Despite being a Southerner, I’d never had the pleasure of exploring the great state of Texas. It seems almost ironic that such a large swath of land could be so easily overlooked, but I don’t think the state gets the attention or credit it is due. This road trip brought us the opportunity to check out one of Texas’s most iconic and notable offerings: Dallas.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Dallas, maybe by way of the infamous 1980’s prime-time drama about the city, through their well-known Cowboys NFL team, or maybe you’ve actually had the pleasure of visiting. Its a unique city – clean, bright and even a bit austere to look at from the exterior, but filled with the kind of big personalities, flavors and energy that you’d expect from a state whose most well-known catch-phrase is the maximalist “Everything is bigger in Texas.” In honor of Dallas and to highlight just how much there really is to see and do here, I present to you the top 10 must-sees for Dallas!

1. The Dallas Arts District – Dallas contains a booming arts society and it’s on full display in the Arts District. Here, you can check out The Crow Asian Art Museum, featuring a breathtaking exhibit inspired by clouds by the noted artist Jacob Hashimoto. Sculpture takes the forefront at the Nasher Center, or, if you’re more in the mood to take in a performance, grab tickets for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra or for a show at Moody Hall. The Arts District is so expansive, it would nearly be impossible to list all of the sights, so… I suggest you take a look and find out for yourself! Plan ahead with their website, here.
2. Reunion Tower –  Reunion Tower is an icon of Dallas and perhaps one of the most recognizable structures from the area. It offers panoramic views of the downtown area and puts on one hell of a light show at night. You can find out about ticket prices, here, at their website, but my personal recommendation is to forego the ascension into the tower for viewing it from the nearby highway at sunset. Its a definite way to save a bit of money and still get some great photos and a breathtaking view… all for free!
3. Klyde Warren Park – An urban greenspace that is public, but run by the Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation, Klyde Warren Park covers 5.2 acres in downtown Dallas. Here you can enjoy delicious offerings from local food trucks, take in performances at a public stage or view the gorgeous botanical gardens. This is another free to low-cost option for tourism in Dallas and the sights here make for unique and beautiful photos. The park is even currently under expansion, all of which you can find out more about here.
4. The Museum at the Dealey Plaza – Dallas is known for many things, but it may be best known by many not from the city as the sight of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In honor of JFK and to honor his contributions to our country, the Dealey Plaza’s Sixth Floor houses a museum dedicated to him. Here, you can immerse yourself in a multimedia experience that will teach you all about JFK and about the tragic chain of events that led to his untimely demise. It is a must-see if you are in Dallas and/or if you are a history-buff. Find out about ticket prices and more, here.

5. Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden – 66 acres of carefully manicured, designed and cataloged gardens originally opened in 1984, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a natural wonder and not a sight to be missed. There are 19 named gardens here and other locations to tour, including the DeGolyer House, the restored estate of the family of ownership for the area. They offer events year-round, with an autumn-themed pumpkin patch and decor for fall and a stunning Christmas light show and decor for the holiday season. You can find out about tickets here.

6. Uptown Dallas – Ok, so maybe this one is more of a neighborhood than an individual sight, however it is so often overlooked when it might be some of the most fun that you have in the city. This is the spot for some of the best nightlife and restaurants you’ll find here, or anywhere else, and also home to Victory Park for sports fans looking to celebrate local teams like the Mavericks or Stars. Pop over to Knox/Henderson for high-end boutique shopping or head to West Village and Henderson for modern cuisine and gastronomy that is right at the cutting edge of the culinary revolution. You can find out even more about his area of the city at their site, here.

7. Joe Pool Lake and Dam – If the Arboretum hasn’t satiated your need for nature, or perhaps you are looking for something a bit more “un-tamed” try checking out Joe Pool Lake and Dam. This fresh water reservoir was began with the construction of the dam in 1985 and by 1989 the area was filled with water and is now home to nature hikes, camping areas and swimming locations. Come here to unwind and take a cool dip in the relaxing waters, a sure to be much-needed relief from the brutal Texas heat. Find out more about events and places to check out here at the lake, here, at their website.
8. The Dallas World Aquarium – Nearly every big city is home to it’s own Aquarium, with variant results, however the Dallas World Aquarium does not disappoint. Open 10am to 5pm daily, it is one of the few locations where you can see some of the most endangered aquatic life in the world, in fact, they are involved with other aquariums and conservation sites to get many of these species off of the endangered list through cooperative breeding. The aquarium also features an expansive aviary that is modeled after the Orinoco rain forest, complete with a bevvy of tropical birds and flora. This one is a memory-maker for the whole family – find out more info, including ticket prices here.

9. Deep Ellum – Are you a bit more on the indie side of things? Do you love underground bands and music or prefer to discover art that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream? Well, if you answered yes, then Deep Ellum is just the neighborhood for you. Here you’ll find some of the hottest music, art and food with a quirky flair and an undiscovered feel that will inspire you and leave you wanting more. Its one of the unsung hits of Dallas, but, be forewarned, its a place that’s hard to leave behind. Find out about all the upcoming events and hottest spots to check out, here.

10. Old Red Museum – This museum is a photo-op even from just the exterior, but inside, you can learn everything there is to know about the history of Dallas, from its humble beginnings to it current incarnation as a booming metropolis. This is one of the lowest-cost museums or sites on our list and is also conveniently located within walking distance of several of the other locations. Check out ticket prices and learn more about the museum, here.

Any of these places would make your trip to Dallas just a bit more fulfilling and you’ll be sure to have a fun time with any of them. I would recommend that looking into a City Pass if you plan on seeing a few sights and staying for a number of days. You can find out about what City Pass covers and how much it is per person, here.

Here’s hoping you enjoy the “Lone Star State” and its premiere city as much as we did! Let us know in the comments if you have any of your own favorites that didn’t make the list. We’d love to hear your thoughts.