A Week in Dallas

IMG_5238I recently spent a week in Dallas, Texas! Y’all should keep reading to see what I got up to!

If you have been keeping up with my journeys, then you know that I decided to visit friends in other states while I am taking a little pause in my life. I first conquered New York in November and just got back from Dallas in December.

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I went to Dallas to visit my long-time friend Mitch. Mitch and I met in Spain! Well, actually, we met in high school and ended up taking a trip to Spain and France together 5 years ago. When Mitch told me he was in Dallas, Texas working, I knew I wanted to plan a trip to visit him and see a new state. Mitch would be working Monday-Friday from 7:45am-7:30pm, so I would be on my own a lot of this trip. I saw this as a great way to test the waters on traveling solo and relished in the idea of some alone time.

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Here is my day-by-day break down:

Wednesday: 

This day really didn’t count for much as I did not arrive to Dallas until 11pm! For those of you that are curious, here is my method of travel. I took the FlyAway Bus from Van Nuys to the LAX Airport. This was my first time using the FlyAway and it was great. It cost $8 and is a 45-minute bus ride to the Airport. If you are not lucky enough to have someone willing to brave LAX traffic, this is a terrific option. Getting through security at LAX was a breeze, and things were even easier as I did not check a bag. Yep, that is right, I only carried on a small suitcase for the week. If you would like to know what I packed, please comment below! Once I arrived, I was greeted by Mitch. He took me to my hotel, the W Hotel in Downtown Dallas, to get settled in.

The W Hotel was awesome. I highly recommend this hotel. You definitely pay for the service you receive, but beyond that, the location is amazing. I was across the street from the American Airlines Center (where the Dallas Mavericks play) and very close to all of the action of Downtown (important to me as I was going to be walking everywhere!).

 

Thursday:

As Mitch was off to work, I took advantage of being completely on my own schedule and slept in. In fact, I made it a point to having a relaxing morning most days, often ordering room service (for the first time in my life!) and indulging in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (I finished Season 5 on this trip). Believe me, if you were snuggled up in those big, fluffy white sheets, you would lounge in bed too! With a fully belly, I was ready to map out my day! I would do this each morning, taking some time to research what I wanted to do based on the weather. As a planner, it was pretty refreshing to wake up not knowing where I would end up!

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On this day, I decided to hit up some museums! I first went to the Nasher Sculpture Center. This place was awesome. At only 2 levels and just over 1 acre of land, it is relatively small in size. I believe I paid $5 in a student ticket (I always carry my UCDavis student ID) which was well worth the (low) price.

While at the Nasher, I met Patricia Jackson, a member of the security team. Patricia recently won an award for the work she does at the Nasher and is very proud of it! She was extremely friendly, repeatedly calling me “baby”, and asked me to look up this video of her when I got back to LA. As I am making a conscious effort to get to know strangers and learn about their stories, I wrote down her name and information and looked it up on YouTube. The video shows a little of the Nasher and allows you to experience some of Patricia’s Texan flavor.

After the Nasher, which took about an hour to get through, I went across the street to the Trammell-Crow Collection of Asian Art. This museum has 3 levels of amazing art, my favorite being the Art of India and the Origami Crane Sky Walkway. Considering this museum has free admission (they just asked for a donation), it is a must see while in Dallas.

I then went to a third museum for the day (see, sleeping in doesn’t slow me down!). I chose the Dallas Museum of Art. This 4 level museum is free to the public, although I did pay the $12 for admission to the rotating exhibits: International Pop and Jackson Pollock. This museum has something for everyone and is what the Dallas Arts District is centered around. Don’t pass it up if you are in Dallas, and I highly recommend the International Pop exhibit (think Andy Warhol) if you are visiting through February!

I then popped over to Klyde Warren Park, where food trucks were lined up. I am not sure if this is a typical weekday thing, or just a happy coincidence, but I was grateful to have some quick, cheap, and hopefully delicious food near by! I ordered pasta from an Italian food truck and people watched for an hour.

I made it a point during this trip to keep my headphones packed away and used my phone only to take pictures.  I found that by reserving Instagram and Facebook updates for the hotel room, I was able to meet so many people while in Dallas! I really wanted to enjoy the moments, and keep myself open to what may come, so the phone stayed in my purse.

I would often wander back to my hotel in the late afternoon to rest up before the night’s adventures. Once Mitch was off work, he would pick me up from the W and we would grab dinner together. For my first full night in Dallas, I requested we try Texas BBQ. We chose a place called Lockhart Smokehouse in the Bishop Arts District. Let me tell you, this place was #legit. You walk into a bar and then pass through to a counter top in the very back. There, you order a 1/2 pound of whatever meat you like (I chose ribs and Mitch ordered brisket) and some sides (we got baked beans and mac ‘n’ cheese). They toss in three pieces of plain white bread with the meat and wrap the whole thing in butcher paper and hand it to you, kind of like a ball. Then you sit down, roll out your ball of deliciousness, and dig in with your hands. The motto of this place is “No forks, no sauce” but both are available if you want them.

We then took the advice of some locals and Ubered to Uptown, a very trendy area filled with nice bars, men in suits, and women wearing fake fur (not at all the cowboy boots and flannels I was expecting). We bar hopped a little and then called it a night! It was a great first day!

Friday: 

After a relaxing morning at the hotel, I ambled over to the Barbier-Mueller Museum where they have a Samuari Collection on exhibit for free. It is a very small 3-room showcase, but has beautiful artifacts on display. This museum is easy to pass up, but if you have a free 30-minutes and are in the area, I would stop in. While traveling, I like to remind myself I likely won’t be back in the near future, so do it all while I can now.

I then went to Sixth Floor Museum in Dealey Plaza. This was hands-down my favorite museum and a must see while in Dallas. This museum is located in the Book Depository where Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) while in Dallas. Talk about living history. It was utterly amazing and well worth the $16. It is a self-guided audio tour and has great photographs, memorials, and first-hand accounts from that fateful day.

I then met Mitch for dinner at Pepe’s & Mito’s for some Tex-Mex. Be sure to make it in time for happy hour! Mitch and I definitely didn’t pass up margaritas for $2.50! We then went to Deep Ellum, a more hipster area of Dallas that offers great bar hopping and live music. We went to a Speakeasy called High & Tight. It is a barbershop in front and a bar in back. With live music and craft cocktails, it had a really great atmosphere. After meeting a couple of locals (some of whom originated in Los Angeles as well!), we followed them to a local watering hole off the beaten path called Double Wide. If you are looking for cheap drinks and a relaxed atmosphere, this is your place. With toilet planters lining a wall of the outdoor patio, you’ll be sure to meet tons of really interesting people that this place draws in. And their famous house drink is called the Yaa-Hoo Yee-Haw, I mean, come on, welcome to Texas!

Here is a little about some of the people we met that night!

  • Kat is a calligrapher and creator. If you are looking for some mean fashion inspiration, follow her Instagram here. Her 1555 followers will back up my advice.
  • Chris owns a screen printing company in Dallas. Check out some of his designs on his Instagram here.

Saturday: 

Mitch and I got brunch at a great place called BreadWinners in Uptown on McKinney Ave (this is the street in Uptown, according to the locals). We had a great breakfast. I ordered banana french toast. They made banana bread and then used it as the bread for the french toast. It was heaven. As it was raining, we decided to go to one of the museums on my list. We decided on the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. I am extremely happy that I went to this museum with a friend instead of alone as it was 100% a kids museum, something that Mitch and I didn’t know going into it. Being with someone else made this museum fun, but I would pass it up unless you are traveling with kids. It was also $19, not including special exhibit admissions.

We then went to a Dallas Mavericks game at the American Airlines Center! It was a great game against the Washington Wizards. The Mavs ultimately lost by three points, but we were at the edge of our seats the whole game! Totally worth the $20 tickets that I got a few days prior. The American Airlines Center is a great stadium and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house.

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Mitch and I then went back to Deep Ellum and met up with our new friends from the night before. We went to a bar called Twilight (good live music and comfy booths for chatting) before heading back to Double Wide for another round of Yaa-Hoo Yee-Haws.

Sunday:

Mitch and I had breakfast at my hotel and then went to the Dallas Zoo. It was about 56 degrees this day, so the zoo was really empty. The cold didn’t keep the animals from being active, so we had a great time and first row seats for every display of animal wildness! The zoo was $5 too, due to something called Penguin Days, so research when those are ahead of time! We just lucked out!

Despite the cold weather, we decided to check out the Truck Yard in Lower Greenville. This place was awesome. Live music in an outdoor patio surrounded by food trucks and a sports bar. I was a big fan of the sports bar as they had 5 types of cocktails on tap! Such a cool concept! This area is also pup friendly, so bring your fur babies!

A few hours later, Mitch and I decided to go our separate ways for dinner, so I wandered through Dallas until I found a place that looked good. I stumbled upon some great Thai food at Naga. Then I meandered through Dallas and found a live taping of the Dallas Nightly News. It was really interesting to see the process happening in front of me! As I am searching for my passion in life, I can definitely cross newscaster off the list! Way to much stress!

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Monday:

As some museums are closed on Mondays, I decided to play it safe and check out the Dallas Arboretum. The grounds are beautiful and not too big. During my visit, the 12 Days of Christmas was on exhibit (it is available through Jan. 3rd) and it really put me in the Christmas spirit! There are 12 gazeboes that you hunt throughout the gardens, each of which depicting one of the 12 days of Christmas from the song. All of the Christmas music really made the experience so much more magical! While on the grounds, visit the DeGolyer House and check out the The Artistry of the Nativity, a showcase of over 500 nativity sets. General admission is $15 and there is an extra $3 fee to enter the Rory Meyers Children’s Adventure Garden (only worth it if you get to see the OmniGlobe Presentation at 2:30pm daily).

While walking around the arboretum, I was practicing my rule of keep my phone off and my head up and sure enough some good walked into my life. I was approached by a fellow solo traveler, Jared. Jared is a nursing student in a near-by city, but previously lived in Dallas for 12 years and was in town visiting friends (who were working like Mitch). Well, great minds think alike, and Jared and I both decided to spend a day at the Arboretum while our friends worked. Jared and I walked together for a few hours, talking mainly about our mutual interest in reading. He suggested that I check out the Podcast RadioLab and Hardcore History, the comedians Joe Rogan and Bill Burr, and the works of Hunter S. Thompson. Jared also suggested we get lunch, and as he had been talking about a burger place called Waterburger, I suggested we go there. Side note – I was convinced Jared was saying Waterburger due to his Texan accent. When he pulled up to the place and I saw that it was actually WhatABurger, I became much more excited to eat. I mean, what the hell would a water burger taste like?

Although the burger doesn’t look like much (especially compared to In ‘n’ Out’s high stacked gorgeousness), it tasted pretty damn good. I got mine with grilled onions, cheese and avocado.

After breaking bread together, Jared and I went our separate ways. It was such an unexpected surprise to click with a random stranger so quickly.

Once I met up with Mitch, we went to a great restaurant called True Food Kitchen (TFK). It is the kind of place where everything is local, organic, and can be made vegan (if it isn’t already). TFK was like stepping into this episode of Portlandia. Of course, with such high quality ingredients the food (and even the drinks!) was amazing. We then ruined our healthy dinner by walking across the street to the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM. This was my first experience with Sprinkles and probably my last (shock, horror!). I’m not a huge cupcake lover and it was a little too indulgent for me.

Tuesday:

My last full day! I decided to end Dallas in the way I began it: with museums! I made my way first to the Dallas World Aquarium (it is an animal museum of sorts, ok?). Even with the $20.95 – hold up, what is with the 95 cents lumped on there?! Can we just call admission an even $20, please?! – admission fee, this is worth seeing. It is an awesome indoor aquarium with lots of different types of animals (panther, flamingos and, of course, sea life). I would recommend not going on a day when 5 different schools are there for field trips though, like I did. I love kids, I just don’t love being surrounded by 700 at one time and they are all screaming, “It is eating watermelon!” and “Look, I found Nemo!” and “Oh my God, it just pooped!!!”

After I reached my children threshold (I hit it in about an hour at the Aquarium), I went to the Holocaust Museum. Ok, that sounds horrible. Like really horrible… But honestly, it was the next thing on my agenda, with or without screaming children at the Aquarium.

If I am being honest, I was pretty disappointed with this exhibit. The student fare is $8, but it is such a small museum, it almost didn’t seem worth it. It is a self-guided audio tour, so it did offer a lot of facts. However I felt that constantly peeling your eyes away from the exhibit to key in numbers and symbols to continue listening, really disrupted the effect. We should be walking in awe of what these millions of people suffered and, instead, every two minutes you had to look away from the exhibit to “click to continue to the next slide” on the handheld guide.

I then went to the JFK Memorial. The architecture of the memorial is brilliant, designed by Philip Johnson. It is a cenotaph, a concrete box in essence, with two openings. The cenotaph, is raised off of the floor, so a passerby could see only the shoes of someone inside the memorial. The cenotaph also has no ceiling. The purpose of this floating cenotaph is to provide “a place of quiet refuge, an enclosed place of thought and contemplation separated from the city around, but near the sky and earth.” I thought it was a beautiful way to pay tribute to a great President in the middle of huge city.

I then went to The Old Red Museum. Unless you are a huge history nerd, this is one to skip. It isn’t free (I believe student pricing is $8) and focuses only on the history of Dallas. The building is beautiful though, so I would recommend spending that $8 on a coffee and croissant and admire the building Breakfast at Tiffany’s style – through the window.

Once the sun was close to setting, I walked over to Reunion Tower located in the Hyatt Regency. For $16 you can spend all day up at the Geo-Deck, getting a bird’s eye view of Dallas. I highly recommend doing this and if you do, make sure to go while the sun is setting. There is nothing like seeing the sun set over the Downtown Dallas skyline at 560 feet in the air.

While walking back to my hotel to pack for my flight the next morning, I noticed a ton of people were wearing hockey jerseys. I checked TicketMaster and sure enough the Dallas Stars were playing at American Airlines Center in 30 minutes. I decided to be spontaneous and buy myself a solo ticket for $40!

The game was a ton of fun. Dallas fans really are the best fans. During the “Star Spangled Banner”, whenever the word ‘star’ was sung, the entire crowd would yell it. And if the Stars scored a goal, the crowd would yell Yee-Haw! The Stars fans also did this whistle call, which I can only compare to Rue’s whistle from the Hunger Games in that it would start softly from one side of the stadium and then slowly more and more fans would be making the call until the entire stadium sounds like an aviary. This game was probably the highlight of my trip. I wound up in a totally unexpected place alone and loved every minute of it.

Wednesday:

I had a 9:45am flight, so I just spent the morning packing up before heading to the airport! I was flying back out of Dallas Love Field, which is a great airport. You can get through security easily within an hour and it offers lots of nice shops and a wide variety of food. After a short connection in Oakland, CA, I was back home in LA!

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Overall, Dallas was an amazing city that was perfect for solo travel. The locals were very warm and welcoming and definitely brought the Southern Hospitality that one hears about in Texas. I would love to go back to Texas, especially to visit Austin (I hear the music scene is amazing!). To all of the people I met in Dallas (Will, Chris, Chad, Kat, John, and Jared) that you for showing me a great time!

-TM

Where should I travel to next? Let me know below.

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8 thoughts on “A Week in Dallas

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