Dallas – Fort Worth Travel Guide

USA  #4 in Best Places to Visit in Texas
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Courtesy of Courtesy Dallas CVB

Dallas – Fort Worth Area Map

Neighborhoods

Formerly two separate cities, Dallas and Fort Worth have been joined by urban sprawl, now connected by 30 miles of suburbs (not to mention the Trinity Railway Express light rail system). Although they now technically form one city, Dallas and Fort Worth couldn't be any more different. While the Big D is known for its modern architecture and emphasis on big business, Fort Worth holds fast to its historical Wild West identity.

Dallas is the ninth largest city in the United States, a status which experts say invokes pride among its approximately 1.3 million residents. The Big D is a major hub for big business, fine dining, spectator sports and high-end shopping. The city is also home to a thriving art scene.

Downtown Dallas – surrounded by interstates 30 and 35E, route 75 and the Woodall Rodgers Freeway – is home some of the Metroplex's most popular tourism districts. The northern part of downtown is occupied by the Dallas Arts District, the Big D's epicenter of the arts. Here, you'll find home numerous museums and performing arts venues, including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center and the Bass Concert Hall. Head southeast of the Dallas Arts District (past the Dallas World Aquarium) and you'll find yourself in Dealey Plaza, site of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. Downtown Dallas is also a hot spot for business travel: This is where you'll find the city's convention center, not to mention a number of high-end hotels.

Sitting across route 75 from the eastern edge of downtown is one of the city's trendiest shopping and nightlife districts, Deep Ellum (or Deep "Elm" with a southern drawl). During the day, this area draws visitors with its mix of bohemian restaurants vintage clothing stores. Meanwhile, with a smorgasbord of blues, rock and disco clubs, bars and honky-tonks, this district has no shortage of nighttime entertainment options. You can reach Deep Ellum on foot from downtown, or you can hop on the Green light rail lines to Deep Ellum station.

For a taste of the ritzier side of Dallas, spend a day in Uptown. This part of the Big D – particularly McKinney Avenue – is known for its high-end boutique shopping and upscale restaurants. However, head away from the main drag and you'll discover Uptown's leafy residential side. If you can afford it, staying here would be a convenient option as the McKinney Avenue Trolley connects you directly to the downtown area (for free). You'll find such luxury properties here as The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas and the Hotel ZaZa.

Across Turtle Creek from Uptown is Oak Lawn, Dallas' gay district. This lively part of town is known for its trendy shopping, of-the-hour dining and exciting nightlife scene. However, getting here isn't exactly easy: You can either take the Red, Blue or Orange light rail line to CityPlace/Uptown Station and walk the mile or so northwest into Oak Lawn, navigate the bus system (the No. 39 gets you the closest), or drive.

To mingle with the who's who of the Dallas community, head due north of downtown to the Park Cities – Highland Park and University Park. These two neighborhoods are known for their sprawling country clubs and immense mansion-style homes. In fact, Highland Park is one of the country's wealthiest residential areas. Though not quite as affluent as Highland Park, University Park is far from shabby. This part of town is also home to Southern Methodist University, where the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum is located. You can get to University Park via light rail by taking the Blue, Orange or Red lines from downtown to Mockingbird Station, which is a short walk from the SMU campus. Highland Park is a little tougher to reach: You can get there by bus, but driving is probably your best bet.

The Big D's shopping scene rivals that of New York City and Los Angeles, and North Dallas is home to some of the best of it. Here you'll find the area's largest shopping centers, including the Galleria and the NorthPark Center. Outside the malls – particularly in central Addison – restaurants and nightlife venues have been popping up, making North Dallas a popular spot for foodies and night owls as well. Technically, you can get here by bus from downtown, but the need to transfer can make this commute tricky for those unfamiliar with the area. You're better off just driving.

Once a collection of abandoned warehouses, South Dallas has experienced an artistic renaissance: Local artists have set up galleries and shops opposite the Trinity River from downtown, and the restaurant scene is burgeoning. The epicenter of this scene can be found in the Bishop Arts District, a small area contained between West Davis Street, North Tyler Street, West Ninth Street and North Zang Boulevard. To get here from downtown Dallas, pick up the No. 21 bus in front of Union Station in the direction of Red Bird Transit Center and hop off at the intersection of West Davis Street and Woodlawn Avenue.

Sitting approximately 30 miles west of Dallas, the city of Fort Worth has been known since its founding as "Where the West Begins." The city holds tight to its identity, and there are plenty of opportunities to experience the local cowboy culture. Fort Worth is smaller than Dallas and consists of four main areas: downtown, the Stockyards, the Cultural District and the Medical District (Near Southside district). The Trinity River, which runs through central Fort Worth, is a popular walking and biking spot.

The downtown area of Fort Worth is home to much of the city's business community, as well as many business-type accommodations and restaurants. But that doesn't mean leisure travelers should snub the downtown area: This is where you'll find Sundance Square, home to a wide variety of shops, eateries and bars. Most of the buildings surrounding Sundance Square have been refurbished to resemble turn-of-the-century architecture, and many of the attractions highlight the city's Wild West history. You'll also find the Fort Worth Water Gardens – a sizeable green space peppered with lakes and waterfalls – and the Fort Worth Convention Center here.

About 3 miles northwest of downtown (accessible via bus Nos. 12, 14 and 15) is the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. This part of town acts as a living museum showcasing life in the Old West where visitors can experience daily cattle drives down East Exchange Avenue, attend rodeos and Wild West shows and purchase cowboy hats and boots. The main attraction here is the Stockyards Station, home to several shops and restaurants, an amusement park and several forms of Wild West entertainment, including living history tours and gunfight reenactments. Come sundown, the Stockyards transforms into a nightlife hub with venues such as Billy Bob's Texas and the White Elephant Saloon offering up late-night eats and plenty of honky-tonking.

Sitting to west of downtown is the Cultural District, home to the majority of the city's art museums, including the Kimbell Art Museum and Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. (If you have the time, you should also pay a visit to the Amon Carter Museum, which showcases 20th-century American artists like Frederic Remington.) But this part of town doesn't only beckon to art aficionados: History buffs will want to pay a visit to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum, and ample green spaces like the Fort Worth Botanic Garden and Trinity Park are popular recreation spots when the weather's nice. You can reach the majority of the Cultural District's attractions by taking the No. 2 or the No. 7 bus from downtown Fort Worth.

Located south of downtown and southeast of the Cultural District is the Medical District. As its name suggests, this part of Fort Worth houses several notable hospitals and medical centers. But head further southwest from the downtown area (about 3 ½ miles) and you'll find yourself at the Fort Worth Zoo. You can get there from downtown via bus Nos. 4, 6 and 7, though you will have to walk quite a ways from the bus stops. Consider driving.

The suburbs separating Dallas and Fort Worth – primarily residential and known as "the Metroplex" – are also home to several worthwhile attractions. The Trinity Railway Express makes it easy to commute from either city to the Metroplex's suburban neighborhoods.

Sitting about 10 miles west of downtown Dallas is Irving, once home to the Dallas Cowboys' Texas Stadium. Now, Irving is primarily residential, with much of its tourism draw emanating from the northern community of Las Colinas. This Irving neighborhood boasts several high-end hotels (such as the Four Seasons Resort and Club Dallas at Las Colinas and the Omni Mandalay Hotel at Las Colinas) numerous golf courses and plenty of shopping and dining options. It's also conveniently located about 7 miles from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. While in the area, be sure to stop by the famous Mustangs of Las Colinas sculpture in Williams Square.

Just north of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, the town of Grapevine draws vacationers looking for a more laid-back getaway. This Metroplex community is considerably quainter than Dallas (located about 22 miles southeast): The downtown area along Main Street houses wine tasting rooms, a variety of restaurants, boutique shops and several historic attractions such as the Grapevine Vintage Railroad and the Grapevine Glockenspiel Clock Tower. Travelers will also find a few notable lodging options here, including the Gaylord Texan Hotel, which overlooks Grapevine Lake.

Located south of Irving, the suburb of Arlington caters particularly to families. Parents can keep the kids entertained for days at the Six Flags Over Texas amusement park and the adjoining Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park. Sports fans should also take some time to venture out to Arlington, which is now home to the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium. Globe Life Park, where baseball's Texas Rangers play, is another sporty hot spot.

Although Dallas and Fort Worth are both safe places for tourists, you should exercise caution as you would in any other large metro area. Don't walk alone at night and avoid dimly lit areas. Although gun control laws are less strict in Texas than they are in other parts of the country, tourists are generally not the targets of gun-related violence.

Those who are not used to Texas' climate should take precautions against heat stroke, the symptoms of which generally include headache, dizziness, fatigue and sometimes nausea. Drink plenty of water and apply sunscreen regularly. A hat is another good idea.

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