Have you heard? We just released our first travel series, “Go, Be You,” with Alaska Airlines! So we’re spending the next eight weeks highlighting every city we toured across the West Coast. This travel series is about more than the destination itself; we’re taking a look at why certain cities have the power to unlock the best versions of ourselves. As you get to planning your next trip, we hope you enjoy the suggestions that follow.
And don’t miss the Dallas episode at the end of this post!
Welcome to Dallas! You’ve arrived in a city full of hospitality, generosity of spirit, beautiful art and delicious food, and I can’t wait for you to explore everything that Dallas has to offer.
I moved to Dallas from Los Angeles nearly nine years ago. I came here for a job and I didn’t know anyone in the area prior to the relocation. But what I learned right away is that this city is full of the kindest, most hospitable people who welcome new residents and travelers alike with open arms. People were quick to set up coffee dates and invitations to meet for tacos, and soon I realized I had built a community of best friends (which then led to the introduction of my husband!). Though I’m originally from Chicago (and I’ll always feel like I hail from the Windy City), Dallas has truly become home. I’m so proud of this city, and I know you’ll love being here.
I’ve created the perfect day for you, one that includes a sampling of all sorts of things I love about our city. Let’s go:
Your adventure begins by checking in to a favorite Dallas hotel, The Joule. This gorgeous, art-centric space was completely gutted and redesigned in 2008. Originally built in 1927, the structure served as the Dallas National Bank Building and was revered for its neo-Gothic design. In part thanks to a renovation and expansion in 2014, ownership has spent well in excess of $150 million to reinstate the hotel to its architectural former glory, updating the interior, too, by adding a state-of-the-art spa, two boutiques, a fitness studio, a library, two bars, a coffee shop (more on that in a minute) and two delicious restaurants.
Art remains the focal point at the hotel, and in addition to paintings and sculptures you’ll find around the premises, beautiful mosaics adorn the walls (these special artifacts were salvaged from a neighboring building while it was being renovated, and they were preserved by The Joule’s owners).
After checking in to your room (and receiving a complimentary flute of bubbly rosé), pop into Weekend Coffee to fuel up for your Dallas adventures. The small, minimally-decorated-yet-fresh space serves up some of the best caffeine in the city (with pastries and breakfast tacos to boot—but hold that thought on the tacos). A sleeper favorite is the iced chai latte, which is equal parts sweet and spicy.
Lace up your walking shoes and begin the stroll through downtown Dallas, admiring churches and art (like the famous eyeball installation across the street from The Joule) along the way. Coffee in hand, notice the emphasis Dallas has placed on art, as if the city is welcoming you into its own personal collection; after all, the city is home to the largest arts district in the country.
Pass through Klyde Warren Park on your way to Taqueria La Ventana for an early lunch (you’ve earned it with all of that walking!). Taqueria La Ventana is a modest but adorably decorated outdoor space that serves delicious (and cheap!) street tacos and some of the very best frozen margaritas in town (for just $4 a pop). Located across the street from the Perot Museum of History and Science, the taco shop boasts great views of the city’s architecture. If you have room for dessert, don’t miss the warm churros stuffed with caramel.
Now it’s time to dive into the aforementioned city art scene. The Dallas Contemporary is one of the newest art spaces in town, and it’s completely free to visitors. In terms of art museums, it’s on the small side, but what it lacks in physical space it makes up for in the variety and diversity of exhibits it hosts. Exhibits vary from season to season, but an example of one of the most recent displays is Greek dress designer Mary Katrantzou’s collection of amazing garments, all arranged by color and placed atop candy and gem-colored pedestals.
When you’re finished browsing the Dallas Contemporary, return to The Joule for a nap, a treatment at the spa, or a dip in their state-of-the-art cantilevered swimming pool before you head out for your reservation at Sassetta (though it’s not a pretentious spot, it’s popular, so you’ll need to book your table in advance).
This Italian restaurant opened in Dallas’s Design District in 2017 and offers, in equal measure, exquisite food and hospitality. It’s the perfect, cozy place for families and foodies alike. The food is reminiscent of traditional Italian home cooking—think rich passato (a chickpea-based soup), salads with peppery arugula, thin-crust pizzas with bubbling tomatoes and mozzarella—and the wine list is extensive. The servers are delightful, helpful, gracious, and kind; when my husband and I took our one-year-old daughter here for dinner, the waiters not only made great food and wine pairing recommendations but also entertained our baby, telling us that they thought the restaurant felt so much more like home with little ones around.
After a good night’s rest, venture over to City Surf Fitness for a great morning workout. While Dallas is admittedly landlocked, with only manmade lakes in the surrounding areas, City Surf offers participants the opportunity to feel like they’re out on the ocean for an hour. Using Surfset boards and an inspired set of techniques (no class is ever the same), City Surfers get an amazing, heart-pumping workout without the pounding or stress on their joints that can come from other high-impact exercise options. You’ll feel strong and rejuvenated after your class is complete (and ready for more tacos).
Once you’ve gotten your exercise in for the day, make your way over to the highly acclaimed Bishop Arts District, a nook in Dallas that’s filled with restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, and great specialty stores like Dirt Flowers. Dirt is a tiny shop on the main strip that boasts some of the most gorgeous floral arrangements in town. Their collection of cool vessels and vases is large, and it’s a great spot to browse and gain inspiration for gifting or decorating. If you’re in town during one of Dirt’s fun classes, sign up to learn how to create the perfect floral arrangement.
Just around the corner you’ll find All Good Things, a shop that’s so sweetly curated. It offers perfect gifts (for yourself and others), including jewelry, home goods, baby items, and stationery. The shop is decorated beautifully, too, giving you plenty of inspiration for your own home while you shop.
Last on the Bishop Arts list is Wild Detectives, a bookstore + bar (what could be better?). Settle in with a cappuccino (all coffee is sourced locally from Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters) or a cocktail and browse the shelves, treating yourself to an interesting book (or four). You might luck out and be in town during one of the Wild Detectives’ literary/cultural events, an aspect of the shop that has helped earn the space the award for D Magazine’s best bookstore in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
For your final night in Dallas, head back to the Design District for a fun cooking class at The Cookery. This new-to-Dallas spot has earned lots of buzz for all of the fun, interactive cooking classes offered onsite. As a nod to Dallas’s sense of hospitality, groups gather to mingle, make a meal together, and gather around the table to break bread.
Class offerings range from sushi making and cocktail-creating to Spanish-themed dinners and Thai-inspired meals, giving diners the chance to explore a variety of cuisines and cooking techniques. Diners indulge in a three-course meal that they’ve prepared, accompanied by beverage pairings.
After one last night at the Joule, it’s time to head home. I hope that Dallas has served as a place where you can rest, relax, dine, shop, and explore, and, above all, I especially hope that you’ll remember Dallas as a city that’s provided you with endless inspiration and hospitality. I have loved hosting you in this beloved city of mine, and I can’t wait to see you in Dallas again soon—we have so much more to explore and so many more tacos to eat!
This post was sponsored by Darling’s airline partner, Alaska Airlines. All thoughts and reviews remain Darling’s own.
Watch “Go, Be You” Episode 5 – Dallas
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