9 Downtown Dallas Gems

Downtown Dallas things to do

Last month, I had the chance to explore a little bit of Dallas, Texas thanks to a four day work trip. We stayed downtown and because I didn’t want to wander too far from our hotel, I kept my exploring to downtown as well. This probably isn’t the most exciting part of the city.

There has to be a neighborhood with cute boutiques, blocks of cute craftsman-style houses and streets lined with authentic Latin American and Asian restaurants somewhere. Unless I really messed up, they’re not downtown.

Because those more everyday experiences are my favorite part of getting to know a new city, I didn’t love Dallas like I love Austin, Ithaca or Boston. However, I did find a few gems hidden within the limits of Downtown Dallas.

1. Ascension

Thursday, my first full day in Dallas, I had most of the day to explore. Of course, my first stop was for coffee (and avocado toast) at Ascension‘s Elm Street location. The combination of amazing coffee, proximity to the hotel and a server who spent a few years in Buffalo means I ate here three of the four mornings I spent in Dallas.

2. Klyde Warren Park

Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas

This pristine park sits on top of a freeway, giving visitors a unique perspective at either end of the park. When I walked through the arch-lined paths early Thursday morning, there were multiple staff working to clean up after heavy rains. Lots of tables, twinkle lights and pristine public bathrooms made this one of the cutest corners of Dallas I found!

3. Dallas Museum of Art

I arrived at the Dallas Museum of Art a little early, along with what seemed like 15 schools worth of field trips. We were ushered into the Museum together, but there are enough exhibits that it didn’t feel too crowded most of the time. The collection here is impressive, especially considering admission is free. I loved the impressionist collection, and ancient Asian and African pieces.

Dallas Museum of Art in Downtown Dallas

4. West End Historic District

I had a few hours to myself on Friday morning so I walked down Main Street to the West End Historic District. I stepped into the JFK Memorial Plaza for a few minutes as the sun came out for the first time since arriving at the airport. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to go into The Old Red Museum, Dallas Holocaust Museum or Sixth Floor Museum.

I did spend a few minutes breathing in the smell of leather and looking at a hundred or so pairs of boots I don’t need at Wild Bill’s Western Store before walking back to the hotel.

5. Dallas Farmers Market

It should come as no surprise that I loved the Dallas Farmers Market. It was also one of the very few places downtown where I saw families enjoying the city together. A huge complex of permanent structures house various vendors, selling everything from pumpkins and peppers to ice cream and coffee, as well as tons of pretty accessories.

Dallas Farmers Market in Downtown Dallas

downtown-dallas-things-to-do-5-min

Dallas Farmers Market in Downtown Dallas

I took the short walk to the farmers’ market for lunch between a stint at our exhibitor booth and tearing it down at the end of the conference. After a smooth cold brew on nitro and delicious banh mi, I wandered through the vendors and a few acoustic musicians under a perfect blue sky.

6. Ruibal’s Plants of Texas

Just across the street from the farmers’ market is the incredibly well-stocked and staffed Ruibal’s. The rows of pumpkins, mums and perennials were both a gardener’s and blogger’s dream. There were plenty of both wandering through the rows of flowers here, taking photos of their fall outfits and planning their fall porches.

It was strange to see so many people just starting to get excited about fall, when the season was coming to a close at home. Thinking about picking out pumpkins in 80° weather was also pretty weird.

7. Deep Ellum Brewing Co.

I wanted to see the murals painted on buildings throughout the Deep Ellum neighborhood, but a quick internet search had me thinking I shouldn’t head there alone. So, I convinced the rest of the team to explore this historic neighborhood, which was once an industrial hotbed, and home to early jazz and blues musicians.

Deep Ellum Blues mural in Deep Ellum, Dallas

We made our way to Deep Ellum Brewing Co. on Bird scooters, which was way more fun than I thought it would be. After arriving in style, I had an amazing Oak Cliff Coffee Ale and really good nachos (nachos are not complicated, but some bars really mess them up) on the patio, along with a cat on a leash dressed for Halloween. 😻

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Deep Ellum Brewing Co. in Deep Ellum, Dallas

8. Dot’s Hop House

100 beers on draft, giant Jenga and a huge chandelier for no apparent reason? Yes please. I lost at Jenga, as per usual, but I had fun doing it. The expansive outdoor space filled with costume-clad groups was a people-watching paradise.

9. Braindead Brewing

Our last stop was at Braindead Brewing, which had a huge list of beers on tap. Good Morning Dave, a grapefruit saison, was a good way to end the night.

Braindead Brewing in Deep Ellum, Dallas

Fall in Dallas feels like June in Buffalo, with patios seating, doors open and people spilling onto the streets after months indoors. Braindead was no exception and we took a seat at a table between the bar and the doors, enjoying the breeze.

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