While a lot of people might imagine Dallas to only full of oil barons and horribly stereotypical cowboys, that is simply not the case! This Dallas travel guide is here to clear up any misconceptions about this underrated city.
The truth is Dallas and Fort Worth, for that matter, are both very desirable cities to visit. Contrary to Texas’ overall reputation, Dallas is not some backward saloon full of gruff, rebellious frontiersmen.
In reality, it is one of the most open-minded and cosmopolitan cities in the entire South (although it’s still the South). Even stubborn Fort Worth has a somewhat alternative vibe to it – if there were such a thing as Texas hipsters, they would probably hang out here.
Over the course of this Dallas travel guide, we’re going to be covering a lot of different topics, like where to stay in Dallas, what to do, and when to visit, amongst many other things.
We’ll also pay particularly close attention to our budget and what we can do to save money. There are heaps of cheap things to do in Dallas and we’ve covered quite a few of them in this guide.
So saddle up cowpokes as we explore all the best sights that Dallas has to offer. We’re confident that this city can impress anyone, just so long as it’s given the chance.
A note on terminology: the word Metroplex refers to the entire Dallas-Fort Worth area via the terms “metropolitan” and “complex.” In reality, this region is absolutely enormous and encompasses many surrounding cities and towns. We’re going to be using the term Metroplex often when talking about the general urban area.
Table of Contents
Despite its reputation for being fancy and pricey, Dallas is actually not that expensive to visit. Compare it to other places in America like San Francisco and New York, and you might be paying half for things like lodging or food. Head to Fort Worth and the prices drop even further.
Granted, Dallas is still the priciest part of the Metroplex and expenses can add up quick here if you’re out shopping all day and drinking all night.
We believe that Dallas can be cheap but travelers must be smart with their money. To make sure you don’t go overboard, we’ve included a couple of tips and reminders to help you travel to Dallas on a budget.
We take great pride in traveling on a shoestring and think that many could learn a thing or two about saving a buck.
A lower daily budget for Dallas and Fort Worth would be about $60-80. This will get you a dorm bed, groceries, bus tickets, and some extra spending money.
Food and groceries are fairly inexpensive by American standards as well. You’ll be tempted to eat out often because of Dallas’ excellent dining options, but try not to do it so often if you’re on a budget. While a plate may be advertised at a certain price, it’ll be much higher after you factor in sales tax and tips.
Getting around the Metroplex is usually cheap, though maybe not as quick. By using a combination of DART, walking, and local startup transportation, like efrogs, you can navigate Dallas affordably.
Below is a breakdown of a daily budget in Dallas including average costs of each expense.
Guide to Dallas Travel Costs
Dallas Travel Guide Budget Tips
If you’re looking for more cheap things to do in Dallas, then try using one of these money-saving techniques!
- Get a City Pass – While there are many free things to do in Dallas, the grand majority of the Dallas’ attractions requires paid entry. To really explore Dallas on the cheap, consider buying a City Pass. Having one of these will allow you to enter many of the best spots in town, like the Reunion Tower, Perot Museum, and Sixth Floor Museum, for a good price.
- Half-price tickets – Discount tickets are being offered all the time in Dallas! Texas Ranger baseball tickets are a screaming deal these days (because the team sucks) and you can go for as low as $10! The Kimbell Museum also offers half-priced tickets from 10am-5pm on Tuesdays and Fridays from 5pm-8pm.
- Use efrogs – This local startup uses an unorthodox business model – instead of charging fixed rates for rides, they operate purely on tips. You can use efrogs to get around central Dallas and you can even book a tour with them. Just please be generous when you pay them – only shitheads skim on tips.
- Happy hour – You’ll find most US bars selling happy hour (4-6ish) specials (except Boston?) but Dallas does a particularly good job of it. All across town, there are great deals and some places really go all out. Dreamy Life organizes a great happy hour and even books live bands!
- Cook at home as often as possible – One of the most proven ways of saving money for backpackers; buying your own groceries and cooking at home will save you heaps of cash.
- Use a water bottle – Save money by investing in a good water bottle and then drink from the tap. Dallas’s water is delicious and totally fine to drink.
- Free WiFi
- Free Breakfast
Dallas has some very affordable lodging, which is a huge relief if you’re traveling from the likes of California or the Northeast.
For less than $100, you can stay at a decent hotel or a spiffy Airbnb. As always, there are hostels around and campgrounds for those who really need to save a buck.
Hotels are affordable in Dallas but I still wouldn’t recommend staying in one if you have other options. I just find them too sterile sometimes, not to mention monotonous. Unless you find a penthouse or somewhere right in the middle of Downtown, stick to local apartments.
Airbnb is everywhere in Dallas and some apartments are quite cool, and the best part is that they are very affordable. If you are traveling with a larger group or want to spend a little extra for privacy, I’d definitely choose a Dallas Airbnb option.
If you really wanted to save money and have the right camping equipment, then you could camp out near Dallas. Lots of the surrounding lake areas have campgrounds on-site.
While there is limited public transport to these parts, having a car would make this plausible – this way, you can drive to the nearest train station and then commute into the city.
Dallas only has a couple of hostels but they’re good quality. If you’re traveling alone, they’re the best deal in town and can be a whole lot of fun!
If you’re curious about the best hostels in Dallas, then refer below to a brief expose of those in the city.
Overall Best Hostel in Dallas – Deep Ellum Hostel
Deep Ellum Hostel is the best hostel to stay in Dallas for those who want to be situated in the heart of Dallas and close to the party. It’s located in one of the loudest districts in town and doubles as a live-venue itself some nights.
This is not a filthy party hostel though – it’s freshly renovated and has an absolutely gorgeous, rustic interior. Plus, there’s free breakfast, just in case you can’t cook for yourself after a long night out in Dallas.
Best Hostel in Dallas Runner Up – The Wild, Wild West Dallas
If you’d like to stay somewhere a bit outside of town but still within range, then the Wild, Wild West Dallas is the one for you.
This low-key, authentic hostel is unabashed Texas and promises their guests “exciting experiences,” like riding a mechanical bull and bar-dancing at the Red River.
At the end of the day, the hostel is far enough from the city center to be peaceful itself, and the free daily continental breakfast means you can worry even less while staying here.
Best Airbnb in Dallas – Sweet Condo in the the middle of DT!
This apartment will exceed your expectations immensely! You will find yourself mesmerized by the views from the rooftop, with panoramic views of the city lights and all of downtown. You may even end up staying there, sunbathing in the pool for most of your trip. Yeah, that’s right; the pool has lounge chairs in the water! Yet, you did come here to see the city, and this location is centrally located. Meaning, you don’t need to move your car once you arrive. Huge perk!
1. Dive Deep
Deep Ellum is one of the hottest parts of town and hosts a staggering amount of bars, clubs, breweries, and restaurants. If you are going to start partying anywhere in the city, it’s here.
2. Get tickets to a game
No Dallas travel guide would be complete without mentioning the likes of the Cowboys or the Rangers! The local sports teams are the pride and joy of Dallas and can a really good time. On another note, be careful of that Mark Cuban guy at Mavericks games. This is one of the definitive things to do in Dallas.
3. Join Gay Pride
Dallas has one of the most well-known and active LGBT communities in the South and they throw damn good parties. If happen to be in in Dallas on the weekend of Pride, you’ll be treated to huge parades, dance parties, and live music. Gay or not, it’s a great time for everyone.
4. Visit the art museums
The best points of interests in Dallas are its museums. These institutions are some of the finest in the country and host collections that are shockingly diverse. Visit one and you’ll feel like you need to see them all! Suddenly, 3 days in Dallas doesn’t feel like enough.
5. Cool off in the Trinity River
Texas gets hot, like really hot. On warmer days, the locals head straight for the watering holes to cool off. The Trinity River is one of the go-to spots.
While the river runs through the heart of the Metroplex and past a lot of urban areas, it is, for the most part, safe to swim in. Grab a tube and just lax the day away!
6. Attend a stock show
Texas loves steer. As funny as that last statement sounds, they really do take great pride in raising the best and strongest cattle in the country. Ranchers will parade their finest bulls at local stockyard shows and these are among the must see places in Dallas.
While these shows do serve a practical purpose, they often feel more celebratory, and will often have entertainment, drinking, and, of course, lots of beef.
7. Explore Dallas’ Bishop District
One of Dallas’ must see neighborhoods is the Bishop District. This off the beaten path area is known for its street murals, cafes, and hipsters. It’s a scene that you would expect more in Austin or Portland, but, alas, it suits Dallas pretty well.
8. International or Texan?
The Metroplex is a tale of two cities when it comes to places to eat. Dallas is the cosmopolitan half that loves to spit out new, creative dishes on a regular basis.
On the other, you have Fort Worth, which is firmly Texan and so loves BBQ and Tex-Mex. At the end of the day, which do you choose?
9. Ride the trolley through Uptown
The historic McKinney Trolley runs directly through Dallas’ affluent Uptown neighborhood. Anyone who is a sucker for nostalgia will find that riding this tram is one of the most romantic things to do in Dallas. Hop and hop off to your heart’s content – it’s always free!
10. Relax in the Dallas Arboretum
If you’re stressed out by Dallas and its hectic roads, there’s no better place to unwind than the Arboretum. This little oasis is a lovely place to walk around and decompress especially in the spring when the flowers are all blooming.
Best Free Things to Do in Dallas
To visit Dallas on a budget, take advantage of its many pro bono activities! There are tons of free things to do in Dallas, some of which are listed below:
- Museums – There are several museums in Dallas and Fort Worth that are totally free every day of the week. Both the Crow Museum of Asian Art and the Kimbell Art Museum have respective collections that cost nothing to see. The Dallas Museum of Art is also totally free, which is shocking because you’d think that such an impressive collection would surely demand a premium.
- Guacamologist – The Ritz-Carlton Dallas prepares fresh guacamole every night and gives it out as tasters! The guac is good but don’t expect a feeding frenzy – this isn’t Costco, folks! There are often complementary (little) margaritas as well, though you’ll probably get the stink eye if you don’t buy your own eventually.
- The Trolley – Dallas’ historic McKinney Tram is free to ride all day, every day! While it can certainly be useful to get around Uptown, it’s more enjoyable as memorabilia. This old streetcar resembles many of those in San Francisco or Milan and, while not as famous, it is just about as fun.
- Festivals – There are a ton of free festivals and events in Dallas-Fort Worth all year-round. Friday on the Green and the bi-annual Gallery Night are two of the best local galas to attend as you’ll find plenty of free samples at both. For a livelier scene, try hitting up the Deep Ellum Arts and Music Fest.
- Dance – If you’re out of things to do at night in Dallas, I’m sure one of the locals would love to sweep you off your feet. Being Texas, line dancing is king here and several bars even host free lessons! Adair’s Saloon is a great place to start.
Off the Beaten Path in Dallas and Fort Worth
Dallas is absolutely massive so there’s plenty of room to go out and explore. If you want something more unique to do in Dallas, then check out one of these locations on the outskirts of the city!
- Texas Video Game Museum – This brand-new museum is so fuckin’ cool! It’s dedicated primarily to retelling the history of video games and does so in some very creative ways. Many of the galleries resemble common video game play areas, like a 70s living room or arcade. Some exhibitions even attempt to transport inside the game (probably not like Tron).
- Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden – This park is already one of the most popular, if not beautiful, sights in Dallas. It’s located a bit out of the way – probably by design – and it takes at least 45 minutes to get there by bus. If you’re feeling stressed out from all the mayhem in the city, this will be the perfect place to escape.
- Airfield Falls – Way on the outskirts of Fort Worth is one of North Texas’ few remaining waterfalls. Boasted as “the highest waterfall in Fort Worth,” it’s become a very beloved place by the locals. While it’s certainly no wilderness experience, the falls are still a nice ornament in an otherwise featureless landscape.
- Denton – The best music in Dallas isn’t in the city at all – it’s in nearby Denton. Most of the region’s musicians hang out in this town and they like to put on free shows almost every day of the week. This town also hosts some of the best festivals in the region, including the 35 Denton Music Festival and the Arts and Jazz Festival.
The following is a sample 3-day itinerary for a weekend in Dallas. Most of the top destinations mentioned in this Dallas travel guide are covered in this section. Refer to our neighborhood guide on Dallas for more information!
Day 1 in Dallas: West End – Downtown
Let’s kick off our Dallas travel guide in the center of town! On the first day, we’re going to stick to the central districts of Dallas, specifically the Arts District, Downtown, and West End areas.
Let’s start off in the impressive Arts District, where the majority of Dallas’ cultural centers and museums are. This neighborhood is a testament to Dallas’ cosmopolitan drive and many of the museums here are comparable to those in Philadelphia or Seattle, for that matter.
The Dallas Museum of Art is the most well-known of the bunch for many reasons:
a) it’s one of the largest museums in the US b) its collections are amazing and c) it’s totally free. You should definitely allocate a portion of your day to this museum.
Nearby institutions include the Crow Museum of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Perot Museum, and the Dallas Meyerson Symphony Building. Klyde Warren Park is also notable, which is a good place to take a break.
If you want to see one of Dallas’ great hidden gems, head to the Saint Ann Restaurant to see their personal Japanese gallery. It’s one of the greatest collections of samurai artifacts known outside the country.
Let’s shoot south for the Downtown area. There’s not a whole lot here, besides stare at skyscrapers, but you’ll have the chance to see some very iconic points of interest in Dallas.
You’ll visit the Giant Eye on Elm and a couple of blocks down is Thanks-giving Square, which has a small chapel with great photo ops inside (look up!). Finally, you’ll end up in Pioneer Plaza, home to the famous Cattle Run statues.
End your day in the West End. Here, you have a couple of options. First, you can see a couple more cultural sites, including the Dealey Plaza (where JFK was assassinated), the Old Red Museum, and the Sixth Floor Museum.
Otherwise, you can head across the Commerce Bridge and the Dallas Floodway to catch some views of the city at sunset. Hope your brought a camera!
Day 2 in Dallas: Northern Dallas
On the second day of our travel guide for Dallas, we’re going to wander the northern reaches of the city. We’ll get to visit some of the coolest parts of the city today including Uptown and Oak Lawn.
Let’s start back at Klyde Warren Park back in the Arts District. Very close by is the beginning of the historic McKinney Trolley. These old trams are fun to ride and, most importantly, free to use. You’ll use these primarily to be getting around Uptown.
Uptown is one of the busiest and most active neighborhoods in Dallas. It’s a fairly new development and is touted as being the most walkable place in Dallas. Ultimately, it’s a nice place to wander around and peek into the little boutiques.
Right next to Uptown is Oak Lawn, which is the LGBT enclave of Dallas. This is one of the most eminent gay neighborhoods in America and hosts all kinds of LGBT businesses. It hosts a great Halloween party and it goes without saying that Gay Pride here is also very exciting.
The McKinney Trolley ends just shy of Oak Lawn at the West Village Shopping Mall, which is where you’ll find the awesome Magnolia Theatre. At this point, we have a couple of choices.
The first is that we can turn around and walk back on the popular Katy Trail, which is essentially a glorified walkway. We can then grab a drink at the iconic Katy Trail Ice House – by this point, we’re very close to Downtown again.
The other option is that we continue to Highland Park. This area is primarily known for having the most expensive shopping in Dallas.
While I don’t much care for designer brands, there are a couple of interesting museums in the neighborhood. These are the Spanish-themed Meadows Museum and the George W. Bush Presidential Center, which, interestingly, has a perfect recreation of the Oval Office.
If you chose to visit Highland and are ready to head back, grab one of the trains at Mockingbird Station.
Day 3 in Dallas: Fort Worth
On the final day of this Dallas travel guide, we’re going to leave the city behind and spend a day exploring its other half – Fort Worth. Fort Worth, locally referred to as Cowtown, is the more “Texan” of the two and is often praised by residents as being cheaper, friendlier, and more authentic than big-city Dallas. So let’s find out for ourselves, shall we?
Grab the TRE train from Victory Station and make the hour-long odyssey out to FW. Upon arriving, you’ll be in the middle of Fort Worth’s “Downtown” area.
Sundance Square is the city’s central plaza and it’s lined with shops and restaurants selling steaks bigger than your face.
You have to visit the nearby Water Gardens. This modern installation looks like a futuristic version of India’s Chand Baori and has even been featured in several sci-fi movies. This is a great place for photos and relaxing.
From near Sundance, you can catch a bus up to the historical Stockyards, which is ground-zero for everything cowboy in the Metroplex.
Here, you’ll find rodeo grounds, stock shows, honky tonks, and saloons. We definitely suggest perusing the many Western-themed shops and having a drink at Billy Bob’s.
One of the best things to do in Fort Worth is to visit the Cultural District. Here you’ll find the Kimbell Art Museum, Amon Carter Museum, and Modern Art Museum. You may be shocked to hear that these are among the most respected institutions of their kind in the entire country and host amazing collections. Who would’ve thunk cowboys had such good taste?
You can end the day in many ways. Trinity Park is a good place to kick back and lay on the grass. The Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are beautiful to walk through and have a wonderful Japanese section. You could also grab a beer anywhere along the Ale Trail, which is back towards Downtown.
Best Time of Year to Visit Dallas
The weather in Dallas can be a bit crazy – even by Texan standards. This city experiences all sorts of climatic patterns, seemingly out of nowhere.
If you plan your trip to Dallas wisely, you can avoid the worst of the elements. Though Dallas is no stranger to extreme weather, it’s not something you see very often. Most of the time, people just have to complain about the heat as opposed to an abundance of rain or cold.
Summers in Dallas can be hotter than the deepest level of Hell. Luckily, summers are dry, so you won’t have to worry about sweating out your t-shirt in 5 minutes like in the rest of the South, though you’ll probably still be sweating.
Summer also means baseball and the 4th of July. While the former is on a bit of dry spell in recent years, the latter is still as awesome as ever. Panther Island hosts an insane firework show every year.
Spring is a great time to travel to Dallas, so long as you’re not there during a bad week. This is prime tornado season and these can cause massive damage. Keep an eye on the local storm watches and be prepared.
Freak storms aside, springtime is wonderful in Dallas. Temperatures are comfortable and the blooming flowers really put on a show.
Winters in Dallas are usually mild but not as much as you’d think. Nights can be cold this time of year and snow is not unheard of. In fact, it consistently snows a couple of times per year in Dallas. Get ready for a show when that happens, as Dallas goes into a panic after a single inch.
Autumn is hands-down the best time to visit Dallas. There’s no freak weather, no chill, and much fewer crowds. There can be a storm here and there, but they’re often tame compared to the ones in spring.
Getting in and out of Dallas
Dallas has two major airports nearby: Dallas-Fort Worth International and Love Field. Dallas- Fort Worth handles all of the Metroplex foreign routes and is a major hub for American Airlines aka Ameri-Can Suck My Ass-Lines (sorry, I don’t much care for them.)
Love Field handles more domestic routes and is the home base Southwest Airlines, which is the greatest airline ever (we love you SW!)
There is public transport to both airports. Love Field is located right on the outskirts of Dallas proper and you can reach Downton in about 30-45 minutes.
DFW International literally straddles the Metroplex and, as such, is a little farther away. You can still reach the Downtown area using a single train but commute times will be 1 hour or more.
Being Texas, there is no lack of massive highways around Dallas and Fort Worth. There are tons of ways to get into either city by road. The only thing that you’ll have to contend with is traffic, which can be stuck in utter gridlock during rush hours. Be mindful of tolls as well.
If you have a car rental, you may be better off staying outside of the city and taking the train into the city center. The Metroplex has a pretty efficient central transportation network and it may be easier than finding parking. You can also purchase a RentalCover.com policy online to cover your vehicle against any common damages such as tires, windscreens, theft, and more at a fraction of the price you would pay at the rental desk.
Long-distance buses connect Dallas with a host of neighboring cities, both near and far. Oklahoma City, Houston, and Austin are all a mere 2-3 hours away. At that rate, you could easily reach the likes of Denver, Nashville, or even Mexico using a mainliner bus.
Greyhound is the most omnipresent bus company in America, but the rides are pretty weird sometimes. If you don’t feel like using this company, check the regional MegaBus instead.
How to get around Dallas
Dallas actually has a really good public transport network, at least compared to the rest of the South (we’re looking at you, Atlanta).
A pretty wide swath of the Metroplex is covered by the DART network, which utilizes a fleet of buses and trains. Going from one end of town to other would take no more than 30-45 minutes and may even be devoid of transfers.
Traveling from Dallas to Fort Worth is a completely different story. Although these cities combine together to form a single urban sprawl, they are still almost 40 miles apart.
To connect the two, you’ll have to take the TRE train (an extension of the DART) or a Greyhound. Travel times will be an hour, at least.
At the end of the day, Dallas is a driving town and the streets are usually choked with commuter cars. While traffic can be horrendous at peak hours (8-10 am and 4-6 pm), it’s not so bad the rest of the time.
Being Texas as well, gas is cheap! So even if you’re stuck in traffic or doing circles looking for parking, at least you know that you won’t be wasting money.
Unfortunately, Dallas is not a bike-friendly city and the motorists have a firm dominance of the roads here. You can join the mass of cars while riding if you want – just remember proper road etiquette and don’t use a road that’s more than 40 miles per hour.
If you just plan to visit the central attractions in Dallas, then you can probably get away with walking. Just be mindful of intense heat and weather though. Remember to have a water bottle and be sure to bring a really good pair of shoes.
Safety in Dallas
Given its immense size (7.5 million residents in the metro), Dallas is a pretty safe city. A lot of agencies like to remark that it is one of the safest big cities in America.
Granted, Dallas is still a city, and as such suffers from a lot of the usual big-city problems. Violent crime does still occur here, though the odds of this happening to a tourist are pretty low. As is usually the case, most instances are contained within the outer districts – areas that should appeal little to outsiders.
Still, it pays to practice all of the usual safety travel habits, regardless if you’re in Dallas or elsewhere. You never know when someone will be compelled to swipe for your bag or purse. Afterdark is always a time to be wary as well.
The greatest threat to your safety in Dallas-Fort Worth will be the traffic. Seriously, people die all the time here from traffic-related accidents. In fact, Dallas was ranked as one of the deadliest cities in the US for motorists.
Be very mindful when driving in Dallas or Fort Worth. Keep your head on a swivel and go slowly if you must.
It goes without saying as well, but never ever drink and drive. Doing so is very looked down upon in the States these days. Getting caught with anything above a 0.07 BAC is chargeable with arrest and can lead to serious consequences.
Travel Insurance for Dallas
A wise man once said that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t really afford to travel – so do consider backpacker insurance sorted before you head off on an adventure! Traveling without insurance would be risky. I highly recommend World Nomads.
I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, offer the widest coverage, and are affordable. Also, this is the only company I know of that lets you buy travel insurance after leaving on a trip.
If there’s one insurance company I trust, it’s World Nomads. Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Dallas Accommodation Travel Guide
Sometimes you need your own roof above your head – we know the feeling. Other times, you’re doing everything you can save a nickel and dime.
If you’re trying to the cut the costs of travel to Dallas, then maybe it’s time to stay somewhere besides a hostel or apartment. If you need to save money, try one of these:
Couchsurf! – Couchsurfing is the best way to save on cash when it comes to accommodation since most of the time you’re crashing for free. Staying with a local host is also a great chance to experience a more authentic side of the city and to visit hidden Dallas.
Problem is couchsurfing is really popular (duh, it’s free) and demand often outstrips supply. Hosts are picky as well so you’ll need to impress them with an eye-catching message. Definitely try couchsurfing but be ready to be rejected.
Tap into your backpacker network – You never know when you have a friend in a foreign city! If you’ve traveled a lot, you may have met someone from Dallas or know someone who knows someone.
Reach out to people! Ask to stay with people for a night or two in exchange for cooking dinner or a bottle of wine. If you don’t know anyone in the city, ask your friends if they do – travelers understand the struggle and are usually more helpful than you think.
Camping – Urban camping is a growing trend in many cities. These campsites are comfortable, sociable, safe, and cheap. They are often located on the outskirts of town, which means they are quieter too. Research to see if Dallas has any and be sure to bring your own tent too!
Eating in Dallas and Fort Worth
Like the rest of Texas, food in Dallas comes down to three simple things: BBQ, then Tex-Mex, and then everything else.
What separates Dallas from much of the state though is that final selection, the international one, is represented a bit more justibly.
Being the ethnically diverse, cosmopolitan city that it is, there are all kinds of places to eat in Dallas. You can grab authentic Italian at Lucia, Mediterranean food from Galilee, and contemporary Asian fare at Asian Mint.
You can find good, AUTHENTIC Mexican food in Dallas, but you have to search for it first. Head first over to Trompo in Trinity Groves, which is one of the most unassuming taquerias in one of the most underrated foodie neighborhoods in Dallas.
All of that being said, Dallas’ ethnic cuisine is a relatively new contender in the city. While it’s making big waves and is changing many of the locals’ perspectives, international is still not nearly as prevalent as in some West Coast cities, for example.
At the end of the day, meat is what’s for dinner in Dallas. Owing to the Metroplex’s enormous cattle industry, steakhouses and comfort food joints are the overwhelming majority in Dallas. We’re talking about pieces of beef that could suffocate a small child if they were caught underneath it.
Barbecue is one of Texas’ most beloved foods. While Dallas used to not be known to make good BBQ, it certainly does a better job these days. Paying a visit to the Pecan Lodge is an absolute must while visiting Dallas – be sure have the brisket while you’re there. There’s even a Lockharts in Bishop Arts.
If you want the absolute best BBQ in the Metroplex, go to Fort Worth. Angelo’s is one of the best known barbecue joints in the state.
Nightlife in Dallas and Fort Worth
Without question, the nightlife epicenter of Dallas is Deep Ellum. This district hosts the best bars, clubs, and music venues near Downtown and is definitely the best place to start. Drop by places like Wits End, Twilite Lounge, and Dallas Comedy House to get your night started.
Deep Ellum has been described as “hipster” at times, which makes sense I guess because I’m a reformed hipster myself. Truth is though, Deep Ellum is more of an established hipster area, where PBRs still cost $6 and clubs charge entry. I’d say, don’t go here expecting to see a lot of neckbeards or beanies.
There are plenty of other neighborhoods and things to do at night in Dallas though. The West End, being the most central district, attracts the most tourists and tradeshow attendees, so be wary of that.
True to its nature, Uptown is a pretty fancy area and has a lot of ritzy lounges. Finally, Oak Lawn has the best LGBT bars in Dallas.
Lower Greenville and Knox/Henderson are two slightly out of the way but totally worth visiting districts after dark. While both were pretty lame a number of years ago, both are now among the best nightlife areas in town.
Henderson’s bars are all located on it’s namesake street. While it’s not the longest strip of watering holes in Dallas’, it’s still pretty convenient to go bar hopping here.
Lower Greenville is known for its old-school local bars and for its undying music venues. It’s a volume level up from Henderson and has a lot more in terms of selection.
If you want the cheapest drinks though, again, head to Fort Worth. It’s not as wild or open as late as Dallas, but you’ll feel much better going home with a fuller wallet.
Books to Read on Dallas
Check out this Dallas reading list to learn more about the city! Each novel takes place in and around Dallas and does a good job of exploring the city.
- The Backpacker Bible – Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building an online income.
- North Dallas Forty – A satirical novel about American football decadent lifestyles and shady dealings. Includes drugs, sex, abuse, and general mayhem.
- Afoot in a Field of Men – A series of tales about an exceptional woman who tries to protect her family from the likes of landlords, religion, dogma, and just overall asshole men.
- Red-Dirt Marijuana and Other Tastes – A collection of short stories by Terry Southern, who was one of the most influential writers of our time. More famous for his screenplays (Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider) but no less impressive with contemporary literature.
- The Big Town – A small-town Illinois man is sick of his life and attempts to get rich quick in Texas. As he becomes absorbed into the Big Town, he becomes involved with various dealings, including local crime bosses, the search for a missing girl, and an affair with a woman half his age.
- Dallas: A History of “Big D” – A detailed account of Dallas’ roots and beginnings. Follows many threads that concern immigration, the economy, and historical events.
Make Money Online while Traveling Dallas
Traveling in Dallas long-term? Keen to make some cash when you are not exploring the city?
Teaching English online is a great way to earn a consistent income—from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection.
Depending on your qualifications (or your motivation to obtain qualifications like a TEFL certificate) you can teach English remotely from your laptop, save some cash for your next adventure, and make a positive impact on the world by improving another person’s language skills! It’s a win-win! Check out this detailed article for everything you need to know to start teaching English online.
In addition to giving you the qualifications to teach English online, TEFL courses open up a huge range of opportunities and you can find teaching work all over the world.
To find out more about TEFL courses and how you can teach English around the world, read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.
Broke Backpacker readers get a 35% discount on TEFL courses with MyTEFL (simply enter the code BACKPKR), to find out more, please read my in-depth report on teaching English abroad.
Whether you are keen to teach English online or looking to take your teaching game a step further by finding a job teaching English in a foreign country, getting your TEFL certificate is absolutely a step in the right direction.
Being a Responsible Traveler in Dallas
Visiting Dallas will bring you ample opportunities to participate in debauchery, and it is very important to have fun, let loose, and get a bit wild at times. Most trips I have been on across the world have included at least a few mornings where I wake up knowing I went too far.
But there are some things that will put you in the category of a straight up jackass if you do them. Being super loud and obnoxious in a tiny hostel at 3 AM is a classic rookie mistake.
Show your fellow travelers respect whilst traveling in Dallas and anywhere else for that matter! Use this Dallas travel guide wisely, young padawans, and don’t put us to shame.
Reduce your plastic footprint: Perhaps the best thing you can do for our planet is to make sure you do NOT add to the plastic problem all over the world.
Don’t buy one-use water bottles, the plastic ends a up in a landfill or in the ocean. Instead, pack a tough and cool travel water bottle. For every Active Roots water bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an awesome initiative aimed at educating people on the risk of single use plastic and helping to clean up our oceans. Help save the planet, pick up a water bottle here.
For more advice, check out our post on how to be a responsible backpacker.
“Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.”
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Ralph is a former manager in the hospitality industry turned wild child. With a desire to experience all things unconventional, Ralph enjoys visiting the lesser-known landscapes of the world and has ended up in some pretty strange and wonderful places. Recently, he spent eight months travelling around Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, spending as much time as possible in the wilderness and doing everything to avoid the crowds.