Last month I spent President’s Day weekend in Dallas, Texas. If you’ve subscribed to The Weekend Jetsetter for a while, you’ve probably realized that most of my trips are driven by flight deals – and this one was no different! I decided to spend a weekend in Dallas because I had a day off of work (President’s Day) and it was the cheapest warm place to fly to from Boston on those dates.
If you’re interested in how I find affordable flights, I’d recommend you check out my FREE eBook on the subject here.
Anyway, back to my weekend in Dallas!
It’s easy: DFW airport is a major hub for American Airlines, and Dallas’s other airport, Love Field, is Southwest’s hub. Since DFW is one of the biggest airports in the country, it’s easy to find well-priced flights surrounding a weekend from most major U.S. cities. Once you get to the airport, public transportation is easy to access and take to the city in less than an hour.
It’s not as far away as you think: Dallas is located smack dab in the middle of the U.S., so flights from the furthest corners of the country will still only take about three to four hours.
How I Spent a Weekend in Dallas
I didn’t put much pre-thought into my weekend in Dallas because February was an incredibly hectic travel month for me – I was busy dealing with the insurance claim after my cancelled flight to Miami and putting together my Paris weekend itinerary for later in the month. All I cared about was booking a hotel in a “walkable” area since I didn’t plan to rent a car. A quick Google search revealed that Uptown Dallas would probably be the best fit, so I booked three nights at the Hyatt House Uptown (one of which was free thanks to Hotels.com’s rewards program – score!).
After I arrived in Dallas, I realized that “walkable” isn’t really a term you’d use to describe any part of this city. The first hint came when my boyfriend, Nick, and I boarded the train from the airport and were the only people in sight. Apparently public transit isn’t as popular in Dallas as it is in Boston! The train ride was comfortable and convenient and I’d recommend it as the best way to get from the airport to the city for just $2.50.
The second hint came when we arrived in our “walkable” neighborhood and saw… zero people walking. The Hyatt House Dallas offered a shuttle that took guests within four miles of the hotel for free, further evidence that no one walks in Dallas.
Well, we decided to walk anyway! And it turned out that our hotel was pretty conveniently located for those of us who prefer the exercise our own two feet provide.
Exploring Dallas, Neighborhood by Neighborhood
Dallas is a shiny and new city with lots of development happening, and nowhere is this more apparent than Uptown. Uptown is an upscale neighborhood that’s home to many nice restaurants and bars, along with the famous luxury clothing store Stanley Korshak.
My favorite part of the neighborhood was McKinney Ave, which features a free public trolley that will shuttle you from one end to the other if you don’t feel like walking. I can imagine it’s a popular choice during those dripping hot Texas summers! There are many indoor-outdoor bars and restaurants on McKinney Ave, but my favorite was Nickel and Rye. It has a large patio with fireplaces if you get chilly, and a great specialty cocktail menu. The best part? During happy hour, which happened to be when we arrived on Friday afternoon, specialty cocktails are half price at $5. Coming from Boston, where happy hour is illegal, a $5 cocktail makes me do a happy dance.
A less boozy way to spend an afternoon Uptown is at Klyde Warren Park, also accessible via the McKinney Ave trolley. The park is lined with food trucks, and it’s the perfect place to grab lunch and people watch.
Bishop Arts District
Bishop Arts District ended up being the Dallas neighborhood I loved the most. A bit out of the way from the rest of the city (we had to take an Uber there), it’s a cozy area where there were actually people walking around. There are lots of boutiques and trendy bars/restaurants to stop at in Bishop Arts District, making brunch and an afternoon of exploring a must during a weekend in Dallas.
If you’re a BBQ lover, then a visit to Lockhart Smokehouse is definitely in order. You’ll have to wait in line to order at this joint, but trust me: the food is worth it. I was a little scared by signs on the wall declaring that they don’t use forks, but turns out they’ve abandoned that practice and now allow patrons to use utensils. Hey, I get that it’s a tradition… but ick!
The best thing about Lockhart Smokehouse though was its bloody mary. This drink, which I’d probably refer to as more of an entire meal, gave new meaning to the phrase “everything is bigger in Texas.” If you’ve never had a bloody mary garnished with brisket and sausage, you haven’t really lived.
After indulging in a huge plate of meat, it only makes sense to spend the rest of the afternoon at a “hunting-inspired” bar, right? Waldron Lodge, located right around the corner, is a fun spot with outdoor games in its backyard and live music on the patio.
Every city has one: in New York it’s Williamsburg and in Miami it’s Wynwood Arts District. I’m talking about a hipster-filled neighborhood covered in colorful graffiti, most likely in a former warehouse district. In Dallas, that neighborhood is Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum is one of the most interesting neighborhoods to explore in Dallas, even if it’s just for the street art. However, it also has a great assortment of restaurants and live music venues.
One of the oldest bars in town is Adair’s Saloon, whose tiny stage has actually played host to some of the biggest names in Texas country music. There’s live music seven nights a week, beer is served in red Solo cups and the walls are covered in Sharpie writing. It’s definitely an eclectic spot, and best of all: there’s no cover!
In terms of food, you can’t visit Texas without eating some Mexican food. Pepe & Mito’s is a casual Deep Ellum spot that serves hearty portions of authentic dishes. The nachos were really delicious – too delicious, because our Texas-sized appetites did not match our stomachs and we were barely able to make a dent in our entrees after eating them.
While Downtown Dallas doesn’t have the same charm as the Uptown, Bishop Arts District and Deep Ellum neighborhoods do, it’s home to most of the city’s popular tourist attractions and museums. A couple sights worth checking out include:
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza – This brick building is believed to be the spot where Lee Harvey Oswald fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy. Today it is a museum devoted to Kennedy’s life, work and death.
The Old Red Museum – A local history museum. I can’t tell you much about what’s inside, but the exterior of the building is pretty cool to look at. Apparently it was originally the Dallas County Courthouse back in 1892, and it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
Reunion Tower – Accessible from inside the Hyatt Regency, Reunion Tower offers the best view of Dallas’s skyline for $16 per adult (check out the picture at the top of this post for a preview).
Fort Worth: A Worthy (Get It?) Day Trip from Dallas
So I know this post is about a weekend in Dallas, but it’s worth mentioning that a whole different world is just an hour’s train ride away in Fort Worth. Just hop aboard the Trinity Railway Express to be taken to cowboy country in the historic Fort Worth Stockyards.
Once you reach Fort Worth, it’s easy to take a bus to the Stockyards or grab a taxi from the train station. So what’s there to do in Fort Worth? Plenty!
Cowboy Hall of Fame – Admission to this museum is just $5, which is definitely worth it. Inside you’ll find tributes to famous rodeo participants along with historic western wagons.
Daily Cattle Drive – At 11:30am and 4:00pm daily, cowboys lead a herd of cattle down the main street. It’s just as random and ridiculous as it sounds, but entertaining nonetheless!
See a Western Show or Rodeo – It’s cheesy, but how could you not? We went to the western show at the Cowtown Coliseum in the afternoon and were entertained by cowboys galloping around, shooting things and doing cool tricks.
Drink at a Honky Tonk… or on the Streets – Public drinking is legal in the Stockyards, so you can enjoy a cold one while you wander around outside. And there are plenty of honky tonk style bars in the area to bar hop, many of which have live music. While definitely a completely different scene than the more polished nightlife of Dallas, Fort Worth was a blast!
Overall my weekend in Dallas was the perfect mix of cheesy tourist attractions and city exploring. While I was disappointed in Dallas’s lack of walkability, I could definitely get used to its plethora of tasty Tex-Mex, 70-degree temperatures in February and $5 happy hour cocktails. Have you ever been to Dallas? Let me know in the comments if I missed anything awesome, because I’d love an excuse to go back!
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