Smoked brisket. Gorgeous skylines. All-American history.
Spend 3 days in Dallas, Texas, and you’ll find friendly people, out-of-this-world barbecue and important landmarks in American history.
From world-class museums to boutique shops to family-owned restaurants, each unique neighbourhood has its own vibe and is worth exploring.
For this itinerary for 3 days in Dallas, you’ll find recommendations on where to eat, shop, visit, and stay.
How To Visit Dallas
Most people choose to fly into Dallas, especially if you’re not already in the Texas area.
There are two main airports: the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and the Dallas Lovefield.
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport was in 2020 the fourth busiest airport in the world, so it´s no surprise it got good connections to all over the USA, and internationally with direct flights to cities like Mexico City, Dubai, Seoul, Sydney, London, Istanbul and more.
Both have easy access to downtown Dallas, and while Dallas Lovefield is technically closer, Dallas is a huge city with attractions spread all over.
Choose the right airport based on where your airline of choice flies.
You can also take a road trip into Dallas, as major highways will take you into Dallas, including Interstate 35, which runs from Duluth to Laredo.
Getting Around in Dallas
Dallas does have a public transportation system, the DART, primarily focused on downtown and getting you to the airport.
However, you’ll find that most people rent or use their own cars to make the most out of Dallas, as it is a very driving-friendly, sprawling city.
You can also take advantage of car-sharing services like Uber if you don’t have your own ride.
Some areas, like Downtown and Deep Ellum, are very walkable once you get to them, so you can still expect to see some of Dallas on foot.
What´s The Best Time to Visit Dallas
Dallas has scorching hot summers and mild winters, with some cold snaps possible.
Visit in the Spring and Fall for more moderate temperatures, in the 60s and 70s, as this means you’ll be able to enjoy outdoor activities more easily without the oppressive heat.
Where to Stay in Dallas
Dallas is incredibly spread out, meaning that you can’t go too wrong when deciding where to stay as there isn’t just one “hub” of activity.
If you want to be close to major attractions like the Sixth Floor Museum and the Dallas Aquarium, stay in the Downtown Historic District.
Choose a hotel in northwest Dallas to be closer to the airports if you have an early flight to catch, or try South Dallas for easy access to the Cotton Bowl Stadium.
Three Days in Dallas Itinerary
Enjoy this comprehensive itinerary for three days in Dallas to make sure you fit in the major sights.
Are you are planning to visit Dallas with your kids?
Day 1 Morning
Breakfast starts at Ellen’s (1790 N Record Street). This Southern-style diner has some of the best waffles and pancakes you’ll ever taste, and the all-day breakfast menu is just what the doctor ordered.
Enjoy their fresh brews to get you energetic, or opt for the unique breakfast pot pie.
After breakfast, walk to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science (2201 N Field Street) – this takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
If you’ve got toddlers with you, they’ll love the Moody’s Children Museum within the Perot Museum.
Are you planning a trip together with your loved one and looking for romantic things to do in Dallas?
This separate wing is a great space to let younger children use the interactive activities, play at the water table, and enjoy bouncing around in the soft play area without worrying about getting moved aside by older kids.
Couples and families can spend their time in the human body exhibit, learning what makes your body function, or check out the physics and energy exhibits or the rocks and minerals.
This museum features interactive and engaging activities – no boring plaques to be found. It’s all about colour, movement, light, sound, and fun.
Day 1 Afternoon
When you finish at the Perot Museum, hop in the car or take an Uber to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens (8525 Garland Road).
From ornamental gardens to pecan groves and concert spaces, this vast outdoor area is a must-do when you need some fresh air and want to roam around the manicured lawns and gardens.
There are a few on-site cafes offering outdoor dining for lunch, including entrees like salads and kid-friendly sandwich options, so get some food in before you explore (though don’t eat too much, as you’ll want to save room for tonight’s meal!)
Spend your time walking under the stunning crape myrtles, wander around the trails lined with blooming flowers, and pay attention to the sounds of water in the distance as there are plenty of water features to enjoy.
The kids will fall in love with the Rose Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden, featuring everything from an up-in-the-trees play structure to educational activities to learn all about Earth Cycles and nature.
Wander along the trails lined with blooming flowers, or walk under the gorgeous crape myrtles as you listen for the sounds of waterfalls in the distance.
Day 1 Evening
What’s for dinner after spending a full day out in Dallas? None other than some of Texas’s best barbecue!
Drive from the Arboretum to Pecan Lodge (2702 Main Street), one of the most talked-about barbecue restaurants around.
They serve everything from mac and cheese to pulled pork to brisket, and there will be a line outside due to how popular it is. But it’s worth the wait, seriously!
If lines aren’t your things, you can bypass it by ordering the “Trough,” which means you can skip the line and find a table yourself that isn’t reserved.
The Trough serves about 3 to 4 people and comes with pork rib, beef rib, sausage, pulled pork, and brisket, and you can order sides on top of that.
Dig into the coleslaw for a nice complement to your barbecue, or try the fried okra for a truly Texas experience.
When you’re finished, wander around this vibrant area of Dallas to check out any live entertainment and stop in for ice cream or other dessert options (including a pie shop!).
Day 2 Morning
You don’t want to come all the way to Dallas without seeing parts of Fort Worth, which makes up the “Dallas Fort Worth” metro area.
It’ll take you about 30 minutes driving, but if you want to feel like you’ve seen Old West Texas, it’s absolutely a must-do.
Start your day with a breakfast at Snooze Eatery (2150 7th St Suite 108, Forth Worth), where you can enjoy breakfast burritos with fresh pico de gallo or something unique like the sweet potato buttermilk pancakes with homemade caramel.
Here, they focus on responsibly sourced food from the local area, and the taste reflects this.
After you’ve paid your bill, it’s a short drive to the Fort Worth Stockyards.
You’ll soon find yourself in a part of Forth Worth that looks like you’re in a scene straight out of the Old West, with cowboy boots and cowgirl hats highly encouraged!
The stockyards have been in the area since 1866, and they gave it the nickname “Cowtown”, as it was famous for the cattle trade until 1890.
Today’s stockyards have everything from Old West-themed gift shops to live entertainment on the sides of the pedestrian street, pony rides, and a daily “cattle walk” where they walk through the center of the stockyards.
There are also some gorgeous walks from the stockyards to the surrounding area, where you’ll see a river, cactus, railroad tracks, and more.
Oh, and did I mention it’s all free?
Grab lunch at one of the restaurants in the Stockyards before heading back to Dallas.
Day 2 Afternoon
On the afternoon of Day 2, spend your time at the Sixth Floor Museum (411 Elm St, Dallas).
Located in Dealey Plaza, this museum is all about the legacy, life, and death of John F Kennedy, who was assassinated from this building in 1963.
The museum is done with the greatest respect and touches on tragic events without glorifying them.
It’s perfectly open to children of all ages, and audio guides throughout help navigate you through the exhibits to help you better understand the political and personal life of JFK and how his legacy and that day in 1963 have impacted America.
You’ll find it takes about 90 minutes to go through the entire museum, and it typically closes in the early evening, so make sure you get there by around 3 pm at the latest to have time to take it all in.
Day 2 Evening
After you’re finished at the Sixth Floor Museum, take a self-guided tour around the downtown area.
You’ll come across cowboy and cattle statues in Pioneer Plaza, as well as the Dallas Police Memorial and buildings in the Government District.
For dinner, have some more barbecue at Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, or opt for Japanese cuisine at Sushiya. There are also Tex-Mex, Italian, and even Irish pub options in the area.
This evening’s activity is one of the best views in all of Dallas, Reunion Tower (300 Reunion Blvd E Dallas), and you can walk there assuming you’ve stayed in the area after finishing at the Sixth Floor Museum.
Standing 470 feet tall, Reunion Tower and its 360-degree observation deck is a fantastic place to see the Dallas skyline, get some couple or family photos, and learn more about Dallas’s landscape and the tower’s engineering.
Spend time on the GeO-Deck, with lots of interactive activities about the tower.
Day 3 Morning
Start your day with a grab-and-go breakfast from a local café (croissants aplenty) and spend the morning at the Dallas Aquarium (1801 N Griffin Street).
This aquarium features more than just fish, and you’ll get to see a lazy sloth climb around, some gorgeous reptiles, and so much more.
The most enchanting thing about the Aquarium is how well they use the amount of space available in downtown Dallas, and you’ll go winding your way through a huge amount of exhibits, definitely making this an all-morning affair.
There are some great café options within the Aquarium for lunch.
Day 3 Afternoon
It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Dallas Aquarium to this afternoon’s stop: the Dallas Museum of Art.
Art museums aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea, but the Dallas Museum of Art is a can’t-miss. It’s one of the best art museums anywhere in the country and hugely popular with adults and kids alike.
You’ll find everything from modern art installations in the lobby to fascinating permanent collections featuring everything from European to Islamic Art.
They often hold live events, and it’s one of the best free things to do in Dallas.
If you finish at the art museum while the sun is still out, the park across the way has food trucks in the summer and plenty of places to spread out and relax.
Day 3 Evening
Your last night in Dallas is all about exploring the foodie scene with an expert guide.
Dallas offers plenty of food tours, especially in the Deep Ellum neighbourhood, which takes you from restaurant to restaurant, trying the best of the best when it comes to Texas flavours.
This is a fun way to not have to just choose one restaurant for your final night. Instead, you can let people in-the-know show you exactly what to eat, and you won’t have to wait in any lines or worry about placing orders. It’s all done for you.
These are also great ways to meet other visitors to Dallas, as well as connect with the local guides and get their perspectives on this Texas city after you’ve explored it.
Other Things to Do in Dallas
Looking for other Dallas things to do? Try Klyde Warren Park, which is a great urban park where you can find some green space and have a picnic in between your sightseeing.
You can also take a journey out to White Rock Late, a city reservoir, where you can explore by foot or by riding bikes or rollerblading around the trails.
There are also plenty of Dallas events, including concerts, festivals, lectures, and film screenings, held throughout the year, so check in advance to see what’s on during your chosen days in case you can incorporate these into your itinerary.
An Orlando native, Kalyn writes about USA travel at All-American Atlas.