Despite the stereotypes enforced by the hit TV show Dallas, the sprawling Texas city is not all oil barons, ranchers and socialites with big hair. The continuously growing metropolis is home to six professional sports teams, features some incredible restaurants and boasts amazing art and music scenes. A quick two days in Dallas will barely scratch the city’s surface, but it will definitely leave you wanting more.
Begin by checking into The Joule, downtown’s sleek and contemporary boutique hotel. Set in a renovated neo-Gothic landmark building, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star, 160-room property is a mecca for art lovers. In addition to museum-quality pieces from the likes of Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Phillips, the lobby features several large Venetian mosaics salvaged from demolition in 2012 and reincorporated into the property’s Adam Tihany design.
While there is more than enough to see in the hotel’s lavish, marble-paved lobby, you can also request an art tour of the property to see some of the prized pieces in the collection.
A stroll across the street to visit Tony Tasset’s 30-foot tall Eye is also essential. The massive sculpture plays host to many different events throughout the year, including the Eye Ball, an annual celebration of the Dallas Art Fair.
For lunch, head to one of The Joule’s thoroughly laidback (but nonetheless extraordinary) restaurants. Americano features pizza, salads and home-style Italian dishes in a chic, Instagram-worthy setting that has an open-air, all-weather sidewalk patio.
CBD Provisions, the hotel’s American brasserie, serves both lunch and dinner, but it does so with a focus on classic dishes like pimento cheese toast, housemade pastrami, roasted chicken and wagyu steak cuts with à la carte sauces and toppings.
Just a short walk from the hotel is the Dallas Museum of Art, one of the largest galleries in the United States with a collection of more than 24,000 works from around the globe.
The adjacent Nasher Sculpture Center, another must-see for art lovers, features both indoor and outdoor works, including pieces by artists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Auguste Rodin.
When you need a break from those museum lights, head just across the street from both galleries for some sunshine at Klyde Warren Park, a community green space always bustling with activity, from picnics and petanque (French bocce ball) to live music and croquet.
Be sure to factor in plenty of time to relax back at The Joule, where all accommodations offer Sferra linens, spacious rainfall showers and luxe robes you won’t want to slip off. Take your stay to the next level in one of the property’s four unique penthouses, with features like 360-degree city views, pool tables and glass stairs. And be sure to pack a swimsuit to enjoy the modern hotel’s glass-fronted rooftop pool, which cantilevers eight feet beyond the building to create the sensation of swimming over the edge.
For dinner, make a reservation at The French Room, the stunning restaurant inside newly renovated The Adolphus, Autograph Collection, just a two-minute drive from The Joule. Soak in the spectacular gilded dining room with its Murano glass chandeliers, gold detailing and marble floors, while the city’s top servers present dishes like foie gras torchon and duck bigarade expertly crafted by chef Michael Elhert. High rollers will delight in the $75 tableside martini, which arrives with accoutrements such as caviar, sea beans and lemon pearls, while those who prefer less indulgent tipples can slip away to the attached bar and parlor that offer plenty of candlelit velveteen couches for a private after-dinner retreat.
To keep the party going, make a beeline for Deep Ellum, the entertainment district just east of downtown. Catch a show at The Bomb Factory, a venue that welcomes musical talent from all over the globe, or stop into Shoals Sound & Service for a classic cocktail and to see who’s behind the turntable.
If next-level drinks are your thing, head to Hide, a cocktail lab where bartenders prepare their ingredients in house using roto-vaporizers and centrifuges, or Trick Pony, the bar within Harlowe MXM taking guests around the world in 80 country-themed drinks.
Back at The Joule, Midnight Rambler is also concocting some of the best drinks in town using unexpected ingredients like Douglas fir eau de vie and brown butter bourbon. There’s usually a DJ filling the subterranean retro space with funk, soul or garage rock, making this a top spot to close out the night.
Follow up a late night on the town with a morning appointment at The Joule’s spa, which offers treatments like the Fire & Ice Stone Massage, using cool jade crystals and warm volcanic stones to relieve and rejuvenate. Afterward, relax in the heated vitality pool or cycle through the state-of-the-art sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy stations, which have crystals and infrared light technology.
Head downstairs for a latte and housemade pastry from Weekend Coffee, best enjoyed while admiring the well-curated items in the adjacent Tenoversix shop or browsing Sumo art books in the Taschen Library.
Wordsmiths will also want to check out The Wild Detectives, a charming bookstore and coffee shop in the hip Bishop Arts District. While you’re here, stroll Bishop Avenue and pick up provisions at independently owned shops like DLM Supply (men’s clothing) and Opportunity Market (handmade gifts).
After shopping, enjoy a leisurely brunch at Hattie’s, where you’ll find seasonal Lowcountry dishes like blue crab Benedict, cornmeal griddlecakes and pecan-crusted catfish.
If you find yourself in Dallas between April and September, there’s a good chance you could catch a Texas Rangers baseball game at Globe Life Park in Arlington, which sits just more than 20 miles west of Dallas. Or if football is more your speed, see if you can snag tickets to a Cowboys game at nearby AT&T Stadium.
In the off-season, head to Frisco to tour The Star, the NFL team’s 91-acre campus that is home to the state-of-the-art Ford Center training facility. Afterward, stroll the surrounding entertainment district, where you can shop for top-notch fan gear, Lucchese boots and vintage jeans.
While in Frisco, stay for dinner at Zaytinya, celebrity chef José Andrés’ Texas debut restaurant that just opened on the Cowboys’ campus. This outpost of the D.C. favorite offers a Lebanese-, Turkish- and Greek-inspired modern mezze menu served family style.
If you have any room after noshing on lamb kebabs, sample the innovative ice cream creations at Cow Tipping Creamery — try the CTC Banana Split for a luscious parfait of soft serve, caramelized bananas, brown sugar hot fudge, rummy caramel sauce and honey-dusted pecans.
If you’d rather head back into town for dinner, opt for Ferris Wheeler’s, a recently opened barbecue joint featuring a spacious patio with bar games, like giant Jenga and cornhole. After indulging in a tray of Texas brisket (cooked low and slow) and housemade hot links, hop on the onsite Ferris wheel (yes, it’s more than just a cute name) and take in a bird’s-eye view of the Design District.
Once the site of industrial warehouses, the neighborhood is now home to galleries, boutiques and fine dining. The area has also morphed into even more of a grown-up playground with spots like Ferris Wheeler’s and Bowlounge, a bar with vintage-style bowling.
That’s just how Dallas rolls these days.