Dallas, Texas is one of the most famous cities in America. Almost wherever you go in the world, people will be familiar with the name for a variety of reasons.
Internationally, Dallas is known as the home of J.R. Ewing in the hit sitcom Dallas. Domestically, the city is most known as the site of the JFK assassination in 1963.
To anyone involved in business, it’s known as one of the country’s financial hubs thanks not only to the multitude of international headquarters, but the airport hub known as DFW, or Dallas Fort Worth.
As one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas within the United States, Dallas certainly does not disappoint. Even if you’re not a business traveler, Dallas has plenty of exciting things to offer from cultural attractions to architectural wonders.
Here are the many things that Dallas is known for.
1. DMA: Dallas Museum of Art
For art lovers, the DMA, or Dallas Museum of Art, is a must.
There is an excellent permanent collection featuring art from all around the world as well as rotating exhibits.
Entry to the permanent exhibits is entirely free, and the other exhibits are well worth the price. Even if you aren’t super interested in art, the building is neat to explore as it is a stunning example of contemporary architecture.
If you’re there on a weekday, head up to the top floor where you can watch some of the curators at work restoring historical pieces.
2. Dallas Arboretum
Dallas is famous for the Dallas Arboretum. This botanical garden is definitely the most beautiful place in the city.
The fee is a bit pricey, but the grounds are so huge that you can spend the entire day exploring the park.
I recommend bringing a picnic and a nice book to read. The restaurants are very nice and, if you have some extra time, I recommend booking a table for tea time, but make sure to do this well in advance.
3. Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
If you are interested in history or curious about the John F. Kennedy assassination, stop by the Sixth Floor Museum.
Located in the Texas schoolbook depository, the museum is the actual location where Lee Harvey Oswald took the shot that killed JFK in 1963.
The museum takes you through the details of the assassination as well as some of the conspiracy theories surrounding it, and it has an excellent view of the location.
Image Name: 7-11 HQ Dallas
4. 7-Eleven Headquarters
Since 1927, 7-Eleven has been providing Dallas residents with goods from 7 A.M. to 11 P.M.
Originally, the convenience store only sold ice and a few basic groceries, but now the international franchise sells a variety of products ranging from gasoline to their famous slurpees.
The company’s headquarters are still located in Dallas.
5. First Frozen Margarita Machine
The frozen margarita machine actually has its origins in a 7-Eleven when a local restaurateur saw a slurpee machine and thought it would be a good way to serve margaritas.
He then took an old ice cream machine and altered it to make frozen margaritas for his restaurant Mariano’s.
The original museum is now in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., but you can still enjoy a good frozen margarita at Mariano’s to go with some authentic Tex-Mex food.
6. Birthplace of Barney & Friends
Although it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, I still have this stuffed purple dinosaur in my closet, and I’m sure I’m not the only one with fond memories of Barney.
Originally, Barney was released only on home video before being picked up by PBS and becoming an international sensation.
Even though the show became famous worldwide, production always remained in the Dallas area, and most of the actors used were children from different areas of Dallas.
7. Southfork Ranch
If you ever watched the popular TV show Dallas, then a trip to Southfork is probably at the top of your list. Located a bit north of the city, the ranch is one of the most famous attractions in the area.
Since the ranch was used as the primary filming location for the show, it looks like something straight out of the television screen, and fans won’t be disappointed by the tours available.
If you’re up for the full Dallas experience, it’s even possible to spend the night or host events at this iconic location, but make sure to book well in advance.
8. Reunion Tower
This is perhaps the most famous monument in Dallas and the city’s most recognizable landmark.
Nowhere else can you see the city at its finest thanks to the rotation of the interior which allows you to get a full panoramic view of Dallas and the surrounding area, but don’t worry. There’s no need to get dizzy since it takes about an hour to make a complete circle.
To locals, the tower is often known as “the ball,” but those interested in history know that the tower actually takes its name from the community of La Réunion, one of the original communities that merged into what later became Dallas city.
The community was founded in the mid-19th century by Swiss, Belgian, and French immigrants who wanted to found a utopian communist community along the Trinity River.
Aside from the tower’s name, few remembrances of this community survive as it was dissolved not too long after it had been founded.
9. Perot Science Museum
Ross Perot is famous for more than just a failed presidential campaign, though his science museum has little to do with him.
From natural history to astronomy, this museum has exhibits on just about every scientific field you can think of.
It’s designed mostly for kids, but adults will enjoy wandering through the museum and taking pictures of the Dallas skyline.
10. Bush Presidential Library
For more presidential history, stop by the George W. Bush presidential library on SMU’s campus to learn all about the man and his presidency.
In addition to a replica of the Oval Office where you can take your picture from the Presidential desk, the library features artefacts and state gifts from Bush’s presidency.
11. Dallas Farmers’ Market
Though the farmers’ market is open all week long, going on the weekend is best since that’s when the farmers are actually there.
If you’re lucky enough to be there in the fall, you can select pumpkins from the pumpkin patch and take some pictures by the hay.
Otherwise, there is a great selection of local products all year round.
12. Deep Ellum
If you’re looking for some nightlife, you have to visit Deep Ellum. This arts district is also worth a visit during the day and features some of the best restaurants and bars in town.
Known for its murals and hipster culture, Deep Ellum is the locals’ choice of a place to meet up for the happy hour or an afternoon cup of coffee.
13. Horses in Las Colinas
The famous and picturesque horses of Las Colinas are fairly easy to get to via the DART, but if you are traveling with a car, there are plenty of parking spaces.
The horses are a great spot for photos, and the area around them is full of nice cafes and restaurants. If you want a bit of greenery, there is a trail walking around the entire lake that is popular for jogging.
14. Day Trips
This may not be something Dallas is famous for as a city, but if you’re looking to get a bit outside of downtown Dallas, there are plenty of interesting destinations nearby.
My personal favorite city in the state, Fort Worth, is less than an hour away and has plenty of things to see such as the Fort Worth stockyards.
If you’re looking for some nature, Eagle Mountain State Park is one of the many state parks with high-quality walking trails where you can spot some wildlife.
15. Wine Tastings
You might think of Texas as a place to drink margaritas and Shiner, but the Texas wine industry is rapidly growing and gaining recognition worldwide.
Though there aren’t many wineries located in the city itself, several have tasting rooms downtown or in Grapevine, a town about 45 minutes from downtown Dallas with more tasting rooms than you could dream of visiting in one trip.
My personal recommendation is to go in December to do some Christmas shopping in some of the small, local shops.
16. The Galleria
Perhaps Dallas’s most iconic symbol, the Galleria is the city’s shopping haven.
It is famous for its ice skating rink and giant Christmas tree, so the best time to go is winter. But even if you’re there another time of year, the Galleria is worth a trip and a great place to do some shopping.
17. Texas State Fair
The Texas State Fair is one of the nation’s biggest and best state fairs, and even if you aren’t in town during the fair, you can visit the fairgrounds, where several interesting museums are located.
Notably, it’s the location of the African American Museum, which has a great deal of interesting information about the history of African Americans in the state as well as the country.
The Texas State Fair is best known for the giant animatronic cowboy named Big Tex, who greets the park visitors with his distinctive, “Howdy, Folks!”
18. Nasher Sculpture Center
For more art, swing by the Nasher Sculpture Center. Mostly outdoors, the center features examples of contemporary sculpture as well as some older works.
It is free one day of the week, so if you’re on a budget, make sure to look up which day it is.
19. Crow Collection of Asian Art
Located close to both the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture is the smaller Crow Collection of Asian Art, which features artwork and clothing from various Asian countries.
It’s a fairly small museum with an excellent collection.
This can easily be coupled with a trip to the presidential library, but if you aren’t interested in visiting the library, SMU’s campus is a good place for a stroll when the weather is pleasant.
During the semester, it’s fairly crowded with students, but the buildings are beautiful and a perfect location to take some photos.
The university is also located not too far from Highland Park, so if you’re interested in looking at some fancy houses, it’s a nice area for a drive or a long walk.
21. Sports Games
Dallas is known for several great professional sports teams. For football fans, a Cowboys game won’t disappoint, but if you aren’t into football, Dallas is also home to the Dallas Stars hockey team and the Texas Rangers baseball team.
During the fall, it’s also worthwhile to catch a college football game and see the SMU Mustangs in action.
The lakes surrounding Dallas aren’t anything like the Great Lakes, but they certainly have quite a bit to offer for a day trip.
Most of the lakes have camping and fishing grounds in addition to easy hiking trails, and it’s not uncommon to see some exciting wildlife.
The lakes are an ideal destination for families since they offer an abundance of family-friendly activities like kayaking and swimming. They are also a great destination for couples and anyone who wants to enjoy a bit of nature.
Some of the best lakes are White Rock Lake, Lake Grapevine, and Lake Lewisville.
23. Winspear Opera House
Dallas might not be most known for opera, but the Winspear Opera House features some high-class opera productions featuring famous singers from around the world.
The opera house itself is fairly impressive, so even if you aren’t super interested in the performance, it’s worth a visit to look around the theater. If you’re on a budget, you can normally get cheap tickets if you head to the booth the day of the performance, but your seats probably won’t be very good.
The opera house is also next to the Meyerson Symphony Center if you’re more interested in classical music.
24. The Music Factory
For those more interested in attending a rock concert, the Toyota Music Factory features some of the most popular contemporary music artists. The area around the factory is also worth exploring since it has some great restaurants and bars.
25. Klyde Warren Park
Downtown Dallas is mostly known for its skyscrapers and business centers, but Klyde Warren Park in the center of town is a green oasis.
On the weekend, it’s a popular spot for food trucks and a meeting point for group activities such as yoga or breakdance groups.
26. Dallas Zoo
For families and animal lovers, the Dallas Zoo is worth a trip. It’s a fairly large zoo, so you could easily spend all day getting to know the different animals.
From gorillas to elephants, the Dallas Zoo has almost every animal you could think of, and the zoo is constantly working on preservation efforts for animals in the wild.
27. Dallas World Aquarium
If you’re disappointed that you didn’t get to see much marine life in the zoo, head over to the aquarium.
Great for kids and adults alike, the Dallas Aquarium is home to many different kinds of aquatic animals and is a great place to learn about conservation efforts and biodiversity.
For marine lovers like myself, a trip to the aquarium could easily last a day, but for most trips, a few hours is probably enough.
28. Six Flags
If you’re looking for some adventure, don’t skip a trip to Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington.
Technically, this isn’t within the Dallas city limits, but it’s less than an hour from downtown Dallas and is well worth the drive.
It’s worth planning a whole day for the flagship location of this nationwide amusement park, and if you’re traveling through the area in summer, don’t forget to stop by the waterpark.
While Dallas may seem like a dull business trip destination at first glance, the city is one of the fastest-growing areas in the country, and it has much more to offer than restaurants and shopping.
Whether you’re traveling with family or on your own, Dallas is a city that’s worth a few days of your time, and even then, it’ll be difficult to squeeze in everything.
Do you have anything else to add to this list of things Dallas is known for? Leave a comment and let me know, and enjoy your trip!