In the public consciousness, Dallas stands as a symbol of both capitalistic promise and national tragedy. On one hand, it’s seen as a glass-and-steel, money-minded place where oil tycoons and big-haired socialites do battle with one another, a la the Ewings of Southfork Ranch (the former are fictional; the latter is real and open for tours). On the other hand, many still associate the city with John F. Kennedy’s assassination—an event that’s comprehensively documented at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, where it took place.
But there’s a lot more to this gleaming metropolis in northeastern Texas. The Big D has always been proudly pro-business—it has one of the biggest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies in the country—but residents know how to kick back, too. Setting your preconceived notions aside, you might be surprised to find a laid-back city filled with trendy nightlife, beautiful public gardens, and a remarkably friendly populace.
The weather is usually sunny and mild in Dallas (except at the height of summer, when temperatures can be scorching). Here are some places to enjoy being outside:
- White Rock Lake: Kayaking and fishing are popular pastimes at this 1,015-acre lake. While you're here, check out the award-winning Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden.
- Bishop Arts District: an eclectic, bohemian neighborhood chockablock with independent galleries, antique stores, cafes, and restaurants
- Downtown: Fifteen separate districts make up the city’s core; the oldest of them have the most spots of interest to travelers. Take a stroll through the West End Historic District to see the John F. Kennedy Memorial (a simple concrete cube) and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Then swing around to the Convention Center District to see Pioneer Plaza, a sculpture garden decorated with realistic bronze statues of cattle and horses, and the Main Street District, a long stretch of shops including the headquarters of Neiman Marcus at Main and Ervay.
Where to Stay
If it's your first time here, you’ll probably want to stay downtown so you’ll be within walking distance of the best shops, restaurants, and attractions. The historic Magnolia Hotel in the Main Street District features a famous neon Mobil Pegasus that is an indispensible part of the city’s skyline. Another solid alternative is the stylish Le Meridien Dallas, the Stoneleigh in Uptown, close to the financial district. There are great views of the city at the Belmont Hotel, a chic motor-court hotel in the Oak Cliff.
The Cedars: a quirky, pleasantly funky south Dallas neighborhood popular with artists and musicians; it’s a great place to go for live music, especially at venues like Gilley’s Dallas and Poor David’s Pub
Preston Hollow: At the opposite end of the city and the social spectrum, this is the wealthiest neighborhood in the city, where some of the state’s most prominent residents have homes, including former president George W. Bush, Ross Perot, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, and a bunch of players and coaches from the Dallas Cowboys.