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Dallas, Texas, is a larger-than-life, colorful city with hip neighborhoods to explore, lots of cuisines to try and some serious shopping to tackle. Whatever your preferred spice level, we’ve created an action-packed 48-hour itinerary for your next Texas vacation.

48 Hours in Dallas, Texas

A Warm Dallas Welcome

Upon arrival, check in and drop your bags at downtown’s CANVAS Hotel. This vibrant boutique hotel is the perfect launchpad for a weekend of big Texas fun. Newly redone and redesigned by the powerhouse design team at Studio11, it’s like staying in a giant art gallery. We got a behind-the-scenes tour from designer Kellie Sirna and learned how every nook and cranny of the hotel was craftily designed (on an impressively tight budget) to provide comfort and community for both visitors and locals.

Canvas hotel lobby

Kellie Sirna and her Studio11 team filled the CANVAS Hotel with trinkets they purchased from shops and markets in Dallas and around the world. Image: CANVAS Hotel

Canvas Dallas queen room

Each room is filled with pieces from a curated collection of local and rotating art. The exposed brick and natural light were treats, too. Image: CANVAS Hotel

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The heated rooftop pool and bar, sweeping skyline views and funky — but Texas — decor in each room create a welcome respite between exploring, dining and shopping. About a mile-and-a-half from all the downtown attractions (and there are a lot!), the location couldn’t have been better. After an early afternoon check-in, stick to downtown before dinner. The first stop is the Nasher Sculpture Center, an indoor-outdoor epicenter for modern and contemporary sculptures. The permanent collection features works from beloved artists like Matisse, Miro and Picasso, and temporary exhibits showcase new and rare collections.

From there, walk to the nearby Klyde Warren Park, oddly situated atop a freeway where you’ll find kids frolicking in the fountains, people practicing on the putting green, growing lines at the food trucks, free exercise classes and impromptu concerts. For a pre-dinner drink, check out The Joule, a trendy hotel for the more amenity-driven traveler. But you’re welcome without a room key, too. And be sure to have your phone out to snap a photo by the gravity-defying infinity pool and, of course, the famous eye.

Klyde Warren Park is little cultural oasis in the heart of downtown.

Klyde Warren Park is a little cultural oasis in the heart of downtown.

Simply Eye by Tony Tasset in downtown Dallas

This piece is simply called “Eye” and was created by artist Tony Tasset in 2007 as part of a temporary display in Chicago. The eerily realistic-looking fiberglass piece stands 30 feet tall and is modeled after the artist’s own baby blues.

There’s not a more coveted Friday night dinner reservation than one at Drake’s Hollywood. The team behind Hudson House (another incredible Dallas brunch option to keep in your back pocket) recently debuted this old-school, Hollywood-glam steakhouse, and it’s all anyone can talk about. Equal parts comfy and sophisticated, Drake’s combines ultra-swank Beverly Hills Hotel vibes with classic American dishes and live jazz.

Outside of Drake's Hollywood

Drake’s Hollywood serves up live jazz music, dim mood lighting and the coziest red booths. Make your reservation ahead of time! Image: Instagram

Burger and fries from Drake's

You can’t go wrong with Drake’s Louie Burger. Made with thin patties, American cheese, thinly sliced pickles and minced onion, it’s truly perfection. Image: Instagram

No 48-hour stint in Dallas would be complete without a taste of its vibrant nightlife. From dinner, head uptown to The Rustic (it’s on your way home, don’t worry!). At this Dallas staple, you’ll find delicious craft beer and real Texas country music served in a picnic-tabled yard beneath strands of twinkling lights. Or Uber over to the popular Knox-Henderson neighborhood where Capitol Pub and The Old Monk are populous watering holes. Oenophiles, check out Veritas Wine Room’s 400+ wines from all over the world. For a DJ-fueled dance floor and lively patio, The Skellig really heats up at night.

Rustic Dallas outdoor seating with string lights

Check out The Rustic’s packed lineup of musical acts here. Image: Visit Dallas

Saturdays are for Shopping

Whenever you wake, you don’t have to wander too far for a fabulous cup of coffee and fresh breakfast dishes. House-made lemon blueberry pancakes, steel-cut oats and berries, and Texas tacos are just a few of our favorites from Chef’s Palette, which is conveniently connected to the CANVAS Hotel. Before we dive into Saturday plans, we would be remiss not to give the Dallas shopping scene the attention it so gleamingly deserves. Whether you’re looking for haute couture, collectible art or funky home goods, Dallas has it all. Here are a few favorites from different categories. For art and home knickknacks: Blue Print (you had us at the “Blue Print”) and Mecox. For a splurge: the original Neiman Marcus flagship store (downtown), Forty Five Ten (an impeccable array of high fashion downtown) and Cabana & Canary (two side-by-side specialty boutiques on W. Lovers Lane). For the kids: Froggie’s 5 & 10 and Madre. For unique and funky clothes, decor and trinkets: Favor the Kind and Grange Hall.

Facade of Forty Five Ten

Forty Five Ten is an eclectic collection of luxe finds that are just as fun to browse as they are to buy. Take your money to the onsite restaurant, Mirador, for brunch or tea. Image: Forty Five Ten

Two fabulous shopping clusters (meccas might be the proper word here) — Highland Park Village (the country’s original self-contained outdoor retail neighborhood has more than 70 shops) and Dallas Design District — could easily eat up half a day or more. The Dallas Design District is a compact, walkable area near downtown packed with leading local and international designer showrooms, many of which are open to the public. A cast of highfalutin (in the best way) and highly rated restaurants like The Charles, Sassetta, Wheelhouse and Town Hearth further satisfy eager and happy shoppers.

And after you get your shopping fix, fill up on knowledge at the Perot Museum, a wonderland of natural history and science. This museum does an exceptional job of educating kids and adults through dozens of interactive exhibits across six levels. You could spend a whole day here, but don’t! There is much more to see. Scoot on over to the Dallas Farmers Market, a culinary playground brimming with smells and sights, local chefs and travelers alike. Fresh provisions, bricks-and-mortar restaurants, hungry shoppers, adorable dogs and even musical performers line the stalls — both inside at the Market and outside at The Shed. You’ll see people perched at the chic raw bar slurping oysters and rosé and others clutching the famous spiraled fried potato on a stick. It’s worth noting that the 26,000-square-foot indoor market is much more than a food hall and pulls at every heartstring. The beauty of this place is you don’t have to choose. Grab a taste from each compartment and find some authentic, edible Texas souvenirs.

Crowd outside at Dallas Farmers Market patio

You get two free sides of Dallas skyline and fantastic people-watching at the Dallas Farmers Market. Image: Dallas Farmers Market

If barbecue is more your thing, we suggest just snacking at the market and heading into Deep Ellum for a late lunch. This neighborhood is filled with weekend warriors ready to bar hop, dance to some live music and get their fill of some of the city’s best food. We’re talking about the legendary family-owned Pecan Lodge. Here, anything they can make from scratch, they do make from scratch. And the pit stays smoking 24 hours a day.

Spread of food at Pecan Lodge

Try a little bit of everything with The Trough from Pecan Lodge – beef rib, brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage and a bunch of sides. Image: Facebook

After your fill of ‘cue, there’s a lot to explore in Deep Ellum, including famous murals, art galleries, shops and more chances for an adult beverage. There’s no better Saturday afternoon spot than Dot’s Hop House & Cocktail Courtyard. Or maybe you’ve got enough liquid courage to hit some of Dallas’s tempting shops. Or perhaps you just need a nap. However you spent the late afternoon, it’s time to get gung ho about dinner … at Gung Ho. This team has assembled all the ingredients necessary for a hip, neighborhood American-Chinese restaurant — the atmosphere, the bar program, the tantalizing menu. Top marks for all. Our large group shared everything, and not an inch of the table went unused. Coconut shrimp, Mongolian chicken and the Dan Dan Noodles (noodles, spicy pork ragu, scallion and peanuts) were all hits.

The drink menu is comprised of creative, whimsically named cocktails and a variety of sake, beer and wine. If you choose to dine elsewhere (might we suggest Desert Racer or Gemma), keep in mind that Gung Ho is open for late-night snacking and dim sum brunch. Lower Greenville is a fun, walkable area with lots of restaurants and bars, so grab a nightcap. We love HG Sply Co., Alamo Club and Truck Yard. Or try all three, your hotel room and late checkout will be there to catch you.

Dinner spread and drinks from Gung Ho in Dallas

Made with 42 Below Vodka, cinnamon passionfruit vanilla syrup, pineapple and lime, the Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything is the perfect late-night pick-me-up. Image: Gung Ho

Sunday Funday: Dallas Edition

To make the most of your last half-day in Dallas, make the trek to Bishop Arts District and head straight to Hattie’s. Widely accepted as one of the best brunches in Dallas, Hattie’s Head Chef Estivan Galindo serves Carolina Lowcountry-inspired Southern dishes like a buttermilk fried chicken salad and a four-cheddar mac & cheese. The rest of this neighborhood is teeming with quirky shops for gifts, interiors and clothes … plus a few stellar ice cream shops.

Interior of Hattie's in Dallas

Hattie’s is a rustic, charming house-turned-restaurant that’s been a Dallas favorite for more than 17 years. Image: Hattie’s

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If you have time to kill before your flight and the weather is nice, the Dallas Arboretum is a beloved oasis of gardens overlooking White Rock Lake. There are events year-round like expanses of tulips in the spring, concerts on the lawn in the summer, pumpkins in the fall and festive Christmas exhibits in the winter. No matter the season of your visit, you will want to return the next.

There’s always something new to try, old favorites to revisit and new people to meet in Dallas. This colorful city’s got so many individually exciting pockets to discover, the nicest people you’ll ever meet and some serious shopping to tackle. No matter your tastes, Dallas is truly a choose-your-own-adventure city, and for that reason, we will always come back.

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