Dallas is the Lone Star State in a nutshell. A bustling metropolis with a rich Western heritage, Dallas is the perfect place to experience some true Texas culture.
There’s always something going on here, whether that’s a Cowboys or Mavericks game, a raver in Deep Ellum, or a show at the House of Blues! Huge events like the State Fair of Texas (the largest state fair in the country), the St. Patrick’s Parade & Festival (the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Southwest), and the Dallas Holiday Parade (the city’s largest single-day outdoor parade) are hosted in Dallas annually.
Even if you’re not into large events or big crowds, there’s plenty to do in Dallas. The city is home to over 50 museums, including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which offers tours of the place where Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated John F. Kennedy.
If you’re more into nature than culture, Dallas doesn’t disappoint. For instance, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens offer an explosion of color in the spring. Or, if you want to get away from the city for a while, take a short drive out to White Rock Lake, where you can go for a hike or a bike ride.
Finally, the food in Dallas is just unbelievable. We’re talking authentic, smoky Texas barbecue with all the fixins, Tex-Mex staples like enchiladas and fajitas, and some of the best chicken-fried steak you’ve ever had!
With so many things to see and do, the hardest part is making it all fit in one trip! To make sure you don’t miss out on the best things to do in Dallas, we’ve created the ultimate Dallas bucket list. Stick to these recommendations, and you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable time exploring this quintessential Texas city!
- 15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Dallas
- 1. Catch the Sunset from the Top of Reunion Tower
- 2. Learn about Dallas’ Dark History at the Sixth Floor Museum
- 3. Stroll Around The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
- 4. Meet Real Cowboys at the Fort Worth Stockyards
- 5. Bask in Nature’s Glory at White Rock Lake Park
- 6. Visit Deep Ellum for a Night on the Town
- 7. Go on a Dallas Shopping Spree
- 8. Feast on Dallas-Style BBQ and Tex-Mex
- 9. Spend a Day at The Dallas World Aquarium
- 10. Shop for Local Goods at the Dallas Farmers Market
- 11. Drink Your Way Through Dallas’ Breweries
- 12. Play Your Way Through the Perot Museum
- 13. Ride a Rollercoaster at Six Flags Over Texas
- 14. Hop on the McKinney Avenue Trolley
- 15. Have a Grand Time at Fair Park
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Dallas
1. Catch the Sunset from the Top of Reunion Tower
The 561-foot Reunion Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dallas and offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the city. You can climb the 807 steps to the top like the runners at the annual Dallas Vert Mile race or take the elevator for a quick trip to the observation deck.
The tower is open the entire day, but we suggest you come right before sunset, just as the city lights are coming on. There’s something so magical about watching the stars come out over Dallas!
Reunion Tower also hosts fun Dallas activities throughout the year. Think sunrise yoga classes, painting with a view workshops, and holiday light shows, so browse their events calendar to see if there’s anything you want to join.
2. Learn about Dallas’ Dark History at the Sixth Floor Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza commemorates the life and legacy of President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963. The museum is located on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository building, which is where Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly shot Kennedy from.
The museum’s permanent exhibit features over 200 artifacts, film footage, photographs, and audio recordings that chronicle Kennedy’s life, his presidency, and the events leading up to his assassination.
The Sixth Floor Museum also offers a variety of temporary exhibits and educational programs throughout the year. We recommend buying tickets in advance as the museum can get very crowded, especially during the peak tourist season.
3. Stroll Around The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
If you’re visiting during spring, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is one of the coolest things to see in Dallas. The 66-acre gardens come alive with over 500,000 blooming flowers, and there’s nothing more beautiful than a sea of bluebonnets (Texas’ state flower) against a backdrop of the Texas skyline.
While spring is definitely the best time to visit, the gardens are lovely year-round. In fall, you can stroll through pumpkin patches and corn mazes, and in winter, the gardens are transformed into a Christmas Village with over a million lights!
The arboretum is also one of the most kid-friendly Dallas attractions. Little ones will love the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, where they can learn about plants and wildlife through hands-on exhibits like a ladybug release and a butterfly garden.
4. Meet Real Cowboys at the Fort Worth Stockyards
For a taste of the Old West, head to the Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District! The area was once a major cattle-shipping hub, and it retains its cowboy charm with wooden sidewalks, vintage storefronts, and longhorn cattle roaming the streets.
Today, the Stockyards is one of the most unique things to do in Dallas, with over 100 shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Highlights include the Stockyards Rodeo, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Billy Bob’s Texas, the world’s largest honky-tonk!
Don’t miss a chance to see the Fort Worth Herd cattle drive while you’re here. The twice-daily event is a reenactment of the historic cattle drives that used to take place in the Stockyards. Watch as the longhorns are herded down Exchange Avenue, and make sure to tip your cowboy hat when they go by!
There’s also a rodeo every Friday and Saturday night at the Cowtown Coliseum, one of the oldest indoor arenas in the country. Tickets start at just $20, so it’s a great activity if you’re looking for something fun and budget-friendly to do.
5. Bask in Nature’s Glory at White Rock Lake Park
White Rock Lake is a man-made reservoir that’s become one of Dallas’ most beloved parks. There are so many things to do here, such as biking the tree-lined trails, fishing for catfish and bass, renting a paddleboat to explore the lake, watching birds at the Audubon Society, or picnicking at one of the many scenic spots.
The park is also a great place for some prime Dallas sightseeing. Head to the spillway at Sunset Bay for a front-row seat to a blazing sunset!
Craving for more outdoor adventures? Klyde Warren Park is another great option. The 5.2-acre park sits on top of a freeway, and it’s filled with activities like yoga classes, food trucks, live music, and a dog park. There’s also a children’s playground and an amphitheater for special events.
The Katy Trail is another great spot for outdoor lovers. The 3.5-mile trail runs along an old railway line, and it’s a popular spot for walking, jogging, and taking your dog for a walk.
6. Visit Deep Ellum for a Night on the Town
Spending an evening in Deep Ellum is hands-down one of the coolest things to do in Dallas. This historic neighborhood was once the center of Dallas’ blues and jazz scene. Today, it’s a hipster haven with funky art galleries, live music venues, and hole-in-the-wall bars, restaurants, and cafes.
Start your evening with a cocktail at one of Deep Ellum’s trendy bars, like Dot’s Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard, then catch a live show at The Bomb Factory or Trees. After that, you can flip through the vinyl records, CDs, and music history books at Good Records. If you’ve got more energy, wander around snapping shots of the cool street art and strike up a conversation with the Dallas natives to get insider tips on the best things to do in Deep Ellum.
Finally, Deep Ellum is also one of the best places in Dallas to buy souvenirs. Make sure to stop by Deep Ellum Art Company, where you’ll find locally made jewelry, art, and home goods!
7. Go on a Dallas Shopping Spree
If you’re feeling the urge to shop till you drop, you’ll definitely want to add a shopping spree to your Dallas bucket list! The city is home to some of the best shopping malls and outlets in Texas.
If you’re looking for high-end designer labels, head to Highland Park Village. This chic outdoor mall is home to luxury brands like Tory Burch, Hermes, Jimmy Choo, and Chanel. For more affordable options, check out NorthPark Center or the Galleria Dallas.
Both malls have over 200 stores each, so you’re sure to find what you’re looking for. They offer more than retail therapy, too. For instance, NorthPark Center has art exhibitions from the likes of Andy Warhol, and the Galleria Dallas has an NHL-sized ice skating rink!
8. Feast on Dallas-Style BBQ and Tex-Mex
You can’t go to Dallas without eating barbecue! Schedule a stop at the Pecan Lodge, an award-winning but no-frills barbecue joint in Deep Ellum.
Their pitmasters smoke all of the meats on-site over pecan and hickory wood, and the results are out of this world. Try ordering a three-meat plate where you can mix and match house favorites like brisket, pulled pork, sausage, and ribs. Don’t forget to add on some mac and cheese and fried okra for a true taste of Dallas!
For a delicious Tex-Mex meal, head to El Fenix, one of Dallas’ most beloved Mexican restaurants. They’ve been serving up authentic enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, and more since 1918! Wash it all down with a frozen margarita and top it off with a sopapilla for dessert.
Other must-try foods in Dallas include the chicken-fried steak (a battered and fried beefsteak covered in gravy), migas (a Tex-Mex breakfast dish of eggs, tortilla chips, and salsa), and puffy tacos (a fried taco shell filled with meat, cheese, and lettuce).
If you have time for dessert, stop by the Katy Trail Ice House for some hand-crafted ice cream. They have all sorts of unique flavors like blueberry pie and whiskey pecan. Plus, the ice cream is made fresh daily in small batches.
9. Spend a Day at The Dallas World Aquarium
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Dallas, this is it! The Dallas World Aquarium is home to over 200 species of animals from all over the world. Get up close and personal with penguins, sea lions, otters, piranhas, sharks, countless fish, jellyfish, and even an anaconda!
In addition to the wide variety of aquatic life, you’ll also find numerous interactive experiences for guests of all ages. These include a shark dive simulator, a walk-through aquarium tunnel, and a touch tank where you can interact with sea creatures like sea stars, crabs, and sea cucumbers. There’s also a 4D theater where you can watch movies featuring different animals throughout the day.
Tip: Plan ahead! Parking is limited at The Dallas World Aquarium, so make sure you arrive early if you want to avoid long lines on weekends or holidays when crowds tend to be larger than normal.
10. Shop for Local Goods at the Dallas Farmers Market
The Dallas Farmers Market has been open since 1941, making it one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the United States! It’s also one of the finest, too, with food trucks and restaurants, indoor retail stores, market stands, and local vendors selling everything from produce to flowers to handmade goods.
Begin your day exploring the 26,000-square-foot The Market, an artisanal vendor market and food hall that houses most of the shops, restaurants, and stands. Check out vendors like Scardello Artisan Cheese for picnic supplies, Bolsa Mercado for unique groceries, and El Palote Panaderia for freshly made loaves of Mexican bread.
There are four anchor restaurants here, along with indoor and outdoor seating where you can watch people while enjoying coffee.
Afterward, stroll through the open-air Sheds to browse goods from local farmers and artisans. Sample local honey, purchase some jams and jellies, or pick up bottles of homemade barbecue sauce. The Sheds also have a wide selection of flowers if you need to pick up a bouquet on the way home!
For some retail therapy head over to the eclectic Harvest Lofts. Explore curated stores and restaurants, including a wine tasting room, a Thai street food place, a home decor shop, and more.
Try visiting the Dallas Farmers Market during the weekend and bring the family along. On Saturdays, there are usually live music performances, and on Sundays, kids can participate in free arts and crafts projects. The live cooking demonstrations are particularly fun to watch and usually feature local chefs using ingredients that are in season.
11. Drink Your Way Through Dallas’ Breweries
Dallas has a fantastic craft beer scene featuring creative local breweries that are always brewing up something new and exciting. For a comprehensive brewery tour, sign up for the Dallas Brew Scene tour, which takes you to four different breweries in the area.
You’ll start at Peticolas Brewing Company, where you can try their award-winning Velocity IPA or The Duke imperial red ale. Then, it’s off to Four Corners Brewing Co. for a tour of the facility, followed by a tasting of some of their most popular beers like El Chingon Mexican-style IPA and Local Buzz honey-rye golden ale.
Next, head to Deep Ellum Brewing Company, where you can choose four different beers to sample from their rotating taps. Some of their must-try brews include the Dallas Blonde Ale, the Easy Peasy IPA, and the Neato Bandito Mexican-style lager.
Last but not least, finish up your tour at Community Beer Company, where you can relax in their spacious taproom and try a flight of four beers.
If you’re still thirsty after your tour, be sure to visit one of Dallas’ many other great breweries like Peticolas Brewing Company Taproom, Manhattan Project Beer Co., and Texas Ale Project. With so many choices, you’ll definitely find a new beer (or two) that you love!
12. Play Your Way Through the Perot Museum
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science deserves a space on any list of top things to do in Dallas. The museum has 11 exhibit halls with topics ranging from the evolution of life to engineering and physics. You could easily spend a whole day exploring everything this museum has to offer!
In the Expanding Earth Hall, learn about plate tectonics and see a recreation of an earthquake. Then, walk through a tornado in the Texas Weather Gallery and experience what it’s like to be in the middle of a severe thunderstorm. For something truly unique, check out the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall, which uses augmented reality to bring fossils to life.
Fuel up for your adventure at the Perot Museum Café, which has a great selection of sandwiches, salads, and pizzas. Then, stop by the museum store on your way out to pick up a souvenir or two. Some of the most popular items here are the geological rocks and minerals, which make for great gifts or desk decorations.
13. Ride a Rollercoaster at Six Flags Over Texas
Reserve a day for Six Flags Over Texas, one of the best things to do in Dallas and the entire Lone Star state! The amusement park has over 50 rides, including 13 rollercoasters, so there’s something here for everyone in the family.
For the thrill-seekers in your group, don’t miss out on the Titan, which is one of the tallest and fastest rollercoasters in the country! The Goliath is also a must-do with its stomach-dropping 80-degree drop. If you’re looking for something a bit tamer, take a spin on the Texas Giant, which is a wooden coaster that’s been around since the park first opened in 1961.
Don’t forget to check out the other attractions at Six Flags, like the shows, the 4D theater, and the waterpark! And when you get hungry, there are plenty of places to grab a bite, including fast food options, casual sit-down restaurants, and even a food truck park.
14. Hop on the McKinney Avenue Trolley
For a unique way to see some of the best sights in Dallas, ride the McKinney Avenue Trolley! The vintage trolleys run daily and are free, though donations are encouraged. We love how you can hop on and off at any of the stops along the route, making it easy to explore different parts of the city.
Some of the top places to get off the trolley include the Dallas Arts District, Klyde Warren Park, the American Airlines Center, and the Victory Park neighborhood.
If you want to stay on for the whole ride, it takes about 45 minutes and ends back downtown. Grab one of the maps from the trolley driver or visit the website before you go so you can plan your route.
15. Have a Grand Time at Fair Park
You really can’t go wrong with Fair Park. This 277-acre outdoor fairground was built in 1886 and is now an outstanding exhibition of Art Deco design. It’s also a National Historic Landmark and home to many great museums, theaters, and gardens.
Fair Park is huge, so you might want to start by picking up a map from the information center because you’re going to need it!
Then, wander around and explore some of the highlights like the Cotton Bowl Stadium, the Children’s Aquarium Dallas, and the Texas Discovery Gardens. Be sure to also check out the Fair Park Band Shell, which hosts free concerts in the summer.
And, of course, no visit to Fair Park would be complete without taking a spin on the historic Texas Star Ferris wheel! For an even better view, buy a ticket for the Texas Skyway, which is an aerial gondola that takes you around the park.
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Dallas. What’s your favorite thing to do in Dallas?
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