A recent article in The New York Times, “Car Free Vacations for the Urban Traveler,” spotlighted major transit improvements in Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. (All of these cities, except Detroit, have been featured in previous Car Free Journey columns.). Here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/20/travel/car-free-vacations-in-american-cities.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share.
I was disappointed that at least 3 major mid-sized U.S. cities with excellent public transit, including light rail lines, were left out. Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Portland Ore. (Portland was spotlighted in Car Free Journey: https://ecocitiesemerging.org/2016/09/car-free-journey-portland-oregon/. You can view our Pittsburgh Car Free Journey column at: https://ecocitiesemerging.org/2015/10/pittsburgh/.)
In March and April, 2013, guest columnists Johnny Elbow and Karen Ptacek, from (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) Marketing & Communications (DART), wrote a two-part series describing how visitors could enjoy visiting Dallas without needing to drive.
However, much has changed since 2013. To help our readers, the DART Marketing & Communications staff has contributed an updated Car Free Journey column that includes descriptions of neighborhoods, places to stay, and other important information for anyone considering visiting Dallas without a car.
Part 1 includes DART’s updated column. Part 2 (next month) will include information about Dallas local parks, and tips and suggestions from local residents about their favorite activities, places to go, and where to eat.
Let’s begin our visit to Dallas
Visiting Dallas Without a Car: a (mostly) Light Rail Guide,
by DART Marketing & Communications
Gone are the days when the automobile was practically Dallas’ mascot and a visit here meant taking taxis or renting a car. Whether you’re in Dallas for business or visiting as a weekend getaway, much of Big D is surprisingly transit-accessible and pedestrian-friendly. Both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field are connected to downtown Dallas by public transit, and Amtrak, Megabus and Greyhound all have downtown terminals. Many of DART’s rail stations and bus transit centers offer free parking; find a complete list at www.DART.org/parking.
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Passengers arriving at DFW Airport can take the DART Rail Orange Line from DFW Airport Station, located at DFW Airport’s Terminal A, near the lower level of Gate A-10. The Orange Line operates seven days a week; trains arrive at DFW Airport regularly from 3:50 a.m. to 1:19 a.m. daily.
http://www.dart.org/riding/dfwairport.asp; or http://www.dfwairport.com/transport/public/p1_007747.php
Dallas Love Field Airport
Passengers arriving on Southwest Airlines and other carriers at Dallas Love Field can catch DART’s Love Link Route 524, which operates between Dallas Love Field and Inwood/Love Field Station, providing an airport connection to the DART Rail Green Line and Orange Line. http://www.dart.org/riding/lovefield.asp
Serves Dallas’ Union Station, which is also a transfer point for the DART Red and Blue Lines and the Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth. http://www.amtrak.com/home
Now offers service to “Dallas” from Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Be sure to select trips that arrive at and depart from the DART East Transfer Center in Downtown Dallas and not Grand Prairie, Texas. The East Transfer Center is located at the corner of Pearl and Live Oak streets, a few blocks from Pearl/Arts District Station. http://us.megabus.com/
The Dallas Greyhound Station is on Lamar Street, approximately three blocks from DART’s West End Station.
Where to Stay
Many hotels are located in downtown Dallas and elsewhere along DART Rail, all within blocks of a station. Explore all your options on DART’s Travel Agent page:
Adolphus Hotel: http://www.hoteladolphus.com/ Akard Station
Crowne Plaza Hotel – Downtown Dallas: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/crowneplaza/hotels/us/en/dallas/dalem/hoteldetail West End Station
Dallas Magnolia Hotel: http://www.magnoliahotels.com/dallas/magnolia-hotel-dallas.php Akard Station
Dallas Marriott City Center: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/daldt-dallas-marriott-city-center/ Pearl/Arts District Station
Fairmont Dallas Hotel: http://www.fairmont.com/dallas/; Akard Station
This is your best choice if you are visiting the Dallas Arts District-just a 10-minute walk away
Hilton Garden Inn Downtown Dallas: http://hiltongardeninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/texas/hilton-garden-inn-downtown-dallas-DALPAGI/index.html Akard Station
Hotel Indigo: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/hotelindigo/hotels/us/en/dallas/dalar/hoteldetail?_requestid=1562990 St. Paul Station
Hotel Lawrence Dallas: http://www.hotellawrencedallas.com/ Union Station
Hyatt Regency Dallas: http://dallasregency.hyatt.com/hyatt/hotels/events/meetings/index.jsp Dallas Convention Center Station
This hotel is connected to the Reunion Tower: an icon of the Dallas skyline
The Joule, Dallas: http://www.thejouledallas.com/; Akard Station
There is a lot of great artwork located in the lobby area of this high-end boutique style hotel.
Omni Dallas Hotel: http://www.omnihotels.com/FindAHotel/DallasHotel.aspx Dallas Convention Center Station
Sheraton Dallas Hotel: http://www.sheratondallashotel.com/ Pearl/Arts District Station
SpringHill Suites Dallas Downtown/West End: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/DALWE-SpringHill-Suites-Dallas-Downtown-West-End West End Station
Westin Dallas Downtown: http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=4268 Akard Station
Not surprisingly, the best place to stay is in the heart of downtown Dallas, which is served by all four light DART rail lines, (Red, Blue, Green, and Orange) and the Trinity Railway Express, DART’s commuter rail line co-owned by the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA).
Every hotel in downtown Dallas is within a few blocks from a DART station, and the sleek trains arrive every few minutes to whisk you to the city’s most popular dining, shopping and entertainment destinations. And here’s the best part; you can ride just about anywhere DART goes – all day long – for as little as $5. Plus, you can buy transit passes and access trip planning tools with the agency’s free GoPassSM app, available in the App Store and Google Play store.
Before You Start Exploring Dallas and Visiting Attractions
Save money with a DART pass for unlimited travel on local buses and light rail. A one-day pass costs $5, a regional pass is $10, and a reduced fare pass is $2.50. For details, and other information about fares and passes, go to http://www.dart.org/fares/fares.asp.
During your visit, you can explore Dallas either by your individual interests, or by visiting neighborhoods and enjoying attractions, restaurants, and other highlights of each neighborhood.
What’s Your Pleasure? Following your Interests
Here is a list of major attractions, organized by interests. To find the location and closest rail station for each one, go to www.visitdallas.com, or look under each neighborhood described below to get the attractions in that neighborhood. All attractions listed here, except Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden, are within walking distance of a DART rail stop. DART bus route 60 stops in front of the Arboretum. (Note: sometimes, the descriptions of attractions at www.visitdallas.com are more helpful to out-of-town visitors than the information on individual attractions’ web sites.)
Destinations by Interest Area
- Nature and Science
Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park http://childrensaquariumfairpark.com/
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden http://www.dallasarboretum.org/ ((DART Route 60)
Dallas World Aquarium http://www.dwazoo.com/
Dallas Zoo: http://www.dallaszoo.com/
Perot Museum of Nature and Science http://www.perotmuseum.org/
Texas Discovery Gardens http://texasdiscoverygardens.org/
- Art and Architecture
Crow Collection of Asian Art: http://crowcollection.org/
Dallas Museum of Art: https://www.dma.org/
Fair Park http://www.fairpark.org/
Meadows Museum at SMU http://www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org/
Nasher Sculpture Center http://www.nashersculpturecenter.org/
African American Museum of Dallas (Fair Park) http://www.aamdallas.org/
Dallas Holocaust Museum: http://www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org/
George W. Bush Presidential Center: http://www.bushcenter.org/
Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza/JFK Memorial: http://www.jfk.org/
Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture: http://www.oldred.org/
Mockingbird Station: http://www.mockingbirdstation.com/
Neiman Marcus Downtown Dallas: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/stores/store.jsp?storeId=01/DT
NorthPark Center: http://www.northparkcenter.com/
Shops at Park Lane: http://shopsatparklane.com/
West Village: http://www.westvillagedallas.com/
City of Dallas Trail Map: http://www.dallasparks.org/149/Trails
Friends of the Katy Trail: http://katytraildallas.org/ Victory Station
White Rock Lake Trail: http://www.whiterockdallas.org/visit/on-the-trail/ White Rock Station
Bachman Park Loop Trail: http://www.dallasparks.org/230/Bachman-Lake Bachman Station
Campión Trail Irving http://cityofirving.org/1127/Trails Las Colinas Urban Center Station
Explore Dallas’ Districts and Neighborhoods
DART now offers 93 miles of light rail service reaching 64 stations, complimented by a vast network of buses, operating seven days a week, plus commuter rail connections to Fort Worth and Denton. You can access online trip planning and much more information at DART.org or 214-979-1111, or use the transit option on Google Maps.
Many districts worth exploring are located in or near downtown Dallas. All stations listed are part of the DART System. After each neighborhood, we will list which rail line(s) serve those stations.
Downtown Dallas/Main Street (St. Paul and Akard Stations) – all 4 rail lines
Main Street, located 2-3 blocks from the downtown DART Rail stations, is the city’s bustling corridor of restaurants and nightlife. Shopping doesn’t get any more stylish than at the landmark original location of Neiman Marcus and its Zodiac Room restaurant. Need a breather? Pegasus Plaza and Main Street Garden are popular gathering place for live music and festivals.
Look for the bright magenta-and-yellow D-Link buses: your free link to arts, fun culture and dining. D-Link operates on a bi-directional route between the Kay Bailey Hutchison Dallas Convention Center and Uptown, with stops at the Dallas Farmers Market and other destinations. Buses run every 15 minutes, 11 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
Head the opposite way from the Akard Station down Field Street a half mile, and you’ll arrive at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, filled with hands-on learning experiences, interactive digital displays and lifelike simulations of the natural world. http://www.perotmuseum.org/.
The Dallas Center for Architecture offers 90-minute guided walking tours of the Dallas Arts, Main Street, and West End districts that examine the city’s signature and historic buildings from the 1890’s to the present day. For details, go to http://dallascfa.com/register-for-a-public-tour.html.
Here are links for more information about what to see and do in downtown Dallas:
- D-Link http://www.dart.org/dlink/dlink.asp
- Downtown Dallas, Inc. http://www.downtowndallas.com/
- Neiman Marcus Dallas Downtown: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/stores/store.jsp?storeId=01/DT
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science http://www.perotmuseum.org/
- Dallas Farmers Market http://dallasfarmersmarket.org/
- Architecture Walking Tour http://dallascfa.com/register-for-a-public-tour.html
Dallas Arts District (Pearl/Arts District and St. Paul Stations) – all 4 rail lines
The Dallas Arts District is a unique 68-acre, 19-block neighborhood that is the centerpiece of the region’s cultural life and home to some of the finest architecture in the world. The AT&T Performing Arts Center’s impressive venues – Winspear Opera House, Wyly Theatre, Annette Strauss Artist Square, Dallas City Performance Hall and Sammons Park – join a thriving collection of cultural landmarks, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Meyerson Symphony Center, Nasher Sculpture Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art. Klyde Warren Park creates an urban oasis at the district’s outer edge and connects pedestrians to the Uptown District. The Dallas Arts District also is home to lots of restaurants and bistros, many located at One Arts Plaza.
- Dallas Arts District http://www.dallasartsdistrict.org
- AT&T Performing Arts Center http://www.attpac.org/
- Dallas Museum of Art https://www.dma.org/
- Nasher Sculpture Center http://www.nashersculpturecenter.org/
- Crow Collection of Asian Art http://crowcollection.org/
- Dallas City Performance Hall http://www.dallasculture.org/cityperformancehall/
- Klyde Warren Park https://www.klydewarrenpark.org/
- One Arts Plaza http://www.oneartsplaza.com/restaurants/
West End Historic District (West End Station) – all 4 rail lines
The West End – a historic district of red-brick warehouses – offers a variety of cuisine, from Texas-style barbeque at Sonny Bryan’s to fine dining at The Palm. You can shop for unique gifts and Texas fashions at Wild Bill’s Western Store: (http://wildbillswestern.com/), take in the marine life and natural rainforest exhibits at the Dallas World Aquarium, learn about tolerance at the Dallas Holocaust Museum or get a taste of local history at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture, which is located inside the county’s landmark 1892 courthouse. Of course, few make a visit to the West End (or Dallas, for that matter) without stopping at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza where JFK was shot and, nearby, the infamous grassy knoll.
- Dallas West End http://www.dallaswestend.org/
- Dallas World Aquarium http://www.dwazoo.com/
- Dallas Holocaust Museum http://www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org/
- Old Red Museum http://www.oldred.org/
- Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza http://www.jfk.org/
Deep Ellum (Deep Ellum and Baylor University Medical Center Stations) – Green Line
Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood dates back to the late 1800s and gets its name from the pronunciation of Elm Street favored by early residents. Over the years, the brick structures have been home to businesses as diverse as the people who frequent them: dance halls,restaurants, bars, live music venues, meat markets, pawn shops, art galleries and the Latino Cultural Center. At DART’s Deep Ellum Station, “The Traveling Man” welcomes visitors in the form of a three-part sculpture installation including “Walking Tall,” a jovial, 38-foot-tall man strolling down the street.
- Deep Ellum Community Association deepellumtexas.com
Bishop Arts District (Union Station to Dallas Streetcar)
Bursting with historic charm, this popular North Oak Cliff neighborhood – now accessible by the Dallas Streetcar – is home to over 60 independent boutiques, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, theaters and art galleries housed in quaint 1920s-era buildings. While many of the shops stay open late on the weekends to provide a fun shop, stroll, and eat environment for visitors, the Bishop Arts District is made up of many independently-owned shops and eateries that maintain various hours.
Bishop Arts Route 723, which requires a DART local fare, meets each Dallas Streetcar at the Bishop Arts stop, every 20 minutes, 9:40 a.m. to 11:40 p.m., seven days a week. It operates in a counter-clockwise loop through the Bishop Arts and Jefferson Boulevard districts.
- Bishop Arts District http://www.bishopartsdistrict.com/
- Dallas Streetcar http://www.dart.org/riding/dallasstreetcar.asp
The Cedars (Cedars Station) – Red and Blue Lines
The Cedars has been turned into a cultural hotspot thanks to the transformation of the old Sears warehouse into the South Side on Lamar residential/retail/gallery complex. From Cedars Station, you’re just blocks from great food and live music – including the South Side Ballroom, the Dallas reincarnation of Gilley’s world-famous honky tonk, the eclectic Lee Harvey’s, and the singer/songwriters of Poor David’s Pub. Nearby, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is a haven for film enthusiasts where higher-end craft beer, house-made cocktails and delicious food make for a fully integrated evening.
- South Side on Lamar http://southsideonlamar.com/
- Gilley’s Dallas http://gilleysdallas.com/
- South Side Ballroom http://southsideballroomdallas.com/
- Lee Harvey’s http://leeharveys.com/pages/about.html
- Poor David’s Pub http://www.poordavidspub.com/
- Alamo Drafthouse Cinema https://drafthouse.com/theater/cedars
Uptown (M-Line Trolley) Uptown, just north of downtown, is one of Dallas’ oldest neighborhoods transformed with a vibrant street-level mix of restaurants, bars, cafés, retail shops, galleries, antique dealers and live theatre. One such destination is Theatre Three, one of Dallas’ best-known and longest-running community theatres. Tying the uptown area to downtown is the vintage (and free to ride) M-Line Trolley, running from near St. Paul Station in downtown, through the Dallas Arts District, Uptown, McKinney Avenue and West Village to the west entrance of Cityplace/Uptown Station.
- Uptown Dallas http://www.uptowndallas.net/
- M-Line Trolley https://www.dart.org/riding/mline.asp
- Theatre Three http://theatre3dallas.com/
West Village (Cityplace/Uptown Station) – Red, Blue, and Orange Lines Located three blocks west of Cityplace Station – DART’s only underground stop – Uptown’s West Village is home to an eclectic mix of boutiques as well as established retailers. Along with the upscale shopping options you will find one-of-a-kind restaurants, bars and cafes. While at West Village be sure to catch a flick at The Magnolia Theatre film art house.
- West Village http://www.westvillagedallas.com/
Victory Park (Victory Station) – Green and Orange Lines
When you want high-voltage sports and entertainment, head to Victory Park. Just a short ride from downtown, Victory Park is the home of the American Airlines Center, the House of Blues, Hard Rock Café and a variety of other unique dining options. The American Airlines Center is home court for two professional sports teams that know a few things about the word “victory” – basketball’s Dallas Mavericks (NBA) and ice hockey’s Dallas Stars.(NHL)
- Victory Park http://victorypark.com/
- American Airlines Center http://www.americanairlinescenter.com/
- House of Blues Dallas http://www.houseofblues.com/dallas
- Hard Rock Café Dallas` http://www.hardrock.com/cafes/dallas/
Mockingbird Station (Mockingbird Station) – Red, Blue, and Orange Lines
Want a textbook example of transit-oriented living? Check out Mockingbird Station: a high-density development adjacent to its namesake light rail station. This modern shopping center features boutique and name-brand shopping, dining options, a comedy club and a multi-screen independent film theater.
From the upper level of DART’s Mockingbird Station, catch the Route 743 Museum Express to the campus of Southern Methodist University, home to the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Meadows Museum of Art.
- Mockingbird Station http://www.mockingbirdstation.com/
- Angelika Film Center Dallas https://www.angelikacom/dallas
- Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub http://www.hyenascomedynightclub.com/dallas.html
- George W. Bush Presidential Center http://www.bushcenter.org/
- Meadows Museum http://www.meadowsmuseumdallas.org/
NorthPark Center & Shops at Park Lane (Park Lane Station) – Red and Orange Lines
Dallas is known for its shopping and NorthPark Center is one of the city’s best examples. A convenient shuttle (DART Route 702 NorthPark Center Shuttle) to and from Park Lane Station lets you explore its more than 235 retailers for yourself. Named as one of the “7 Retail Wonders of the Modern World” by Shopping Centers Today, anchors include Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s and Dillard’s. To top off a full day of fun, catch a flick at the mall’s 15-screen AMC movie theatre.
Across the street from the station, The Shops at Park Lane pairs the best in stylish shopping with distinctive dining and entertainment options, including Nordstrom Rack, Bloomingdale’s Outlet and Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, as well as Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, a Gordon Biersch high-end brewery bistro, and the largest Whole Foods Market in North Texas.
Fair Park (Fair Park and MLK, Jr. Stations) – Green Line
A true Dallas gem, Fair Park contains one of the world’s largest collections of 1930s Art Deco-style architecture, originally built for the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition. Best known as the home of the State Fair of Texas®, which attracts 3.5 million attendees each fall, Fair Park has a lot more to offer than just the fair. You can visit its museums and performance venues year-round, including the African American Museum, Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park and the Texas Discovery Gardens. Performance venues inside the park include the Music Hall at Fair Park and the Gexa Energy Pavilion
- Fair Park http://www.fairpark.org/
- State Fair of Texas http://bigtex.com/
- African American Museum Dallas http://www.aamdallas.org/
- Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park http://childrensaquariumfairpark.com/
- Texas Discovery Gardens http://texasdiscoverygardens.org/
- Music Hall at Fair Park http://www.liveatthemusichall.com/
- Gexa Energy Pavilion http://www.livenation.com/venues/14364/gexa-energy-pavilion/
Dallas Zoo (Dallas Zoo Station) – Red Line
There are always exciting things to see and do at the Southwest’s oldest and Texas’ largest zoological park. The 95-acre Dallas Zoo is known for The Wilds of Africa – a 20-minute monorail tour through six African habitats – as well as the Lacerta Family Children’s Zoo, the Jake L. Harmon Gorilla Conservation Research Center and Giants of the Savanna, which takes you on a safari adventure complete with giraffes, lions, elephants, cheetahs and other African species. Wild, huh?
- Dallas Zoo http://www.dallaszoo.com/
If you have time, consider taking the Trinity Railway Express to the nearby city of Fort Worth.
Fort Worth —Trinity Railway Express
Fort Worth’s Cultural, Stockyards and Sundance Square districts are accessible by taking the Trinity Railway Express, a commuter rail line connecting downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth. Scheduled train service is provided Monday through Saturday. No service is available on Sunday. Evening service is limited, so be sure to check schedules before traveling.
Once in Fort Worth, FWTA’s buses can transport you from the TRE’s Intermodal Transit Center (ITC) Station to your destination.
- Trinity Railway Express http://www.trinityrailwayexpress.org
- FWTA Popular Destinations http://www.fwta.org/BusService/PopularDestinations/tabid/77/Default.aspx
Unfortunately, several popular destinations can only be reached by car or cab.
- Cowboys Stadium – The home of the Dallas Cowboys is located in Arlington, Texas, which is not transit-accessible. Self-guided, educational and art tours of the facilities are offered on days when the stadium is not in use. www.attstadium.com/
- Southfork Ranch – Made famous by the television series Dallas, the home of the fictional Ewing family is a tourist attraction and event facility located in the suburb of Parker, Texas. Tours of the ranch and Ewing mansion depart from the visitors’ center. To see this piece of TV nostalgia, you’ll need to take a cab ride from DART’s Parker Road Station in Plano. http://www.southforkranch.com/
In Part 2 of this series, we will share tips and suggestions from local residents to help you enjoy Dallas even more during your visit. We will also explore several of Dallas’ city parks.
For More Information
For Information about Where to Stay and What to Do:
Go to: www.visitdallas.com. or Call toll-free: 800-232-5527, Call locally: 214-571-1000
For Information about Public Transit Fares and Schedules:
Go to www.DART.org, or call: 214-979-1111, Monday-Friday: 6 a.m.– 8 p.m. Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays: 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.
Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Steve Atlas welcomes your comments, and suggestions for cities or vacation destinations to feature in future Car Free Journey columns. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, put “Car Free Journey.”