We Houstonians have a love-hate relationship with our annoying little brother, Dallas. Despite their tragic football team, the city itself has much to offer. Roughly a four-hour road trip from Houston, the Big D is the ideal staycation. But more than that, when you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Houston, even just for a short time, Dallas has tons of niche activities.
The Triple D flourishes in many ways that Houston often does not (walkability, for starters), plus there are lightscapes illuminating the night sky and quirky, Instagrammable art installations throughout the city.
If you’re looking to make a quick getaway, Dallas has plenty to keep entertained (and full)!
10 Cool Things to Do in Dallas
Check out (or in) at The Joule
A first blush, you might think The Joule was created with art in mind, but it's no museum. This hotel was the former location of the Dallas National Bank, built in 1920. The building was repurposed into a boutique hotel in 2008, and the artsy auberge is a Gen Z playground (neon signs that read "bitch” adorn the walls in the lobby). From the Downtown view throughout the hotel to the neo-gothic decor inside the rooms, every detail is intentional. But perhaps the most attractive characteristic of the hotel is its exhibition-worthy art collection. Mosaics from Millard Sheets, Rebecca Manson, and Nicolas Hatful are placed throughout the Downtown landmark.
The hotel's in-house restaurant, Sassetta, is a super cozy Italian spot with hearty pasta dishes, and if you have room for a nightcap, you can mosey over to the Midnight Rambler, the hotel's secret bar, modeled after Disneyland (yep, you read that right). At the Midnight Rambler, expect a handful of Dallas-themed drinks named after some of the city's most famous luminaries, like "Naked on the Knoll" for Erykah Badu and the "El Mero Mero" for Roy Hargrove.
Visit the AT&T Stadium
Just a stone's throw from Dallas in Arlington, the AT&T Stadium's entertainment stretches far past just football. When the Cowboys aren't playing, you can still wander through the stadium and experience one of the many tours. You can get inside looks at some of the most exclusive spaces and suites in the stadium or get a crash course inside the "world's largest lesson plan." Amongst all the happenings, the best is the gallery-worthy art. The AT&T Stadium is filled with stunning contemporary art that even the biggest football fan would enjoy.
Snap a Pic at The Giant Eyeball
Whether you decided to stay at The Joule or if you’re just wandering Downtown, at some point, you’ll be greeted by a massive eyeball. Literally. It’s a 30-foot tall, realistically rendered fiberglass sculpture of a human eyeball. Created by artist Tony Tasset in 2007 for an art exhibit in Chicago, the piece was moved to Dallas in 2013, and it’s a must-see on your Dallas to-do list.
Legend has it that hotel owner Timothy Headington wanted to purchase the land across the street from the swanky hotel as an extension of The Joule’s art collection; however, the land became a contentious issue for local politicians. As a play on having an “eye sore” in the middle of Downtown Dallas, Headington purchased the massive oculus and placed it directly across the street from the hotel.
While one would think such a large art installation would have a more profound, convoluted meaning, Tasset has mentioned that it’s just a giant eyeball and nothing more. Nonetheless, it’s a great photo op.
Walk the Lowest Greenville District
Known for its core artery Greenville Avenue, Lowest Greenville is a pedestrian-friendly strip of shops, restaurants, and businesses that are perfect for a midmorning Saturday stroll. Built for day and night activities, you’ll find trendy and family-friendly restaurants, tequila bars, rooftops, and patios in one centralized area keen to fit whatever vibe you may be feeling.
Lowest Greenville is a breath of fresh air. The avenue, surrounded by bungalow homes, feels like a community from a time long-gone. Between the collection of restaurants, you’ll find quaint and quirky shops selling everything from streetwear and sneakers to toys for your pets—so be sure to bring your wallet.
Eat at Charlie’s Creole Kitchen
Casual restaurants round out the foodie findings in Lowest Greenville, but the unmissable culinary moment is a hole in the wall dubbed Charlie’s Creole Kitchen. Right at the corner of Richmond Avenue, is a taste of Louisiana—creole dishes like red beans and rice and jambalaya are the highlight of the menu, and on the weekends, expect every LSU or Tulane football game on the TVs and enjoy specials on their drinks and signature charbroiled oysters.
Shop at Highland Park Village
It boasts over 50 stores for retail shopping, and on Saturday, the shopping district is a peak luxury shopping and lifestyle experience. The small village is wound together by high-end fashion houses like Dior, Goyard, and Fendi, on top of fine jewelers like Audemars Piguet, and Cartier. (It's safe to say that our time was spent window shopping.) The heavy price tags don't seem to deter anyone from grazing the area—especially on the weekends. Expect a crowd!
Brunch at Bistro 31
This European treat is located in the centermost part of Highland Park Village. The indoor restaurant is intimate; however, just around the corner, you’ll find the upstairs patio, with an all-encompassing view of the village. The shopping center has an opulent ambiance through and through, down to the meals—Bistro 31 feels something like a country club.
It’s the place to go for a savory brunch with boozy cocktails. No matter what time of day, the Mexican Candy cocktail is a shoo-in for the best drink on the menu (thank us later). Order the signature burger and housemade potato fries, and you’ve got an afternoon brunch.
Visit Pegasus Plaza
Main Street District
At the corner of Akard and Main Street, Pegasus Plaza is the half-acre special-use park in the Main Street District. You may wonder how the park got its name. It aligns with the recognizable sign on the neighboring Magnolia Hotel, a flying red horse. Open to the public daily, the park is home to several stunning water fountains, but at night is when the plaza comes alive. A holiday light structure with Santa Claus and his sleigh decks the halls as early as the first week of November.
Dine at the Tango Room
According to the locals, the Tango Room was lauded as one of the best fine-dining restaurants in the Dallas metroplex. Tucked away in the Design District, the speakeasy-style restaurant is so obscure you’ll almost miss the front door (speaking from experience). Behind the hostess stand is a curtain that opens up to a new world. Eschewing pretentiousness, the Tango Room allows for more casual dress—it’s even in their slogan: “Fine foods. Finer wines. No jacket required.”
Steaks make the menu, but that won’t be the only tantalizing entree: lamb chops, plates of pasta, and pork chops topped, of course, with tasty additions like foie gras and blue cheese butter. For us, though, the main courses were the supporting acts, considering how the appetizers and desserts stole the show. We recommend the deviled eggs with black truffle and the potato wedges (there won’t be anything left on the plate)!
Get Some Fresh Air at Civic Garden
The spacious green in Downtown Dallas makes the metropolis feel unrecognizable to the untrained eye. One might consider, "Am I downtown or in the Texas prairie?" Sprawled across 1.7 acres, the Civic Garden is what you’d imagine a casual date in the park to look like. The lush garden is embellished with over 100 trees and 10,000 botanical plants. When the holidays are closing in, the garden is illuminated at night with its annual butterfly lights display.