My recommendations for visiting Dallas: hotels, things to do, and favorite restaurants as of late, as well as a few insider tips! (If you live in Dallas, this is a good post to bookmark to send to out-of-town friends when they ask for recommendations!).
Where to Eat:
There are so many fabulous restaurants in Dallas, but these are my favorites as of late, and great to recommend to out-of-towners.
Mi Cocina – Highland Park Village – I know, I know, everyone recommends this Dallas hotspot. But it truly is a Dallas experience. (This is where celebrities go to get Tex Mex when they come to Dallas!). Tip: A lot people don’t know but there is a third floor bar that’s perfect for late night drinks (and queso) or just to hang while you wait for your table!. Order the Shrimp Brochette, Mamas Chicken Con Hongos, Sunset Style Fajitas, and I like the brisket tacos. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget their signature Mambo Taxi drink. (Warning: this lightweight can’t drive home after one!). Walk around beautiful Highland Park Village before or after dinner – it is the oldest outdoor shopping mall in America and is home to some of the finest brands in the world.
CBD Provisions – One of our favorite restaurants as of late. Located in the Joule Hotel, CBD’s bar is a great place to go after a meeting downtown (you can eat at the bar). And the restaurant is a great place to go with other couples or on a date night. My husband likes it because it’s a nice restaurant, with locally-sourced, excellent brasserie-type food, but not uppity (if you know what I mean!). Reservations recommended. (Tip: The bar in the basement of the hotel is great for people-watching after dinner!).
Rise No. 1 – A favorite of George and Laura Bush, this French restaurant – known for their soufflés – is just divine. Eat on the patio if it’s nice, but the inside is even more charming and intimate, with little details every where you turn. The marshmallow soup is amazing (tomato soup with tiny goat cheese soufflés in the middle!), and definitely treat yourself to a chocolate soufflé for dessert. And if you look closely enough you might even see George W.’s signature scribbled on one of the tables. I love to take girlfriends here for lunch and dinner.
Sissy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar – I hate to recommend a Southern eatery when I know a lot of visitors to Dallas are coming from other places in the South! But this newer Dallas restaurant just has to be on my list. The food is delicious, the drinks are one-of-a-kind, and the atmosphere is super fun. Tip: Make a reservation and request to be in the white room.
True Food Kitchen – Not a place most guys like (unless they are super healthy) but this is a great lunch place for ladies, especially if you are shopping at the Plaza at Preston Center. Ask to sit outside even if it’s hot because eating outside is just a Dallas thing to do (and there are fans!). Then head across the street to get a cupcake out of the Sprinkles ATM! (Because, why not??)
I am not a big bar person, but some popular bars among my age set are HG Sply and Bistro 31’s bar have good atmospheres/
Things to Do:
(Note: I would plan about 1/2 day for all of these…)
Klyde Warren Park – Many predicted this park would be an epic fail, but actually this beautiful green space built over the Woodall Rogers Freeway that cuts through the middle of downtown Dallas!) has become one of the best things Dallas has to offer. Food trucks are there all the time and they have a splash pad and playground for children. (Bring their bathing suits if you go!). You can check out board games and books, take a free yoga class, or just sit and people watch. Or hop on a (free) trolley and cruise around downtown/uptown. If you can’t find parking, park at the Dallas Museum of Art (and stop inside because it’s free!). Again, my husband says to point out that the walk-up burger place attached to Savor is really good if you don’t want to do the food trucks! Check out Klyde Warren Park’s calendar for a list of events and fun evening concerts.
Dallas Musem of Art – It’s free! And wonderful! If you have children stop in for an hour and explore the wonderful activities they have for children (pick up a tote when you arrive full of activities to help you explore the museum with children or print out these fun printables!). Then walk outside to the food trucks at Klyde Warren Park for lunch. Note: the DMA does not open until 11 am! I can’t tell you how many times I have arrived at 10! Also the beautiful Nasher Sculpture Center is next door.
George W. Bush Library – No matter your politics, this is a must see. It’s not huge so you can walk the entirety of the museum in an hour or so. Book tickets in advance. We went at 10am and then for an early lunch at the (fabulous) restaurant on site called 43. Make reservations if you can, and ask to sit on the patio that overlooks the beautiful grounds of Southern Methodist University.
The Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden – A must stop if you are coming to Dallas with children! This is part of the Dallas Arboretum (a great stop in the Spring and Fall) but you have to pay separate admission. Go early (book times in advance) and eat lunch at the really good cafe they have! (Or bring a picnic!). Be sure to bring swimsuits for your children as there is a little splash pad. Dallas Blooms in the Arboretum is a must see in the spring!
Northpark Center – My sister and her family have been known to spend an entire day here! Besides the fabulous shopping, there are so many things to see: the stunning artwork throughout, the exquisite landscaping in the courtyard. If you have children with you, check Bookmarks for story and music times, stop in the Lego Store, and visit the ducks and turtles outside Neiman Marcus. For a quick lunch, the tomato soup and Caesar salad at La Madeleine’s is a Dallas staple or try the hidden healthy gem upstairs, Green House Market. For a sit down lunch or dinner, my mom loves to go the restaurant in Nordstrom. When like to go to La Duni or Breadwinners after church, sit on the patio, and let our children run around the courtyard.
Perot Museum – Wonderful children’s and science museum downtown. Book tickets in advance as it is often crowded.
Dallas World Aquarium – Its more like an indoor jungle than aquarium, but is really neat and children love it. Tip: Get there right when they open or you will have to wait!
Dallas Zoo – So much better than it used to be! Great children’s area and the Savannah area is beautiful (but check before you go because they have been doing some renovations!).
American Girl Doll Store at the Galleria Mall. If you have girls, this is a must do! Book reservations in advance for a lunch or tea and ask to sit by the windows – it’s just a prettier view than looking into the kitchen. If you are celebrating a birthday, I would recommend the birthday package – totally worth the price for the memories!
Where to Stay:
For a romantic getaway, I would recommend the Joule (modern, but très chic) with an amazing rooftop pool or, if you want that old Dallas charm, stay at the Mansion at Turtle Creek. Also, the Ritz and most other luxury hotels downtown offer free use of their driver and Rolls Royce to take you anywhere within a five mile radius (like Nick and Sam’s, perhaps!). Also, if you are in Dallas, and want a nice day away from the children, many of these luxury hotels will let you use their pool area if you book a spa treatment. Many of the downtown hotels have neat rooftop pools, but check before booking!
For a girls’ shopping trip or visiting your child at SMU, The Lumen (free bikes to explore Highland Park and a super chic outdoor pool/bar area!), The Doubletree (free chocolate chip cookies), or the Highland Dallas. The Hilton Park Cities, closer to the Dallas Tollway, is also a good location, but a little farther from SMU. The Joule is fun, too, but note: their standard rooms have open bathrooms (with see -through showers) so not great for sharing if you like privacy!
For families, I would recommend the Galleria Westin, where you can sometimes get a $99 rate. (Tip: when you check in see if they will upgrade you to the concierge floor by signing up for their Rewards Program; free drinks and food if they do!). There is a Hyatt House all suite hotel across from the Northpark Mall that is good for families and conveniently located next to the Cheesecake Factory. Of course, if you wanted more of an experience, about 30 minutes west of Dallas is the Great Wolf Lodge (with indoor watermark) and the Gaylord, both which have tons of activities for families, especially during the holiday season.
A Few More Random Tidbits:
If you are a foodie person, a stop at Central Market grocery on Lovers Lane might be in order. When mom’s best friend (who is a fabulous cook!) comes to Dallas she brings her cooler and stocks up on things like bison meet and olive oil from Central Market. Just walking through the aisles is fun!Dallas has something called a City Pass that saves you money if you are going to be visiting a lot of popular destinations and museums, including the Dallas Zoo, the Perot, the Arboretum, the Reunion Tower downtown and the Sixth Floor Museum, the latter two which I neglected to mention above but are frequent tourist stops. Find out more here.
Want to know where to shop??? To see the first post in this Dallas series, with my shopping and more restaurant recommendations by area, (more of a local’s guide) click here.