Planning a vacation to the Lone Star State? Don your Stetson and spurs and carve out at least one day in Dallas, Texas. Home to rodeo, barbecue, and Cowboy football, Texas’s third-largest city packs a punch when it comes to, well… everything! From the nation’s largest urban arts district and world-class museums to beautiful green spaces and a pulsating nightlife, the Big D has it all.
In your first 24 hours in Dallas, you can trawl the downtown Arts District and soak up the city’s buzzing art scene at fine arts museums and performing arts venues. Pay homage to John F. Kennedy at Dealey Plaza and tuck into big steaks, barbecue, and honky tonks at one of the city’s top-notch restaurants. For football fans, catching a Cowboys game at the AT&T Stadium is a must. Or, if you’re more into basketball or ice hockey, add a Mavericks or Stars game to your Dallas itinerary.
Can’t decide where to begin visiting Dallas in one day? Check out this easy-to-follow travel plan for the perfect 24-hour introduction to the Big D—and hit the streets!
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our other city itineraries and our Texas Travel Guide for more tips & recommendations on when to visit, where to go & what to do on your vacation!
Where to go in Dallas in one day: A complete itinerary
Fuel up with breakfast in the Main Street District
With a full day of exploring and sightseeing ahead of you, coffee and breakfast are your first order of the day. A good place to start your Dallas adventure is the Main Street District, a lively urban strip in the very center of the city.
Part of the Dallas Downtown Historic District, the Main Street District is a bustling area lined with glass-encased skyscrapers, sleek hotels, and chic designer boutiques. Elegant eateries and stylish restaurants flow on the sidewalks, while swanky cocktail bars draw a cool crowd in the evenings.
For freshly brewed coffee and a croissant to go, head to the Commissary on Main Street. This delightful European-style market sells an array of ready-made goodies and freshly baked bread and treats.
If you prefer a sit-down breakfast, meander east along Main Street for a few blocks to CBD Provisions. Set in the elegant Joule Hotel, this upscale brasserie serves scrumptious breakfast bowls and heaving plates of chilaquiles in a refined and laid-back setting.
Pop across the road when you’re done to admire the quirky Giant Eyeball sculpture, a 30-foot-tall fiberglass human eyeball set in a beautifully manicured garden.
Grab a frothy cappuccino-to-go from the Flying Horse Coffee Shop on Commerce Street and head east towards Main Street Garden Park to enjoy your morning java in peaceful surroundings.
Step back in time at Pioneer Plaza
After your morning sojourn in Main Street Garden Park, meander down South Saint Paul Street and east along Young Street towards the Pioneer Plaza. Admire the architecturally significant Dallas Town Hall set on Akard Plaza and the Dallas Police Memorial along the way.
You’ll know Pioneer Plaza when you see it. Aptly named in honor of the first pioneers and their epic cattle drives across the West, Pioneer Plaza is home to 49 bronze statues of longhorn cattle and three cowboys. The cowboys and their herd are depicted surging across a stream bed as a homage to the massive cattle drives that occurred, bringing the first cattle to market.
Created by self-trained Texan sculptor Robert Summers in the summer of 1994, the sculptures are one of the top Dallas tourist attractions and are well worth a visit for the fantastic Insta-worthy photo op!
Delve into American history at Dealey Plaza
Next stop: Dealey Plaza. As you make your way eastwards from Pioneer Plaza, take note of the rustic Richardsonian Romanesque-style building of the Dallas County Courthouse on South Houston Road with its handsome clock tower and spired rooftops.
Located in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas, Dealey Plaza takes its rather dark place in American history. Founded in 1935 to mark the center of the Dallas settlement, Dealey Plaza is sometimes called the ‘birthplace of Dallas.’
However, in 1963 it took on a more somber epithet as being the location of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While campaigning in Texas, Kennedy was shot in his motorcade on Main Street near the plaza.
All around the park, you’ll find significant sites relating to the assassination of the President. A block east of the Plaza is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza, a simple yet profound monument designed by world-renowned architect Philip Johnson. The Grassy Knoll is another interesting site that some believe was the place from which Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal shots.
For the full story and all the facts, head to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. Situated in the former Texas School Book Depository building, this fascinating museum chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. History buffs will delight in the excellent exhibits and informative displays that tell the whole story.
If you haven’t had your fill of museums, head to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum just north of Dealey Plaza. This intimate museum provides deeper insight into the Holocaust and memorializes its victims.
For something lighter, explore the world of deception at the Museum of Illusions or the underwater world of the oceans at the Dallas World Aquarium.
Soak up spectacular views at the Reunion Tower
After a morning of heavy history, it’s time to get high and soak up some stunning views. Amble south down North Houston Street to Reunion Boulevard, where you’ll see the Reunion Tower rising above the city. One of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, the 561-foot observation tower offers some of the best panoramic views in Dallas.
Named after the mid-nineteenth century commune, La Reunion, the Reunion Tower was built in 1978 and is fondly called ‘the Ball’ by locals. Head up to the GeO-Deck observation level to enjoy an interactive digital experience featuring the construction of the tower and other well-known Dallas landmarks.
Take in breathtaking panoramic views of the city below from 470 feet in the air and pick up some unique souvenirs from the gift shop on your way out.
Lunch and sightseeing in the Arts District
When it’s time to refuel, make your way northeast to the vibrant Arts District. A bustling cultural hub in the heart of Downtown Dallas, the Arts District is spread over 20 square blocks and is packed with world-class art museums, renowned theaters, and loads of restaurants and bars.
If you’re in the mood for fresh sushi and contemporary Asian fusion fare, head to Musume on Flora Street. Standing opposite the strikingly angular Meyerson Symphony Center, Musume is elegant and refined and the perfect spot for a languid lunch. Sip traditional sake or traditional Japanese Whisky from the restaurant’s vast collection.
For a more casual affair, Sloane’s Corner is a charming bistro opposite the Nasher Sculpture Center just two blocks away. Fresh salads, homemade soups, and al dente pasta dishes are on the menu, with daily specials like Fish and Chip Thursday.
Just across the road, you’ll find some of the best Neapolitan pizza in town. Airy, sophisticated, and stylish, 400 Gradi Dallas promises an Italian feast with wood-fired pizza, hand-tossed pasta, and fresh salads.
Walk your lunch off with a stroll around the Arts District and some of the incredible museums dotted around it. Explore the vast collection of artworks and sculptures at the Dallas Museum of Art or stroll around the beautifully manicured gardens of the Nasher Sculpture Center.
Wander through the leafy Klyde Warren Park and grab a post-lunch cappuccino from one of the food trucks.
Spend the afternoon shopping in Uptown
What better way to spend the afternoon than with a bit of retail therapy? Shopping is a sport in Dallas, and whether it’s designer brands or a budget-friendly spree you’re looking for, the Big D has it all. Take a short stroll north from Klyde Warren Park into Uptown, where you’ll find a fantastic choice of malls, shops, and big-brand stores.
Begin your afternoon of shopping at the Uptown Plaza, then hop on the McKinney Avenue Trolley, a free street trolley that runs through the heart of Uptown and hop off at the charming West Village. You’ll find top brand names like Sephora and little-known gems like Pitaya.
If you feel the need to put your feet up and relax after your shopping spree, head to the lovely Turtle Creek Park on Lemmon Avenue. Bisected by the Turtle Creek Spillway, this serene park offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of Uptown. Another quiet place for reflection against a backdrop of beautiful city views is Griggs Park on Clark Street.
If you are a science fan, pop into the Perot Museum of Nature and Science on North Field Street. It’s full of fun, interactive exhibits where you can let your inner child loose. Challenge others in robot competitions, race a T-Rex dinosaur, journey through the universe, and experience a simulated earthquake.
Eat dinner and enjoy the Dallas nightlife in Deep Ellum
As the sun begins to slip behind the shimmering glass skyscrapers, the Big D’s bars, restaurants, and nightclubs begin to buzz. Before you hit the dancefloor at one of the many top clubs around the city, a delicious dinner is in order. Head to Main Street in Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood, where you’ll find a fantastic variety of eateries and restaurants, from casual to fine dining.
The go-to spot for the best Texan-style barbecue in town is Pecan Lodge. Look for the long queue snaking along the sidewalk, and you’ll find it.
Don’t let the queue turn you off – the mouthwatering grub is well worth the wait! Whether it’s brisket, pulled pork, smoked turkey, or beef ribs, get ready for a meat fest that is second to none.
Are gourmet burgers more your thing? Amble two blocks east to Twisted Root Burger Co. This popular chain serves up towering gourmet beef, turkey, and vegan burgers, along with spiked shakes. Go wild with a game burger of boar, elk, or venison.
Just across Commerce Street is Cane Rosso for authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, classic pasta dishes, and desserts to die for. Try the Voodoo Mama Juju pizza for a tastebud trip to Italy.
For a stylish and sleek dining affair against a backdrop of breathtaking city views, STIRR is a must. This beautifully designed restaurant takes up the corner of North Crowdus and Main Streets and has a chic rooftop patio. Dine on contemporary New American cuisine and toast signature cocktails to the twinkling lights of Dallas.
It’s time to bust those moves, and you just need to follow the music to find the most popular dance clubs. For a casual, laid-back dive-bar vibe, the Twilite Lounge on Elm Street is a winner. This Big Easy-themed drinking den is replete with red leather booths and elegant chandeliers. Grab a drink from the stellar list of libations and head to the cozy French Quarter-style courtyard to listen to local live jazz.
Right next door to the Twilite Lounge is Dada Dallas, another popular spot for live music with a huge outdoor patio and a bar stocked to the brim. If you really want a down-to-earth hole-in-the-wall that offers live music and a rowdy crowd, make your way to Adair’s Saloon on Commerce Street. Be prepared to let your hair down and rock the night away.
If you prefer rave to rock, Stars and Spirits on Pacific Avenue ticks every box. This high-energy nightclub has it all, from neon lights and disco strobes to rotating DJs and VIP experiences. Book a private table, order a bottle of bubbles, and end your day trip to Dallas in style!
Where to stay with 24 hours in Dallas
If you’ve only got a short layover, the best places to stay in Dallas are in & around Downtown, including the Main Street District and Arts District. These neighborhoods are home to many of the city’s most popular hotels, along with many of its top points of interest for sightseeing.
Residence Inn by Marriott Dallas Downtown
Find your home-away-from-home in the Big D at this all-suites hotel. Book yourself into one of the modern suites with full kitchens for the ultimate vacation. Amenities at the property include an indoor pool, fitness center, free breakfast, and on-site parking.
Omni Dallas Hotel
Located close to the Arts District, this chic luxury hotel is one of the city’s top picks. Chill out in the sleek rooms as you peer at the skyline through the floor-to-ceiling windows. After a long day of sightseeing, sweat out some Texas BBQ in the fitness center, re-align your chi in the spa, or cool down in the outdoor infinity pool under the gleaming city lights.
HALL Arts Hotel, Dallas, Curio Collection by Hilton
Art lovers won’t regret spending their evenings at this lovely boutique-style hotel. Located in the heart of the Arts District, the HALL Arts Hotel curates a selection of beautiful artwork throughout its guest rooms and hallways. Amenities at this superb luxury hotel include a private garden, fitness center, and lounge. Be sure to take them up on the offer to tour the hotel’s private art collection topped off with a wine tasting.
When to visit Dallas
The best time to visit Dallas is in the spring, between March and May, and in the fall, between September and November. During the spring and fall months, the Dallas weather is at its finest, offering travelers mild to warm sunny days and cooler evenings.
Although summer is the peak tourist season in Dallas, it’s not a fantastic time to visit the city. Summer in Dallas is hot—extremely hot!—with the mercury soaring into the 90s and 100s (~32°C to 40°C). Winters, on the other hand, are cool with freezing rain, and, rarely, a bit of snow.