Moved to DFW... now what?
September 4, 2008 9:54 AM   Subscribe

DFW-Filter: So my girlfriend and I moved to the DFW area, Lewisville in particular. I've started up school, she's started up work. Now what?

We're 24-year-old foodies who went to college in New England and lived in Washington, DC for a while. I'm from Texas (but not this area), and she's from California. What do we do in this town?

General: We're looking for a compendium of all things going on the DFW area - music, food, festivities, everything that would be interesting to a couple of 24-year-olds who have no clue what's going on. In DC, I'd read blogs like DCist, but I can't seem to find an equivalent for the Dallas area.

Secondary: She and I are just looking for random things to do on weekends. Parks, museums, whatever the DFW area has to offer. We're also looking for recommendations on great food (classy or casual), historical sites, fun outdoors stuff (love canoeing), and even bars that aren't filled to the brim with cowboys.

We don't like: What we're not into are dance clubs or bars that require you to look like you're a rock star to get in. Casual bars are awesome.

In summary: Early 20s couple new to DFW, looking for things to do. Anything. Advice/links/anecdotes/invitations to your own party are completely welcomed. Willing to travel anywhere in the area for something interesting. Would also like to meet other people our ages, but not a requirement.

Thanks in advance for the advice!
posted by SNWidget to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (17 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, you're in Lewisville, which is pretty far out in the boonies (relatively). I grew up in Plano, and I'm Addison today.

Random things to do: My favorite museum is the Ft. Worth Science museum. They have an amazing Omni theater that kicks butt. The museum is currently under renovation, but the theater is still open.

Dallas Zoo is okay, I've heard that Ft. Worth zoo is better. Addison has a flight museum with cool WWII airplanes, and you can also take a helicopter tour of Dallas from there.

Throughout the year, Addison will also have random events. They have a Taste of Addison in the spring (there's also a Taste of Dallas, but Addison was better this year), and actually, they're having an Oktoberfest celebration on Sept. 18th that you might be interested in.

Come halloween time, there'll be a ton of haunted houses in the area. Ft. Worth is supposed to have the greatest one.

For great food in the area, Addison and Uptown are generally known as the "great restaurants exist here" places.

If you like the outdoors, you're already in a great spot- Lake Lewisville! Sadly, Lake Lewisville is generally a jet-skiing, get drunk and go boating lake, not a canoeing lake. I actually don't know any place where you can canoe (sorry :( )

As far as the bars go, there's only 1 or 2 places that really restrict who they let in. Most of the bar scene here is really casual, and there's not a lot of hardcore dance clubs. Dallas has a lot of the in between - "the lounges", but they're all fairly easy to get in. North Texas has insane liquor laws, so most of these clubs/bars exist in Dallas or Addison.

I know this is scattered, but I hope it helps. Another great place to ask is the City-Data Dallas Forums. It's free and they have people way more knowledgeable than me for Lewisville (I think I have been there twice in my life!)
posted by unexpected at 10:15 AM on September 4, 2008

what the hell is 'DFW'?
posted by mary8nne at 10:31 AM on September 4, 2008


DFW is Dallas-Fort Worth. It's the name given to the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex. Ever flown through the DFW airport?
posted by unexpected at 10:36 AM on September 4, 2008

It's not the most well-designed site(IMO), but the Dallas Observer might be a good resource for you.

Personally, my wife and I love the Dallas Museum of Art. Right across the street are the Crow Collection of Asian Art, which is always free, and the Nasher Sculpture Center, which is pretty cheap, especially if you get a package admission for the DMA/Nasher.

It's a few weeks out, but the State Fair of Texas runs from 26 Sep - 19 Oct this year, and it's always a great time.

The Dallas Zoo is good, but the Fort Worth Zoo is great. At least it was - admittedly, I haven't been to the Fort Worth Zoo in a while. It's quite a trip.

If you're going all the way to Fort Worth, make sure you check out the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. It's beautiful, and the only admission costs are for the Japanese garden(cheap) and the conservatory(cheaper). The Japanese garden is totally worth it.

Also in Fort Worth is the Stockyards historic district. I can't vouch personally, but my wife says it's cool. I can speak to The Modern and the Kimbell Art Museum. The Kimbell is currently hosting an impressionist exhibit that I'm really looking forward to seeing.

There's Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor in Arlington, and there is a Hawaiian Falls waterpark in The Colony(just a few miles from Lewisville, if you're not familiar with it).

I can't make too many food recommendations, but here are a couple:
Angelina's: tex-mex, in The Colony
Carmine's Pizza: Richardson might be a little far to go just for pizza, but if you do, get pepperoni and garlic
Cafe Brazil: These are all over. There's one near you(in Carrollton). Many are 24 hours, and they usually have a pretty varied self-serve coffee bar. The Not Just Another Egg Sandwich is excellent(and worth the extra charge for fried sweet potatoes), as is the Breakfast Relleno.

There's lots of night life around the Deep Ellum and Lower Greenville areas. I'm not really experienced in the bar/club scene, though I would like to go to the Absinthe Lounge sometime. It just looks cool.

If you want to meet up sometime, shoot me a MeMail.
posted by owtytrof at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2008

I grew up in Carrollton, my family still lives in Carrollton...I'm a little removed from the DFW scene as I don't live in the area anymore. I try to visit every other month or so.

Seconding the Fort Worth Modern Art Museum. It's gorgeous, and the cafe/restaurant is excellent.

Sadly (because malls are not a beacon of culture), NorthPark Mall is one of my favorite things to go to in the area. During Christmas time they transform the place into a little winter wonderland. (They had live penguins in side the mall when I was a kid.) The shopping is world class, and it's probably what you are used to coming from New England.

As for night life, I believe Deep Ellum is quite dangerous now a days. Most indie rock acts go now to Denton anyway.

Being foodies, take a trip to Central Market! I like it better than Whole Foods. The closest one to you would be in Plano on the corner of the Bush Turnpike and Coit Rd.
posted by dearest at 10:50 AM on September 4, 2008

There's also the Dallas Morning News' restaurant and activity site, GuideLive -- not a bad place to check if you're looking for a restaurant reviews or just what's going on any given Saturday.
posted by nonliteral at 11:29 AM on September 4, 2008

I'm 25, and live in Grapevine, which is more or less next door to you in Lewisville.

I'm originally from Richardson (north Dallas), and my SO lives in Arlington, and have gotten my fair share of knocking around in the D/FW area, so here goes.

Central Market. If you're a foodie, you'll cream your pants walking through here. Think Whole Foods, but (IMO at least), better. There's one in Southlake, which is maybe 20-25 minutes from you. While you're in the area, check out the Southlake Town Square - yes it's a tad yuppyish and Generica, but still has a lot of neat shops and things to check out. Plus, it's literally across the street from the Central Market.

Grapevine is actually pretty decent. Their downtown area has a lot of neat little shops, and great restaurants.

There's also a bar on Main Street called The Tap-In that several people I know hang out at. Fair warning though, on weekends, it can get smoky.

Restaurant-wise on Main Street, check out Napoli's for Italian food, Main Street Bakery for out-of-this-world pasteries, and Weinbergers for Chicago-style deli sandwiches.

I'm seconding Cafe Brazil, but do yourself a favor, make the trip out to the one in Dallas, off of 75 and Mockingbird - it's open 24 hours, gets a lot of the SMU crowd (and other colorful characters), serves breakfast all day, and just rocks my world. Make a little day trip of it by going to Mockingbird Station and catching a movie at The Angelika.

I second the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens - they're absolutely huge (way bigger than Dallas'), and on a beautiful day, you could easily spend all day there and only see 1/10 of what they offer there.

On preview, I'm also seconding Dallas Morning News' Guidelive to see what's happening in and around the DFW area. Their restaurant section contains reviews of a ton of places, and it's pretty easy to find new things to try.

Feel free to drop me a line at michael dot haydel at gmail dot com if you wanna meet up or have any other questions.
posted by mrhaydel at 11:31 AM on September 4, 2008

I'll try not to repeat anything anyone else has said thus far...

The Observer is worth picking up weekly (or reading online weekly), but definitely plug DC-9 at Night, their music blog, into your feed-reader of choice if you're a music fan. Also worth checking regularly/feeding are the Pegasus News Music Blog (formerly, and Life Outside the Bubble - which is posted by Cindy Chaffin, the founder of

Do yourself a favor and spend a Sunday down at Exposition Park. Start with brunch at the Meridian Room for great breakfast fare and cheap drinks with a funky/artsy atmosphere, then wander around and barhop. You can go to a host of places around there, spend the afternoon, and catch a show or DJ at night. (Bar of Soap is fun, New Amsterdam is quiet and mellow with a great European beer selection, Fallout Lounge is dark and they often have live DJs). It's a part of Dallas that not a lot of people know about (which is fine by me), but it's a great place to spend a day.

Lower Greenville is very, very hit or miss. The Cavern is a nice small venue to catch indie and local bands, and the upstairs features live DJs spinning all kinds of music on a nightly basis. The Libertine Bar is building a solid reputation as a place to get really good food and chill out. The Old Crow is a cool place to grab a beer, shoot some pool, and catch a variety of bands (I've mainly only gone for various psychobilly acts, but they change it up). The Billiard Bar is a cool, large, pool hall with a great jukebox that attracts about 75% punks/motorcycle dudes/etc. and 25% SMU kids. It can get pretty packed, but they do have a fantastic balcony if it's a nice night out.

There's also some really crappy dance-club type places where people stand in line for hours to get table service and dress in $500 shirts. They're pretty easy to spot.

Deep Ellum really isn't that dangerous, so long as you're not roaming the streets by yourself past 2 AM on a weekend night. Just be smart and you'll be fine. There's still plenty of good bars and restaurants around there (Adair's Saloon is a kickass place to go catch an old-school country show and grab some food -- they have crawfish boils when they're in season to boot -- also, check out - Twisted Root Burger Co. for hamburgers, Monica's Aca Y Alla and/or Pepe and Mito's for Mexican food, and the Angry Dog for greasy hangover/drunk foods).

I could go on and on (obviously), but my final recommendation (unless you come back and ask for specific other things) is to catch a show at Lee Harvey's, which may be my favorite live venue in the city. You can't really explain it unless you've been there, but there's picnic tables, fire pits, and the entire property is fenced in, so people often bring their dogs and let them run around. I can't recommend it highly enough.

I'll let someone more familiar with Denton fill in what to do up there. I haven't been in a few years and I think a lot of the places I used to enjoy are no longer.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:05 PM on September 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh man, I totally forgot about you going to UNT, and being in that area.

I had some friends who went to UNT, and I remember there being this awesome little ice cream parlor/shoppe called Beth Marie's. I believe it's located in "downtown" Denton, right across from the courthouse.

I think there was also a really neat used book store there too. Ah hah, my Google fu did not escape me today. It's called Recycled Books. Big purple building, can't miss it.
posted by mrhaydel at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2008

Beth Marie's was still there as of last summer, and is still full of num-nums.

Recycled Books is teh awesome. There are also a bunch of Half-Price Books in the area, and their mother store in Dallas proper is very good.

Hannah's near the square in Denton is quite good.

Dinosaur Valley is well worth a day trip. Real live dino-sour footprints, big as life as twice as ugly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:27 PM on September 4, 2008

when you're in denton in the morning go to Ravelin for breakfast. This is where a few of the coffee houses in town get all their baked goods. You might as well get it from the source.

for hanging out and studying, i like art six.

for food, hannah's is overpriced and the food is hit or miss. i don't know if they have a couple of chefs or if their head chef just phones it in some days, but i'd say go to the greenhouse

for shows there's Haileys, Dan's (my personal favorite as far as the ambiance), Rubber Gloves, andys and i'm sure i'm missing some. they're all over run with scene kids and too cool for school attitudes, but if you can get past the dripping smugness and helmet hair, the bars are really laid back and the music can be good. plus, there is no cheaper place to drink in DFW than in denton. rubber gloves has hands down the worst sound i've ever heard in any club, so beware of that.

i nth the suggestion for reycled books - also, on the square (with beth maries) there are 2 "antique mini malls" - never before has garage sales, antiques, army surplus, flea markets, and weapons melded together so beautifully. take your allergy pills before going into any of these places.

also, when your lease is up - the rent is also a lot cheaper in denton (although, then you have to live in the quality of apartments denton has)
posted by nadawi at 2:54 PM on September 4, 2008

Wow, Lewisville and UNT in one shot. I'm not sure if I'm impressed or sad for you. :)

Beth Marie's is still in Denton (and it's called "the square," but the Chamber of Commerce calls it "downtown"), I just ate there last week.

If you want a museum that no one thinks of, go to TWU's library and ask about the Texas women's history collection. It's really cool. As is the Denton County Courthouse Museum on the Square. Yes, it's heavily Texas and Denton County-centric, but I like them both.

Glad to see that my ex-burg (The Colony) made this post. There's also Roma's if you want Italian (southeast corner of Main @ South Colony). Angelina's is on the west side of Main St. (Note: Lewisville and The Colony border each other AND both have a Main St; Lewisville's runs east-west off of IH35E and The Colony's runs north-south off of Hwy 121)

You just missed it, but the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is free and has plentiful activities.

If you want to go swim somewhere other than your (presumably) apartment's pool, Lewisville has two public water parks: Sun Valley Park (south of Lewisville High School on Valley Pkwy, just south of Main St) and College Street Park (east side of IH35e, just west of Mill St @ College St). Both are $1 or $2 (depending on the day) for residents and have pools, a lazy river, slides, etc. There are kids present, but it's cheaper than Six Flags and--for me and the girl--just as fun.

Welcome to DFW!

(I'm in Emery Park just off Hebron; are you nearby? MeFi mail if you want...)
posted by fireoyster at 3:15 PM on September 4, 2008

nthing Beth Marie's and Recycled Books, and the fact that drinking in Denton is much cheaper than anywhere in mid-cities or Dallas/Ft Worth proper.

For your Booze needs, Cool Beans (on Hickory St. next to UNT) is about as laid back as you can get, less hipsters per capita than most bars in Denton, and, by and large, nary a cowboy hat in sight.

Food: cheap, tasty mexican at La Mexicana on S Locust. You didn't mention if you or your girlfriend eat critter, but if you do, the al pastor tacos are some of the best I've had. Hanna's is really only worth it for lunch, but they have a pretty damn decent chicken salad if memory serves. I've not been there yet, but I've heard good things about the scotch eggs at The Abbey Inn on the square. Again, not terribly vegetarian friendly if you're of that persuasion.
posted by metricfuture at 4:58 PM on September 4, 2008

Thanks for all the advice, everyone!

I'll definitely look into a lot of the suggestions, and contact mefites about meet ups and just being social in general.

Also - those of you calling for me to bail to Denton - my girlfriend works in downtown Dallas, I school in Denton. Lewisville is basically the halfway point, and it's close to the Carrollton transit center where she buses downtown. If it were just me, sure, but right now, this is our best bet.
posted by SNWidget at 7:29 PM on September 4, 2008

I'm so surprised no one has mentioned CitySearch - when I moved to a new city, it saved me. I highly recommend checking out the recommend places. Plus you can drill down to specific areas/neighborhoods.
I'm originally from the Dallas area and although Lewisville is in the 'burbs, there is plenty to do nearby. I second the suggestion for checking out the Addison area - always something fun and interesting going on there. And plenty of foodie approved restaurants.
posted by MuckWeh at 7:41 PM on September 4, 2008

Regarding zoos, I would avoid the Dallas Zoo. It's one of the last concrete/wire cage zoos left and it's unbelievably depressing. The Ft Worth Zoo is amazing. It's not quite San Diego, but it's astoundingly well done animal habitats.

I'm a member of the Dallas Art Museum, which always has cool stuff; for example King Tut will be there starting in October. It's in downtown Dallas near the St. Paul train terminal.

The Kimball art museum in Fort Worth is probably one of the premiere art museums in the country.

Mass transit is operational within city boundaries and into some outlying suburbs, but hasn't made it as far out as Lewisville, I don't think. But for trips into Ft Worth and things, you can often drive to a train station and grab a quickie $3.00 all day ticket and get all over both cities.

I'm on the other side of the metroplex, out by the other lakes, and we have a ton of parks around them, so I'm betting Lewisville lake also has parts and preserves around there. The lakes out by us are mostly sailboats; I think the water is way too choppy and it's too windy to canoe though.

Ooooh, the Heard Museum in McKinney is really cool if you're into nature walks. Right now they've got the dinosaur alive exhibit, which has life size dinos tucked into the trees and stuff. (My 5 year old loved it...your mileage may vary. heh.)

Also, Austin is close enough for weekend trips, and Austin rocks.

There's tons to do here, it's just all kinda spread out. Welcome to the metroplex!
posted by dejah420 at 9:46 AM on September 6, 2008

I know I'm late to the party, but I used to live in Dallas and then Denton for a number of years and just got back from there on the tail end of a five week vacation. You can go Contradancing in Carrollton. Fun, inexpensive, live music, generally progressive/geeky/brainy people and great aerobic exercise all rolled up into one fun evening. No smoking or drinking at the venue however, which might be a deal breaker for some people.
There are lessons for a half an hour before each dance, so even absolute beginners can have a good time.
posted by jvilter at 10:17 AM on September 12, 2008

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