This post is sponsored by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone.
Are you looking for fun things to do in Dallas? Take this free, self-guide Downtown Dallas walking tour ... you'll discover great skyline views, interesting historical spots, shopping destinations, and so much more!
Before I moved to Dallas, most of my impressions of this city came from the TV show.
Now that I've lived here a few years, I still haven't met any oil barons ... that I know of. But I have discovered that there's more to this city than its big business reputation.
Dallas is the eight largest city in the U.S., and it is sprawling. If you've never visited before, its compact downtown is the best neighborhood to get your bearings.
This downtown Dallas walking tour is the perfect place to start. I'll show everything you could want to see, from beautiful skyline views to historic sights, shopping spots, museums, and so much more.
Keep reading for all the details, then get ready to start walking!
Downtown Dallas Walking Tour (Map)
There are so many cool things to do in downtown Dallas, and this free, self-guided walking tour covers them all. Read more about these fun spots below, then use the map I created to help you located them during your walk.
Simply open it on your phone, then travel from point to point.
Before You Get Started
One important thing to know about Dallas before heading out? It gets hot ... like really hot!
From May through October, you're pretty much guaranteed scorching weather (high 90s to 100+ ... ugh). Plan to take some breaks along the way, and you'll need a cold drink for your walk.
There are plenty of places to pick up a refreshing drink along the way, so don't worry. I'd recommend grabbing one before starting though ... I brought along my fave DASANI Sparkling. Plus, I packed a tasty Orzo Pasta Salad and yummy Caprese Sandwiches (find those recipes later in the post) for an end of walk picnic!
Self-Guided Walking Tour ... Let's Go!
Okay, are you ready to start this walking tour? Follow along below for my favorite things to do in Dallas, and don't forget to use the map to help you find these spots during your trip.
Dallas City Hall
We're going to start this walking tour at Dallas City Hall, which is located at the corner of Marilla Street and South Akard Street.
Dallas City Hall was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, and it has unique inverted pyramid shape. You may recognize it from a classic action movie. Let me know if you do!
This distinctive building is definitely worth seeing, but there's another reason we're starting here ... the amazing views of the city! As you look across the beautiful reflecting pool, you'll be treated to an impressive skyline view of downtown Dallas.
Before leaving the plaza, make sure to check out the The Dallas Piece, a sculpture created by artist Henry Moore, too.
Head west on Young Street from City Hall, and you'll arrive at Pioneer Plaza.
This large park features 49 larger-than-life bronze steers being herded by three trail riders. These cattle drive sculptures comprise the largest bronze monument of its kind in the world.
The plaza is a fun place to visit with kids, and there's also a small pond here which is often full of ducks. Bring a bag of bread cubes to feed them.
Pegasus Sculpture + Dallas BIG Sign
In 1934, a large neon Pegasus was placed atop what was then the tallest building in the downtown Dallas. The flying horse is a Greek mythological symbol of wealth, power and fame, and Dallasites have come to embrace this symbol as their own.
As you walk around the city, you'll see signs of the Pegasus everywhere. Look up, look down, it's all around on everything from buildings to signs!
The best place to get a photo of this mythological beast is at the corner of Young Street and South Lamar Street. Here, you'll find the original rotating Pegasus which has been restored.
There's also a Dallas BIG sign in front of the Pegasus, and you can form the "I" in BIG. See if you can get this sign, the Pegasus, and "The Ball" (that tower in the background below) all in one photo!
Tip: need a cold drink already? Stop into one of the many restaurants at the nearby Omni Hotel.
Just across the street from the Pegasus, you'll find Lubben Plaza. This spot is somewhat hidden, so don't be surprised if you have it all to yourself.
Here, you'll find three large scale sculptures, including Harrow, which you can see below. Although you can't see it moving, this giant steel piece makes one complete rotation every 24 hours.
I love this quiet sculpture park! It's the perfect place to do a little reflection or just escape that hot Texas sun.
John F. Kennedy Memorial
There's a lot going on in Dallas these days, but the city is still probably most known for being the site of President John F. Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963.
The John F. Kennedy Memorial is a monument to the fallen president. It's not located on the exact spot of the assassination (we'll get to that in a bit), but it's worth checking out as you explore downtown Dallas.
Old Red Museum
Next to the JFK Memorial, you'll see the impossible-to-miss Old Red Museum.
This ornate building was built in 1892. It was originally a courthouse, but these days it's a museum.
If you want to find out more about Dallas County history, there's no better place to do it than at the Old Red Museum. Here, you'll learn about everything from Dallas' early beginnings to the historic events that transformed the city into the "Big D" that we know today.
John Neely Bryan Log Cabin
Across the street from the Old Red Museum, you'll find another unique downtown Dallas attraction: the John Neely Bryan Log Cabin.
John Neely Bryan is considered the founder of Dallas. He was born in Tennessee, but eventually made his way west. He first visited the Dallas area in 1839, and in 1841 he established a permanent settlement here.
The log cabin you'll see in this quiet park is a replica of Bryan's original home and trading post.
Travel one block west of the log cabin to get to Dealey Plaza. This is where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
Dealey Plaza was built in the 1930s and was named for a prominent local newspaper publisher. It's a wedge shaped park with fountains and pergolas on the western edge of downtown with three major streets running through it: Elm, Main, and Commerce.
President Kennedy's motorcade was driving along Elm Street, heading out of downtown. As the car drove down the hill, he was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald who was waiting in the Texas School Book Depository just north of the plaza.
There's an X in the road where Kennedy was shot (you can see it below).
Do not try to get a photo on the X. This road is basically a highway on-ramp, and it's not worth getting run over!
Just north of this spot (to the right of the X) is the "grassy knoll" where many conspiracy theorists believe a second shooter stood. You may be approached by some of these folks as you visit this area ... just a warning (ha ha).
Texas School Book Depository + 6th Floor Museum
The Texas School Book Depository is located just north of Dealey Plaza.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who was a temporary employee of the Texas School Book Depository, hid out on the building's sixth floor before shooting President Kennedy.
Today, the sixth and seventh floors of this building have been turned into the 6th Floor Museum. (The lower floors are used by Dallas County.)
If you have time, don't miss the museum. The audio tour and exhibits are really interesting, and it's a great way to learn about this important event in U.S. history.
West End Historic District
The West End Historic District started as Dallas founder John Neely Bryan's trading post and eventually grew into a bustling manufacturing district. Many of the sights you've just visited are located in the West End, including the JFK Memorial, Old Red Museum, Log Cabin, and Sixth Floor Museum.
This area is filled with old brick warehouse buildings, and if you're an architecture buff, you'll enjoy exploring it further. You'll also find a few restaurants and shops here, including Wild Bill's Western Store which has a tempting selection of cowboy boots.
To make a short loop through the West End, start at the corner of Elm Street and North Market Street (you'll see two arches marked West End here). Head north on North Market until you get to Munger Avenue. Turn left on Munger, then turn left again when you get to Record Street. Keep going until you get back to Elm Street.
Main Street ... Restaurants + Shopping
Once you've finished exploring the West End, walk a couple blocks to the corner of Main Street and North Griffin Street. Then, head east on Main Street.
Main Street is the heart of downtown Dallas. You'll find a number of restaurants here (for a casual bite, stop into Commissary, Bread Zeppelin, or Chop House Burger), as well as three parks, upscale shops, a fancy hotel, and that iconic Dallas department store, Neiman Marcus.
There is something for everyone on Main Street, so have fun exploring!
You'll find this small park on the corner of Main Street and North Akard Street. It's home to a winding stream whose source is a natural mineral stream 1600 feet below the park. You'll also find nine granite boulders here, each dedicated to one of the nine muses.
During the holidays, this plaza is also home to a really funky Christmas tree. If you're in Dallas in December, don't miss it.
Before leaving the park, grab a selfie with artist Enrique Mascorro's Pegasus Fantasy mural. Then, look up and try to spot another flying horse soaring over a nearby hotel.
The Eye Sculpture
Across the street and a little further east (but on the same block as Pegasus Plaza), you'll find The Eye.
It's hard to miss this 30 foot eyeball sculpture which was created by artist Tony Tasset. If you're looking for a unique spot to grab a photo in downtown Dallas, this is it!
The Eye is located in a privately-owned space, so unfortunately, you can't walk up to it. Try heading down Stone Place, a pedestrian alley to the left of the eyeball, to get a little closer.
After checking out The Eye, leave Main Street and walk a couple blocks north to Thanks-Giving Square. This quiet park was envisioned as a place for people of all cultures and backgrounds to gather together.
There's not really anything to do in this square, although events are frequently held here ... including an awesome holiday tuba concert. It's an ideal spot to enjoy a little peace in busy Dallas though.
The square is surrounded by soaring buildings, so it's also a fun place to capture a photo of downtown Dallas.
Before leaving the square, make sure to check out the uniquely shaped Chapel of Thanksgiving.
The chapel has limited hours, but stop in if it's open during your walk. It has a breathtaking spiral stained glass ceiling that you won't want to miss.
Dallas Arts District
Walk a few blocks north of Thanks-Giving Square, and you'll arrive in the Arts District.
If you think Dallas is buttoned-up and all business, you may be surprised at just how infused the city is with arts and culture. In fact, the Dallas Arts District is the largest contiguous urban arts district in the nation.
This area is one of my favorite parts of the city. You'll find multiple museums, a symphony center, opera house, and more here.
It's free to walk around the Arts District, so have fun exploring.
Admission to The Dallas Museum of Art and the Crow Collection of Asian Art is also free (although there may be a charge for special exhibits). So give yourself a little time to explore the museums.
The Arts District plays host to all sorts of Dallas activities, including monthly late night, admission free events and quarterly block parties with music, food trucks, and more. Make sure to check the schedule of events to see if there's anything going on during your visit.
Klyde Warren Park
If you've made it this far, you've arrived at the end of our walk ... and to one of my favorite places in downtown Dallas, Klyde Warren Park!
Klyde Warren Park is such a clever use of neglected urban space. It's basically a park built over a freeway, and it connects downtown Dallas with Uptown, another city center neighborhood.
There is so much to do in this park. Enjoy a playground with a splash pad, open lawn, fountain, games, and even a library. You'll also find a schedule of weekly events, with everything from exercise classes to food festivals to live music.
Klyde Warren Park gets super busy on weekend, but during the week it's pretty chill.
I love finding a shady spot here and grabbing a bite to eat. During the day, the park is usually lined with food trucks (plus, there are restaurants in the park), or you can pack a picnic like I did.
For my picnic, I made Caprese Sandwiches and an Orzo Pasta Salad. These are my go to picnic recipes, and they're so simple to make.
Here's what you'll need for these easy recipes:
Grab a baguette or other high quality bread. Spread one half generously with pesto (or use fresh basil). Top the other half with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt and pepper, then top with other half of bread.
Orzo Pasta Salad
Boil one pound of orzo pasta in salted water until al dente. Transfer the pasta to a fine mesh strainer (or colander with small holes), then rinse with cold water and drain well. Place the orzo in a big bowl, along with two large, diced tomatoes, ⅓ cup halved kalamata olives, four ounces crumbled feta, and a handful of basil leaves (chopped). Add Italian dressing to taste and mix well.
Paired with DASANI sparkling, the tasty sandwiches and pasta salad made the perfect picnic.
If you do decide to pack your own picnic, make sure to add a few ice packs to your bag. That way everything will stay chilled, and you'll be treated to a cool drink at the end of your walk!
If you happen visit Klyde Warren Park in the late afternoon, make sure to stay for the sunset after your picnic.
The golden city views as the sun sets are so pretty. It's the perfect way to end your walk!
Planning Your Downtown Dallas Walking Tour
I hope you enjoyed reading about all these fun things to do in Downtown Dallas! Give yourself a few hours for this walk, or more if you plan to visit any museums.
Here are some tips to make the most of your walk:
- Getting Around: This walk covers quite a bit of territory. If you need to give your feet a rest from walking, you have a few options. DART is Dallas' transit option, and they run buses and trains downtown. Another option is the M-Line Trolley, which stops in the Arts District and near Klyde Warren Park. You can also rent those scooters you'll see on the sidewalks to travel between these sights if you'd prefer not to walk.
- Where to Eat: There are tons of places to eat in downtown Dallas. The areas with the most options are on (and near) Main Street, West End, and the Arts District, and depending on when you visit, you'll also find a variety of food trucks lining Klyde Warren Park. My favorite restaurant is probably Salsa Limón, which has the best tacos, delicious agua frescas, and huge margaritas ... you'll need to take a slight detour from this walk tour to get there. There are plenty of other options though, and I've mentioned some other faves above.
- What to Wear: You'll be covering a lot of ground here ... make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Dallas also tends to be very sunny, so wear sunblock and/or a hat. If you're visiting between May and October, it's probably going to be hot. Like really hot! It gets cold here in winter though, and even snows occasionally. Your best bet is to check the weather forecast and plan appropriately, since the weather changes day to day.
Other Things to Do in Downtown Dallas
There are many things to do in downtown Dallas that I didn't cover here. Here are some other places worth visiting on your Dallas vacation:
- State Fair of Texas - If you're in Dallas in October, then a visit to the fair is a must. Check out my Texas State Fair guide before your trip for tons of tips!
- Dallas World Aquarium - Located in the West End, this warehouse turned aquarium is popular with families.
- Perot Museum - This nature and science museum (located near Klyde Warren Park) is packed with interactive exhibits that all ages will love.
- Reunion Tower Geo Deck - Want a truly mind-blowing view of Dallas? Head up to "The Ball" for expansive skyline views of downtown and beyond.
- Parks - Downtown Dallas is full of parks. Two favorites are Main Street Gardens (find a small playground, dog park, regular schedule of events, and great city skyline views) and Belo Garden (great spot to sit and relax just off Main street with a fountain and small hill kids love rolling down).
- Dallas Farmers Market - A visit to the Farmers Market is a must. The Market is filled with restaurants and shops and is open daily. The Shed is home to a traditional farmer's market and is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. This is a great place to eat if you're trying to please a lot of people ... they've got everything from Mexican to Indian to macarons! My fave spots are Nammi and Taqueria La Ventana, but it's hard to go wrong, because everything is super tasty.
- Majestic Theatre - Catch a show at this historic performing arts center.
- Dallas Holocaust Museum - This newly-expanded museum is sure to make a huge impact on you. It's located in the West End, near the 6th Floor Museum.
- Beyond Dallas - Don't let your exploration of Texas stop in Dallas ... there's so much to see in this huge state! I've got some great guides, like the best Things to do in Amarillo and an El Paso to Phoenix Road Trip that are sure to spark your wanderlust.
Did you fall in love with Dallas on your walk? If you want to see what it's like living in Dallas, don't miss my Dallas Loft Apartment Tour!
Have you been to downtown Dallas? What was your favorite spot?