We’ve all done it. We’ve ignored the inherent cool factor of the city we call home.
No matter how fabulous the place, it’s so easy to take it for granted and forget that you can still be a tourist in your own city. And, you can do it on the cheap.
Any Dallasite could give you a long list of the hippest, hottest, and most happening places to be. Most of the time, they come with a price tag. But, then again, you already know this. You’ve been there; done that.
But, to go off the beaten path, that’s where the magic really happens.
Escape from the daily Dallas norm, and find inspiration in a new-to-you set of hidden gems. These happen to be the right price, too, in that they don’t cost a single dime.
Where: 4601 Lakeside Dr., Dallas
Lush and pristine — and plenty playful — this Turtle Creek park is nicknamed Teddy Bear Park, and for good reason. In addition to the exceptionally landscaped grounds, the whimsical, larger-than-life stone teddy bears are in good company with gorgeous waterways, lily pads, rolling creek, and trails.
Bath House Cultural Center
Where: 521 E. Lawther Dr., Dallas
Originally a bathhouse for White Rock Lake, the historic Art Deco building now serves as a theater, gallery, and museum, where you can check out free visual and performing arts shows as well as other multidisciplinary art events. The views out to the lake aren’t half bad either.
42 Murals Project
Where: Deep Ellum
Street art on a whole ‘notha level, this urban art project has provided an opportunity for local, national, and international artists to showcase their talent through murals painted on many of the historic buildings in Deep Ellum. These walls really do talk, and trust us: You’ll want to Instagram each one.
Where: 140 N. Main St., Grapevine
If The Crown has you channeling #RoyalLife, this place will bring you one step closer to the Brits. The award-winning emporium is a premier British grocer, tea merchant, and gift shop with hard-to-find imported tea, biscuits, chocolates, frozen products, preserves, pickles, and other fine groceries. Sure, it’s technically in Grapevine, but that’s way closer than crossing the pond. Cheerio!
Dealey Plaza and John F. Kennedy Memorial
Where: 411 Elm St., Dallas
It’s kind of a downer, but also a dynamic part of history that even locals overlook. The plaza in downtown Dallas serves as a city park and marks the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The neighboring memorial honors the late president with a simple monument that’s open for public viewing daily.
Where: 1627 Pacific Ave., Dallas
You’ll be giving thanks for the chapel at Thanks-Giving Square that’s a hidden kaleidoscope of beauty amidst the concrete jungle. The architectural gem, designed by Philip Johnson, is a haven of peacefulness and features a spiral design with colorful stained glass — and it's a super Instagram-worthy moment, too.
Fitness classes at Klyde Warren Park
Where: 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Dallas
Get your sweat on — for free — with some of the city’s leading yoga, barre, and boot camp instructors at Klyde Warren Park. The park is no secret in the city, but not a lot of people really explore the treasure trove of community arts, culture, and fitness activities that are available on a daily basis.
Where: 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., Dallas
Home to the largest collection of 1930s Art Deco exposition-style architecture in North America, Fair Park is largely ignored except during the State Fair of Texas. But, there’s so much more to the 277 acres than just corny dogs and carnival rides. Take a walking tour throughout the grounds to discover the art and architecture of the national historic landmark.
Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive
Where: 1428 Young St., Dallas
See the original Dallas Cowboys in front of Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center at this plaza that commemorates the trails that brought settlers to Dallas and cattle to market. Nearly 50 bronze steers, herded by a handful of cowboys on horses, take a stand in downtown but still go easily overlooked.
Crow Collection of Asian Art
Where: 2010 Flora St., Dallas
Equal parts peaceful haven and remarkable museum, this Dallas Arts District destination is a serenely serious way to marvel at centuries-old artifacts and unique works of art from China, Japan, India, and Southeast Asia. The sculpture garden hidden among bamboo, maples, and azaleas might be the best part. They also offer free (and fascinating) Eastern-inspired wellness classes, yoga and meditation, and lectures for an all-encompassing experience.
Prairie Creek Park
Where: 2400 W. Prairie Creek Dr., Richardson
Go chasing waterfalls at this easily overlooked park, where an easy hike will lead you to the secluded falls. Sure, they are pretty miniature in the grand scheme, but a refreshing, natural oasis nonetheless.
Where: Downtown Dallas
A secret network of subterranean space, the tunnels include a motley collection of shops and services but mainly food court-like eateries. The biggest draw is just exploring the maze-like grid underneath the street that’s cool in a creepy way. Oh, and there is a Chick-fil-A for the win.
Where: 2624 Commerce St., Dallas
A true dive bar, this hole-in-the-wall honky tonk has free music shows every night of the week. The walls are covered in “graffiti”-like art that reveals good times had by patrons. They provide markers, so you can add your own part to the story —that’s free of charge, too.
The Samurai Collection
Where: 2501 N. Harwood St., Dallas
Flying way under the radar in comparison to other museum staples like the Dallas Museum of Art and the Nasher Sculpture Center, this place is just as special with an exemplary collection of 1,000-plus pieces of Japanese armor, weaponry, and more.
Fine Arts Chamber Players
Where: Various locations
From Beethoven concertos to Baroque violin and modern percussion, local talents play it all during the FACP’s free community concerts, chamber music series, and educational activities.
Where: 1500 Marilla St., Dallas
Dallas City Hall kind of skirts around the main hub of downtown, so it can be easily ignored. However, it’s a hidden gem in plain sight, as the massive yet intriguing, inverted-wedge building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei. A seven-acre plaza surrounds it with a reflecting pool and sculptures by Henry Moore.
McKinney Avenue Trolley
Where: Various locations
Hop on and enjoy the ride with restored, vintage trolleys that run through the Uptown and Downtown districts. They stop at several points of interest, including West Village, Hotel ZaZa, Shops at The Crescent, Dallas Arts District, and more. Or, you can just go for a spin and see all your go-to spots from a whole new vantage point.
Mary Kay Museum
Where: 16251 Dallas Parkway, Addison
Way more than just pink Cadillacs, Mary Kay's mega makeup world headquarters features a free onsite museum that few really know about. Have a pretty-in-pink moment, as you walk through the brand’s history and understand Mary Kay Ash’s dream to build a company that would give women unlimited opportunity.
Munger Place Historic District
Where: Old East Dallas
Go house hunting and see the largest collection of Prairie-style homes in the country as you wander the sidewalks, where you can see the historic mansions and other landmarks.
Neiman Marcus Flagship
Where: 1618 Main St., Dallas
Window-shopping takes on new meaning at the luxury retailer’s flagship downtown Dallas that originally opened in 1907. It’s a history lesson for the ultimate stylista.
Art Tour at NorthPark
Where: 8687 North Central Expressway, Dallas
Instead of retail therapy, try art therapy. A complimentary map of the shopping center’s Art Tour, available at the concierge desk, highlights the internationally acclaimed 20th and 21st-century collection that includes major works by renowned artists including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Joel Shapiro, and so many more. The CenterPark lush garden is also a serene urban retreat to escape the mall madness.
The Museum of Geometric and MADI Art
Where: 3109 Carlisle St., Dallas
Colorful shapes and Crayola colors punctuate the walls at this haven for the international abstract art style called MADI. This small hidden gem has big cred; it’s the only museum dedicated to MADI art and the primary point of focus for the MADI movement in the United States.
Deep Vellum Books
Where: 3000 Commerce St., Dallas
Indulge in a real page-turner, at this tucked-away indie bookseller in the heart of Deep Ellum that bridges traditional with trendy with well-curated finds of arts, music, and cultural tomes.
Where: 3520 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas
Perfect for all of the Game of Thrones-obsessed, this tiny park in Oak Lawn is basically a hidden fairy tale. Visit the space and commune with a fantastical collection of statues — think angels, fairies, gargoyles, and, of course, dragons.
The Wild Detectives
Where: 314 W Eighth St., Dallas
Bookstore meets booze at this tucked-away spot in Oak Cliff. But, you don’t have to buy a drink to browse around or attend some of the pop-up events that include panel discussions, book clubs, poetry readings, and more.
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Where: 2403 Flora St., Dallas
Usually, a ticket is required to attend ATTPAC’s impressive list of music, dance, opera, and theater shows in the Dallas Arts District. But, on the first Saturday of every month, you can tour the venue for free and get a rare BTS glimpse of its innovative, award-winning performance spaces.
Flag Pole Hill Park
Where: Northwest Highway and Buckner Blvd., Dallas
One of the lesser known parks, this green space is a perfect getaway for a picnic in the field with wide open spaces as far as the eye can see.
Marie Gabrielle Restaurant and Gardens
Where: 2728 N. Harwood St., Dallas
A magically secluded oasis in the heart of the Harwood District, this sanctuary of a place primarily serves as a restaurant and special event venue. However, the expansive green space hidden among the surrounding foliage is the epitome of a French garden with reflecting pools, sculpted trees, giant chess games, and makeshift picnic spots.
Where: 161 Glass St., Dallas
Pushing the boundaries with provocative exhibits is what makes the Dallas Contemporary a go-to destination for artsy insiders who like a side of edginess with their art.
Where: 1500 Main St., Dallas
Get your wings here, and wander through the plaza that has a hot spring fountain and is frequently the site of special events and pop-up art and music.
Little Elm Beach
Where: 701 W. Eldorado Parkway, Little Elm
If you’re asking “where’s the beach,” find your answer at this oasis in Little Elm, of all places. It’s slightly outside of Dallas city limits and there’s certainly not an ocean anywhere close by, but you can still build a sand castle and go for a swim. We’ll take it.
The Hand Collection at Baylor
Where: Truett Building, 3500 Gaston Ave., Dallas
The hands do all the talking at this exhibit of more than 100 cast bronze hands at Dallas' Baylor University Medical Center. It’s the work of Adrian Flatt, M.D., one of the foremost hand surgeons in the world. He wanted to show how expressive and revealing individual hands could be. Hand “personalities” include Katherine Hepburn, Walt Disney, Louis Armstrong, and Winston Churchill, just to name a few.
US Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Where: 9000 Blue Mound Road, Fort Worth
Money, money, money! This money-printing facility produces billions of dollars — and you can see the Benjamins flying from an enclosed walkway suspended above the production floor during their free, behind-the-scenes guided tours. Considering it’s only one of two facilities in the United States — the other is in Washington D.C. — it’s worth the mini road trip to Fort Worth.