The Ultimate Dallas / Fort Worth Travel Guide
If you are looking for a destination that perfectly marries Southern hospitality, modern luxury, and a hint of the Wild West, listen up! In my opinion, Dallas/Fort Worth is one of the hidden gems of Texas. Everyone flocks to Austin for the Austin City Limits music festival or to San Antonio for the riverwalk, but there is something about DFW that those other Texan cities just can’t compete with.
Perhaps the best part about a trip to Dallas/Fort Worth is that you are basically getting two completely different experiences in one! In uptown Dallas, you will find luxurious hotels and chic shopping centers with tons of high-end restaurants. In Fort Worth, you’ll find the historic stockyards, the rodeo, and some of the best steakhouses in the country! Best of all, these two opposite worlds are just 30 minutes apart.
Whether you are visiting Dallas/Fort Worth with your significant other for a romantic USA getaway, exploring Texas with the whole family, or creating life-long memories with your besties on a USA girls trip, these are all of the can’t-miss hotels, restaurants, bars, and activities in DFW!
How to Get to Dallas / Fort Worth
There are two airports in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex – DFW International Airport and Dallas Love Field. Dallas is a hub for both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, so if you are loyal to one or the other, you may find yourself flying into their home airport. Personally, I recommend flying in and out of DFW International Airport. Not only is this airport much larger (thus, offering more options in terms of airlines and flights), but it also hosts some of the country’s best airport lounges (a huge plus IMO!).
DFW is also more convenient if you are staying in Fort Worth vs. Dallas because it is conveniently located right smack dab in the middle of the two. Dallas Love Field, on the other hand, is just northwest of downtown Dallas and is a 35-40 minute drive from Fort Worth.
How to Get Around in Dallas/Fort Worth
Once you fly into either DFW Airport or Dallas Love Field, you have two choices: either grab yourself a rental car or get ready to spend just as much (if not more) on Ubers over the next several days. If you are going to visit DFW, you have to do it right, and that means traveling throughout the metroplex! Because of this, I highly recommend that you get a rental car (even if you are only staying for the weekend). Just be cautious – Dallas was rated the most dangerous city in the U.S. to drive in because of all of the intersecting highways and interstates!
Where to Stay in Dallas/Fort Worth
Choosing between Dallas and Fort Worth in terms of where to stay can be a difficult decision. It all depends on your personal style and what your itinerary looks like, but for the best experience in DFW, I recommend you split up your time and stay in both.
The Best Hotels in Dallas
Dallas is known for its luxurious high-rise hotels complete with award-winning restaurants and five-star spas. You can’t go wrong with any of these jaw-dropping options!
The Ritz-Carlton is known for elegance, class, and luxury. Located in the heart of the city near Victory Park, this posh hotel offers everything you could possibly need for your stay.
The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek is a bucket-list destination for tourists and locals alike. Many Dallas locals choose to staycation here, and when you walk into their impressive lobby or relax on their gorgeous patio, you will see why!
The Statler is a four-star hotel located in the Main Street District of Dallas (just steps from the Dallas Farmer’s Market!). Perhaps the best feature of this high-rise hotel is its rooftop pool – you can’t beat those views!
For those of you looking for an eclectic, boutique hotel experience, look no further than Hotel ZaZa in Uptown Dallas! Hotel ZaZa is the perfect mix of Mediterranean elegance and comfortable chic (they’re speaking my language, that’s for sure!!).
The Joule is one of the jewels of downtown Dallas (see what I did there?!). Seriously, though, this landmark hotel is quite impressive both in its architecture and its amenities!
Ahhhh, the Four Seasons… my home away from home no matter where I am! Four Seasons Dallas is located in the up-and-coming town of Las Colinas (which is right in between Dallas and Fort Worth). Although you may have to drive 20-30 minutes to get to some of the main downtown attractions, the distance from the hustle and bustle may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Another hotel/resort that is conveniently located between Dallas and Fort Worth is The Gaylord Texan Resort. If you are visiting during Christmastime, you absolutely must visit The Gaylord to see its phenomenal holiday displays! But no matter what time of year it is, this indoor garden oasis is sure to impress.
The Best Hotels in Fort Worth
If you had to pick just one place that you must stay in Fort Worth, let it be Hotel Drover!!! Hotel Drover is inspired by the Wild West but provides the kind of modern luxury that you would expect from any five-star hotel. It is located in the heart of the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards, providing an unforgettable experience for its visitors.
Kimpton Harper Hotel is a boutique hotel located in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square. Like all of the Kimpton hotels around the U.S., the Kimpton Harper Hotel is thoughtfully designed with perfectly curated furniture and local art.
Come for the cozy, inviting rooms and spacious suites, stay for the incredible rooftop bar with a view of downtown Fort Worth!
Where to Eat in Dallas/Fort Worth
Be prepared to eat a lot of incredible food in the DFW area! Not only can you get some of the best beef and barbecue in the country, but you also can’t miss the famous Tex-Mex!! They say that everything is bigger in Texas, and the food (and drinks!) absolutely live up to this.
The Best Restaurants in Dallas
The food scene in Dallas is nothing short of spectacular – here, you can expect sit-down restaurants with dress codes and fabulously curated, award-winning menus. It’s difficult to choose a list of favorites among the many great restaurants here, but these are the top places I would recommend going to.
You can’t visit Dallas without getting some solid Texas barbecue! Pecan Lodge is a local favorite in the artsy neighborhood of Deep Ellum. If you are in the mood for a cocktail or beer after filling up on some of the best BBQ you will ever have in your life, there are tons of local watering holes peppered along Main Street! Or you can simply walk through the neighborhood and admire the street art and music spilling out of the open-air beer gardens.
Hard Eight BBQ
Another great option for Texas barbecue is Hard Eight BBQ. Personally, I think Hard Eight BBQ has Pecan Lodge beat – not only is its smokey flavor absolutely delicious, but the experience of ordering and eating at Hard Eight is like nothing else you’ll see in Dallas! When you order your food, you will actually enter the pits where they smoke the meats right in front of you. You will then need to order “market style,” meaning you’ll request different meats by the pound (or half/quarter-pound). I highly recommend coming here with a group of people and sharing a smorgasbord if you can!
This sleek, Italian lounge not only has incredible pizza, pasta, and wine, but it also features some incredible seafood dishes!!
RH Rooftop Restaurant
Although RH Rooftop is great at any time of day, I highly recommend that you check them out for brunch or lunch. The reservations are a bit easier to get, plus, you’ll be able to snap some very Instagrammable shots in the daytime!
Billy Can Can
Picture an old-school Texas saloon where the small town elites gather for a nice steak dinner and bourbon on the rocks. Chances are, what you are picturing is exactly what Billy Can Can looks like! This restaurant has the eclectic touch of the Wild West while still maintaining a very elegant feel.
If you are looking for an unforgettable meal at an unforgettable restaurant with an unforgettable view, grab reservations at The Monarch!! This is definitely more of a splurge/special occasion type of place, but it is soooo worth it. I highly recommend trying a cocktail or two, and don’t pass up their oysters!
Old Hickory Steakhouse
A perk you get when staying at The Gaylord Texan Resort is that you will have one of Dallas’s best steakhouses within seconds of your hotel room! Old Hickory Steakhouse is perhaps the most underrated and undiscovered steakhouse in Dallas. It has everything that all of the downtown Dallas chophouses have (and more, if we’re being honest), without the crowds and difficulty getting reservations. They have an incredible wine list, and their octopus appetizer is to die for! I also highly recommend their lobster bisque (which is poured from a silver kettle right in front of you), and if you are feeling up to the challenge, their Rosewood Wagyu Porterhouse is absolutely unbelievable.
The original Carbone restaurant is located in Soho in New York City, but just this year, the Dallas location opened to the public! You’ll never enjoy an Italian-American dish more in your life than the one you have at Carbone. It’s like you’re being transported straight to the Amalfi Coast!
Where are all of my sushi lovers?! Uchi is a high-end, swanky sushi restaurant offering both raw and cooked seafood.
The Best Restaurants in Fort Worth
Fort Worth, in contrast to Dallas, is definitely less posh. However, the food is just as good on the other side of the metroplex!
Joe T. Garcia’s
If you go to just one restaurant in all of Fort Worth, go to Joe T. Garcia’s!!! Joe T.’s is a staple of the DFW community. I have a friend who lives north of Dallas, and she and her husband drive 45 minutes to Fort Worth on the regular just to eat here! Eating at Joe T. Garcia’s, much like Hard Eight, is an entire experience, so let me break it down for you…
First and foremost, unless you go during lunchtime, you will absolutely be waiting in line to get in. They do everything on a first-come, first-serve basis, but the line moves suuuuper quickly, plus, they allow you to grab glasses (or pitchers!) of margaritas at the bar and take them back in line with you. Genius, right?! I highly recommend their skinny margs – they are amazing (and also quite strong, so be careful!).
Once a host or hostess grabs you, you will be taken into an outdoor garden oasis that will genuinely have you questioning whether you bumped your head and forgot that you were actually in Mexico. There is truly nothing like the experience of walking into Joe T.’s for the first time, so take it all in! After you are seated, there is no need for a menu – they only have two options: fajitas or enchiladas. Skip the enchiladas and get the fajitas (they are big enough to share!), and when the bill comes, be prepared because this place is cash only!!
While you’re in the Stockyards, grab a steak at Cattleman’s Steakhouse along the main drag. You can’t miss this place – it has flashing lights and a giant bull right out front!!
If you aren’t feeling Mexican or a steakhouse, head to Reata for Southwestern cuisine. Once you finish your meal, grab a cocktail and head up to their rooftop for some great views of downtown Fort Worth and Sundance Square!
Where to Go Out in Dallas/Fort Worth
Both Dallas and Fort Worth have a great nightlife. If you are looking for a high-end club scene, Dallas is your go-to. If you want to experience a Texas dive bar, Fort Worth is where your party is at!
The Best Bars in Dallas
Just in case the number of bars and neighborhoods in Dallas stresses you out, here is a quick rundown: Uptown is where you will find swanky bars and clubs with bottle service. Knox-Henderson is quickly becoming the new Uptown (along with Lower Greenville), but you can still find a few dive bars/chill options here. Deep Ellum is artsier (think beer gardens and hookah bars), and the Historic Downtown area has a solid mix of pubs/taverns and luxurious hotel bars.
The Tipsy Alchemist
The Tipsy Alchemist is a cocktail lounge in Uptown Dallas that is a can’t miss if you love craft cocktails made right in front of you! Their menu is incredible – you will definitely find some of the most unique, interesting drinks here!
Happiest Hour is a great place to start your night out in Dallas. Not only do they have a great food menu if you are trying to prep for the amount of alcohol you are about to consume, but they also have a chill rooftop with city views and a great DJ!
This three-story rooftop patio bar has a Mediterranean vibe complete with white-washed walls, cool-toned neon signs, and cabanas to boot. If you want a throwback to spring break in Ibiza, head here!
Another chill place to start the night (or to stay if you are just wanting to hang out and chat with friends) is Katy Trail Ice House. Located right off of the Katy Trail (a walking/running path in Uptown), Katy Trail Ice House is a roomy beer garden complete with brews on tap and a yummy cocktail menu.
Louie Louie’s Dueling Piano Bar
You’ll start the night with a drink and two dueling pianos, but you’ll end it with 100 new friends and abs from laughing so hard and singing so loudly!
Harwood Arms, conveniently located in the Harwood District, is a British-style pub that is just as gorgeous on the outside as it is on the inside! If you ask me, the European-style architecture of the building is Instagrammable in and of itself. But pair a photo outside with a snapshot of your drink in front of the fireplace, and you have yourself a winning combo!
Truck Yard Dallas
Similar to Katy Trail Ice House is Truck Yard Dallas. But instead of patio furniture and a view of the Katy Trail, at Truck Yard, you’ll find truckbeds as seats and decor that looks like you’re in, well, a truck yard!
The Best Bars in Fort Worth
In Fort Worth, you can expect more of a true “Texan” vibe. If you still want to experience a club scene similar to Dallas, there are quite a few options along 7th Street. But if I were you, I’d head for the Stockyards with your cutest boots and cowboy hat in hand!
Second Rodeo Brewing is owned by Truck Yard, so they have a similar feel in terms of the open-air/beer garden concept. However, Second Rodeo offers an onsite brewery/beer tasting experience, plus, they have several options for indoor/partially-indoor seating if it’s too hot or too cold outside.
The Basement Bar
So, you want to experience a Texas dive bar? Head down the steps of The Basement Bar in the Stockyards and discover your new favorite hole-in-the-wall bar! The Basement Bar, AKA the world’s smallest honky tonk, has no cover charge, and the drinks are twice as cheap as anything you will find in Dallas. To make things even better, there is a dance floor complete with a disco ball, and there are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of dollar bills covering the ceiling, walls, poles, and bar! Be sure to sign one and stick it on an open spot (if you can find one) before you go.
White Elephant Saloon
The Stockyards has several historic saloons, but White Elephant Saloon is perhaps the best of them all. I would highly recommend grabbing a beer or two here, and while you’re at it, pop into a few other saloons in the Stockyards (some of my favorites are Thirsty Armadillo, The Longhorn Saloon, and Neon Moon Saloon.
What to Do in Dallas/Fort Worth
Like many places, there are far too many things to do in Dallas and Fort Worth than any person could fit into one trip. But out of all of the possibilities, here are the things in DFW that I most recommend doing while you’re there!
The Best Things to Do in Dallas
Dallas is where you will find more of the “posh” activities such as luxury shopping, the farmer’s market, and brunch.
Did I mention brunch?! Brunch is basically a religion in Dallas, Texas (and since Dallas is in the Bible Belt, you know they take their religion seriously!). There are literally hundreds of different brunches around the city, but some of the best are as follows:
- Chelsea Corner. Sit in the back garden and order a bottle of champagne for your mimosas (oh, and order the breakfast tacos. They are to die for!).
- XOXO Dining Room. If you are on a girls’ trip, XOXO Dining Room is a must!! This place is ALL PINK and girly, so it makes for the perfect Insta backdrop! Just make sure that you make reservations well in advance.
- Paradiso. Another local favorite is Paradiso, which is located in the up-and-coming area of Bishop Arts. After some yummy food and a cocktail or two, check out the boutiques in the area! I highly recommend stopping at Caffeinated Beauty Bar on Bishop Avenue.
- Whistle Britches. For those of you looking for the authentic Southern chicken and waffles experience, Whistle Britches is your spot!!
- Hudson House. I love Hudson House both for dinner (be sure to get their oysters!!) and for brunch. It’s always a good time here! And if you are visiting during Christmas, go to the location on Lovers Lane to marvel at their beautiful holiday decor.
- The Henry. The Henry is a classic! Its black and white awnings welcome you into a trendy restaurant that feels both vintage and modern, all at the same time.
Dallas Museum of Art
The Dallas Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the U.S.! They are open Tuesday through Sunday, and admission is free for visitors. It’s a great place to escape the Texas heat or the infamous Dallas rainstorms (more like monsoons!).
Shop at NorthPark or Highland Park Village
The absolute best luxury shopping in Dallas can be found at NorthPark. NorthPark has Louis Vuitton, Gucci, YSL, David Yurman, and every other luxury store you can think of! If you’re looking for more of a boutique/outdoor shopping experience that also offers some of these luxury stores, head to Highland Park Village (and don’t forget to stop at Bird Bakery for a coffee and sweet treat!).
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
History buffs and conspiracy theorists – this one’s for you! In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas while riding in his presidential motorcade. This was a traumatic and life-changing day both for Dallas citizens and for the entire country, and if you have never studied everything that happened that day (and what happened before and after), this is your chance! The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is a great place to learn all about this piece of American history, but I recommend you add on a tour as well (this one is amazing!!!).
Winery Hopping in Grapevine
Fredericksburg, Texas is said to be the Sonoma of the South. But instead of driving five hours from Dallas to visit hill country, drive 20 minutes over to Grapevine! All along Main Street, you will find great wineries such as Messina Hof, Sloan & Williams, and Landon Winery. Spend an afternoon winery hopping, and then pop into the local shops in town before heading to dinner at Mac’s on Main or Dino’s Steak and Claw House!
Dallas Farmer’s Market
The Dallas Farmer’s Market is a whole lot more than locally grown vegetables and a few lonely vendors. The DFM is an entire experience – so much so that it has its own dedicated space and is open year-round! There is even a bar that serves beer, wine, mimosas, Bloody Marys, and more that you can take throughout the market with you.
Catch a Sporting Event
Dallas hosts the Mavericks (NBA), the Rangers (MLB), the Stars (NHL), and “America’s Team,” the Cowboys (NFL). Whether or not you’re a fan of one of these teams, catching a game while you’re in the city is a blast and a half.
Perhaps the most notable piece of architecture in the Dallas skyline is the Reunion Tower. This observation deck soars over 500 feet high and rotates to give you a truly 360-degree view of the city!
Day Trip to Magnolia
Just under two hours away from Dallas is Waco, Texas. Unless you live under a rock, you have probably heard of Chip and Joanna Gaines from the hit HGTV series “Fixer Upper!” If you’re down for a day trip, head to Waco to visit the Magnolia Silos (and don’t forget to grab a cupcake at Magnolia Bakery!).
The Best Things to Do in Fort Worth
While both Dallas and Fort Worth certainly have a Southern undertone everywhere you look, Fort Worth is really where you can catch a glimpse of the Wild West (and what modern cowboys are really like!).
Hands down, the best thing to do in Fort Worth (and an absolute must when visiting DFW) is to explore the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards! There are tons of unique shops, bars, and even the world’s largest honkytonk down in the Stockyards (more on this later…).
Day Drink in the Stockyards
Want to know one of the best things about the Stockyards? There is an open container law!! Grab a beer from one of the stands set up on the side of the street, pop in and out of the shops (like Lucchese, Maverick’s, or Flea Style), and then bar/saloon hop!
Billy Bob’s – AKA, “The World’s Largest Honkytonk!” You will be amazed at how big this place is. It has an indoor rodeo arena, mechanical bulls, a concert space, dozens of bars, and signed handprints from the biggest country music stars in the world.
Shop in Sundance Square
Sundance Square is a fantastic shopping district in downtown Fort Worth that is luckily very walkable. You could probably spend all day here, but I think a morning or afternoon of shopping (and a stop at a local cafe for a coffee break) is perfect!
Every single day, rain or shine, there is a cattle drive in the Stockyards at 11:30 AM and 4:00 PM. This is such a cool and totally “Texas” experience!
Put on those boots and your best cowgirl hat, it’s time for the rodeo! I highly recommend checking out the rodeo in the Stockyards (they are held every Friday and Saturday night). If you’re feeling up for it, bar hop in the Stockyards after! Chances are, you’ll run into a cowboy or two!!
Fort Worth Water Gardens
For a more serene experience, check out the Fort Worth Water Gardens. This immersive exhibit is an architectural and engineering masterpiece and such a great place to relax for a while after a busy weekend exploring DFW!