Dallas has been breaking records when it comes to how rapidly its tourism sector is growing, with more and more people choosing to visit the Big D each and every year. The city is home to numerous attractions, but some are definitely a little more special than others.
If you want to experience the true beauty and heart of Dallas, here are the eight places you need to visit:
White Rock Lake
Located just five miles from downtown Dallas, White Rock Lake is a reservoir that runs into the Trinity River.
The lake stretches out for 1,254 acres, and has become a popular recreational spot for residents of Dallas.
Not only does it offer up some gorgeous views, but there are also quite a few activities you can have a go at here, including:
Wondering what else there is to do around the lake?
Well, White Rock Lake sits within White Rock Lake Park, which also stretches out for over a thousand acres.
One hidden gem within the park is the White Rock Municipal Fish Hatchery…
Located not too far from the Spillway, this hatchery is no longer operational, and is sat within a dense patch of woodland in a corner of White Rock Lake Park. If you are an avid bird-watcher, or you simply appreciate native wildlife, this spot will astound you. Everything from coyotes and beavers to bobcats and gray foxes have been spotted here, along with numerous bird species.
The park boasts a beautiful trail, extending out for just over nine miles, with this path showcasing the best of your surroundings.
The trail will also take you past a couple of the park’s landmarks, including the Bath House Cultural Center and the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, the latter of which you will find out more about below.
The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden
Then you will feel right at home at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, which can be found on the south-east shore of White Rock Lake.
This is a truly impressive arboretum, with 66 acres of beautifully-manicured grounds just waiting to be explored.
The expansive grounds are split into 19 smaller gardens, all of which are distinct in their own way.
Don’t have time to explore all 19 gardens?
These are the gardens to place on your must-see list:
- A Tasteful Place – this 3.5 acre garden focuses on sustainable, fresh food. It comes complete with a kitchen, which cooks up the garden’s delicious produce for free tastings three times a day
- The Martha Brooks Camellia Garden – with more than 30 different camellia varieties, and over 200 plants in total, this pretty garden is truly exquisite
- Margaret Elizabeth Jonsson Color Garden – stretching out for 6.5 acres, this garden is ideal for those who enjoy color. The large flowerbeds here are filled with seasonal plants, meaning that this garden is in-bloom pretty much year-round
- A Woman’s Garden – this garden is so incredibly scenic, with its calming infinity pool, floral fountains and beautiful vistas
- Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Garden – this two acre garden is home to more than 80 Japanese Maple varieties, all of which have been planted alongside a stream
Already been to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden before?
The main displays here rotate four times a year, meaning that you will have plenty of new sights to take in with each changing season.
The Chapel of Thanksgiving
Thanks-Giving Square can be found in downtown Dallas, with this portion of the city being home to a beautifully-landscaped garden, a chapel, and a large part of the city’s underground pedestrian system.
While each of these areas is beautiful in its own right, it is the Chapel of Thanksgiving that really stands out.
Because this non-denominational chapel takes its inspiration from various religions and religious structures around the world. For example, the main design of the church comes from Samarra’s Great Mosque, while the famous Glory Window will make you feel as though you are in an ancient European church.
The Glory Window really is the pièce de résistance of the chapel…
It consists of 73 panels of faceted stained glass, each one arranged into a large spiral that reaches its apex right at the center of the chapel’s ceiling. It is one of the largest stained glass pieces in the world that has been horizontally mounted, and it really is worth seeing.
Once you have checked out the Glory Window, make your way over to the Grove. This is the garden that was mentioned above, with this space being designed with meditation and reflection in mind. This is also where you will find the Wall of Presidents, which is a unique display that was donated by President Bush in 1991, celebrating the thanks-giving words spoken by American presidents throughout the years.
The Reunion Tower Geo-Deck
Standing at 561 feet tall, Reunion Tower is not only one of the tallest buildings in Dallas, but it is also one of the city’s most famous landmarks.
It is the dome at the top of the tower that has helped Reunion Tower to really stand out, with this dome being home to the GeO-Deck.
Wondering what the GeO-Deck is?
It’s an observation deck that showcases panoramic views of the city, with its dome shape enabling you to enjoy 360 degree views. What makes the experience even better is the fact that the deck comes complete with telescopes and high-definition zoom cameras, meaning that you can really hone in on the parts of Dallas that you find most beautiful.
Whether you plan your visit for day or night, the views are stunning, and the free digital photo that you receive when you visit is an added bonus!
The Nasher Sculpture Center
Are you a fan of contemporary art?
If so, you will absolutely love the Nasher Sculpture Center, which is sat right next to the Dallas Museum of Art.
What makes this place so beautiful?
The fact that it contains one of the most exemplary collections of modern sculpture in the world – the Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection. This collection features over 300 pieces from some of the world’s greatest artists, including:
- Henry Moore
The sculptures are placed strategically across the center’s 2.4 acres of garden grounds, with the displays regularly being rotated. The center is also home to a 55,000 square foot building, which holds the center’s indoor displays.
As enjoyable as the indoor exhibits may be, it is the outdoor portion of this museum that really stands out. It offers up such a unique viewing experience, enabling you to enjoy some of the most beautiful art in the world in a wonderfully unique setting.
Wondering what else there is to do around the Nasher Sculpture Center?
Well, as mentioned above, the center sits next to the Dallas Museum of Art, which is also well worth a visit. Both museums are located in the Dallas Art District, which is such a beautiful location in itself.
This 68 acre section of the city is where you will find some of the most important cultural landmarks in Dallas, and you could easily while away the entire day here. Spend a few hours at the Crow Museum of Asian Art, before heading to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Then, catch a show at one of the performing arts venues here, before enjoying a meal at one of the district’s many cafes and restaurants.
The Dallas Heritage Village
Want to know more about Dallas’ history and past?
The Dallas Heritage Village will teach you about all of this and more, giving you the opportunity to take a step back in time.
What exactly is the Dallas Heritage Village?
It is a 20 acre village that is home to one of the best collections of Victorian homes and buildings from the 19th century in Texas.
The buildings that you will see within the village have come from all over the state, being moved here to create this historic setting. First-person interpretors are also present around the grounds, speaking and acting in the way that a person from the early 19th century would have done.
As you can guess, the aim of the Dallas Heritage Village is to educate people on Dallas’ history, and there are a variety of exhibits and educational programs here that help to do so.
Ever watched Dallas on TV?
The popular television show ran for 13 seasons, ending in 1991, but not before spawning a successful spin-off. Later on, two reunion movies were created, showing just how loved this show was.
Well, if you are a Dallas fan, then you will probably be delighted to know that Southfork Ranch, the very same ranch that the show was based around, is open to visitors.
Yes, you can explore that iconic white mansion, those sprawling barns and that beautiful pool yourself!
Within the mansion, you will be able to see several pieces of memorabilia from the show, including the wedding dress that Lucy wore, the gun that injured J.R., and the famous Dallas family tree.
This really is such a beautiful part of Dallas, and the fact that visitors can fully immerse themselves in ranch life makes it all the more better.
You could choose to sign up for a tour, or you could book yourself in for an authentic Texan trail ride. These are available seven days a week throughout the year, weather permitting. If you have never ridden before, you could sign up for a horse riding lesson. These are also offered daily, but keep in mind that you would need to book yourself in at least 24 hours in advance.
Want to soak up some culture?
Head to Fair Park, which can be found just to the east of downtown Dallas.
Fair Park is officially recognized as a Dallas Landmark, as well as a National Historic Landmark, with its incredible beauty being one of the reasons for this.
What makes Fair Park so special?
The fact that it is the largest cultural center in the city, and was established way back in 1880. It is home to Art Deco buildings from the 1930’s, several exhibitions relating to Dallas’ culture and history, and a few other landmarks, such as:
- Texas Discovery Gardens – beautiful grounds to explore, along with a striking minimalist glass conservatory
- Several museums – there are five museums here, including the Museum of Nature and Science and the African American Museum
- The Old Mill Inn – a historic flour mill
- The Texas Skyway – an Art Deco-inspired gondola that carries people 65 feet in the air for a third of a mile
Of course, the main beauty of Fair Park comes from the Leonhardt Lagoon. This peaceful lagoon lies at the center of Fair Park, and provides a tranquil contrast to the hustle and bustle all around.
Wondering where Fair Park gets its name from?
Well, this is where the State Fair of Texas is held each year! This has been the location of the fair since way back in 1886. If you want to visit Dallas during this 24 day festival, make sure you plan your visit for between the last Friday in September and the third Sunday in October.
Don’t worry if you can’t visit during those dates, because Fair Park hosts several other events throughout the year. From Earth Day Texas in April to the North Texas Irish Festival in March to the Independence Day celebrations in July, there is pretty much always something going on in Fair Park.
Dallas is such a vibrantly beautiful place, no matter where in the city you go. However, if you want to ensure that you are really soaking up the true essence of Dallas, the eight spots on this list are definitely worth a visit.