New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago… these are big names with big tourist draws. But the heavyweight American cities best not sit too comfortably, because hot on their heels is a thriving metropolis keen to take a meaty slice out of their tourism share. Dallas, the ninth largest city in the country, is booming—unique entertainment options, plush hotels, big portions, and good ol’ fashioned American charm mean that those tired of Times Square are flocking in. We uncover the best that it has to offer.
Attractions galore: history, views and nature
Daytime wanderers are recommended to pre-order the Dallas CityPASS before flight. The ticket booklet is valid for nine consecutive days, and gets you into the city’s best landmarks and attractions with minimal fuss and maximum savings. Options include The Reunion Tower GeO-Deck – a starting point to find your bearings, The Sixth Floor Museum which chronicles the life, death and legacy of John F. Kennedy, and the stunning Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, a tourist favourite as it’s full of vibrant colour and festivities throughout the year. During fall, 90,000 pumpkins go on display, and this Christmas the garden transforms into a winter wonderland of surprises.
A stage for international talent
Even with the roof enclosed, the entire Statue of Liberty could fit inside the AT&T Stadium, the world’s largest domed structure where NFL’s Dallas Cowboy play ball. Meanwhile, music talent from home-grown lovelies to international superstars take the stage at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving. We caught the ‘Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary Tour’ there, celebrating the iconic 90s record. Ms Hill gave a disappointingly lazy set, sadly, so make sure to visit Live Nation USA for better acts on tour. Fancy a chuckle? The Dallas Comedy House injects humour five nights a week in Deep Ellum.
Big city food, small town hospitality
You won’t go hungry in Dallas – culinary options are enough to rival Manhattan in terms of chic and upscale dining. Our top two are Bullion and Mirador.
Bullion is the brainchild of Michelin Star Chef Bruno Davaillon. Perched up on the 400 Record building, the brasserie restaurant serves classic and contemporary French cuisine including the best Canard à l’Orange we’ve tasted outside of Paris, and a selection of incredible fancy pastry-based desserts. Interiors are plush with Moulin Rouge tints designed by a noted Swedish interior architect, and the best thing about a French restaurant in Texas is stuffiness gets ironed out and blissfully replaced with warm Southern service. Top tip: get there early and raise a glass in the lounge by the IG worthy staircase and the ‘Necklace of Dreams’ art installation, your date will be impressed.
Downtown hot spot Mirador is another Dallas darling. Located on the penthouse level of boutique Forty Five Ten on Main, Mirador serves modern American cuisine, with art draped interiors and a wrap-around terrace overlooking a famous 30-foot eye sculpture. We opted for the Deviled Eggs and Caviar to start, Atlantic Halibut as a main, and Apple Pie Praline to finish. The trendy eatery reminisces Fifth Avenue Manhattan, though much like Bullion, injected gallons of warm Texan hospitality.
Fun for all the family
The Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament (https://www.medievaltimes.com/) was founded in the seventies and now has nine castles across the North America, performing for over 65 million guests since launching. You and the clan will tuck into an 11th century-style feast (eating with your hands) and watch knights joust to earn the right to be the queen’s champion. The entire audience gets wrapped away in the drama of the games and there are plenty of photo opps. We’d never have thought the medieval times was this fun!
The Texas State Fair is an annual fall occasion held in Dallas at Fair Park. “It started in 1886, so it’s the longest-running state fair in the United States”, reveal Drew and Christine Bagot of Texas Standard, “Texans know to set aside the three weeks each year for the Texas State Fair – a celebration of all things Texas”. Upon entrance you’ll be greeted with a 52-foot ‘Big Tex’ – the tallest cowboy in the state.
Thrill seekers can enjoy Six Flags Over Texas, a 212-acre theme park 15 miles west of Dallas and the original of all Six Flags nationwide. It features dozens of rides, shows and activities, including Batman, an intense 50-mile-per-hour juggernaut of loops and twists over Gotham, and Aquaman Splashdown, for those who like getting wet.
Vintage hotel stays
Downtown Dallas’ historic establishment The Statler returned in 2017 after a $255 million revamp. It originally opened in 1956, bringing many firsts to the industry – such as elevator music, and has attracted legends from The Jackson Five to Tony Bennett. Today this quirky hotel and mixed-use development features 219 residences, restaurants, nightlife, retail outlets, meeting space and an event venue, and is quite the life and soul of Downtown Dallas – expect many a party on site since the rooftop pool/’Waterproof Bar’ is open to all for good times! The hotel is conveniently located overlooking Main Street Gardens and a short walk from attractions including the Dallas Farmers Market and the Neiman Marcus flagship department store. Rooms are spacious with freestanding bath tub, and if you’re not keen on venturing far to refuel and long for tasty Asian cuisine, then check out Fine China (https://www.finechinadallas.com/) at the lobby. The American-Chinese/Japanese serves crispy Cantonese roast duck with west-friendly steamed buns (instead of our usual savoury pancakes), dim sum, bottles of sake and more. You’ll be tempted to carry some sweet ribs back to your room for breakfast in bed. You can take the boy out of Singapore, eh?
Drink like an American gent
Start your night at the sultry boudoir that is The French Room Bar . Antique portraits adorn the navy lacquered walls, while custom-made chairs and banquettes entice visitors to unwind and relax together by an original fireplace. The enclave is royal splendor and if you have cash to splash go for ‘La Rêve’; a dream martini and caviar combo that will change your life. Downtown favourite Bourbon & Banter is a speakeasy-type bar that was once a beauty salon – cocktails are named after signature haircuts such as ‘The Mohawk’. Go there if you’re with a group of rowdy pals and enjoy the buzz. Finally, Trick Pony in Deep Ellum’s drinking and dining compound Harlow MXM carries innovative craft cocktails to impress a stylish young crowd. It reinvents several times a year – with a new theme and corresponding menu, so you’ll get a unique experience each time you fly to Dallas. Themes over the last year have included ‘Bill Murray’, ‘The 80’s’ and ‘Endless Summer’. Any guesses as to what you might get in December? Get to know mixologist Ricky and snag a seat in ‘The Ponytail’ at the back. He’ll hook you up with a Foro Manhattan to watch the locals over.
How to get there
American Airlines and Cathy Pacific fly from Singapore via Hong Kong to Dallas Fort Worth. WOW Airlines flies from Europe via Iceland to Dallas Fort Worth. No matter airline or ticket class, The Club DFW is available to book for upgraded pre-flight experience for your return journey.