What to do over Columbus weekend in Dallas?
September 23, 2008 10:50 AM   Subscribe

In Dallas TX for an extended weekend over Columbus day. What to do?

I work in Dallas frequently, but have never been there over a weekend. My girlfriend is going to come down and we're trying to come up with plans. We can stay at any hotel and will have a rental car. We both like good museums, good music, and good food. Fort Worth seems like an interesting location and we'd like the country music. I've also heard a lot about how great Austin is so are considering spending some time there. We're both in our mid-twenties. Low budget options are appreciated, but we'll splurge if it's worth it.

Also- recommended hotels with pools would be cool!
posted by ets960 to Travel & Transportation around Dallas, TX (11 answers total)
The Texas State Fair will still be going on then. Besides the largest Ferris wheel in the US, it also boasts a full-blown auto show and interesting (I hesitate to use "good") food -- this year the features are chicken-fried bacon and fried banana splits.
posted by joaquim at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2008

Former D/FW-ite here...


Eating at Chuy's Tex-Mex is always fun. It's an Austin restaurant with a Dallas location (75 and Knox). Affordable food with a wide variety (suggestion: try the Chuy's Special enchiladas, the Deluxe Tomatilla chile rellenos, or any of the Big-As-Yo-Face Burritos... also, don't miss the frozen margaritas). For other Tex-Mex, Ojeda's is a good bet.

There's a lot of good Texas barbecue in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Sonny Bryan's is a Dallas original and worth a visit. It's a low-price, quick-n-dirty kind of place. Most BBQ in the area will be good.


The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas is well worth a visit, as are the Kimball and the Modern in Fort Worth.

The Omni Theater at the Museum of Science and History is a neat place to visit as well, depending on what is showing.

Other "Culture" Scenes and/or Music:

I haven't spent much time in the Dallas music scene in a while, but Deep Ellum was the place to be for music for a long time. It's a district of bars and clubs just to the east of 75 (Central Expy) on Main, Elm, and Commerce in the downtown area.

Fort Worth has one of the best downtown areas I've ever seen. The Bass family put a huge amount of money into Sundance Square. Shopping, small art galleries/museums and good restaurants are all over the place. And I challenge you to find a downtown business district anywhere in the world with people whose friendliness and hospitality exceed that of Fort Worth.

Just a few blocks (but not walking distance) north of downtown Fort Worth is the Fort Worth Stockyards district if you want to get some country music and the cowboy/western influence.

I lived in D/FW metroplex for over 30 years and would be happy to answer other questions. If you've got more questions, post them here or see my profile for email address.

posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 11:21 AM on September 23, 2008

This thread may be of interest to you.

I'll 2nd the Nasher, and throw in that you should hit up the Dallas Museum of Art and also the Crow Collection if you go there. All three are pretty much right next to each other. You could easily spend late morning and all afternoon there, and the cash outlay will be minimal Parking is $5 at the DMA, you may be able to find cheaper lots nearby if you don't mind walking. You can get a package admission to the Nasher/DMA for a discount, and the Crow is always free.
posted by owtytrof at 11:35 AM on September 23, 2008

@Owtytrof - That's a great link. I didn't find it because I didn't look for DFW.

One specific question for everything currently reading- Should I spend more time in Fort Worth, Dallas, or should I make the trip to Austin? We'll only be at any spot for maybe 2 days.
posted by ets960 at 11:46 AM on September 23, 2008

I'm a Dallas-ite at heart, and have really only recently begun to venture off into Fort Worth (mostly because my SO is super close to FW).

If you've only got a weekend, I dunno, I might consider the trip to Austin. Austin is, as you probably already know, quite different from D/FW, and arugably has more to do within a smaller radius than Dallas and Fort Worth.

But, here's my rundown of stuff, following ElDiablo's format:

My Text-Mex recommendation is El Fenix (warning: slightly annoying flash site ahead). It's a Dallas original, reasonably priced, quick-serviced, and they have amazing margaritas IMO.

For BBQ: I *highly* recommend Hard Eight BBQ, in Coppell. Again, I've been eating good Texas barbecue for a quarter of a century, and this one put all the other places I had tried to shame.

Cafe Brazil, at 75 and Mockingbird. It's a 24 hour coffee shop with a full menu, breakfast all day, and amazing desserts. And oh yeah, great coffee. It's close to SMU, so at nighttime it picks up a lot of the college crowd and is frequented by an eclectic mix of people.

I'm not a huge museum person, but, close by the muesums in FW are the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens - which are huuuuuge, beautiful, cheap, and you could easily spend a weekend there and not see everything.

Other Things to Do:
If you wanna do the country music thing, then the place to go is Billy Bob's. Cliche, maybe, but it more or less defines country here in D/FW, and is both a landmark and institution. Besides, it's "The World's Largest Honky Tonk" so...yeah.

Mockingbird Station is a cool place not too far from Cafe Brazil that has a great independent movie theatre, good food, and other retail stores.

Central Market. Yes, it's a grocery store, and okay, you couldn't really take much back or anything, but, they have cafes you can eat at, and are just plain fun to walk around in.

Feel free to email me at michael dot haydel at gmail dot com. I'd be more than happy to give you more tips, and my SO is the country music expert, so I'm sure between her and I we could give you more recommendations or even meet up someplace if you're so inclined.

posted by mrhaydel at 12:57 PM on September 23, 2008

and/or gallery
posted by activitystory at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2008

One specific question for everything currently reading- Should I spend more time in Fort Worth, Dallas, or should I make the trip to Austin? We'll only be at any spot for maybe 2 days.

It may be personal confirmation bias, but I think a day in Dallas and a day in Ft. Worth is better for you all. Don't get me wrong, I love Austin, but to me it's one of the handful of great cities in the US that is best experienced alone (if you're of the type of person to wander around a city on foot by yourself - I certainly am).

Then again, I've spent a lot of time with other people in DFW and a lot of time by myself in Austin. Take it for what it's worth.

not to mention, the DFW metroplex has much better art options than Austin does, to the best of my knowledge.
posted by Ufez Jones at 1:04 PM on September 23, 2008

Agree with much of what has been said above; it is a bit of a hike to Austin eat up a good bit of time.

If you are into history at all the Sixth Floor Museum is worth a visit.
posted by TedW at 1:27 PM on September 23, 2008

The drive from Dallas to Austin is at least 3 hours and can be a real pain if traffic doesn't cooperate. I'd save Austin for a trip of its own.

Pegasus News provides some good info on local events, especially music.
posted by GPF at 1:54 PM on September 23, 2008

Go to the fair! I just left Dallas for college and I'm missing it hard- make sure to wander around the outskirts, the midway is not the best part by a long shot. You'll also get a good intro to the Dallas/Texas common man.

The museums are a great suggestion as well- if you're only going to go to one, I'd do the Kimball/Modern/Arboretum (read about this in the other thread) trifecta rather than the DMA/Nasher/Crow. Thar way, you get to see Ft. Worth as well. Skip Austin for sure, it really is a significant drive and you can always see it another time. BTW, October is beautiful in Texas (for the most part)- good timing :).

I don't know as much about bars and such, but I can say that Deep Ellum has gone downhill to some extent in the last 5 or so years. Lots of places have closed and it's gotten a little sketchy in general. Lower Greenville is a pretty nice area. It's very near Mockingbird station, which is nice but maybe a little commercial. Knox/Henderson is another area that has good food and stores and things. They feel a little more urban than the rest of Dallas, to me at least- downtown is kinda dead.

Have fun, and email me if you want more suggestions.
posted by MadamM at 2:23 PM on September 23, 2008

I lived in Dallas for five years up until a month ago. For a pricey, great dinner, check out Blue Mesa Grill. It's upscale(ish) Mexican food, with premium tequila tasting. Also, Two Rows is a good chili's-esque cheaper option, that is way better than it should be! For bars, check out the Flying Saucer. It's a fun atmosphere and has every beer under the sun. You can get "around the world" samplers there, too. The state fair is great, but to make the most of it will cost a bit of money. I think tickets are still around 25$ and then you have to pay for everything once you get inside. Another GREAT place is Pete's Dueling Piano bar. I guarantee it's a blast and you will sing so hard (with everyone there) that your voice will give out. It's a local favorite. For Ft. Worth, I agree with the post above to hit the Kimball/Modern/Arboretum in regard to museum going and Billy Bob's is a classic.

Deep Ellum is slowly being turned into a shopping district and the best music venue there was just closed down (Gypsy Tea Room) so for the "bar music strip" experience go to lower Greenville. There's some good music venues there as well.

The great thing is that from the DFW airport the drive to fort worth is only about forty minutes, so it's very possible to do D-town and Ft. Worth in one trip. Austin is its own trip as it is about four hours from Dallas. Also, to be honest, I think Dallas and Fort Worth have more to offer (although you will still have to do a lot of driving to get around - Dallas is ALL highways). To me, Austin was overrated as a music town and very similar to other college towns I've visited elsewhere in the country.

Oh...and for country music you will have to go to Fort Worth. Dallas and Austin are not what people think of when they picture Texas!

For going back and forth between Dallas and Ft. Worth a hotel by DFW or downtown would be good (although Downtown is all business and no night life). But I think another really good option would be to stay in a hotel on Belt Line by the Tollway. This is a central strip where Flying Saucer and Pete's Dueling Pianos are located. It'll increase your drive to Ft. Worth a little, but you'll have a lot of dining and hang out options right around the hotel. Good luck and I hope you guys have lots of fun!
posted by Me, The Snake at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2008

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