‘Tis the season for all things merry and bright—and lots of #NetflixAndChill nights. We know how you roll, and we’re right there with you. No judgment.
But, may we suggest a little something different for date night than cozying up under the blankets for a binge watch and takeout—something that likewise doesn’t involve the copy-paste-repeat dinner-and-a-movie or standard bar scene.
Your GF will love these 28 secret-ish places in and around Dallas that you might not have heard or thought of—many of which hold their own intriguing scenes and a few surprises, too, in true hidden-gem fashion.
With this cool list, you’ll be impressing bae in no time flat—all winter long—whether you’re on a first date or full-on #couplegoals.
Where: 1623 N. Hall St.
Good tidings of great coffee are at this adorable shop that has no shortage of holiday cheer. It goes by Fiction Coffee—except at Christmastime when they prefer you call the shop “Deck The Hall Street”—and it is the most adorable place to cuddle up to a Falala-Latte, with cinnamon and lavender, or a Secret Santa latte, with cinnamon, mocha, and jalapeno. In addition to all the decorations, there’s even a wishing wall inside where you can write your list to Santa. And, of course, outside the shop is a painted, seasonal mural. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.
Where: 2010 Flora St.
Sometimes overshadowed by its neighbors, the Dallas Museum of Art and Nasher Sculpture Center, the Crow is an Arts District gem that celebrates the arts and cultures of Asia in a totally Zen space. The current exhibit, Jacob Hashimoto: Clouds & Chaos, is particularly whimsical; it runs through April 7, so you have plenty of time to swing by.
Where: 6905 Bexar St.
Cultivating a sustainable, innovative and vibrant farm in the midst of an urban food desert, Bonton Farms is transforming the community. And, you can help on their volunteer Service Saturdays with a morning of farm restoration and to-dos like goat milking, plant harvesting, and chicken cooping. And, the recently opened Market there offers healthy, local, chef-inspired food that’s perfect for a true farm-to-table breakfast or lunch date.
Where: 2201 N. Stemmons Fwy.
The immersive holiday experience at the Hilton Anatole’s outdoor Sculpture Park will have you channeling your inner child. Yes, it’s definitely designed with the real kids in mind, but it’s a magical place to stroll through, nonetheless, with holiday lights, a sweet shop, cookie decorating, a nativity petting zoo, and more. A portion of the ticket proceeds benefit Make-A-Wish North Texas.
Where: 3926 Oak Lawn Ave.
The name alone gives this place the cred to be on this list. But, even if you’ve heard about—or tasted—the chocolate and wine pairings here, what you may not know is that they also serve some pretty sweet (and savory) crepes as well as a solid tea-party service. After all, one cannot live on chocolate alone (I've heard anyways). FYI: There’s live music on Wednesday through Saturday evenings.
Where: 8103 Rasor Blvd., Ste. 100, Plano
Whether you go “The Warriors Way” or find your way out of “Lost Ruins”—or maybe experience “The Gift” or an alien “Encounter,” the Red Door’s thematic escape rooms will keep you guessing. And, they’re great for double dates, too.
Where: 3511 Oak Lawn Ave.
It’s okay to be cheesy here. But, in addition to sampling some of the 150-plus handmade American, Texas and European cheeses, what you and your GF will really want to do is get in on is one of Scardello’s wine and cheese pairings classes.
Where: 3220 Botanic Garden Blvd., Fort Worth
Fall and winter colors come alive in December at this secret little destination in the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. The traditional setting is comprised of winding paths through 7.5 acres filled with cherry trees, Japanese maples, magnolias, bamboo, bridges, and ponds with Koi fish.
Where: 4100 Maple Ave.
You may equate barbecue with summer, but the winter is a perfect time to cozy up to all those warm, smoky flavors. And, 18th & Vine is a charming gem of a place to do it, with pitmaster Matt Dallman’s upscale Kansas City ’cue—plus, some really legit other menu items like the brownies a la mode for starters. Upstairs is The Roost, a quaint bar with live music—for even cozier surrounds.
Where: 8525 Garland Rd.
Holiday at the Arboretum is a romantically festive way to spend the evening with “The 12 Days of Christmas” outdoor display featuring an elaborate collection of 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos filled with charming costumed characters, whimsical animals, and music. In addition to that enchantment, 500,000 lights are illuminated throughout the garden and the historic DeGolyer House has “The Artistry of the Nativity” exhibit with 500 crèches from more than 50 countries. The Christmas spirit stays illuminated through December 30.
Where: 650 South R.L. Thornton Fwy.
After dark, the Zoo comes alive—in a whole new way—with Zoo Lights through January 1. It’s a wild, winter wonderland with more than one million twinkling lights illuminating ZooNorth along with silk-covered lanterns in the shape of animals, nightly musical performances, light shows, a sugar shack, and more.
Where: 2728 N. Harwood St.
With European charm and a hint of “Alice in Wonderland” magic, this garden oasis in the Harwood District is nothing short of a true Dallas treasure nestled within the bustling city. Beautiful oak and river birch trees and a spectacular reflecting pool—along with a giant Christmas tree during the holidays—make for a lovely breakfast or lunch views at the restaurant during the week.
Where: 3115 West Parker Rd., Plano
An odd mix of lacrosse and basketball played in bumper cars, Whirlyball is the perfect way to spice up the wintertime with a bit of friendly competition. Or, go to LaserWhirld, a 6,000-square-foot, two-story laser tag arena that’s also onsite.
Where: 2701 Main St., Ste. 180-190
Classic barbershop by day; cool-kid speakeasy by night ... the bar’s through the back of the shop, where the intimate ambiance makes for the perfect backdrop for live music and craft cocktails influenced by the spirit of the 1920s.
Where: 263 N. Bishop Ave.
If vegan nachos are your love language, this cute-chic little café delivers the romance. You can totally get fresh here with real food, cold-pressed juices, and all the healthy treats for any meal of the day—and plenty of positive inspiration to go along with them. The elderberry latte is an immune-boosting must for this time of year, too. And, it’s not all vegan, so don’t worry if that’s not you or bae’s thing.
Where: 2414 Routh St.
The cozy little coffee shop in a charming house has equally cozy drinks like autumn spice lattes, hot cocoa, and homemade cinnamon syrup to spice up any caffeine kick.
Where: 2521 Ave. K, Plano
Bowl all night long at this 24-hour entertainment destination. It took on a new retro-mod, boutique spirit after extensive renovations a couple years ago with glossy lanes, a bar and restaurant, arcade, private VIP rooms, and more. Of course, you may still have the vision of the former ’80s-era bowling center in mind, in which case, you and bae should definitely go back to bowl any time of the day—or night.
Where: 320 W. Eighth St.
You and your GF can have your coffee and chill at this happy place that not only serves up amazing brews, matcha, and tea, but also the most vibrant smoothie bowls—in case you really want to chill out.
Where: 418 N. Bishop Ave.
For your quintessential comfort-food fix, look no further than Hattie’s, where the cute bistro infuses their dishes with heaps of Southern, low-country flavors. Pro tip: Make sure to ask for the fried chicken and waffles—even if you don’t see them on the menu.
Where: Locations TBA
Dine on the down-low at this private, invitation-only dinner party—you request to be put on the list—thrown by three chefs and friends who met on the set of MasterChef. The communal supper is an impressive, hours-long multi-course meal with complimentary wine pairings, all made with the freshest local and artisan ingredients.
Where: 1333 Plowman Ave.
Your GF will have all the heart eyes for this millennial-pink coffee shop. The 300-square-foot space may be small but it’s big on irony and attitude (and Instagram photo opps). You’ll almost think you’re an active participant in a performance art installation. Plus, they have things like “sugar rectangles” a.k.a. Pop Tarts and other kitschy treats in addition to that latte.
Where: 1515 S. Harwood St.
Indulge in a bit of time travel at this historic village, which is home to the largest and finest collection of 19th-century pioneer and Victorian homes and commercial buildings in Texas. You can tour anytime, but go to Candlelight, the annual holiday celebration there on December 8-9 with twinkling lights and décor, strolling carolers, a bake sale, Saint Nicholas sightings, holiday crafts, and more.
Where: 1627 Pacific Ave.
Give thanks for that girl in your life at this chapel that’s a peaceful, tucked-away haven in the heart of downtown. The swirling architecture is a sight to behold—as is the stained glass Glory Window.
Where: Nylo Dallas South Side, 1325 S. Lamar
You don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to gain access to this indoor-outdoor rooftop bar with some of the best skyline views around. The fire pits and infinity pool only add to the hot ambiance.
Where: 1914 Commerce St.
Yes, you really do need the secret code word to get into this swanky, subterranean speakeasy, located at The Statler. For that reason alone, it’s one of the coolest—and sultriest—places for drinks after dark. The cocktails are super-creative, too. And, yes, there are hundreds of bourbons behind the bar.
Where: 2316 Victory Park Ln.
Indulge your sweetheart by checking in at the Sweet Tooth Hotel. This season’s “1955” Space-Age edition of the experiential art pop-up in Victory Park is what a “rocket ship fueled by rainbows looks like”—their words, not ours. But, once you go, you’ll get it. Just don’t delay—the indulgence officially ends on December 31.
Where: Revolver Taco Lounge, 2701 Main St.
You’ve likely been to Revolver—or at least heard of it. But, have you ventured down the narrow passageway to their secret back room called Purepecha? Behind the wooden antique door is one of the most casually intimate spots to dine. You do have to plan ahead for this one, as the room only accommodates 14 people on any given night. Make a reservation for the eight-course meal with specially selected traditional Mexican dishes by mother-son duo Juanita Rojas and Regino Rojas.
Where: 909 1st Ave.
This beautiful, 1920s-era Spanish Baroque performance hall at the fairgrounds sometimes gets overlooked. But, it’s still the home of Dallas Summer Musicals, and this winter, you can see the hauntingly romantic musical, The Phantom of the Opera, from December 19 through January 6.