Dallas’s best art, shopping, and exploring.
Dallas is a highly trafficked yet misunderstood city by most travelers. Maybe you’ve flown through it for a conference or business trip or the occasional major league sporting event, but you may still be befuddled—what is there to actually do in Dallas?
What most people don’t know is that Dallas is a major art city (each spring since 2009, galleries and art collectors flock to the Dallas Art Fair, one of the country’s most dynamic and successful) and has always been a hub for shopping (the 1907-built flagship Neiman Marcus still stands Downtown). It’s a highly metropolitan city with skyscrapers and highways that weave from one neighborhood to the next, but there are also pockets of nature to enjoy if you know where to look.
Where to See Arts and Culture in Dallas
The Dallas Arts District Has it All
A robust art oasis lies in the Dallas Arts District—the largest district of its kind in the US—with the Dallas Museum of Art (its 24,000 objects are completely free to view), Nasher Sculpture Center, and a number of performing arts and music centers, including the Dallas Black Dance Theater, which is the oldest continuously operating dance company in the city and showcases inventive modern choreography.
Everything’s Coming Up Dallas Design District
Dallas’s Design District is growing. The addition of a new Virgin Hotel and cutting edge nightlife and dining options complement the art scene, comprised of the behemoth Dallas Contemporary museum and local galleries like AND NOW and others to explore at the monthly Dragon Street Gallery Walk. The former hosts rotating exhibitions by some of the world’s most promising artists—completely for free.
For the History Buffs
Dallas will forever be remembered as the site of JFK’s assassination, and it’s an unmistakable aspect of the city’s identity. For the history buffs or the history curious, there are a few ways to engage: The Sixth Floor Museum in Downtown Dallas offers insight into the life, death, and legacy of the late president in the very spot where Lee Harvey Oswald took his fatal shot. You can also visit the Texas Theater in Oak Cliff (near Bishop Arts), where Oswald was arrested—it still shows movies to this day and maintains its original retro vibe. Wash it all down at Lee Harvey’s, a stellar Dallas honkytonk with a name that says it all.
The Best Shopping in Dallas
Shop ‘til You Drop at Bishop Arts District
An indie boutique scene is thriving in the Bishop Arts District, with shops popping up in the neighborhood’s famed craftsman style bungalows. Start your retail stroll at Wild Detectives, a bookstore and coffee shop/bar, then wander into any of the following: an adorable paper goods and crafts store (We Are 1976) or an all-natural bath, soap, and candle shop featuring Texas-based artisans (White Rock Soap Gallery); a browse through either Mercado369 location is a must, with beautiful imported arts, crafts, jewelry, clothing, and furniture from South America.
There’s also Spinster Records for music lovers (especially country) and A J Vagabonds if you’re looking for something for your next outdoor adventure. The Bishop Arts district is really the kind of place to wander and get lost, and there are plenty of great dining options in the area—YaYa Best Tex Mex Frozen Yogurt is just one wildly unique and delicious snack stop if you’re feeling peckish.
The Deep Ellum Boutique Crawl
If you find yourself in Deep Ellum for the food and nightlife, you’ll also want to make time for some of Dalla’s best shops in the neighborhood: Deep Vellum Books is a well-curated shop with an emphasis on indie publishers and Texas-based authors. If you’re looking for the perfect new jeans (and really, who isn’t?) Deep Ellum Denim will redefine your own brand of cowboy chic with a staff that self-describes as “denim nerds.” Just down the street is Fleastyle, a chic second-hand shop with artisan jewelry large enough to wander for for at least a good hour.
Explore Dallas Outdoors
Dallas is in the process of building out a public park system 11 times the size of Central Park known as Trinity Park along the Trinity River near downtown. While parts of the park are still very much underway (it’s scheduled to be complete by 2021), you can enjoy outdoor yoga at Klyde Warren Park near the Arts District or biking along the scenic Katy Trail or Santa Fe Trail.