Everything is bigger in Texas but you do not have to shell out big bucks to have a good time in Dallas. If you imagined the heart of USA as long stretches of highway and roadside diners serving oversized hunks of meat, then Dallas may surprise you. This city is filled with beauty, culture, and comfort food at a reasonable cost. From free transit to experiencing history, here are ten things for the budget conscious.
1. Southern comfort food
Being down south, you will find some southern favorites like fried okra. Did you know Dallas is the host of the Okrapalooza cook off in September? If you cannot make it there for the festivities, you can still get crispy fried okra from restaurants like Ellen’s Southern Kitchen. They also serve up traditional breakfast like smooth creamy grits which is a great way to start your day.
Address: 7530 E Grand Ave Dallas, TX 75214
Contact: [email protected]
2. Texas BBQ at Pecan Lodge
Of course, if you are in Texas, you have to get barbecue. Situated in a vibrant neighborhood about a mile from downtown Dallas is Pecan Lodge. They offer flavorful smoked meat in an unpretentious cafeteria setting. If you feel like pigging out, one of the items on the menu is The Trough which has every kind of meat they serve. You can get fried okra here too.
Address: Deep Ellum 2702 Main Street Dallas, TX 75226
Price: from 8-17 USD
Opening Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11am-3pm, Friday and Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-3pm
Contact: +1 214 7488900 E-mail: [email protected]
Website: Pecan Lodge
3. Sample local drinks: frozen margarita and Dr Pepper
After your meal, be sure to grab the local drink: frozen margarita. The frozen margarita machine, which popularized the beverage, was invented by Mariano Martinez right here in Dallas. Although his restaurant is no longer around, it has left its footprint. You can find frozen margaritas at most bars in Dallas, sometimes in both the original yellow and blue curacao variety. If you cannot have alcohol for whatever reason, then grab a Dr Pepper. This bubbly concoction was invented by pharmacist Charles Alderton at a drug store in the nearby city of Waco.
Dr Pepper Museum
Address: 300 South 5th Street Waco, TX 76701
Price: Adults: 10 USD Senior Adults: 8 USD Students and children: 6 USD Military with ID: 8 USD 4 years and under: Free
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00 am - 5:30 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Contact: +1 254 7571025
Website: Dr Pepper Museum
4. Visit the JFK assassination spot and Memorial.
For more prominent history, take a walk down to the grassy knoll. This is the spot where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. You can wander the crime scene and wonder if there was a second shooter. Just north of the grassy knoll is the Book Depository Building where the shot was fire. This building now houses The Sixth Floor Museum to JFK. One block east is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza which holds the post modern monument dedicated to JFK. If you are a history buff, this area has plenty of it. In addition to all things dedicated to President Kennedy, there is the Old Red Museum sandwiched between the grassy knoll and the memorial. This is as much of a museum of Americana as it is a popular wedding venue due to its castle like architecture. The Dallas Holocaust Museum is also right around the corner from the Book Depository.
The Sixth Floor Museum
Address: 411 Elm Street, Dallas, TX
Price: 16 USD for adults, 14 USD for Seniors 65+, 13 USD for Youth 6-18, 4 USD for Child 5 and under with Audio Guide, Free for Child without Audio Guide. Visitor parking is 7 USD.
Opening Hours: Mon 12pm – 6pm, Tues-Sun 10am – 6pm.
Access: Take the D-Link Route 722
Contact: +1 214 7476660
Near by Food: Ellen’s Southern Kitchen
Website: The Sixth Floor Museum
5. Walk along the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
For a more leisure activity, walk across the Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the Ronald Kirk Bridge. This is no ordinary bridge, it is a recreation area. There is a playground for kids and lounge chairs for adults. Most importantly, it has misting fountains to cool you off under the Texas sun. The Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge runs parallel to the adjacent Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, which is a remarkable achievement in engineering with its landmark 40-story arch.
Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
Address: 109 Continental Ave Dallas, TX 75207
Opening Hours: Open Daily from 5 am - 11 pm
Duration: 12 minute walk to cross the bridge .
Contact: +1 214 6719500 E-mail: [email protected]
Near by Food: Food trucks.
Website: Continental Avenue Pedestrian Bridge
6. Hike along the Trinity River
Dallas is known for having one of the best skylines winning the Best International Skyline Award in 2014. As with any city, the best views are from outside of the city. Once across the Trinity River, you can hike along the aptly named Trinity Skyline Trail where you can capture that view from many different perspectives. Along the way you will find the Trinity Overlook Park with information on what is here and what is being planned for this long stretch of green space.
Address: 110 W. Commerce Street Dallas, TX 75208
Access: Access the Trinity Skyline Trail by walking down the ramp to the Dallas Floodway
Contact: +1 214 6719500
Website: Trinity Skyline Trail
7. Country cooking and Tex-Mex
There is more to the West Dallas side of the Trinity River than just the view, there is great food. If chicken is your thing then Chicken Scratch is what you are looking for. It is a down-to-earth barnyard style restaurant specializing in chicken and biscuits. For more class, check out the bar and restaurant at the Belmont Hotel. They dish out a variety of cuisines including Tex-Mex. You may be able to try something like cabrito or young goat meat.
Address: 901 Fort Worth Avenue, Dallas, Texas 75208
Price: Cocktails from 5.50 USD
Opening Hours: Sun – Thur 3pm – Midnight, Fri – Sat 3pm – 2am
Contact: +1 866 8708010
Website: Bar Belmont
8. Free M-Line trolley ride and D-Link 722 Bus
Downtown Dallas is pretty walkable, if it is not 100 degrees out. Unfortunately, it is almost always unbearably hot. Fortunately there is some free transit to help you get around town. There is the air-conditioned D-Link Route 722 bus that travels between the Convention Center to uptown. The McKinney Avenue Transit Authority provides a ride from downtown to West Village in their historic M-line Trolley.
D-Link (Route 722)
Opening Hours: Buses run every 15 minutes, 11 am - 11:30 pm, Monday-Saturday
Access: From the Convention Center, buses travel on Lamar, Wood, Houston, Ross, Field, Main, Harwood, Marilla, Cesar Chavez and Pearl, then loop over Flora and Olive to Cedar Springs and turn back over Pearl to basically the same route in reverse.
Contact: +1 214 9791111
Website: D-Link (Route 722)
Address: 2700 Cityplace West Blvd. Dallas, TX 75204
Opening Hours: Operates 365 days a year. Check website for exact schedule.
Access: Look for a round maroon sign with the words “M-Line Trolley” on it
Contact: +1 214 8550006
Website: M-Line Trolley
9. Reading and playing at Klyde Warren Park
One of the M-line stops is at Klyde Warren Park. This 5.2-acre (2.1 hectare) green space is a good place to relax with stands carrying board games and newspapers. Food trucks crowd the adjacent street in addition to a few restaurants inside the park itself. The park is situated in close proximity to theaters, concert halls, and museums so it is easy to spend a whole day there.
Klyde Warren Park
Address: 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas, TX 75201
Opening Hours: Open Daily from 6 am to 11 pm
Access: Between Uptown and Downtown Dallas over Woodall Rodgers Freeway, between Pearl Street and St. Paul.
Contact: +1 214 7164500 E-mail: [email protected]
Near by Food: Food trucks.
Website: Klyde Warren Park
10. A moment of tranquility at Thanks-Giving Chapel
Tucked away in the middle of the commercial center is Thanks-Giving Square, a small park with a humble chapel. What the Chapel lacks in height it makes up for in architectural style far exceeding the surrounding high rise buildings. Inside the chapel and under the spiraling stained glass windows is a calming presence that offers a break from this big city.
Address: 1627 Pacific Avenue Dallas, Texas 75201
Price: Free. Donations appreciated.
Opening Hours: Garden: 5:00 am to 11:00 pm every day. Chapel of Thanksgiving: Wed - Sun 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, Mon 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm, closed Tuesday.
Contact: +1 214 9691977
Website: Thanks-Giving Square
All big things!
While Dallas is big like all things in Texas, there are all sorts of little nooks and crannies to explore. This barely scratches the surface of all that is out there. You do not need a big budget to enjoy this city so hop on the trolley and get going.
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