Top Things to Do in Dallas, TX
Dallas, I’m convinced, is made entirely of Mexican restaurants and Cowboys paraphernalia – and it’s awesome. The travel guides you read and the top Yelp reviews will probably tell you all about the Dallas Zoo and The Perot, but they won’t tell you about the hole-in-the wall restaurants and extra activities that can really make your Dallas experience one to write home about.
Top Dallas Restaurants
Before we dive into my favorite restaurants in Dallas, I just want to point out for those who were not raised in the south that your Dallas trip would be a great time to try Whataburger. It’s a fast food chain that mostly exists in the deep south, and the only reason you need to try it is for the Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, which is only offered as a breakfast item (early mornings and late nights).
Twisted Root Burger Co.
Every city has their fair share of classic burger joints, it can be hard to compete! Twisted Root competes with their uniqueness. After placing your order, you’ll receive a piece of paper with a random celebrity’s name on it – that’s the name they’ll call when your food is ready. You can help yourself to a sampling of sliced pickles and homemade sweet tea or lemonade. Choose your seat wisely, because if you sit in the Bush family booth (writings on the wall will tell you which one that is), you’ll be asked to switch tables if they walk in.
One thing I noticed about Dallas is that most of the restaurants are chains, but they aren’t found everywhere. There are multiple Dallas locations and a few others scattered around the country. Still, it was some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had.
Sno Gourmet Shaved Ice
Now I know what you’re thinking, “Gourmet snow cones? Isn’t it just flavored ice?” I mean, yeah, but it’s amazing flavored ice. I’ve never seen so many snow cone flavors in my life. It’s all fresh, they have natural flavors on their menu if you’d rather not go for the straight up sugar, and you can combine flavors. You can also add a splash of sour-ness to your sweet flavor.
Fresh tortillas, delicious roasted corn on the side, and unique taco combinations. You can also find Velvet Taco in Houston, Austin, Atlanta, and Chicago.
If you want chicken, don’t go anywhere else. Chicken Scratch takes you out of the city for a minute. You’ll feel like you’re on the family farm when you grab a seat at the sticky picnic tables outside and enjoy some chicken and waffles with a side of Green Chile & Hominy Mac ‘n’ Cheese.
Located in the Bishop Arts District, you won’t regret stopping by here. It’s in a cute little village with other shops and restaurants, and it’s a tiny little place with a special charm. They have seasonal signature pies, and when I was there I tried a slice of the year-round “Smooth Operator.” It has “French silk chocolate with a pretzel crust” and it’s absolutely heavenly. Enjoy a slice there or take an entire pie home. You can also order ahead for pick up or delivery.
Another Texas special and Dallas favorite, this is yet another must for a good burger. AND CHEESE FRIES. You must get the cheese fries, fully loaded.
You could spend weeks in Dallas and still not check everything off your list. These are just some of the highlights that I recommend adding to your trip itinerary.
Side note, if you happen to be in Dallas in October, the Texas State Fair is a MUST. You can get just about anything fried on a stick and have the most “Texas” experience possible.
As an animal lover, I’m always cautious about giving my money to zoos. I do not support zoos keeping large African mammals who were meant to walk hundreds of miles like elephants and giraffes in enclosures. However, the Dallas Zoo is one of the best zoos I’ve been to. I was very impressed by their education center and their Gorilla exhibit. Their African exhibit (elephants, giraffes, etc.) is impressive as far as African exhibits go.
The Dallas Aquarium is definitely not like any other aquarium I’ve been to. It’s an experience. There’s a specific path to follow, which means it’s hard to get lost and it’s hard to miss any exhibits. Of all the aquariums I’ve been to, Dallas has the most land creatures. There are several different birds, amphibians and reptiles, and even a Sloth. The African Penguin exhibit is my favorite, of course, but the Manatee is also a huge crowd pleaser and a must-see.
At first glance, the Perot is a children’s museum. It is certainly designed to provide kids with a fun learning experience, but there’s some really cool stuff in there for the adults, too! The building itself is an architectural masterpiece, so I recommend checking out the grounds even if you don’t have a chance to go inside. Once inside, each floor/section has its own theme. You can explore the science of birds, dinosaurs, humans, music, and sports!
Kylde Warren Park – Now this is cool. This park was literally built over a highway, so if you position yourself right it looks like you could walk off the edge and fall into oncoming traffic (you won’t). If you have the pleasure of experiencing Dallas at Christmastime, you’ll be able to see Klyde Warren beautifully lit at night. You can even sit and enjoy a nice dinner at one of the restaurants alongside the park, and then play ping pong or chess. It’s kid-friendly, dog-friendly, date-friendly, and both tourist and local friendly.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
I visited this beautiful masterpiece during the Christmas season and was in awe. A couple weeks before Thanksgiving, they set up this “12 Days of Christmas” display, where you can walk around the gardens and find parts of the 12 Days of Christmas. Regardless of the time of year, it’s a beautiful spot and you can easily spend a few hours wandering through the gardens.
I always like to do a little bit of shopping when I’m in a new city. Local malls are a great way to experience local life. The Galleria mostly has all the chain stores you’d find in any other mall, but if you’re in Dallas around Christmas time it’s the perfect place to shop around because it’s BEAUTIFULLY decorated. They have a huge tree in the center which is surrounded by an ice rink, so it’s a good way to kill a few hours.
Highland Park Village
This central Dallas suburb as a lot to offer. Adorable boutiques and shops, wonderful restaurants, and a very unique atmosphere. It’s a great place to go to find dinner and ice cream after a long day of exploring the city.