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A Perfect 24 Hours in Dallas


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Greetings, Internet Stranger, and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in Dallas. Even though Dallas, Texas is one of the largest cities in the United States, it’s pretty underrated. A lot of people, even Texans, will tell you to hit up Austin or San Antonio or Houston before you check out Dallas.

Well, I’ve been to all those cities, and I am here to say that it’s just as possible to have an awesome time in Dallas as it is anywhere else in Texas. Join me for a day of science, weird Ross Perot impressions, flying horses, Robocop, and the best food in the Southwest. Who says Dallas is boring?

24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

Where to Stay?

Dallas is a fairly spread out city, so I was looking for a convenient location for my 24 hours in Dallas, right in the heart of downtown. That’s why I opted for the Renaissance Saint Elm Dallas Downtown. It had a perfect location right in a beautiful Art Deco building in the center of Dallas’s downtown.

On top of that, the staff was super friendly, my room was modern, clean, and comfy, and it was just a short walk from the Flying Horse, where I got to have amazing coffee and kolaches for breakfast every morning. (Kolaches and coffee not included in the price of the hotel.)

24 hours in dallas

If you want a great deal on this hotel, click here. And if you’d rather explore great deals on almost 1000 other hotels in Dallas, click here. This search engine will help you find the most affordable and convenient hotel during your 24 hours in Dallas.

24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

Shopping List

  • An excellent small cell charger so you can keep taking pictures of your 24 hours in Dallas
  • My favorite guide to Texas, including Dallas
  • My book Get Lost, that I wrote myself with all my best travel tips. This book will show you exactly how solo travel can take your life from BLAH to amazing!
  • Want to learn how I saved enough money to travel 16 weeks a year? Check out my top secret How to Afford Travel digital system.
  • I always travel with travel insurance from World Nomads. You never know when something might go wrong, especially in this day and age. But with travel insurance, you’re protected even if you’re attacked by the CIA collaborating with the KGB during your 24 hours in Dallas.
24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

Morning: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

We’re beginning our day in Dallas with one of the most popular attractions in the city: the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. This is obviously a fab attraction if you’re traveling with kids, but even as a single adult, I loved this place. What’s not to love about stars, jewels, evolution, and fossil fuels. (OK, arguably not that last one.

If you’re a Saturday Night Live nerd like I am, the first thing you think of when you hear Ross Perot’s name is Dana Carvey’s gonzo impression of him. So I just kept muttering, “Can I finish, can I finish, can I finish” to myself as I explored the museum. But apparently Ross Perot was also a real person from Texas? So that’s very nice for him.

24 Hour Tip
A Perfect 24 Hours in Dallas 1

I strongly recommend getting the Dallas CityPass for this 24 hours in Dallas because it includes admission to the Perot Museum and the Reunion Tower, as well as other major Dallas attractions. It will definitely save you money if you use it carefully. You can buy the Dallas CityPass here.

Then you’ll be ready for…

Three Fun Facts: Perot Museum

24 hours in dallas
1) What’s the best exhibit for kids?

Well, I don’t know your kids, so I can’t promise to read their child minds. But it seemed like the space exhibit was the most exciting part of the museum for the kids, with the dinosaurs a close second. That’s because the space exhibit had so many videos and interactive components which show you things like the full spectrum of light and different shapes of galaxies.

This made the space exhibit a wee bit tricky to visit as a solo adult. The exhibits here were always thronged with children, and no one wants to get tossed out of a science museum for shoving a kid. However, it was interesting to learn about astromers who deserve to be better appreciated like the astronomers in Istanbul who drew star maps, to William Herschel.

24 hours in dallas

The neatest part of the exhibit was the video display on all the planets in our solar system. You can see how different the atmosphere is on each one. Then I freaked out and started screaming that PLUTO IS STILL A PLANET and had to dash before the security guards nabbed me.

24 hours in dallas
2) What’s the Coolest Exhibit?

In my opinion, it’s the fossils exhibit which has every kind of ancient creature you could want to see, up to and including plant fossils. I’m pretty sure these guys you see above are not real fossils because they are bolted to the sign, and who would do that with an actual priceless object?

24 hours in dallas

They even have a local fossil called the Dallasaurus. But I don’t understand why it’s so small when I was told that everything is bigger in Texas.

24 hours in dallas

Believe it or not, this beautiful sea creature is also a local dinosaur called the Tylosaurus. In prehistoric times, Dallas used to be entirely underwater, and fish beasts like this would roam the streets of Downtown Dallas, swimming in and out of the Art Deco buildings and hunting for kolaches.

24 hours in dallas
3) What’s the Prettiest Exhibit?

As in most science museums, that’s the Gems and Minerals Hall. You’ll find precious stones in just about every color imaginable. We’ve got pink…

24 hours in dallas

Then there’s blue…

24 hours in dallas

Some gems and minerals come in many colors at once…

24 hours in dallas

And then I’m pretty sure this one is radioactive.

24 hours in dallas

But don’t worry! I got up to it real close, and I didn’t develop a third eye or anything.

24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

Afternoon: Explore Downtown Dallas

We’ve already noted that some people think Dallas should really be called Dull-as. And though the city has been going through some renovations, it still doesn’t have a famously cute area to walk around downtown like San Antonio does. But Downtown Dallas still has plenty of fun things to do and architecture to see!

I promise to take you around some of my favorite places that I found during my 24 hours in Dallas with…

Approximately Top 5: 24 Hours in Dallas
24 hours in dallas
1) Lunch at Mesomaya

Mesomaya is a local group of restaurants run by Mexican-American chef Nico Sanchez, and by this point on our 24 hours in Dallas, we’ll be hungry. There’s more than one location, but you want the Dallas Mesomaya on McKinney Avenue. It’s just a short walk from the Perot Museum and it’s a great place to get a classy lunch with big flavor at a good price.

Start with a slightly sweet and refreshing avocado marg.

24 hours in dallas

Next, I recommend the posole soup, which is bursting with corn flavor and soothing textures. (Hmm, can something be bursting with soothingness?) Posole soup is the sort of thing it’s so easy to get a good version of in Texas and so hard to find in my hometown NYC.

24 hours in dallas

Then get the chicken mole enchiladas. The waiter asked me if I had tasted mole before because he wanted to warn me that it’s a little sweet. Oh, dear! Do I look like someone who hasn’t tasted mole before? But the sweet and savory combo of a good mole enchilada is what I like best about it!

dealey plaza
2) Dealey Plaza

Dealey Plaza is most famous for being the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963. (We’re going to learn MUCH more about that on our next 24 hours in Dallas.) Some people think that this plaza was created to honor President Kennedy, but in fact there already was a plaza here.

I feel like most people would figure this out if they thought about it for a while because if the plaza was to honor Kennedy, I feel like they would name it after Kennedy, not George Bannerman Dealey, who died in 1946. No, this square is considered to be the birthplace of Dallas because the first home and the first courthouse were here, as well as other important buildings.

A Perfect 24 Hours in Dallas 2

In fact, just a short walk away from Dealey Plaza is this little building honoring the moment when Dallas was first designated as a post office in the 1840s. It was named after George Dallas, who was vice-president under President Polk, from Tennessee. There’s a fun fact that might come in useful on trivia night!

24 hours in dallas

It will probably be a hot day in Dallas and we have a bit of a walk to our next destination, so I suggest getting some ice cream to cool you down. Stop over at Kokopelli Sweets and get some of their refreshing gelato. I recommend their biscotti flavor which has a nice crunch and plenty of chocolate.

Kokopelli is located in the West End Historic District. It’s the oldest part of Dallas, but most of it didn’t look that old to me. They seemed to be in the process of adding shops and restaurants and making it more walkable, to which I say yay! Every city should have a walkable downtown. So go support the West End by eating some yummy gelato!

24 hours in dallas
4) Reunion Tower

Reunion Tower is the big attraction on just about any walking tour of Dallas. Its observation deck has the best views of the city, and they sometimes host special events, so check their website for information. (Since I visited, they keep sending me very polite emails about these events, which makes me sad that I don’t live in Dallas and can’t go.)

Once again, I suggest getting the Dallas CityPass to save money if you plan on visiting this and other attractions.

24 hours in dallas

Of course, the main thing to do here is to check out the views! But there are also interactive exhibits for you to enjoy. Because this is Dallas, a lot of them are about the Kennedy assassination, so I even got to watch an interview with a Secret Service agent who was there on that sad day. Beat that, other observation towers!

24 hours in dallas
5) Dallas City Hall

This freakish looking building resembles something you might see in a dystopian science fiction movie. In fact, it IS something you might see in a dystopian science fiction movie because it was featured in the film RoboCop, a movie some have called “The Most Dallas Movie Ever Made”. (RoboCop was filmed in Dallas, but set in Detroit.)

But in fact, this building is where the Mayor of Dallas and his friends work and play. How do they get anything done in this building? I would be afraid the cyborgs were about to rise up and kill us all?

24 hours in dallas
6) Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park, just a short walk from RoboCop’s house, is dedicated to the founders of the city of Dallas. As you can imagine, it’s full of statues of cows, boys, boy cows, and cowboys. It’s also the largest park I could find in the Downtown Dallas area, so it’s a lovely place to get some shade and rest outside on a hot day. There’s even some trees to shield you from the sun!

24 hours in dallas

That’s the end of my official Downtown Dallas walking tour, but you don’t have to stop here! Keep wandering and maybe you’ll see the red Flying Horse that is the symbol of Dallas. He might even be lurking behind a tree!

24 hours in dallas

Oh no! I was right! The cyborgs are rising! Run for your lives!

24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

Evening: Dinner At Fearings

Some girls dream of meeting their favorite movie star or pop singer. But even as a kid, I was a Food Network aficionado, and I dreamed of dining at my favorite chefs’ restaurants. Dean Fearing, who is a true legend of Southwestern cuisine was one of those chefs. If you can swing it, a dinner at his restaurant Fearings is a must-do for any foodster.

24 hours in dallas

You’ll start with an amuse bouche like my bite of octopus and potato, which was a fun twist on the classic meat and potatoes. Also, the bread service here is incredible with three different types of bread: cheesy, spicy, and…normie. But even the normie will blow your mind.

A Perfect 24 Hours in Dallas 3

For the appetizer, I recommend the barbecued oysters Rockefearing, which is a play on oysters Rockefeller. It even has spinach on it, like oysters Rockefeller does. But don’t worry, spinach haters! The spinach taste isn’t overpowering. Mostly you’ll just get that punch of marine flavor from those massive, plump, fried oysters.

24 hours in dallas

For the main course, I went with the antelope with rabbit enchilada and heirloom squash. I don’t think I’ve ever had two different kinds of game meat in one dish before! In fact, this dish reminded me of all abundant wildlife in Texas, just like the creatures I saw at the Perot museum. The antelope was prepared like a fine steak, but because it’s game, it had a more potent flavor.

24 hours in dallas

At a fancy French restaurant, now you would get a pear sorbet or something as a palate cleanser. But because this is Texas, we had a lemonade sorbet instead. Lemonade does seem perfectly like the South in the summer, doesn’t it?

24 hours in dallas

And finally, here comes the dessert! If you have a chance to snag the Granny Fearing’s banana pudding with cinnamon sugar beignets, do so! This is a classic Southern dessert, but what made this version special was the freshness of the bananas, as well as that luscious toasted meringue topping.

My granny could never make a topping like that, but then my granny couldn’t even make red beans and rice without them bleeding all over the kitchen.

PS. Don’t worry if you can’t finish this dessert! The beignets managed to be light and fluffy and rich and decadent at the same time, but I couldn’t finish them all.

24 hours in dallas

24 Hours in Dallas

How to Get There?

By Car: This is an easy way to get to your 24 hours in Dallas, if you are coming from somewhere else in Texas. You can drive here easily from Houston or other major Texan cities.

However, I don’t know how to drive, so this wasn’t an option for me. Fortunately Uber is widely available in Dallas. If you need to rent a car, you can use the search engine Expedia to find the best price from the available car rental companies.

24 hours in dallas

By Plane: Fortunately, there is an airport in Dallas! In fact, there’s more than one, but you’ll probably be flying into the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Since I live in New York City and don’t know how to drive, I found that flying was the easiest way to get to Dallas. (Again, I recommend using a search engine like Expedia to search for the best prices on flights.)

By Bus: You can use the Megabus to get to Dallas from nearby cities like Houston. It’s a pretty cheap ride–if you are car-free and coming from a fairly nearby destination, this might be the way for you. I didn’t use the bus to get to Dallas, but I did use the bus to get from Dallas to Houston, and it worked perfectly.

24 hours in dallas

That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Dallas!

What would you do with 24 hours in Dallas? Were you surprised to learn that there was an actual dude named Dallas? And have the cyborgs come for you yet? Please email me at [email protected] and let me know! (Unless the cyborgs won’t let you send emails.)

Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY have 24 hours in Dallas

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