Before my first weekend in Dallas, I honestly didn’t know much about the city. I knew there were cowboys… and mavericks. I knew it was where somebody shot J.R. but also JFK. (One of them we know who dunnit, the other we don’t.) I think it’s obvious everything I knew about Dallas I learned from either SportsCenter or Nick at Nite.
But after spending a weekend in Dallas (and much extra credit reading), I can finally say I know quite a bit more.
Never turning down the opportunity to cram as much of a new city as I can into a short amount of time, I laced up my converses and headed out to discover some of the most worthwhile ways to spend a weekend in Dallas.
Where to stay during a weekend in Dallas
When deciding where to stay during your weekend in Dallas, keep in mind that you’ll need your car for much of your sightseeing and to explore more of Texas. Because of that, be sure to look for places that offer easy in/out parking options. Here are some of the great places to stay in Dallas to begin your search.
I absolutely love the design of the Lorenzo Hotel—what they themselves refer to as “Alice in Wonderland Meets Andy Warhol.”
The entire place is filled with art and offers incredible views, an awesome resort-style pool, vibrant restaurants, quirky furniture, and an experience like no other in Dallas.
For the purposes of our weekend in Dallas, the Lorenzo Hotel offers super affordable self-parking, along with free WiFi, a 24-hour front desk, a convenience store, 2 restaurants and 3 bars, and is within walking distance to many of the downtown sites on this list.
Book your stay here: Lorenzo Hotel
During my weekend in Dallas I actually stayed at the Hilton Anatole. It’s just 2 miles from downtown Dallas but was such a retreat! They actually call it an “urban resort” and that’s the best way to put it.
This place is so beautiful, so big, and even has its own lazy river. It’s own lazy river, I say! That’s something you can’t beat in Texas in the summer.
The Hilton Anatole has over 1600 rooms (!), a full service spa, numerous pools (+ swim-up bar and free water park), and is just a short drive from everywhere you’ll want to go.
Book your stay here: Hilton Anatole
Located in stylish uptown Dallas, Hotel ZaZa (much like the Lorenzo Hotel) is truly an interesting experience. They are all about some eccentric décor in this place and will definitely have you rethinking what “Texas” is all about. (You really need to see these photos!)
Hotel ZaZa has an on-site restaurant and lounge, beautiful pool area, free WiFi, and, best of all, a free area shuttle–perfect for your weekend in Dallas. This place has a more private feel to it and cozy atmosphere. You may not want to leave.
Book your stay here: Hotel ZaZa
Save money with the Dallas CityPASS
For my weekend in Dallas I picked up a Dallas CityPASS to save a bunch of money on the places I was planning to visit anyway. If you don’t know about CityPASSes by now, it’s time to board the train, buddy.
The CityPASS is a booklet that saves you a ton (sometimes more than half) on admission prices to the most popular sights in a city–i.e., the ones you are going to visit anyway. (The Dallas CityPASS saves you 40%.) It also gets you discounts at other places and lets you skip the lines at many of the attractions. It’s such. a good. thing. to have.
CityPASS is available for 13 U.S. cities (+ Toronto) like New York City, the Tampa Bay area, Boston, and (yay!) Dallas, Texas. The Dallas CityPASS includes admission to many of the sites in this post – so I was thrilled to have it.
Now that you’ve booked a place to stay and know how to save some cash, here are 7 worthwhile ways to spend your weekend in Dallas, Texas.
1. Dealey Plaza / 6th Floor Museum
Being the history nerd that I am, this was the Dallas spot I was most excited to visit. (If excited is the right word to use here?) You see, Dealey Plaza is the area where John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.
The warehouse from where Lee Harvey Oswald shot him is now a museum dedicated to the memory of JFK and the events of 11/22/63—the 6th Floor Museum.
Dealey Plaza is the otherwise unassuming block around which JFK’s motorcade was to travel before heading to a nearby reception. We all know what happened next. (Right?) This is also where you can visit that “grassy knoll” you’ve been hearing about your entire life.
The 6th Floor Museum uses video, written accounts, actual artifacts, a superb audio guide, and eyewitness interviews to take you back to one of the most significant eras in American history. It’s extremely well put together and is included in the Dallas CityPASS. It’s easy to find, paid parking is available on site, and it just may be the most memorable place you visit during your weekend in Dallas.
Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly – This book is such a good introduction to the life and death of JFK. I read this just before my weekend in Dallas and it made so much of a difference in my visit. I highly recommend reading this before you go.
11/22/63 by Stephen King – Okay, so it’s a Stephen King book and isn’t entirely plausible, hefty amount of time travel and all, but it’s incredible! It’s a big book so give yourself some time if you plan to read beforehand.
Basically, man goes back in time to try to prevent the JFK assassination. Calamities ensue, drama, action, twists and turns. But, while much of it is fiction, a lot of it is rooted in historical fact. You’ll learn a lot about the background of various “characters” related to the JFK assassination and more.
There’s also an 11/22/63 miniseries available on Hulu and Amazon (if you’re short on time) that basically turns the 1,000-page book into a short graphic novel, but you’ll still learn a lot by watching it.
2. Reunion Tower
One of my favorite things to do in any city I visit—this weekend in Dallas no exception—is get to the highest point to see the city from above. In Dallas that means heading up to the top of Reunion Tower.
Reunion Tower is an observation tower in downtown Dallas that offers awesome panoramic views of the city (and beyonddd). Up here you have both indoor and outdoor 360° observation decks, 48 floors up.
Inside there are tables and chairs and plenty of space to hang out. You can explore Dallas via the interactive touch screens that highlight and provide information on nearby points of interest.
Up here you’ll get the undisputed best views in town—not to mention, the best breeze in Texas, y’all! And that is not something whose importance can be understated.
The floor above the observation decks is the revolving Cloud Nine Café where you can purchase drinks, snacks, meals, and beer. Go ahead, order a beer in a café that spins 48 floors above the city.
Reunion Tower has parking on site and is also included in the Dallas CityPASS.
3. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is actually where I started my weekend in Dallas. It was August; I wanted to get a jump on the summer Texas heat. Instead, I still ended up sweating so much you’d have thought I was portraying the Store Brand in a deodorant commercial. But I digress.
The Dallas Arboretum is listed among the top arboretums (tree museums) in the world and sees almost a million visitors a year. It reminded me a lot of the Ringling in Sarasota, FL, of Park Güell in Barcelona, and that I really need to get my home landscaping in order pronto.
It calls itself an “urban oasis” and, though I’m more into strolling the paths and taking pictures than I am reading the names of flowers and plants, there’s plenty of opportunity for that as well.
The Dallas Arboretum offers beautiful views and waterfalls, inspirational quotes and sculpture art, funny ducks, and, most importantly, shade. It has a collection of beautiful gardens spread out over 66 acres like the Woman’s Garden and the Color Garden. There’s a Japanese garden, a sunken garden, and so many more amazing hidden nooks and crannies to explore.
4. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Yes, as in Ross Perot whose five children donated $50 million for this museum. So many questions.
The Perot Museum of Nature and Science has so much to offer. In addition to trying to build your own earthquake-proof skyscraper in the Tinker Toys exhibit of the Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall, there are also halls dedicated to:
- minerals and gems
- oil drilling (obviously)
- the expanding universe
- dinosaurs and birds
- and, my favorite, being human
We looked at shiny colorful gems, rode an earthquake simulator, destroyed a tornado, flew in the eagle flight simulator, smelled coyote urine, and pretended we were groundhogs. All in all, a pretty decent afternoon.
I’m a big fan of science museums, even though they tend to be geared towards children. And I don’t get that. Is science and nature not interesting to grownups? As a kid everything is magical (ho-hum), but as an adult you realize just how incredible the world is. Like for the love of God how do magnets work??
This place is enormous and offers special exhibitions and 3D IMAX films I highly recommend. And admission is included in the Dallas CityPASS!
5. Pioneer Plaza
Time to check out some real Texas longhorns… sculptures!
Pioneer Plaza in downtown Dallas celebrates the city’s beginnings with a recreation of a cattle drive in the form of bronze longhorn steers. With man-made cliffs, a waterfall, a flowing stream, and native plants, the plaza is meant to represent the trails that the original settlers of the area took in early Dallas times.
The sculpture features three cowboys, 49 steers, and me, pretending to get bitten by one because I think I’m funny sometimes.
Admission is free as Pioneer Plaza is an outdoor public park within the city and there’s plenty of street parking around the area.
6. Craft breweries
On all my travels I always seek out the best local breweries—and my weekend in Dallas was no different. Besides the beer being brews you can’t find anywhere else, the fun and laid-back setting of a brewery’s taproom is the closest thing I can get to my own living room while I’m on the road.
I really like beer. Especially Texas beer. It has funny names and makes me want to line dance and not care who sees. It’s delicious and can be found all over town in quirky taprooms. A totally worthwhile way to spend your weekend in Dallas. I’m pretty sure Texas beer likes me too.
Deep Ellum is perfect during a visit to Dallas. Besides the beers being fantastic, the atmosphere is just what you want on a Southern summer night: lively indoor space, chill patio, artificial turf, neon lights.
My favorite Deep Ellum beers are the Dallas Blonde (easy-drinking American blonde ale), their Oktoberfest (obviously), and the Neato Bandito—imperial Mexican-style lager.
Also check out local breweries like:
- Braindead Brewing for beers like Cerveza Oscura (Mexican dark lager), Exhausted Nihilist (Polish pilsner), Gritz (pre-prohibition cream ale), and more interesting styles
- Texas Ale Project for a 9.2% double IPA, an amber ale called Fire Ant Funeral, and their own craft hard seltzer.
- Peticolas Brewing Company for a large selection of beers including their award-winning Velvet Hammer—their 9% imperial red ale.
7. Truck Yard
When my Dallas friend suggested I check out the Truck Yard, I assumed it was, maybe, a parking lot with some food trucks in it? Well, yeah kinda.
To say I was amazed at this place is an understatement. They clearly spared no expense in creating this space. And by that I mean not a penny was sacrificed. It’s straight up junk.
The Truck Yard is… hmm, that’s tricky. It’s hillbilly heaven. It’s a redneck paradise. And, in my Southern opinion, it’s the way food was meant to be ate and beers was meant to be drunk–it’s a junk yard. And, by golly, it’s trendy af.
I mean, who doesn’t appreciate a good stacked-tire-trashcan or drinkin’ beers in the bed of a broken down Ford pickup with your buddy’s hound at your feet? All beers should be poured from a keg inside an Airstream, if you ask me.
But guess what? I wasn’t entirely incorrect: you can get food out of a truck here. When we went there was a taco truck, a BBQ truck, and a something else truck–but their food trucks rotate daily. They also have a permanent cheesesteaks-only kitchen in the main building. The deliciousness of this I can vouch for.
They call themselves a “come-as-you-are beer garden and adult playground” and I think that’s pretty accurate. I love it here so, so much. Definitely make a stop at the Truck Yard part of your weekend in Dallas.
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