Dallas is known as a car city, the kind of place where you need four wheels to get around. That reputation, in large part, is true. But there’s plenty to see and experience without the aid of a car. In the downtown area, you could easily fill a weekend visiting attractions that are within walking distance of the M-Line Trolleys and the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail.
Dallas is making headlines this year as the country remembers the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which occurred at Dealey Plaza on November 22, 1963. That timing makes a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum, a permanent exhibition at the site of the tragedy, all the more compelling. The attraction is a mere two blocks from a DART stop in the West End Historic District, as are numerous other places where you can spend an afternoon.
With a hotel near DART or the M-Line as your home base, you can go car-free in Big D. The following is a guide to some of the strollable neighborhoods.
DART stop: Cityplace/Uptown Station. Also use the M-Line Trolley
Young professionals flock to glossy Uptown, an easily walkable neighborhood packed with ample upscale dining, shopping, and nightlife options. The free M-Line Trolleys that run along McKinney Avenue offer an enjoyable way to get around. From end to end, the ride is about 25 minutes, and frequent stops make it easy to hop off when something catches your eye. That could include The Quarter Bar (at Bread Winners Café, 3301 McKinney Avenue; 1-214-754-4940), a New Orleans–themed joint with a rambling layout and seemingly unending supply of rooms.
West End Historic District
DART stop: West End Station
The West End Historic District started as a trading post, though today it’s best known as the neighborhood in which President Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade rounded the bend at Dealey Plaza. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza (411 Elm Street; 1-214-747-6660), located in the building from which the shots were fired, is presently offering a yearlong Living History Series with monthly presentations from those who witnessed history unfold in the early 1960s. The rest of this 20-block district abounds with brick buildings, sidewalk patios, and plenty of history—including the castlelike Old Red Museum (100 S. Houston Street; 1-214-745-1100), which details Dallas County’s history from prehistoric times on. Historic sites give way to entertaining shops like Wild Bill’s Western Store (311 N. Market Street; 1-214-954-1050); owner Bill Dewbre supplied wardrobe items to costumers working on Dallas, a role he also filled during the television show’s original run.
Dallas Arts District
DART stop: St. Paul Station or Pearl/Arts District Station
You’re in for a dose of culture in this 19-block area, where some 15 places offer performing or visual arts. Among the most-visited is the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood Street; 1-214-922-1200), which recently stopped charging admission to its main exhibits, a huge move for this world-class museum that houses art from many continents. The Nasher Sculpture Center (2001 Flora Street; 1-214-242-5100) offers another feast for the eyes—inside and out. In summer, concerts and other activities take place on select evenings in the garden. Walking tours of the entire arts district, held on the first and third Saturdays of each month, teach about architecture. Register online; $5–$10. 1-214-744-6642.
DART stop: Baylor Station or Deep Ellum Station
The popularity of rough-around-the-edges Deep Ellum has waxed and waned over the years, but a recent resurgence is helping to raise Deep Ellum back to its status as a music mecca. While shops and art galleries offer daytime entertainment, the night belongs to the area’s 20-plus nightclubs and music venues. Adair’s Saloon (2624 Commerce Street; 1-214-939-9900) has live music seven nights a week and a well-loved jukebox when the bands aren’t there. For a wide range of acts and an impressive sound system, check out Trees (2709 Elm Street; 1-214-741-1122). On Saturday afternoons and Thursday evenings, Deep Ellum Brewing Co. (2823 St. Louis Street; 1-214-888-3322), the city’s first microbrewery, opens to the public; 10 bucks gets you three drink tickets, a logo glass, live music, and a short talk on making beer.
Did You Know?
The audio tour at the Sixth Floor Museum directs visitors to pause at the window where Lee Harvey Oswald perched with his rifle.
For your random trivia file: Kurt Cobain and a bouncer once got into a scuffle at Trees.
Today, the 1800s Belo Mansion is a popular wedding venue, but it was once a funeral parlor that presented the body of Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame.
Download DART and M-Line Trolley maps at DART’s website. Free maps of the Dallas area are available at your local AAA Texas branch.
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