I am clocking my ninth year as a Dallasite, following stints in New York, Los Angeles, and Austin. Nine years in, and the sense of discovery has never left me, for two reasons. First, this place always has some new experience to punch up my Instagram feed. With an enterprising culture and plenty of capital flowing around, development is a constant. The second reason has to do with becoming a parent. I started to mentally file every place under “Take The Kid” or “Get a Sitter.” Both files are full. It’s a family-friendly city, especially if your child likes world-class food, shopping, and art. (Mine prefers dirt.)
If kids are in tow, you’re likely aware of the indoor water parks in the western suburbs. Since it’s summer and you might actually want to relax, too, I’d stay at the Hilton Anatole, which has an outdoor water park called JadeWaters exclusively for hotel guests. It features slides, a lazy river, swim-up bars, kids areas, and luxury cabanas. Plus, you’re close to downtown, and you can catch fireworks on select summer nights. No matter where you check in, check out the renovated Adolphus Hotel. The historic Beaux Arts property is more inviting since its facelift last year. A couple or a group of friends could spend an entire fabulous weekend there, enjoying the updated restaurants and amenities. Be sure to browse Commerce, its lobby boutique offering chic artisanal goods, many of them Texas-made or -inspired, like special-edition Stetsons and Dallas icons etched onto brass Zippo lighters. From there, hardcore fashionistas should walk up Main Street. Pause to take a photo with The Eye, a 30-foot sculpture by Tony Tasset. At Forty Five Ten, take in the city’s most sophisticated collection of designer fashion. Keep your energy up with the terrific farro bowl from Mirador, the bright and cheerful restaurant on top of the store. For a romantic dinner, look no further than Dolce Riviera. Sip a negroni at the open-air bar during sundown, then settle into one of the charming dining areas. To be transported to Italy, stick with the traditional salads, pastas, and seafoods. They lean into tableside service here, with a stunning fish cart and a cheese wheel for swirling certain pastas.
Dallasites take brunch seriously. For the full experience, you’ll need a cute outfit and a drinking strategy, because we’re not talking about pancake houses. The interior of The Henry is half preppy, half industrial, and its eclectic menu ranges from cheese fondue to Korean prime skirt steak. Let your confusion slide, because it’s all delicious and somehow works. Sixty Vines is barn-like and convivial, inspired by California wine country. Wines on tap ensure optimal conditions for your beverage—the right temperatures, no oxidation, no cork awkwardness. Shareable plates and long tables make the place ideal for groups. At Mudhen Meat & Greens, a farm-to-table concept at the Dallas Farmers Market, you can two-fist a craft cocktail and a mug of “crack coffee,” a signature concoction of cold brew, MCT oil, and cocoa powder.
If you’re not feeling that indulgent, the Farmers Market building houses a food hall and cute shops with local flair. You want a T-shirt about a specific Dallas neighborhood, or a framed depiction of a Dallas landmark? You’ve come to the right place. Next door at the Shed is the actual farmer’s market where you can shop the summer harvest of independent Texas and Oklahoma growers. Farmers to fashion, that’s how we roll here. The Dallas Museum of Art’s Christian Dior exhibition offers a chance to see haute couture and runway looks spanning seventy years of the iconic French maison. There’s even a Texas connection, thanks to the late Stanley Marcus, who invited Mr. Dior to Dallas to accept an award from Neiman Marcus in 1947. Timed tickets are required for the exhibition, which runs through September 1. The Crow Collection was recently acquired by UT-Dallas as a gift from the Trammel and Margaret Crow family, and renamed the Crow Museum of Asian Art. To celebrate its twentieth year, the museum is displaying twenty masterworks from its collection, through August 11. The Crow’s lovely gift shop, the Lotus Shop, has been expanded and can now be accessed from the street.
Staying with the Asian theme, Musume is your spot for a big night out. Start with sushi and pan-Asian tapas in the sleek dining room. A sake flight is a helpful introduction to its massive selection. Have you heard about its speakeasy? There are a few ways to gain admission to it, but the simplest is to dine at Musume. From our table, we were led through Musume’s kitchen and into Akai, a dark and seductive cocktail bar where the DJs only play deep Chicago house music, always at a volume conducive to conversation. The Suntory Toki highball machine pumps out a refreshing version, with tiny bubbles, that even haters of whiskey (like me) can quaff like champagne. Another great newcomer to the Arts District is Miriam Cocina Latina, on the northern side of Klyde Warren Park, a popular park dotted with playful features. We also can’t overlook Petra and The Beast, chef Misti Norris’s experimental kitchen in a former gas station on a scruffy block of Old East Dallas. Everything about this James Beard Award semifinalist is surprising: the counter service, the BYOB, the offal, the sheer excellence. With luck, you can make a reservation through Resy for the Saturday evening tasting menus. All other hours are walk-in only. For years, the toughest reservation in the city was Lucia, chef David Uygur’s cramped rustic-Italian spot in Oak Cliff’s Bishop Arts District. That shows no signs of changing, but now Lucia has a more-approachable sibling, Macellaio. The name means “butcher” in Italian, and the menu is accordingly meat-focused.
For the sports-mad traveler, the Dallas area has plenty to cheer, even in summer (aka not football season). At The Star in Frisco, about thirty miles up the Dallas North Tollway, you can tour the Dallas Cowboys’ World Headquarters, work out in the 60,000-square-foot Cowboys Fit gym, or catch a game of Dallas’s Major League Lacrosse team, the Rattlers. Frisco also has Toyota Stadium, home of FC Dallas and the National Soccer Hall of Fame, as well as minor-league baseball’s RoughRiders, who play at Dr Pepper Ballpark. If you prefer major-league action, trek west of Dallas to Arlington instead. The Texas Rangers are playing their final season in Globe Life Park before opening a new stadium next year. At the adjacent Texas Live! entertainment complex, you can pick from several different restaurants and bars. Or tour AT&T Stadium, where the Cowboys play their home games, next door. Don’t forget to see if the Dallas Wings are in town, so you can catch some WNBA action at the College Park Center on the UT-Arlington campus. For those who prefer shopping, visit suburban Plano’s Legacy West development. At one end stands Neighborhood Goods, an innovative, homegrown retail concept that features rotating pop-ups, mostly of direct-to-consumer brands that you normally can’t touch and feel before buying. At the other end of the upscale shopping strip is Legacy Hall, another outstanding food hall where cravers of lobster rolls, bao, brats, and macarons can nosh side by side. For a less strenuous Sunday, you could explore some of the many craft breweries in Dallas proper. Community, Peticolas, and Texas Ale Project are all just west of downtown. These places tend to be accepting of both children and dogs. Though many are tucked into warehouse parks and not much to look at, they do exude a certain beauty if you love craft beer. Actually, you could devote a whole weekend to Dallas’ craft beer scene. You’ll have to come back again sometime.