Chances are you’ve touched down and taken off from the Dallas Fort Worth Airport once or twice in your lifetime. It is, after all, American Airlines’ largest US hub. But it’s high time you actually stayed a night or two in Dallas, instead of just exploring the airport. Beyond cowboy boots and bolo ties, it is Texas-style cosmopolitan, and though the state sprawls, downtown is digestible and full of life, making it a hub you don’t want to miss for a spirited weekend away.
Insider Tip: Weekends used to be quiet in downtown Dallas, but the new high-rise condos sprucing up the city skyline are changing that, making it a social stop seven days a week.
Perfect for a weekend home base in the Lone Star State, find the Fairmont Dallas right in the centre of town, close to restaurants, shopping, and sport venues. Though not the most glitzy hotel in town, this upscale AAA Four Diamond property combines comfort with a hint of Texan glam, offering fabulous value on weekends when its business clientele are at home. If the weather’s hot enough, make sure to visit the rooftop pool for city vistas and a cool dip. If you’re pining for a little more pampering, head to the Gold Floor (like a hotel within a hotel) with a private check-in, renovated rooms, and a full-service lounge.
Insider Tip: If you want free WiFi at the Fairmont, take three minutes and join their loyalty program. Free WiFi around the world. Boom.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s Cafe is not your typical lunch hotspot, but dining in the multi-storey atrium under massive art installations is something to write home about, as is the locally-focused menu. We were in food heaven eating Texan-style soft tacos and organic iceberg-wedge salad with grilled chicken. The Cafe offers full service 11 am – 2 pm Tuesday to Friday, and window service on the weekends. It is closed Mondays.
Showing up on the Dallas restaurant and social scene in late 2011, Private Social is Top Chef finalist Tiffany Derry’s creative muse for seasonal cuisine. Playing up the juxtaposition between private and social dining, the restaurant is divided into two parts: a chic dining room for intimate dinners, and a be-seen lounge for shared plates and social cocktails. Make a reservation for Friday or Saturday night, because this well-heeled hangout is closed Sundays.
A sport-obsessed city, four major league teams call Dallas home: football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. You can catch the Dallas Cowboys play in their state-of-the-art, 2009-built stadium (the largest domed stadium in the world—everything’s bigger in Texas! We had to.) Get up to browse one of 800+ concessions, or watch the hip-hop dancers groove in three dancing cages—oh and did we mention the cheerleaders?
A downtown hub for arts and culture, the 68-acre Dallas Arts District is a one-stop-shop for art and architecture buffs (bonus, it is right beside the Fairmont Dallas). Start with a feast for the eyes at the Nasher Sculpture Center, an indoor-outdoor celebration of mixed-media sculptures in a space small enough to take it all in, but big enough to keep you entertained. Architecture buffs will want to self-tour the area on foot with a camera to snap the design marvels all within a few city blocks.
Complete with vintage escalators, luxury goods, and a few high-end cowboy boots—it is Dallas after all—visit the original Neiman Marcus, established in 1907 to sell runway finds to oil-rich Texans.
Photo credit: Dallas skyline via Shutterstock; Fairmont Dallas courtesy of Fairmont Dallas; Private Social courtesy of Private Social; Nasher Sculpture Center courtesy of Trish Friesen