With a population of more than one million, Dallas, nicknamed "Big D" by the locals, is one of the largest cities in America. Having started out as a prairie trading post, the city has become a massive contributor to commerce across various industries such as finance, technology, and telecommunications which comprise the Dallas Cowboys, black gold, and the renowned Neiman Marcus department store.
Dallas is proud of, and some say downright stuffy about, its sophistication and its old wealth. For all that, Texans know how to laugh at themselves and how to have fun — especially in the Deep Ellum with its superb restaurants, galleries, shops, and clubs.
But it’s not all about the money. Visitors coming off a flight to Dallas are greeted with Texas hospitality and plenty of activities — museums, amusement parks, gardens, and historic sites. Dallas is also a sports town and is one of the few US cities that supports teams in six professional sports. Avid golfers who book flights to Dallas can play like local pros Byron Nelson and Lee Trevino in one of many golf courses around the city.
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Spring is the storm season, and thunderstorms are typical. Summer brings a hot and dry wind with average highs in the 30s (Celsius), and temperatures more than 37 are not unusual. The winter can get quite cold, even icy, with average lows around zero and generally just about seven cm (three inches) of snow.
When to fly to Dallas
The peak seasons for flights to Dallas are October and April/May. Autumn is the ideal time to visit, which is when the Texas State Fair is held.
Prefer adventure to tourist attractions? Dallas is located at the southern edge of Tornado Valley and as such is a base city for storm-chasing expeditions and tours in the spring. Most visitors prefer to avoid the heat of the summer from June through September.
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Getting around Dallas
The main Dallas sights are easy to get to on foot. You can join any of a number of walking tours. Dallas’ public transportation system, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit, also called DART, runs buses and light-rail that connects the downtown Dallas Convention Center with the West End and other sightseeing spots. At the downtown Dallas Museum of Art, you can hop on the M-Line Trolley, also called the McKinney Trolley, to get to the historic McKinney Avenue area. It’s still a good idea to rent a car in Dallas. It’s a very big city, and you’ll be glad you have the option should you decide to spend time outside the city. There’s little free parking to be found downtown, and most hotels charge for parking. You will also have to battle rush hour traffic. The highway numbers are easy to find on a map, but many locals refer to them by name, like the Airport Freeway or Central Expressway. If you’re going to Deep Ellum at night, take a taxi.
Dallas insider information
- The "Walking Sculpture" brochure (available at the visitors centre) details 33 outdoor public sculptures in the downtown area with works by Richard Serra, Ellsworth Kelly, Mark di Suvero, and Henry Moore. On the first Saturday of each month, a guided walking tour is offered.
- Fair Park is a 277-acre venue containing one of the largest complexes of year-round cultural, entertainment, exhibit, and sports facilities in the Southwest. Fair Park is a National Historic Landmark and has a collection of eight museums and art deco architecture. Fair Park also hosts the annual State Fair of Texas.
- The city was devastated by the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The Sixth Floor Museum, in the Texas Schoolbook Depository, houses exhibits that examine the life, times, death, and legacy of President Kennedy within the context of American history. Historic films, photographs, artifacts, and interpretive displays document the events of the assassination, the findings of the official investigations, and the resulting historical legacy.
- Remember “who shot JR” and the infamous shower scene? Southfork, the ranch on the Dallas TV series, welcomes tour visitors. You can visit the Ewing mansion and see the gun that shot J.R. and other show memorabilia.
- Many of the less expensive and least extravagant of Dallas’s 5000 restaurants are on Lower Greenville Avenue.
- To check out what’s happening in Dallas while you’re there, see the Weekend Guide in the Dallas Morning News or the Dallas Observer, a free weekly paper with arts, entertainment, and dining information.
- The biggest event is the annual Texas State Fair in October. The fair runs for several weeks. Its offerings include live music, large-gauge model trains, free-flight bird shows, auto shows, truck shows, backyard circus acts, stick-horse competitions, and, of course, animal and livestock exhibits.