Downtown Dallas: What to See & Do + Where to Eat, Drink & Stay

Looking for a city break packed to the brim with culture? You’ll find endless opportunities in Downtown Dallas. With major attractions and a buzzing art scene, the Dallas Downtown Historic District offers an exciting way to get a taste of both historic and modern Texas.

History buffs will love this central neighborhood. Visit significant sites like Dealey Plaza and top-quality museums like the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. If you’re more on the creative side, you could lose days to the enormous Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Plot out your route across the city from Reunion Tower, the perfect vantage point to spot all the most famous Dallas landmarks.

Ready for the ultimate Dallas adventure? Get inspiration for your Big D vacation with this Dallas Downtown Historic District guide, including what to see & do, places to stay, and where to eat and drink.

Why Treksplorer? Founded in 2011 by Ryan O’Rourke, Treksplorer provides travel recommendations and advice to millions of readers every year. Our content is rooted in our writers’ firsthand experiences, in-depth research, and/or collaborations with other experts and locals. Read more about our editorial policy.

What to see & do in the Dallas Downtown Historic District

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Explore the legacy of JFK at The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Dedicated to one of the USA’s most famous presidents, the museum opened on President’s Day in 1989. It sits in the Dallas County Administration Building overlooking Dealey Plaza, the vantage point for Lee Harvey Oswald when he assassinated the president.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza

Delve into the world of John F. Kennedy with fun displays, films, and artifacts documenting his life and death. The self-guided tour of The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza will take you through pivotal moments in the young president’s life.

As well as his private affairs and political career, you can learn more details about the assassination that sent shockwaves around the world. The aftermath included intense investigations and a media frenzy. Conspiracy theorists can get a taste of some alternative thoughts about his death.

The Dallas World Aquarium

Discover new habitats at The Dallas World Aquarium. This is no ordinary aquarium, providing replica ecosystems for not just fish but exotic birds and mammals, too. Thanks to their collaboration with zoos across the globe, the attraction helps protect and breed endangered animals.

You’ll know you’ve arrived at The Dallas World Aquarium when you reach the lush foliage of its tropical façade. It’s as if it’s bursting at the seams with fern and palm leaves!

The Dallas World Aquarium

Ever met a tree kangaroo? Whether you want to mingle with Caribbean seahorses, exotic birds from Borneo, or colorful Mayan frogs, The Dallas World Aquarium gives you a global look at the animal kingdom.

The latest exhibition at the Dallas World Aquarium is the epic cloud forest trek. Jungle greenery and South American animals transport you to the hills of Columbia. LED screens take you from day to night and unlock the mysteries of the rainforest. It’s the only public exhibition of three-toed sloths in the US—and they’re adorable!

Dallas Museum of Art

Get your creative fix at the Dallas Museum of Art. You won’t struggle to find inspiration here as it’s one of the largest art museums in North America and one of Dallas’s must-see museums. The museum’s global collection and exciting exhibitions put it on the map as a must-visit while in the Dallas Downtown Historic District.

Dallas Museum of Art

With 24,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years and multiple continents, you can explore every genre from the Renaissance to kineticism. Delve into Islamic metalwork and African textiles or reflect on striking photography and innovative mixed media.

If you want some fresh air, step outside the Dallas Museum of Art and into their sculpture garden. A beautiful blend of nature and modern architecture gives you a serene place to reflect on the fantastic artwork. Step between shady trees and trickling walls of water to find quiet and privacy in the heart of Downtown Dallas.

Klyde Warren Park

Jump into the green spaces of Klyde Warren Park. The 5.2-acre public space is a dreamy place to soak up the sunshine between exploring Dallas’s top tourist attractions. With pretty water features, meandering paths, and vivid green lawns, the park is a hub of lively community activity throughout.

Klyde Warren Park

Trees and shrubbery slot seamlessly with their concrete jungle surroundings, thanks to illuminated installations, fun fountains, and modern sculptures. You can try lots of fun activities in Klyde Warren Park, including giant connect four and ping pong. Leave the kids to party on the splash pad, or take your pup to make friends with the Dallas dogs in the dog park.

Make an afternoon of it and grab some street food from the superb choice of food trucks here. Or linger into the evening and see what free live entertainment is on offer. If you’re missing your workout routine, the park offers daily wellness activities like boot camps, yoga, and ballroom dancing.

Nasher Sculpture Center

If sculpture is your medium of choice, step into the 3D world of the Nasher Sculpture Center. The 2.4-acre site is home to the Patsy and Raymond Nasher collection of modern and contemporary sculptures and is one of the finest collections of its kind in the world.

Nasher Sculpture Center

In this city block of galleries and garden grounds, you’ll find over 300 masterpieces from greats like Matisse and Picasso. Light floods huge indoor spaces, giving vibrant works the space and attention they deserve.

Get ready for a wonderful journey through thoughtful spaces, thanks to the input of world-renowned architect Renzo Piano. You’ll find the transition between indoor and outdoor so seamless you might not even notice it. Exceptional pieces are woven into the garden of the Nasher Sculpture Center, from the small and thought-provoking to the enormous and awe-inspiring.

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

A visit to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum may be a harrowing experience, but it’s an important attraction for the fight for equal human rights. The museum was founded in 1984 by a group of Holocaust survivors with the goal of teaching history to advance humanity. It’s one of only a few holocaust museums in the United States.

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum

The heartbreaking holocaust exhibition takes you through 2,000 years of Jewish persecution and the rise of Nazi power. With propaganda, personal testimonies, and victims’ suitcases, you’ll get an immersive and uncomfortable look at one of mankind’s greatest atrocities.

Other permanent exhibitions in the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum have an international and forward-thinking perspective. Installations look at how the world has progressed since and how marginalized groups have fought for equality in the US. Explore issues such as human trafficking, disability rights, and struggles in the LGBTQ+ communities.

Pioneer Plaza

On your Dallas itinerary, make sure to visit Pioneer Plaza. This big public park in the heart of downtown is home to an iconic Dallas landmark: A huge sculpture that immerses you in a 19th-century cattle drive on the Shawnee Trail.

The 49 enormous longhorn steers and their three cowboys are larger than life. The sculptor, Robert Summers, crafted the six-foot beasts and captured the feeling of movement and excitement. No wonder Pioneer Plaza is the most visited Downtown Dallas attraction after Dealey Plaza!

Pioneer Plaza

Once you’ve taken advantage of the epic photo ops, take some time to explore the rest of Pioneer Plaza. The pretty green space has man-made cliffs and an artificial pond with ducks.

To pack in some extra history, you can visit the neighboring Pioneer Park Cemetery. Although the Confederate War Memorial was moved because of the George Floyd protest, many of the city’s earliest founders are buried here.

Reunion Tower

Take in everything the city has to offer from Reunion Tower. The tower’s 561-foot observation deck has unmatched panoramic views of Dallas. You’ll probably spot the tower before you visit; its unusual spherical top floors make it one of the most recognized landmarks in the city.

Reunion Tower

Step into the futuristic building and ascend to sky-high heights in the elevator. Start your visit to Reunion Tower on the 470-foot geodeck. Indoor and outdoor spaces give you panoramic views for miles in every direction. Go in the day to spot all the top Dallas landmarks, or stop by at nighttime for a twinkling look at the city.

For dinner with a difference, end the day in the Crown Block Restaurant. Take the chance to chow down on succulent steaks and seafood while surrounded by 360-degree panoramic luxury. Sip on a cocktail while admiring the incredible sunsets melting into an illuminated Dallas skyline.

Where to eat & drink

Dallas Downtown Historic District is a wonderful representation of Dallas’ booming culinary scene. As a tourist hot spot, this neighborhood has attracted some of the top chefs in the city.

You’ll have endless options to keep you satisfied, whether you want Tex-Mex, steaks, or juicy burgers. Historic venues house classic Southern cuisine and the latest in fine dining. Need something to wash it all down? Round off the night in rowdy sports bars or elevated cocktail lounges.

Tuck into wholesome made-from-scratch dishes at Ellen’s. This stylish take on a classic southern diner is sure to get your mouth watering. Their all-day menus mean that you can eat whatever you want when you want.

Make your burgers gourmet at Chop House Burger. This relaxed spot has a creative menu using Texas-sourced produce.

RJ Mexican Cuisine will give you a taste of authentic Mexico. Imaginative flavors in a cozy setting make this the perfect joint to satisfy your Tex-Mex desires.

Bar in Downtown

Feast on stunning dishes at Y.O. Ranch Steakhouse. This upscale version of a classic Dallas steakhouse has an enchanting 100-year-old interior of brick archways and wrought ironwork. The menu includes fine cuts of beef and exciting big game plates.

Watch the game and make your way through the Texas craft beer menu at Frankie’s Downtown. Upstairs may be a classic sports bar, but it hides a trendy underground speakeasy, complete with a billiards room and expert mixologists.

In the historic Mercantile Building, you’ll find The Crafty Irishman Public House. This traditional Irish pub has great happy hours and regular live music.

Try farm-to-table food and scratch cocktails at 3Eleven Kitchen and Cocktails. The industrial-chic setting is a swanky spot for your evening drinks.

Or try the vanilla old-fashioned at The Woolworth. This stylish bar has a relaxed atmosphere and elegant décor.

Where to stay

As it’s the heart of the city, downtown is one of the most popular places to stay in Dallas. Around the historic district, you’ll find a barrage of accommodation options, including many of the city’s top hotels. 

Mint House

Mint House Dallas – Downtown

Base your city break in the 50-story Santander Tower. The large modern apartments here have luxurious décor and endless views of the city. Make the most of your fully equipped kitchen or visit the two onsite modern restaurants. If you’re feeling active, use the executive fitness club or practice your swing in the golf lounge.

Hyatt Regency

Hyatt Regency Dallas

At the foot of the iconic Reunion Tower, this stunning hotel offers huge rooms and sophisticated masculine décor. The shining 18-story atrium houses a modern restaurant, while you can also find a sports bar and Italian kitchen. The fitness center, pool, and sun deck give you lots of space to relax.

Omni Dallas Hotel

Omni Dallas Hotel

Connected by a sky bridge to the Dallas Convention Center, this impressive hotel will make you feel at one with the Dallas skyline. The creative modern design brings spaces together with seamless precision. Sip cocktails among the sparkle of Downtown Dallas in the heated infinity pool, or indulge in the full-service spa experience.

HALL Arts Hotel

HALL Arts Hotel Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton

This luxury hotel focuses on creating high-tech spaces full of vibrant artwork. With diverse works across the property, the hotel offers tours to guests to guide them through the collection. The pieces extend up to the rooftop pool and gardens and into your guest room, where you can arrange in-room spa treatments.

Thompson Dallas

Thompson Dallas

This top-notch luxury hotel is 51 stories of opulence. Shimmering mid-century style and glorious views make every space here a delight. You can indulge all your senses at four different eating destinations. Sweat out the weekend at the infra-red sauna and eucalyptus steam room, or soak up the sun on the outdoor deck with a plunge pool.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

DISCLAIMER: Treksplorer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to and its affiliated international sites.

DISCLAIMER: You'll notice that from time to time I link out to recommended hotels/tours/products/services. If you purchase anything through these links, I'll receive a commission. It won't cost you anything extra, but it will help keep me trekkin' on and delivering more free (and unsponsored!) travel information to you. Thanks :)