Top 12 Things to Do in Dallas, Texas

As the ninth largest city in the United States, Dallas has no shortage of activities and attractions to keep visitors busy. From world-class museums and concert venues to professional sports games and lively nightlife, Texas’s shining gem offers something for everyone.

Dallas Arts DistrictLargest urban arts district with museums and parks.
Dallas ZooOver 2,000 animals and interactive exhibits.
George W. Bush Presidential LibraryPresidential history and exhibits.
Globe Life Field & AT&T StadiumMajor sports and entertainment venues.
Dallas Farmers MarketLocal produce and artisan goods.
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey PlazaJFK assassination history.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical GardensBeautiful gardens and landscapes.
AT&T Discovery DistrictModern tech and art installations.
Deep EllumLive music and vibrant street art.
Crow Museum of Asian ArtAsian art collections.
White Rock Lake ParkNature and outdoor activities.

To help you make the most of your Dallas trip, here are 12 of the top things you absolutely must experience when visiting this dynamic southern city.

Explore the Dallas Arts District

Name and Location: The Dallas Arts District spans 68 acres downtown encompassing museums, concert halls, theaters, parks, restaurants and educational facilities.

History and Significance: Developed in the 1970s and 80s to consolidate cultural institutions, the walkable district today houses facilities like the Dallas Museum of Art, Nasher Sculpture Center and Winspear Opera house.

What to Expect: Visitors take in world-class art collections from around the world, public sculptures by Calder and Serra, musical performances from opera to jazz within architecturally-striking buildings interspersed with outdoor spaces for dining and relaxing.

Visitor Information: Most facilities offer a mix of free and ticketed options. Parking garages surrounding district. Best accessed via DART or Ubers. Many venues open limited hours during the week.

Regarded as the largest urban arts district in the country, the Dallas Arts District comprises an impressive 19 blocks filled with exceptional museums, concert halls, theaters, restaurants, parks and more centered in downtown. Some iconic institutions to check out include the Dallas Museum of Art housing over 24,000 stunning works spanning from antiquities to modern masterpieces, the Nasher Sculpture Center showcasing contemporary sculptures by Calder and Rodin within its landscaped garden, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art featuring arts from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia.

Don’t miss seeing the soaring stainless steel arches greeting visitors outside the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts either before catching a music, dance or theater performance within the District too.

See Wildlife at the Dallas Zoo

Name and Location: The 106-acre Dallas Zoo sits inside Marsalis Park near the Trinity River west of I-35E represented through habitat zones like the Wilds of Africa and ZooNorth.

History and Significance: Founded in 1888, it is the oldest and largest zoo in Texas focused on conservation, research and education housing over 2,000 animals across five themed geographic areas.

What to Expect: Visitors explore immersive habitats resembling animal native environments, like the Chimpanzee Forest filled with lush vegetation alongside educational exhibits and demonstrations highlighting species care, behavior and biology.

Visitor Information: The zoo opens daily with tickets from $12 with discounted rates through online bookings. Onsite parking $15 or rideshare drop off available. Several dining options on grounds.

Home to over 2,000 animals representing 406 species, the 106-acre Dallas Zoo in Oak Cliff Park provides an exceptional wildlife experience perfect for families and animal lovers alike. Get nose-to-nose with curious gorillas at the Wilds of Africa habitat, howl with a coyote on the Hillside, and observe exotic birds soaring overhead from the Wilds of Asia Crane Plaza. Interactive attractions like stingray encounters, giraffe feedings, camel rides and a monorail safari through zones modeled after ecosystems across the globe make exploring this acclaimed zoo even more memorable.

Tour the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum

Name and Location: The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum resides on the campus of Southern Methodist University a few miles north of downtown Dallas accessible from Mockingbird Lane or North Central Expressway.

History and Significance: As part of the presidential library system overseen by the National Archives, the museum documents and shares artifacts surrounding the 43rd president’s life and tenure in an interactive setting designed to educate the public.

What to Expect: Guests explore chronological exhibits highlighting Bush’s early years in West Texas through his governorship and presidency showcasing key events like 9/11, the Iraq War and financial crises through photos, videos, recreated settings like the Oval Office and more.

Visitor Information: Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm except holidays. General admission $18 with discounts. Cafe and store onsite. Free parking available in lot off Bradfield Drive.

History buffs will love a trip to the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum found within the prestigious Southern Methodist University campus. Opened in 2013, this modern complex holds the largest archive of both digital and physical materials documenting Bush’s life and controversial presidential legacy yet in a library. Peruse the 9/11 memorial exhibit, step inside a full-scale replica of the Oval Office during Bush’s tenure, browse the store filled with unique gifts, then relax at the light-filled café nestled amid native Texas landscaping outdoors. Don’t forget to pose next to the prominent larger-than-life statues of Bush’s dogs too!

Catch Sports Action from Globe Life Field or AT&T Stadium

Name and Location: Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium anchor vast sports and entertainment districts miles apart in Arlington along Interstate 30 between Dallas and Fort Worth.

History and Significance: As home fields respectively for the MLB Texas Rangers and NFL Dallas Cowboys, both venues continue Texas’ football and baseball legacies, showcasing games and concerts in state-of-the-art facilities.

What to Expect: Fans catch professional baseball during spring and summer months at air-conditioned Globe Life Field modeled after classic ballparks or cheer on the Cowboys at the massive AT&T Stadium accommodating over 100,000 spectators in sleek curved seating tiers under signature arcing roof.

Visitor Information: Ticketing varies by event. Parking passes should be purchased advance. Year-round public stadium tours also offered when no games played. Nearby dining and shops enhance the fan experience pre- and post-event within each sports district.

No visit to sports-crazed Dallas is complete without attending a thrilling professional game, whether baseball or football. Opened in 2020 within the buzzing Texas Live! dining/entertainment district, Globe Life Field serves as the lavish new home to MLB’s beloved Texas Rangers. Or for a true over-the-top spectacle, don football facepaint and grab some beer at AT&T Stadium to cheer on the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys playing on the world’s largest video display suspended from the retractable roof above. Both venues also frequently host big-name concerts to check when sporting events aren’t happening too.

Wander the Dallas Farmers Market

Name and Location: The Dallas Farmers Market sits southeast of downtown spanning 22 acres with sheds, restaurants, nurseries and shops accessible from roads I-30, I-45 and US-75 near downtown.

History and Significance: Opened in 1941 as a New Deal project aimed at economically assisting regional farmers, the market provides fresh produce straight from North Texas fields, orchards and farms direct to Dallas residents promoting food security.

What to Expect: Visitors browse through open air sheds and covered spaces filled with fruits, vegetables, plants, locally-sourced pantry items, gifts and global cuisine options. Cooking demos, gardening events and live music occur seasonally.

Visitor Information: The market resides open Saturdays 8am–5pm and Sundays 11am–5pm in Shed 1 and Shed 2 featuring most vendors. Free to enter. Pay parking in lots off Marilla Street.

For a delicious taste of some Texas-sized foodie finds and goods from local artisans under one vibrant roof, add the historic Dallas Farmers Market to your Dallas sightseeing list. Running along both sides of I-30 near downtown since 1941, this indoor/outdoor market contains over 50 vendors selling seasonal fruits/veggies, spices, jars of honey/salsa, freshly baked breads and pastries, fragrant flowers, and plenty of unique Texas-made products from soaps to hats. Don’t miss the international food stalls either for a chance to try authentic tamales, falafel, crepes and more!

Tour the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Name and Location: The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza examines the assassination of President John F. Kennedy through exhibits contained inside the former Texas School Book Depository in downtown Dallas.

History and Significance: As the location Lee Harvey Oswald fired shots on November 22, 1963, the museum chronicles Kennedy’s legacy, death and aftermath from the very window providing an immersive setting integrating archival films, photographs and artifacts.

What to Expect: Guests use provided audio guides while navigating chronological displays depicting Kennedy’s presidency, assassination sequence, legacy and death’s impact on 1960s society across seven museum galleries before exiting near Dealey Plaza below.

Visitor Information: Open every day aside from Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. General admission runs $18 with senior, youth military discounts via online ticketing. Cafe onsite.

No trip to Dallas is complete without walking the sobering scene where JFK’s assassination took place in 1963 then visiting the Sixth Floor Museum detailing those fateful events. Located inside the former Texas School Book Depository building overlooking Dealey Plaza, this museum poignantly covers Kennedy’s presidency, campaigns and assassination through historic films, photos and over 40,000 artifacts. Stand next to the infamous corner sixth floor window where Lee Harvey Oswald fired upon the presidential motorcade, see the Zapruder film documenting the shooting, and take time to reflect at the touching memorial to JFK found just outside.

Stroll through the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Name and Location: The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens spans 66 acres along the southeast shore of White Rock Lake incorporating elaborate horticultural displays, fountains and protected gardens just northeast of downtown.

History and Significance: Initially opened during the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition, expansions and renovations have added amenities transforming the lush landscape into a world-class botanic oasis educating on conservation, ecology and cultivation techniques applied through majestic seasonal floral landscapes.

What to Expect: Guests tour creatively themed gardens from topiary-filled hedge mazes to spring’s vibrant 450,000-bulb Jonsson Color Garden, summer perennials within the Sunken Garden to fiery foliage flanking the Martin Rutchik Concert Lawn through autumn.

Visitor Information: Open daily aside from select holidays. Entry runs $17 with discounts available. Onsite garage parking $15 with overflow lots nearby. Picnics allowed at tables across grounds.

Nestled on the shores of White Rock Lake, the sprawling 66-acre Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens provides a gorgeous oasis to admire lush gardens and skyline views perfect for photo ops. Renowned as one of the Southwest’s most beautiful botanic displays, these vibrant grounds contain over 20 themed gardens like the 5-acre Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden equipping kids to be outdoor explorers and the 7-acre Texas Pioneer Adventure tracing 400 years of Dallas history indoors/outdoors. Don’t miss seeing the sea of bright tulips blanketing the landscape each spring either!

Experience the Conservatory at AT&T Discovery District

Name and Location: The Conservatory is a nature-infused community park built as part of the AT&T Discovery District just southwest of Downtown Dallas spanning over 10 acres.

History and Significance: Developed to serve as a town square for Downtown’s West End neighborhood while being an inviting green refuge, the tech-centric surrounding district provides a blend of consciousness and corporate innovation through a central community space.

What to Expect: Residents and visitors enjoy meandering landscaped gardens exploding with over 75,000 native plants contrasted by sleek event buildings near water features, fire pits, picnic lawns and a biergarten, hosting everything from daily office yoga to festivals.

Visitor Information: The verdant 10-acre Conservatory is freely open daily 6am to midnight to explore by foot apart from private events. Parking options exist off Ross Avenue a half mile away by car or rideshare.

As Dallas’s latest dazzling attraction, the visually stunning Conservatory at AT&T Discovery District opened just last year as part of the district’s $100 million redevelopment. This free-to-enter glass structure features the ethereal Matrix Light and Air Show happening nightly where over 100,000 LED lights artfully dance across 5,600 suspended crystal tubes in sync to an orchestral soundtrack. Visitors of all ages flock here to lounge under twinkling “stars” and take epic light trail photos within this whimsical indoor forest seemingly straight out of a fairytale.

Listen to Live Music in Deep Ellum

Name and Location: Deep Ellum refers to the vibrant entertainment and music district in east Dallas focused along Main Street, Elm Street and Commerce Street near downtown known for blues and rock influences.

History and Significance: With origins dating to 1920s jazz culture, Deep Ellum became central to the Dallas blues, rock and punk circuit launching influential acts like Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Erykah Badu and the Old 97’s across eclectic venues.

What to Expect: Patrons bar-hop amid western storefronts housing venues like Club Dada, Deep Ellum Art Co. and Trees experiencing live shows across genres from country and folk to indie rock emanating from stages, street performers and late-night vibes.

Visitor Information: Most music venues open nightly year-round charging modest cover fees if any. Cross streets have limited metered parking. Rideshares provide best transit given crowds. Police patrol area enhancing safety.

Known as the birthplace of jazz and blues within the South, the vibrant Deep Ellum neighborhood oozes with alternative, funky vibes thanks to its colorful street art murals, trendy shops/eateries and constant flow of live music spilling from venues onto sidewalks. Established in 1873, this eclectic entertainment district holds over 20 intimate music venues primarily clustered along Main Street and Elm Street just east of downtown. From singer-songwriters and indie rock bands to jazz ensembles and electronic DJs, Deep Ellum rocks day and night for visitors seeking good tunes.

Marvel at Art Collections within the Crow Museum of Asian Art

Name and Location: The Crow Museum of Asian Art at the University of Texas at Dallas campus contains a globally renowned Asian art collection through galleries in the Arts District.

History and Significance: Founded in 1998 after Dallas developer Trammell S. Crow returned from travel through Asia fascinated by diverse creative cultures inspiring acquisition of a substantial personal collection now exhibited.

What to Expect: Guests peruse both traditional and contemporary works spanning China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia including thousands of paintings, jades, bronzes, furniture, textiles, ceramics and more from the Neolithic through modern eras across rotating exhibits.

Visitor Information: Open Tues-Sun 11am-5pm, closed Mondays. Timed tickets $10, free Thursdays. On-site validated parking available weekdays only, so weekends favor rideshares. Tours offered.

While smaller in size compared to massive museums within Dallas’s Arts District, the elegant Crow Museum of Asian should still be on the bucket list of art enthusiasts visiting Dallas. Located in the trendy Knox/Henderson neighborhood known for boutique shopping and dining, this museum’s peaceful galleries hold rotating exhibitions spotlighting various Asian artists and cultural collections gathered by the Crow Family since the 1960s. Wander through an intricate handmade Chinese garden, observe rare jade and ceramic works, admire contemporary pieces addressing social issues, then relax at the tranquil Terrace Café with zen-like views.

Take a Jog or Stroll through White Rock Lake Park

Name and Location: The 1,000+-acre White Rock Lake Park sits along the shore of White Rock Lake reservoir encompassing trails, woods, sport fields and views of the Dallas skyline looking back across the water.

History and Significance: Created in 1911 following dam construction submerging the former town of White Rock, park recreational development began during the 1930s Great Depression transforming the area into popular nature and leisure space improving quality of life.

What to Expect: Locals and visitors traverse 9.33 miles of multi-use trails encircling the lake by foot, bike or blade taking in skyline views, birdlife and walking the dog past spots like Bath House Cultural Center and Dallas Arboretum gardens on eastern shores.

Visitor Information: Park access is free and open daily 5am to midnight through numerous entry points. Parking lots accessible during daylight hours. Exercise caution near boat ramps and water access. Police patrol improves safety.

Lastly, experience a bit of nature without leaving Dallas city by visiting the gorgeous 1,000-acre White Rock Lake Park situated just 10 minutes northeast of downtown. Created in 1911 as Dallas’s first reservoir and recreational greenspace, this beloved urban lake contains over 9.33 miles of tree-shaded jogging/biking trails perfect for an active morning workout or afternoon stroll. Paddleboard rentals, sailing lessons, kayaking and guided fishing trips allow getting out on the peaceful lake waters too. And be sure to snap that quintessential Dallas photo of the striking Reunion Tower skyline reflecting off the lake!

Final Thoughts

From world-renowned museums and concert venues to professional sporting events, urban farmers markets and vibrant musical districts, Dallas offers no shortage of exceptional attractions and activities catering to diverse visitors. Nature lovers will enjoy massive green spaces like the Dallas Zoo and Arboretum gardens while history buffs take in the Sixth Floor Museum’s archives and Bush Presidential Library. Foodies indulge in local flavors at the farmers market and Deep Ellum’s funky cafes, as sports fans cheer at exciting Rangers or Cowboys games against the backdrop of dazzling AT&T Discovery District’s nightly light shows.

With this list just skimming the surface of dynamic things you can experience in Dallas, it’s easy to see why the “Big D” shines as a premier southern destination well worth multiple return trips.

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