As the third-largest city in Texas, Dallas is a major center for southern tourism. Whether you're looking for educational, cultural, artistic, historic, just plain fun or even free attractions, Dallas has it in spades. Check out our list of top attractions in Dallas and you might find some places to add to your itinerary the next time you're in the Lone Star State.
Regularly voted one of the best aquariums in the country, the Dallas World Aquarium is much more than your average collection of marine animals. Walk-in and see the World Tree branching off into the different areas of the giant museum including the Mundo Maya, a major exhibit showcasing the animals featured in Mayan folklore. Also visit the Orinoco exhibit, the Aquarium proper, Borneo and South Africa, all of which contain land mammals and birds to create a heightened wildlife experience.
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
Perhaps the most beautiful and extensive botanical garden in the U.S., the Dallas Arboretum is an exemplary attraction for any tour group. If you have children in your group, the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden is an excellent place to start while adults may find more solace, relaxation, and adventure in gardens like A Woman's Garden, designed for a feminine connection with Mother Nature, or one of the other 18 beautifully landscaped gardens.
Hall of State
An incredible example of Art Deco architecture, the Hall of State was once the State of Texas Building and is now a Texas history museum located in Fair Park. Managed by the Dallas Historical Society, the Hall of State promotes exhibitions and permanent collections on a number of topics including the Texas Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement in Dallas, and much more.
Dallas Museum of Art
With free general admission and an excellent collection of world art, there's no reason not to visit the Dallas Museum of Art. Traveling exhibits promote works by European masters such as Albrecht Durer while permanent collections boast a worldly array of art from the ancient world to contemporary arts. See over 23,000 pieces of art from portraits by Diego Rivera to ceremonial masks dating back 5,000 years.
Nasher Sculpture Center
Opened in 2003 via a private collection donation, the Nasher Sculpture Center is devoted to just that, sculpture. Featuring more than 300 pieces of art by Pablo Picasso, Rodin, and contemporary architects like Renzo Piano, the Nasher Center is one of the country's best and brightest sculpture centers. Visit during the center's various events like their movies on the lawn or the many student programs.
Who doesn't love a zoo? The Dallas Zoo is 106 acres of wildlife adventure with all of your favorite African mammals including lions, cheetahs, African elephants, and rhinos. The zoo fun doesn't end there, however, and includes amazingly unique exhibits like Giants of the Jurassic, a wonderful and interactive children's zoo, and up-close experiences with the animals via zoo programs.
The site of the 1936 World's Fair, Fair Park maintains the world's largest exhibit of Art Deco buildings, art, and sculpture. Visit the 277-acre park and see the country's only unaltered World's Fair park still in its pre-1950s condition. Six of Dallas's best museums are located here including the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and the Hall of State.
Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe
Built-in the late 19th century, the Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of only two in the United States to honor the patroness of the Americas. Catering to both the U.S. and Spanish speaking immigrants living in Dallas, the Cathedral is a beautiful faith-based destination for tour groups and worship groups alike. The Cathedral stands at the center of the Dallas Arts District and because of its amazing beauty and mission to spread Christianity, the Cathedral gives tours to groups and individuals alongside their regular mass schedule.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
A fantastically interactive museum supporting the fun side of education, the Perot Museum offers five floors and eleven exhibit halls of learning. The permanent exhibit halls include the Discovering Life Hall, the Being Human Hall, the Dynamic Earth Hall on natural disasters, and the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall on the evolution of animals from dinosaurs to modern-day species.
Trinity River Audubon Center
A nature center part of the 6,000 acres Great Trinity Forest, the park is an excellent destination for groups looking to find recreation away from the city hubbub while remaining in the city. Participate in the center's nature programs, take a hike through the interpretive nature trails, bike the lanes, kayak or canoe the waterways, or take part in the center's upcoming community and educational events.
African American Museum
Dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Dallas' African American population, this free museum contains collections of ancient African art, ceremonial artifacts, African American fine art, folk art, and collections telling the story of North Dallas' African American community from 1869-1925. Docent-guided tours are an excellent choice for groups desiring a more in-depth look at the art and how it connects to the modern-day cultural population.
A large public park in downtown Dallas, Pioneer Plaza is little over four acres of artistic and natural beauty. Relax on the lawns, take a hike to get away from the city's noisy center, tour the park's statuary installations like the cattle drive sculpture, or visit the Confederate War Memorial on the site.
Highland Park Village
Simply put, Highland Park Village is an upscale shopping district. Looking a little further, it is an enlightened example of Dallas' personality, all at once a sophisticated urban center and a southern belle with Spanish roots. If you enjoy shopping on vacation, there's no better place to find your favorite labels and some designer goodies than at Highland Park Village. Also, stop here for lunch or dinner and a fun night on the town.