© All Rights Reserved Reece Sanford
When you think of Texas, you think of cattle, wide-open spaces and dirt lanes. But Texas also calls to mind the cities it's famous for - San Antonio, South Padre Island, Corpus Christi, Austin, Houston and, last but not least, Dallas. Dallas is the third-largest (as estimated by the United States Census Bureau on 1 July 2006) city in the state of Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The city covers 385 square miles and is the seat of Dallas County.
Downtown Dallas is undergoing a slow-pace urban renewal, as well as expansion. Traditionally bound within a belt of above-ground expressways and consisting of anonymous highrise towers between parking craters, it is now rediscovering walkability, street-level retail and public transit such as the M-Line tram, operated using historic vehicles. It has also expanded northwards and merged with a part known as Uptown immediately north of it thanks to a new park developed between them, while artsy locals flock east to a low-rise neighbourhood behind the freeway known as Deep Ellum. It is in Downtown that you will find most of Dallas' surviving historic architecture and monuments, as well as major cultural institutions, museums and art galleries. It also has multiple concentrations of restaurants and bars and a number of upscale hotels for the monied traveller to choose from.
North Dallas includes several upscale neighborhoods, north of the Park Cities and mostly south of LBJ and extends far north to Addison. It encompasses Lake Highlands, a largely residential area bordering Garland on the north and Mesquite on the east, as well as Park Cities - Highland Park and University Park - one of the wealthiest areas of the city, mostly residential, but also offer world-class shopping opportunities. University Park is home to Southern Methodist University (SMU), the Meadows Museum at SMU, and the George W. Bush Presidential Library.
South Dallas includes areas south of the I30 Interstate Highway and the southwestern bank of the Trinity River. It is home to the Texas State Fairgrounds, Fair Park is open all year and is home to multiple museums. The Cotton Bowl is at Fair Park, and the University of Texas and University of Oklahoma face off on the gridiron here every year in the fall during the Texas State Fair. The Exposition Park neighborhood across from Fair Park and the DART Fair Park stop, is a little hamlet of hipster bars, clubs, and restaurants.
In its west, across the Trinity River, you will find Oak Cliff - a large low-income, mainly residential district southwest of downtown. North Oak Cliff or "Kessler Park" is another "streetcar suburb" and is home to upscale homes, from vintage 1930's bungalows, to mid-century modern, to new contemporary. The Bishop Arts District, centered on Bishop and Davis streets, is one of the City's hottest areas for new restaurants, cafes, and boutiques, drawing an eclectic crowd in which the creative class and the gay community are well-represented. North Oak Cliff is a slice of Austin in Dallas.
West Dallas refers to actually a tiny part of the Western part of Dallas right south of the Trinity River, largely a blighted area of poverty, but it does feature the one-of-a-kind Belmont Hotel, which has arguably the best views of downtown. West Dallas is easily connected to the Oak Cliff area, and is poised for re-development as part of the Trinity River Project, and the under-construction Hunt-Hill Bridge across the Trinity River, designed by famed Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava.
Some area attractions often thought of as Dallas attractions are actually located in the suburbs, notably the following:
If you like the nightlife, Dallas' arts and entertainment district Deep Ellum is for you. Many streets in Deep Ellum are blocked off on the weekends, but finding parking isn't a problem. Full of all kinds of music (rap, rock and indie music are the most popular), Deep Ellum has quite a collection of clubs to choose from. With art galleries, restaurants, tattoo parlors, live music venues, bars, and dance clubs, you're sure to find something in Deep Ellum to interest you.
If you're traveling with kids, or a nature/animal lover, the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and Dallas World Aquarium are good places to visit. If you're up for the short ride into Grapevine, they hold several carnivals/festivals: Main Street Days Outdoor Adventure and GrapeFest. If you want to take a trip to Ft. Worth, there's the Kimball Art Museum, Ft. Worth Zoo and the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens. Dallas also hosts the State Fair of Texas.
There are also several choices in the way of culture and art, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Majestic Theater, the Dallas Opera, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, which performs in the I.M. Pei-designed Morton Meyerson Symphony Center.
Dallas may be best known for its shopping. Downtown Dallas is home to the original Neiman Marcus department store at Main and Ervay. World-class shopping can be found at NorthPark Center at US 75 and Loop 12. NorthPark features its own Neiman Marcus store as well as Macy's, Nordstrom, Dillard's, Barney's, and the Apple Store. Further north, at I-635 and Dallas Parkway is the Dallas Galleria. This giant complex features three levels of shopping beneath a vaulted glass ceiling, an ice-skating rink, a Westin Hotel, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and a number of restaurants including Mi Cocina (offering views of the ice rink) and the Grand Lux Cafe.
The State Fair of Texas is held annually in Fair Park, approximately two miles east of downtown. Fair Park is home to the world's largest collection of Art Deco exhibit buildings, most of which were built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition and were painstakingly restored in the 1980s. The State Fair is held several weeks during the fall. To coincide with the State Fair, the Fair Park Music Hall usually hosts a Broadway musical.
Dallas has a humid subtropical climate, yet this part of Texas also tends to receive warm, dry winds from the north and west in the summer. Winters are generally mild, with typical daytime highs between 10 °C and 18 °C and nighttime lows between -1 °C and 10 °C. However, strong cold fronts known as "Blue Northers" sometimes pass through Dallas, plummeting nightly lows below zero. Snowfall is seen on average 2-4.5 days out of the year and snow accumulation is typically seen at least once every winter. A couple of times each year, warm and humid air from the south overrides cold, dry air, leading to freezing rain, which often causes major disruptions in the city if the roads and highways become dangerously slick. On the other hand, daytime highs above 65 °F are also not unusual during the winter season. In sum, extremes in weather are more readily seen in Dallas and Texas as a whole than along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, due to the state's location in the middle of the U.S.
Spring and autumn bring pleasant weather to the area. Vibrant wildflowers (such as the bluebonnet, Indian paintbrush and other flora) bloom in spring and are planted around the highways throughout Texas. Springtime weather can be quite volatile, but temperatures themselves are generally mild. The weather in Dallas is also pleasant between late September and early November, and unlike springtime, major storms rarely form in the area.
There are several airports in Dallas, though most travelers will only need to know of two of them.
To/from the airport
Dallas is well served by a number of Interstate and other limited-access highways which offer direct access to all of the major urban centers in the region, including Houston, Oklahoma City, Austin, and San Antonio. High-quality maps are offered for free at the state's visitor centers. The map, along with a free travel guide, can be requested in advance of a visit by visiting the state's tourism website.
Dallas is much easier to see by car than cities like San Francisco or Chicago. Ample free parking can be found anywhere outside of the downtown districts. A large network of freeways lays over the city like a web, and a grid of wide arterial surface streets makes navigation easy. Freeways should be avoided during morning and afternoon rush hours on weekdays. Plan your trips around these times and most traffic snarls can be avoided. Toll roads to be aware of are the Dallas North Tollway and the President George Bush Turnpike, operated by the North Texas Tollway Authority (see their website for toll rates).
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
Dallas has the most extensive light rail system of any city in Texas. Both the light rail system and the city bus system are run by DART, for Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Both the Red Line and the Blue Line connect downtown Dallas to the West Village shopping and entertainment area (via Cityplace Station) and Mockingbird Station, home to several restaurants as well as the Angelika Theater. The Red Line also stops at the front gate of the Dallas Zoo. The Green Line extends to the east and serves the front gate of Dallas Fair Park, home to the State Fair of Texas as well as Deep Ellum and Baylor Hospital. The Green Line will eventually offer a station at Dallas Love Field (airport); until it does, both it and DFW (the larger, international airport) can be reached from downtown by bus.
While Dallas does have marked bike routes throughout the city, it does not have many designated bike lanes or paths. The city government has published The Dallas Bike Plan, which can be viewed at their website.
Areas with high concentrations of restaurants include the following:
Dallas has a good number of its own chain restaurants which have become quite successful in the area, offering unique local flavors:
The area bound by Haskell on the north, Woodall Rogers Freeway on the south, Turtle Creek on the west and Central Expressway on the east is where Dallas' beautiful people go to see and be seen. Trendy to the nth degree, this neighborhood contains very upscale fashionable clubs. Some of the hottest clubs, Medici, the Candleroom, and Sense are private. If you want to check out one of these places be sure to go with someone that is a member or have a concierge call ahead for you. Wish and Republic are also cool nightspots, with no membership required. No shorts, jeans, team jerseys, tennis shoes, or flip-flops.
The heaviest concentrations of hotels can be found in North Dallas along I-635 and North Central Expressway and in Northwest Dallas along I-35E, while Downtown offers more high-end accommodations.
Some travelers may find it more convenient to stay in Irving closer the DFW airport, in Arlington near the amusement parks, or in one of the northern suburbs such as Lewisville, Carrollton, Plano, or Richardson.
|Alla's Historical Bed and Breakfast Inn||415 Hustead St., Duncanville Dallas County||Guesthouse||-|
|The Wild, Wild West Dallas Irving Backpackers'||214 W. 6th. Str. Irving, TX||GUESTHOUSE||83|
|Love Field Guest House||8519 Midway Road||Guesthouse||-|
|Motel 6 Dallas||13185 N CENTRAL EXPRESWAY||Hotel||-|
|America's Best Value inn - Dallas||13333 N Stemmons Freeway||Hotel||-|
|Econo Lodge - Dallas||1625 Regal Row||Hotel||-|
|Days Inn - Rodeo / Dallas||140 Commerce Way IH-635 And Military Parkway||Hotel||-|
|Americas Best Value Inn & Suites||1108 n hwy 360 Grand Prairie||Hotel||-|
|Americas Best Value Inn||2501 West Airport Freeway||Hotel||-|
|Red Roof Inns & Suites - Beaumont||I-10 and Washington Boulevard||Hotel||-|
|Comfort Suites Park Central||13165 Central Expressway||Hotel||-|
|America's Best Value Midlothian Inn||220 N. Highway 67||Hotel||-|
|DFW Airport Hotel & Conference Center||4440 W. Airport Freeway Irving||Hotel||-|
|Motel 6 - Dallas - Irving #1335||510 South Loop 12 Irving||Hotel||-|
|Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham||5000 Plaza Drive||Hotel||-|
|Abby Guest House||Goodwin Ave.||GUESTHOUSE||-|
|Comfort Inn DFW Airport North||5000 W. John Carpenter Fwy||Guesthouse||-|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Dallas searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Dallas and areas nearby.
Ask sevinx a question about Dallas
I have lived in the Dallas / Fort Worth area for 8 years
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License