20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Dallas, TX
Author Anietra Hamper and photographer Ian Henderson traveled through Dallas to catch some of the best attractions in the city.
The city of Dallas has a rich history rooted in ranching, farming, and oil production, growing rapidly as a trade center after the introduction of the railroad in 1873. After WWII, the city became home to numerous insurance corporations and banks, making it an important business and financial center — perfect fodder for that most famous of soap operas about power, money, and intrigue: Dallas.
The fascinating history in Dallas is just one reason that people visit, but there are so many other attractions and things to do. The city center is the best place to start a visit. Here, you'll find many excellent museums, restaurants, and hotels, as well as countless fun things to do.
You can branch out into other Dallas districts, like the West End, the Arts District, and the reemerging Deep Vellum District with eclectic restaurants and shops.
For more sightseeing opportunities and places to visit in this Texas city, read through our guide to the top attractions and things to do in Dallas.
1. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
Highlights: "Grassy knoll" outside the museum, location on the roadway of JFK's assassination
Forever etched in infamy, the former Texas School Book Depository at the intersection of Houston and Elm Streets in Dallas is now home to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, dedicated to remembering one of the nation's most tragic and defining moments: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Visitors to the museum are first introduced to the historical context with multimedia exhibits that describe the political climate of the early 1960s and then go on to highlight President Kennedy's trip to Texas in November of 1963 and the last days of his life. Just past here, you will see the sniper's perch in the corner window from which Oswald took the deadly shots, recreated to match the original photos from the crime scene.
The remaining exhibits walk you through the tense hours following the shooting. These include recollections of the state of shock that enveloped the nation and the world, the investigations that followed, and JFK's legacy.
Exhibits also include historical artifacts, like a replica of the Mannlicher-Carcano rifle found at the crime scene, the scale model of Dealey Plaza used by FBI agents during the investigation, forensic evidence, and items such as Lee Harvey Oswald's wedding ring and Jack Ruby's hat.
Spend some time walking around outside on Dealey Plaza. It's a powerful experience to see the exact locations bearing such historical significance, like The Grassy Knoll and even markers on the roadway indicating where the fatal shots hit John F. Kennedy.
Address: 411 Elm Street, Dallas, Texas
2. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Highlight: Seasonal festivals take place among the internationally renowned gardens
Located just minutes from downtown Dallas, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden sits on 66 acres along the southeast shore of White Rock Lake. The property's fourteen world-famous displays showcase seasonal flowers, ornamental shrubs, trees, and plant collections. The gardens also host seasonal outdoor festivals, concerts, art shows, and educational programs, and guided tours of the property are available.
Although conceived in the early 1930s, this splendid tourist attraction didn't become a reality until 1984, when the park was laid out on the grounds of a mansion built in 1939. Adding to the fun are the exquisite sculptures and fountains in areas with names like Toad's Corner, Texas Town, and Pecan Grove.
Be sure to do a little exploring around White Rock Lake Park, too. Surrounded by 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, this huge lake covers an area of over 1,000 acres and is known for its excellent bird and wildlife spotting, as well as fishing and sailing experiences.
Address: 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas
3. Dallas World Aquarium
Highlights: Multi-sensory experiences like the Orinoco rainforest exhibit and the Cloud Forest Trek
Conveniently located within easy walking distance of the city's historic downtown core, Dallas World Aquarium is a fun and educational excursion for young and old alike. Housed in some 87,000 gallons of saltwater are a vast array of sea life including bonnethead sharks, stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles, giant groupers, and rare leafy seadragons, all living in natural reef settings.
A fun highlight is the Orinoco Rainforest exhibit. This fun attraction comes complete with numerous free-flying birds, such as toucans, along with tree sloths and aquatic species such as Orinoco crocodiles and poison dart frogs. Be sure to check the feeding schedule before arrival for a chance to see the animals at their most animated, as well as for details of upcoming talks and lectures.
To add to your visit, plan to eat at one of the three restaurants at the aquarium, which serve everything from gourmet and international food to sandwiches and snacks with views of the resident sea life.
Address: 1801 N. Griffin Street, Dallas, Texas
4. Reunion Tower
Highlights: 360-degree views of Dallas, GeO-Deck observation platform at the top of the tower
While not the tallest building in Dallas, the Reunion Tower is undoubtedly the most distinguished and most recognizable. Completed in 1978 and appearing as a geodesic ball perched atop five cylindrical concrete poles, its 560-foot length is spectacularly lit up at night, emphasizing its unique outline.
The highlight of the tower is the GeO-Deck observation viewing platform, with panoramic views of Dallas from 470 feet in the air. There are always special events taking place with those 360-degree views, from yoga to painting classes.
Address: 300 Reunion Blvd E, Dallas, Texas
5. George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum
Highlights: Unique artifacts from the 9/11 terrorist attacks, an exhibit featuring the popular Bush Whitehouse pets
The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum has an in-depth look at America's 43rd president and the history of the Bush family's public service. The museum is located on a 23-acre area on the Southern Methodist University campus. Walk through the galleries and archives that feature more than 43,000 artifacts collected during the George W. Bush presidency.
Some of the items housed in the permanent collection include diplomatic gifts and items from the September 11th terrorist attacks, as well as a fun exhibit that showcases the lives of Miss Beazley and Barney, the First Pets, that became popular in the Bush Whitehouse. Wrap up your museum visit with a coffee or bite to eat at the museum at Cafe 43 or outdoor dining at the Courtyard Cafe.
Address: 2943 SMU Boulevard, Dallas, Texas
6. Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Highlights: A ride on the 54-foot escalator, views out the tall glass windows to the creatively designed courtyard
Housed in a massive architectural masterpiece designed by Thom Mayne, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a top Dallas attraction for families and curious tourists.
The building itself was designed with sustainability as a foremost goal. Innovative eco-friendly design features include summer water conservation with the use of recaptured condensation from air conditioners and drip irrigation, the use of recycled and locally sourced building materials, and solar-powered water heaters.
The museum is divided into thematic areas with interactive educational stations, games, and high-tech displays. These themes include engineering and innovation, energy, evolution, earth sciences, and more. It also features a 3D theater, the Moody Family Children's Museum and playground, and a 54-foot escalator that overlooks the property from within a glass enclosure.
Address: 2201 N. Field Street, Dallas, Texas
7. Dallas Museum of Art
Highlights: One of the largest art museums in the United States with extensive collections
The Dallas Museum of Art has been a long-standing institution in the city since it opened in 1903. One of the 10 largest museums in the United States, it has a collection of more than 24,000 works from the Americas and around the globe, including everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary art.
Highlights from the collection include Classical art and artifacts from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, paintings by Claude Monet in the European art gallery, and several contemporary pieces by Jackson Pollock. In addition to the permanent collections, temporary exhibits highlight the work of prominent artists, explore thematic topics, and display historic collections.
Another art exhibit worth catching is the Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, an extensive collection from a single philanthropist donor containing more than 1,400 artifacts. Some of the treasured items include painted fans, lacquered boxes, Chinese porcelain, and 17th-century European furniture.
Address: 1717 N Harwood Street, Dallas, Texas
8. Klyde Warren Park
Highlights: Mid-afternoon social scene on almost any given day surrounded by music, food, outdoor dining, and water fountains
A great place to stop and relax as you make your way through downtown Dallas is Klyde Warren Park. The beautiful public park is a place of respite tucked in the middle of the downtown streets and high-rise buildings. On any given day, you can enjoy food trucks, outdoor dining, green space, public art, and a casual social scene.
Throughout the five-acre space there are cafés to enjoy and many sitting areas by the fountains. There are always public events taking place at the park, but it's just as fun to take a blanket and a picnic as you visit the local attractions and find a half hour just to enjoy the Dallas city scene in a relaxing way.
Address: 1909 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas, Texas
9. Dallas Zoo
Highlights: Daily programs like animal feedings and keeper presentations
The Dallas Zoo is a 106-acre park housing more than 2,000 exotic animals from 406 species in a variety of different habitats. Always popular with families, this fun attraction — just three miles away from the city center — was established in 1888, making it one of the oldest zoos in the United States.
The zoo is segmented into regional areas, like ZooNorth, the Wilds of Africa, Giants of the Savanna, and a children's zoo. Some of the most engaging experiences at the zoo include animal encounters, like daily giraffe feedings, programs on the Wild Encounters Stage, and the interactive aviary called Birds Landing.
While there are several restaurants and plenty of snack stands available, you may want to bring a picnic and enjoy it at one of the picnic tables located throughout the zoo grounds.
Address: 650 S R L Thornton Fwy, Dallas, Texas
10. American Airlines Center
Highlight: The walkable PNC plaza surrounding the arena with restaurants to grab a bite before or after the show
It is no surprise that top entertainment acts come to Dallas, and many of them perform at the American Airlines Center arena. It is one of the premier arenas in the United States for concerts, live entertainment, and sporting events. It is also home base for the National Basketball Association's Dallas Mavericks and National Hockey League's NHL Dallas Stars.
In addition to hosting home games for the Mavericks and Stars, you will find a nearly nightly lineup of entertainment no matter what time of the year, so you can easily plan a night out at the venue and even stay in one of the nearby hotels. Before or after your event, walk the PNC Plaza around the arena that to enjoy the restaurants and social scene that accompanies the arena entertainment.
Address: 2500 Victory Ave, Dallas, Texas
11. The Nasher Sculpture Center
Highlight: One of many arts-centric stops that you can visit in the Dallas Arts District
Opened in 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center has a collection of modern and contemporary sculpture and contains exhibits exploring the history of the art of sculpture. Located in the heart of the Dallas Arts District and just steps away from the Dallas Museum of Art, it also features a number of large outdoor sculptures on display throughout the tree-lined grounds.
Highlights of its interior exhibits include pieces by Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, and Andy Warhol. The museum and sculpture park also regularly host events, including lectures and concerts. Located in the University of Texas at Dallas, this art museum is dedicated to the arts and cultures of China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia.
Address: 2001 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas
12. Bishop Arts District
Highlights: Collection of unique shops, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment within a several-block area
If you are looking for things to do, the Bishop Arts District in Dallas's North Oak Cliff neighborhood has nearly endless possibilities for shopping, dining, and entertainment. It features more than sixty independently owned and operated businesses. Here, you will find chic boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and cozy coffee shops in an inviting small-town atmosphere.
Among the unique purveyors are specialty shops that cater to male clientele, like the quirky M'antiques; several women's vintage clothing boutiques; and a myriad of shops that carry items made by local artists and designers. A place with a strong sense of community, the neighborhood often hosts family-friendly street festivals and public entertainment.
Location: North Bishop Ave, Dallas, Texas
13. Dallas Cattle Drive Sculptures at Pioneer Plaza
Highlight: One of the top must-see landmarks in downtown Dallas
Pioneer Plaza park, maintained by the adjacent Dallas Convention Center, is designed to resemble a section of the Shawnee Trail, a major Texas cattle drive route in the 19th century. It's a beautiful, large green space in Dallas's central business district that's fun to wander, and even features a stream that falls over limestone cliffs.
But its most remarkable features are the 49 larger-than-life bronze sculptures of Texas Longhorn cattle that are being herded through the park and across the creek by three mounted cowboys. Designed by artist Robert Summers, the park is landscaped to reproduce the scene of the iconic industry that defined early Texas.
Location: Young Street, Pioneer Plaza, Dallas, Texas
14. Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center
Highlight: Catching a symphony performance in one of the local parks in the summer
The Dallas Symphony Orchestra is one of the most prominent performing arts experiences in Dallas and remains the largest such organization in the southwest region of the United States. The symphony is known for its outstanding classical and modern concert performances that take place at Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.
Under the direction of Fabio Luisi, the Dallas Symphony also regularly performs in other venues throughout Dallas and provides educational programs to give back to the city. If you visit during the summer, you can attend one of the free outdoor concerts during the Symphony in the Parks series that takes place in several Dallas community parks.
Address: 2301 Flora Street, Dallas, Texas
15. Frontiers of Flight Museum
Highlights: More than 35,000 artifacts including some from the Hindenburg
The Frontiers of Flight Museum is home to more than 40 aircraft and space vehicles and has extensive exhibits that display the journey from the roots of aviation, from Leonardo da Vinci through modern space exploration. The museum's impressive collection includes a full-size model of the Wright Flyer, artifacts from the Hindenburg, as well as numerous WWI and WWII aircraft and artifacts.
Vintage aircraft on display include a fully restored Stearman PT-17 Kaydet Biplane, and the Apollo VII spacecraft. On display at the museum's Love Field location, the Braniff Gallery and Virgin America exhibit highlight the history of commercial aviation.
Address: 6911 Lemmon Ave, Dallas, Texas
16. John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza
Highlight: You can visit both the Dealey Plaza and the memorial in the same visit with a short walk in between
Located just a few blocks away from Dealey Plaza, across from the city courthouse, stands the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza. This imposing yet understated monument to President Kennedy was designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, and its construction was completed in 1970 after years of controversy.
Resembling a cenotaph, the open tomb concept was designed by Johnson to represent what he saw as Kennedy's free spirit. Standing some 30 feet tall and 50 feet wide and made from large marble slabs, it's certainly an impressive site. Be sure to read the two epitaphs located at the entrances to the monument; they contain a thought-provoking remembrance of the President.
Address: 646 Main Street, Dallas, Texas
17. The Cavanaugh Flight Museum
Highlights: A self-guided museum to get up close to vintage aircraft and military vehicles
Another excellent aviation museum to visit is the Cavanaugh Flight Museum. Located in Addison just north of Dallas, the museum's impressive collection of vintage aircraft are kept in a massive hangar, along with numerous accompanying artifacts and exhibits.
You can take a self-guided tour to see displays that include military planes used in Vietnam, the Korean War, WWI, and WWII, as well as civilian aircraft. There are also military trucks on display and armored vehicles, including an M50 Super Sherman.
Address: 4572 Claire Chennault Street, Addison, Texas
18. African American Museum
Highlights: The ongoing lectures and public events held at the museum
Founded in 1974, the African American Museum has a variety of displays of African American artistic, cultural, and historical materials. Full of references to traditional African motifs and cultural icons, the museum's collection includes numerous pieces of artwork, along with a library and historical archive.
In addition to hundreds of artifacts on display, the center features sculptures, paintings, and the largest collection of Folk Art by African Americans in the United States. Educational and entertainment programs are also hosted in the on-site theater.
Address: 3536 Grand Avenue, Dallas, Texas
19. Spend a Day in Deep Ellum
Highlight: Funky vibe, historically jazz-influenced neighborhood, unique to other parts of Dallas
To experience one of Dallas' revitalized neighborhoods, you can spend a day in the Deep Ellum District. It is an old jazz district with a fun blend of historic 1800s essence and trendy grunge, as evidenced by the vintage signs and artsy murals as you walk along the streets.
The Ellum District is a one-stop place to visit for dining, arts, music, shopping, street art, and entertainment. You can find ample parking in small pay lots, and walk around the district at your leisure.
20. Soap Opera Superstar: Southfork Ranch
Highlight: VIP steak dinner events that you can enjoy like one of the elite characters on the hit tv show Dallas
If you were around in the 1980s and owned a television set, read newspapers, or worked in an office, there's little chance you'd have escaped the wave of interest that swept the world when Dallas hit the small screen.
Now that you know who shot JR, you can visit the location where the series was set: Southfork Ranch. About 25 miles north of Dallas, the ranch welcomes visitors for guided tours of the mansion. Afterward, you can enjoy an authentic Texan chuckwagon dinner on the grounds.
Address: 3700 Hogge Drive, Parker, Texas
Where to Stay in Dallas for Sightseeing
Downtown Dallas is the place to stay for exploring the sights, and this is where many first-time visitors choose to find accommodation. Just north of here is the popular Uptown district, another good location with restaurants and entertainment options. Below is a list of highly rated hotels in or near these areas:
- Set in a great location close to the Arts District and within walking distance of several museums and other attractions, the Omni Dallas Hotel features a great terrace pool overlooking downtown.
- To experience the elegance and grandeur of the early 20th century, the historic Adolphus, Autograph Collection, first opened in 1912, is the perfect place to stay.
- In the Uptown district, the Hotel ZaZa is a charming boutique hotel with beautifully decorated themed rooms and a quaint pool area set in lush surroundings.
- The Homewood Suites by Hilton in downtown is an all-suites hotel in a good location near the Arts District, Convention Center, and numerous restaurants and shops.
- In the former Magnolia Petroleum Company Building, built in 1922, the historic Magnolia Hotel Dallas Downtown offers modern extended-stay suites and guest rooms and is conveniently located downtown.
- Another good mid-range option is the Hotel Indigo Dallas Downtown, in a National Historic Landmark building, which was formerly the Dallas Opera House.
- Budget options in downtown Dallas are limited, but good deals are available just outside the city center. In Uptown is the reasonably priced La Quinta Inn by Windham Dallas Uptown.
- A fair distance outside the city center but offering good value are the Days Inn by Wyndham Market Center and the Candlewood Suites Dallas Market Cntr-Love Field.
Best Time to Visit Dallas, TX - Historical Climate Averages
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Dallas, TX in °C|
|13 2||16 5||21 9||25 13||29 18||33 23||36 25||36 24||32 21||26 14||19 8||14 4|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Dallas, TX in mm.|
|Average minimum and maximum temperatures for Dallas, TX in °F|
|55 36||61 41||69 49||77 56||84 65||92 73||96 77||96 76||89 69||79 58||66 47||57 39|
|Average monthly precipitation totals for Dallas, TX in inches.|
The best time to visit Dallas is in the spring or fall when you can comfortably visit all the attractions without the stifling heat and humidity of the summer.
The months of September, October, and November are ideal times to visit, when average daytime temperatures are in the 70s and 80s Fahrenheit and there are fewer crowds at local venues. The temperatures are more bearable to enjoy local activities in the fall like the Texas State Fair and Dallas Cowboys football.
The spring months of March, April, and May are also comfortable times to enjoy visiting Dallas, especially with flowers in bloom and outdoor activities picking up. March temperatures average in the high 60s Fahrenheit during the daytime, with April hitting the high 70s and climbing to the mid-80s by May.
The rainiest months in Dallas are May and October, so you will want to pack a rain jacket and plan your museum and indoor attraction visits during these days. It is best to avoid the summer months of June, July, and August, when Dallas temperatures hold tight in the 90s to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with high humidity.