Truly, there are more things to do in Dallas than you can stir with a stick. I’ve lived here for almost three years and feel as though the surface has only barely, unnoticeably, inconsequentially been scratched. But, the destination is definitely worth the travel, y’all. And, even if you can’t stay a whole week, you can still experience a whole lot of Texas’ third largest city. Just start at the heart (Downtown!) and branch out as you’re able. Here’s what to do in Downtown Dallas if you only have one day to do it. You can always extend your stay – or come back again soon.
What to Eat
Let’s just get this first item of tourist-y business out on the table, shall we? You’re going to want to get a real taste or two of the fabulous food in Dallas. But you might want to pace yourself. Because there’s a lot. We do it up big here in Texas, ya’ know.
Here are my top recommendations for the foodie lovers who only have one day to spend in Downtown Dallas.
Lunch at Dallas Farmers Market – I’ve been to farmers markets many times, but the first time I visited the one in Downtown Dallas, I was blown away. There’s everything from fresh produce at The Shed to really great shopping in the nearby boutiques. But lunch? Oh, yeah. You can search the world over and not find a better French dip sandwich anywhere. Like, really, anywhere. Check it out at American Butchers, and be sure you order the Farmer Fries to go with it. This lunch selection is big enough to share, which is a good idea, seein’ as how you might want to save room for another Downtown Dallas culinary stop or two.
Dinner at Yardbird Table & Bar – It’s hard not to show a whole bunch o’ Texas pride when a really cool new restaurant opens in Downtown Dallas. When the other four locations are in cities like Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Miami Beach, Singapore, Chicago and Los Angeles? Well, then it feels more like an honor. I don’t know exactly how “they” decide where to do these kinds of things, but we really are fortunate to enjoy Yardbird’s exceptional fried chicken here in Downtown Dallas. Get in on the ground floor yourself while you can. I predict this ‘Bird is gonna be spreading its wings soon. (Tip from Texas Over Fifty: The Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffles is a shareable size. And if you also order the skillet cornbread, you’ll be calling to tell me all about it before you get back home.)
How to Get Around
In addition to customary ways to make your way around a a big city center (car rental, walk, cab, Uber), Downtown Dallas tourists also get to enjoy the M-Line Trolley. The Trolley runs 365 days a year, and as late as midnight on Friday and Saturday nights.
Where to Park
If you opt to drive, finding a parking garage in Downtown Dallas isn’t hard to do. However, what I like about DalPark at 1600 Commerce Street is its proximity to the AT&T Discovery District, Exchange Food Hall and the historic Adolphus Hotel.
What to Do
Can you start your day in Downtown Dallas pretty early? Great!
Coffee at Otto’s – Head on over to Otto’s Coffee and Fine Foods inside The Adolphus Hotel. Grab a steaming cup o’ joe to go, look around the hotel lobby, then meander down Commerce Street until you’re ready for breakfast.
AT&T Discovery District – Once you’re ready to walk off that delicious waffle you just ordered at Press, head across the lawn to check out the techie-type exhibits and info inside the newly renovated AT&T building. Do you recognize this couch and coffee bar?
Shop at the Original Neiman Marcus – The original Neiman’s opened in 1907 in Downtown Dallas, where it still operates today. Check the hours here, and be sure you step into what has always been known as the place to find “continental chic in Texas.”
Visit the Dallas Museum of Art – Here’s something interesting. The Dallas Museum of Art is among the 10 largest museums in the country. Since it was established in 1903, the DMA has welcomed over three million visitors. A trip to Downtown Dallas might just not be complete without a visit to this stellar museum.
Check out The Dallas World Aquarium – you may have already visited the DWA at some point in the past with your kiddoes. (It opened in 1992.) However, if you really want to go back and enjoy this amazing indoor rainforest at your own pace, go for it. Weekdays are the least crowded, so if your one day in Downtown Dallas is during the week, a visit to the DWA might be especially appealing.
Architecture Walking Tour – My husband and I love to grab our favorite mocha and walk around Downtown Dallas on Saturday mornings. It’s the perfect time to really look at and study the architectural details of Dallas’ old downtown buildings. Here’s a link to check out if you prefer to pay for a guide and go with a group.
Take a Tour – if a hop on, hop off tour sounds like fun, check out this sightseeing trolley tour. They’ll swing you over to Reunion Tower and The Sixth Floor Museum a little speedier than you can walk from some of the other places on my list.
Worship at First Baptist Church – finally, if your one day in Downtown Dallas happens to be a Sunday, you won’t get to shop at Neiman’s, but you will have an opportunity to worship with a Texas-size church choir and orchestra. This is my church, so, granted, I’m a bit partial. But, I promise the music will absolutely knock your socks off. And the preachin’ ain’t too bad, either. Yep, this Dallasite dearly loves BIG church, and I simply can’t help being just a teensy bit biased about where to experience it.
Okay, my friends. I hope you like these ideas for what to do in Downtown Dallas. I’ve got lots more for ya’ to do over in nearby Victory Park, Uptown, Bishop Arts District and Deep Ellum, but those are for another time.
For now, I’m thinking you’ve got plenty to do.
PS: If you need some super comfy walking sandals, these are my new faves.
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*(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.)