7 Unique things to do in Downtown Dallas

by Paul Joseph  |  Published March 25, 2018

Downtown Dallas has undergone something of a transformation over the past decade, with many of its once empty buildings and desolate sidewalks revamped into a major hub of culture and entertainment. Today the district continues to grow, and every week there seems to be new green spaces, arts institutions, fine dining venues and upscale shops added to the burgeoning landscape. As a consequence the area is now almost as busy at night as it is during the day.

A nighttime view over North Downtown Dallas (Photo: Cliff Baise via Flickr)

Yet the gentrification that has taken place here is only one part of the story. In short, Downtown Dallas is so much more than the sum of its contemporary parts and is also blessed with a wide array of perennially popular landmarks and attractions, all of which combine to make Downtown Dallas such a unique place to visit. We’ve picked out 7 of the best.

1. Fuel City

The food offerings at most gas stations is rarely memorable. Not so, at Fuel City, which professes to sell the best tacos in Texas. A bold claim it may be, but judging by the perpetual queues outside, it’s one that stands up to evidence. The cash-only counter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which is a good thing otherwise hungry patrons would likely be battering down the hatches for their fix of the famous Mexican tortilla. But that’s not the only attraction at this veritable Disneyland of truck stops. There’s also a swimming pool decorated with a life-size dinosaur, stuffed remains of wild animals adorning every wall, and an adjacent 8-acre space housing animals such as longhorns and donkeys. And if that’s not enough to tempt you, how about the promise of a state-of-the-art car wash guaranteed to leave your motor sparkly clean?

LOCATION 801 South Riverfront Boulevard HOURS 24/7

Fuel City

A hungry line of people wait patiently for their tacos at Fuel City (Photo: Dave Hensley via Flickr)

2. The Grapevine Bar

There’s no shortage of watering holes in downtown Dallas, but none are quite as unique as The Grapevine Bar. In many ways it’s a quintessential dive bar – and yet it’s so much more than that. Sunshine’s out? Head to the rooftop bar to soak up the rays and sip on refreshing Bellinis Tired after a hard day’s sightseeing? Sink into one of the cozy couches while the well-stocked juxebox plays some soothing tunes. Fancy something a little more energetic? Shoot some hoops on the Basketball half-court on the asphalt patio outside. There’s also a pink-railed, black-felt pool table, mismatched chairs and glassware, and a drinks menu as long as your arm – and probably cheaper too. But more than anything else, this is a great friendly bar to head to if you don’t know anyone in town.

LOCATION 3902 Maple Avenue HOURS Mon-Sat 3pm-2am Sun 1pm-2am

The Grapevine Bar

A bartender pours an exotic-looking drink at The Grapevine Bar (Photo: The Grapevine Bar)

3. Eye Sculpture

Nestled outside of an upscale hotel, passers-by are perpetually performing double takes as they catch sight of this gleaming orb resting in a lush garden. The giant, ultra-realistic, fibreglass eyeball was created by artist Tony Tasset in 2007 as part of a temporary Chicago public arts display before being mothballed for several years. When it emerged, it spent some time in St. Louis before pitching up in Texas in 2003, when it was purchased by the hotel as part of their expansive art collection. Get close enough and you’ll notice the impressive attention to detail that went into its design, including its blotchy red veins.

LOCATION 1601 Main Street HOURS 24/7

Eye Sculpture

The Eye Sculpture sitting with snow underfoot in the garden off Main Street (Photo: Luis Tamayo via Flickr)

4. Join a JFK Dine & Dealey Tour

If you’re a dedicated foodie visiting Dallas and are struggling to find time in your schedule to sample the city’s culinary hot-spots, why not eat while you explore? Food Tours of America run a wide range of tours that give you the chance to taste quintessential Dallas delicacies while delving under the skin of the city. One of the most popular is the Dallas JFK Tour, which meets in Downtown and ends in Uptown, taking in numerous sites and landmarks relating to the iconic former President, such as the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza and the infamous grassy knoll assassination site. About an hour into the tour, you’ll get to enjoy sit-down restaurant tastings in casual local eateries, along with a dessert tasting. The entire tour takes 4 hours, and includes up to 1.5 miles of leisurely walking.

Food Tours of America

One of the stop-off points along the JFK Dine & Dealey Tour (Photo: Food Tours of America)

5. Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck

Viewing platforms are ten-a-penny in cities across the world, but the GeO-Deck at Chicago’s Reunion Tower is a little different. From 470 feet up visitors can enjoy breath-taking 360-degree panoramic views using a variety of state-of-the-art technology including high-definition zoom cameras, touch screen monitors, augmented reality telescopes and more. This so-called ‘interactive experience’ is a perfect illustration of how the appreciation of natural phenomena can be enhanced by technology. Visitors can also add their name and geographical information to a star, create an avatar and record their experience with creative illustrations.

LOCATION 300 Reunion Boulevard East HOURS Sun-Thurs 10.30am-8.30pm Fri-Sat 10.30am-9.30pm

Reunion Tower’s GeO-Deck

Inside the high-tech observation deck at Reunion Tower (Photo: Reunion Tower)

6. Crow Collection of Asian Art

Soon to be renamed the Crow Museum of Asian Art as part of a significant revamp, the Crow Collection of Asian Art is – and is sure to remain – one of the most unique cultural venues in the downtown district. Whether for quiet reflection in a serene atmosphere, marvelling at centuries-old artefacts or gazing at unique works of art, the museum both captivates and inspires visitors. There are permanent and rotating exhibitions of arts from China, Japan, India and Southeast Asia, as well as a busy programme of wellness classes, yoga and meditation, lectures and gallery talks. Be sure to check out the pristine sculpture garden too, home to 15 contemporary and historical pieces.

LOCATION 2010 Flora Street HOURS Tues-Sun 10am-5pm Closed Mon

7. Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center

The acoustics of this magnificent hall have often been compared to the great concert halls of Europe – and with good reason. Anyone who has attended a concert here will have been mesmerised by the rich sounds that reverberate all around, for which we can give thanks to world-renowned design team, architect I.M. Pei and acoustician Russell Johnson. Every detail was designed to achieve the highest acoustical quality, and the result is extraordinary. Concerts are held throughout the year, with tickets available for public purchase.

LOCATION 2301 Flora Street HOURS Mon-Fri 10am-6pm Sat 12pm-8pm Sun 12pm-4pm