’t need a visa as long as your travel plans involve spending less than ninety consecutive days (for work or pleasure) in the US. The only thing you need is an ESTA, which is an electronic security transportation authorization. Obtaining an ESTA is quick, easy, and can be done online; it is not a physical document.
In fact, I recently had a friend visiting from London who received his ESTA to travel to the United States within 24 hours. Even more importantly, he had no problem entering the US for a visit to Dallas. You only have to show a return ticket, because you can not stay in the US indefinitely on an ESTA.
If your travel plans from the UK include a visit to Dallas, or anywhere in the US, read more here about how to obtain your ESTA. You’ll be happy to know that the cost of an ESTA is less than a Visa—a lot less.
If you have problems with your ESTA, just tell them JR Ewing requests your presence. Hopefully, customs doesn’t have a clue who killed JR.
Arrival at DFW
DFW is the second largest airport in the United States by landmass. If you arrive at the international terminal, you will, of course, have to clear customs before exiting the airport. Once you do, how do you get around the Dallas area?
In the past, you’d definitely have to rent a car; but just as in most major cities, you can use a rideshare—UBER and Lfyt both operate out of DFW—or hail a taxi.
There’s also the DART rail, which will take you downtown. If you decide to forgo a car and use the DART, be sure to check the schedule, as the service is a bit limited, especially on holidays. Also, you’ll have to get from the International terminal to terminal A via the airport rail.
Where to Stay
I highly recommend you consider staying downtown. Where once downtown Dallas shut down at dark, there are now plenty of 5-star restaurants, hotels, museums, shops, and entertainment options, open all hours.