If you’re heading to the Big D and love a bit of culture, then make some time to explore the Dallas Arts District. Situated just a few blocks from the bustling business district, this downtown neighborhood is a haven for art enthusiasts, theater lovers, and anyone wanting a dose of creativity and inspiration.
Home to the opulent Winspear Opera House, the modern Nasher Sculpture Center, and the strikingly angular Meyerson Symphony Center, the Dallas Arts District packs a punch when it comes to the arts. You’ll also find the world-renowned Dallas Museum of Art, its vast collection, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art with secular pieces from diverse eras.
Wining and dining are a delight in the Dallas Arts District, too, with a fantastic selection of restaurants and bars serving all manner of cuisine and drinks. There’s also a great choice of hotels in the area ranging from casual to high-end, all within walking distance of the action.
When you’re ready to start planning your trip to the Lone Star State’s third biggest city, check out this complete Dallas Arts District guide, including what to see & do, where to eat & drink, and where to stay.
What to see & do in the Dallas Art District
Dallas Museum of Art
If you love art, your first stop should be the iconic Dallas Museum of Art (DMA). One of the largest art museums in America, the DMA houses an extensive collection spanning thousands of years and diverse cultures.
Enjoy a captivating journey through centuries of artistic expression and cultural treasures. Wander through the galleries on a self-guided tour, admiring the beauty of masterpieces by renowned artists like Monet, Picasso, and Pollock. Alternatively, join a guided tour led by knowledgeable docents who can share fascinating insights about the artworks.
For a dose of technology-meets-art, check out the DMA’s innovative tech experiences. They often incorporate interactive displays, digital projections, and virtual reality to offer a unique way of engaging with the artworks.
The Dallas Museum of Art also hosts special events, including lectures, performances, and outdoor festivals. Perfect for experiencing art in a dynamic and lively setting!
Nasher Sculpture Center
Seamlessly blending architecture and sculpture, the Nasher Sculpture Center is one of the Dallas Arts District cultural gems and one of Dallas’s must-visit museums. Designed by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, the museum was built to integrate indoor and outdoor spaces, creating a museum experience unlike any other in the world.
The Nasher Sculpture Center is home to one of the world’s finest collections of modern and contemporary sculptures and is one of Dallas’s must-see attractions. Housed in galleries that flow harmoniously into a beautiful sculpture garden, the collection boasts over 300 masterpieces by artists like de Kooning, Moore, and Rodin, among others.
Enhance your understanding and appreciation of the artwork on a guided tour where you’ll learn more about the sculptures and the artists behind them.
Stroll around the garden with its beautifully manicured lawns, shady trees, and tranquil ponds, and appreciate the sculptures in a serene and peaceful environment. Pop into the Nasher Store on your way to find the perfect souvenir.
Meyerson Symphony Center
Enjoy a captivating performance with beautiful melodies at the Meyerson Symphony Center. Home to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the center is a haven for symphonic artistry.
Designed by world-renowned design team architect I.M. Pei and acoustician Russell Johnson, the Meyerson has been delivering breathtaking and soul-stirring performances for over 30 years. The centerpiece of the concert venue is the magnificent Eugene McDermott Concert Hall. The elegant space can seat 2,000 people and is hailed for its exceptional acoustics.
The main attraction here, of course, is the symphony performances. The Dallas Symphony Orchestra never fails to deliver from classical masterpieces to contemporary compositions. They’ll add the perfect dash of culture to any Dallas itinerary.
If you want to enhance your symphony experience, attend an open rehearsal. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the orchestra’s practice sessions and witness the dedication and precision of creating a seamless performance. Enjoy the symphony!
Crow Collection of Asian Art
Embark on a journey through the enchanting world of Asian art at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Dedicated to showcasing the art and culture of Asia, this treasure trove of artistic wonders will captivate your senses.
Founded in 1998, the Crow Collection of Asian Art is home to a remarkable collection of artworks that span centuries and continents. There’s much to explore, from delicate porcelain and intricate sculptures to vibrant paintings and beautiful textiles.
Wander through the galleries and admire the intricate craftsmanship, each offering a glimpse into Asia’s cultural heritage and artistic traditions. Step outside and immerse yourself in the serene sculpture garden adorned with works. Enjoy a moment of tranquility and appreciate the harmony between nature and art.
Join a guided tour led by knowledgeable docents to learn more about the artworks and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the works at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.
Winspear Opera House
Be swept away by the magic of opera at the Winspear Opera House. Located at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, the Winspear Opera House presents a variety of performances, from classic operas to contemporary productions.
Designed by award-winning architect Norman Foster, the intimate 2,200-seat performance hall is renowned for its elegant architecture and outstanding acoustics. Standing as a 21st-century reinterpretation of the traditional opera house, the Winspear Opera House’s grand foyer and soaring ceilings are nothing less than breathtaking.
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Winspear Opera House, learn about the intricate stage setups, and gain a deeper appreciation for the magic behind the curtain.
If opera isn’t your thing, you can enjoy a variety of other performances at the theater, including ballet, theater, and musicals.
Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Take some time out to spend a few hours exploring the beautiful Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Built in 1902 by 10th-century architect Nicholas Clayton, the High Victorian Gothic cathedral is the city’s oldest Catholic parish.
Before you enter the church, take a moment to appreciate the glorious Gothic style of the building, which stands as a symbol of devotion to the Virgin Mary. The breathtakingly beautiful interior boasts intricate stained-glass windows that fill the space with radiant colors and create a serene ambiance. Admire beautiful religious artwork, statues, altars, and murals.
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and significance of the Cathedral Shrine, consider joining a guided tour or attending a service. The knowledgeable guides or priests can provide insights into the architectural features, the religious traditions, and the spiritual significance of the space.
The Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe often hosts choral concerts and organ recitals that showcase the beauty and power of music within the sacred setting. It’s a fantastic chance to experience the harmony of faith and artistry.
Moody Performance Hall
Formerly known as the Dallas City Performance Hall, the Moody Performance Hall was conceived as a ‘village for the arts,’ where the performing arts come together.
Boasting a sleek and modern design, the Moody Performance Hall is a multi-disciplinary performance venue celebrating the arts in all their glory. Home to many dance, music, and theater companies, this dynamic and vibrant cultural hub provides a platform for artistic expression and fosters creativity.
State-of-the-art facilities and impeccable acoustics ensure that every performance is a sensory delight. Whether you’re attending a symphony concert, a dance recital, a theatrical production, or a multimedia presentation, you can expect nothing short of excellence at the Moody Performance Hall.
The venue also hosts art exhibitions, cultural festivals, and special events, so keep an eye on their calendar so you don’t miss out!
Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre
Another Dallas Arts District architectural marvel not to be missed is the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. A top-notch performance venue in its own right, the theater is renowned for its striking appearance that challenges the conventional notions of theater design.
Whether you’re a design fan or not, you can’t help but admire the unusual façade and shimmering glass exterior. The interiors of the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre are just as impressive, with a flexible, multi-story layout that can be transformed to suit a wide range of performances and productions.
The auditorium boasts excellent sightlines and comfortable seating, ensuring every seat in the house offers a remarkable viewing experience. The cutting-edge acoustics and advanced lighting systems further enhance the immersive nature of the performances, enveloping you in a world of sound and visual splendor.
The Wyly Theatre showcases an exciting array of yearly theatrical productions, from classic plays and contemporary works to musicals and experimental performances. You can also enjoy a variety of educational programs, workshops, and events catering to aspiring artists, students, and theater enthusiasts.
Where to eat & drink
When hunger strikes or you need a drink, the Dallas Arts District has fantastic spots to sate your needs!
Start your day with a hearty breakfast or a leisurely brunch at Yolk One Arts Plaza on Routh Street. Bright and light, this cheerful egg-centric café chain is the perfect place to grab a quick cup of coffee or dig into plates of scrambled eggs, fluffy omelets, and classic Egg Benedict.
If your wanderings take you past the Trammell Crow Center, head up to Sloane’s Corner on the first floor for a light bistro-style lunch. Tuck into plates of New American cuisine like Saffron Capellini with whipped ricotta and fresh basil and Chimichurri Steak Grain Bowls with Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette.
Enjoy a pre-show dinner at the award-winning Ellie’s Restaurant & Lounge. Based in the luxurious HALL Arts Hotel, this elegant eatery serves seasonal American cuisine in a chic ambiance with designer décor and soft lighting. Meet the locals at Wine Down Wednesdays and enjoy live music over the weekends. Sunday Jazz Brunch is a must!
For the perfect Neapolitan pizza and other classic Italian fare, there’s no better place than 400 Gradi Dallas. This airy, sophisticated eatery exudes chic Italian style with a menu of mouthwatering house-made favorites. Order the Spaghettini al Granchio with lobster bisque, crab meat, and chili, or the Gnocchi di Luigi with whipped ricotta.
When it comes to sublime Japanese fare, you’ll be hard-pressed to choose between Musume and Tei-An. Musume serves world-class sushi and contemporary Asian cuisine accompanied by the largest sake list in North America. Tei-An specializes in freshly made soba noodle dishes and boasts a touch of Tokyo in the heart of Downtown Dallas with its sleek interiors. Grab a seat at the soba counter that wraps the stone garden – the best seats in the house!
Step into the warm embrace of The Playwright Irish Pub for an evening of traditional Irish hospitality. Dim lighting, rustic wooden furnishings, and walls adorned with Celtic artwork create an ambiance that transports you to the Emerald Isle. Enjoy the perfect pint of Guinness or your favorite Irish whiskey cocktail and tuck into hearty classics like shepherd’s pie or Irish stew. Listen to lively Irish tunes, foot-stomping jigs, and soulful ballads from talented musicians on stage. Sláinte!
Culinary artistry meets the hottest spot in town at The Artisan Craft Kitchen & Terrace Bar. This trendy establishment is a haven for food enthusiasts and socialites alike, with a non-stop buzz. Head to the stylish terrace bar for cocktails and watch the cool crowd collab or soak up spectacular city views.
Where to stay
As the Arts District sits in the heart of downtown, the neighborhood is one of the most popular areas to stay in Dallas. It’s home to some of the city’s finest accommodations, including some of the Big D’s top luxury hotels. If you run out of options, expand your lodgings search to the neighboring Dallas Downtown Historic District or Uptown Dallas.
An art-inspired haven in the heart of the Arts District! Just a five-minute walk from the Nasher Sculpture Center, the HALL Arts Hotel Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton offers stylish rooms adorned with multimedia. Italian linens and designer toiletries add a luxurious touch, and the rooftop pool and terrace are ideal places to unwind.
Modern and sleek, the Dallas Marriott Downtown offers renowned Marriott service with a fully equipped gym, a business center, and a laid-back grill restaurant. Book a club-level room to enjoy access to a private lounge with complimentary breakfast and evening drinks. Stay connected with free Wi-Fi in your room.
Expect comfortable rooms with air conditioning, flat-screen TVs with cable channels, and modern amenities at the JW Marriott Dallas Arts District. Take a refreshing dip in the outdoor swimming pool; stay fit in a fully equipped fitness center and enjoy evening drinks on a charming terrace. A short walk will take you to the AT&T Performing Arts Center and the Dallas Holocaust Museum.