A Dallas journalist spills on all the best parts of the city she’s lived in for two decades.
Before I moved to Dallas, I did what most recent college graduates do: I jumped jobs to climb the career ladder. For me, as a print journalist, that meant three jobs in three years in three different cities.
Dallas was my fourth city on that track. And when I arrived in the 90s, I discovered I had a passion not just for my job, but for my new hometown, as well. I soon met people who came from all over the country (and the world) in search of career opportunities in Texas’ largest metropolitan area. In fact, it became a running joke among my friends to say that nobody in Dallas was actually from Dallas, but we all got here as quickly as we could.
Two decades in, I now consider myself a local—and a proud one, at that, thanks to assignments covering everything from the businesses built here to the developers working to rejuvenate our neighborhoods. It’s true that we are shameless boosters when it comes to promoting this fine city, and while our boosterism may initially seem over the top (hey, everything’s bigger in Texas), just know that we love Dallas and hope you will, too.
County: Dallas County (2.553 million)
Number Neighborhoods: 34
Size of city: 385.8 sq miles (3,476 people per sq mile)
Schools: According to Niche, Carroll Independent school district northwest of inner-Dallas ranks highest in the city. The elementary, middle and high schools all have outstanding reviews—and the data to back it up!
Heatwave: It isn’t uncommon for temperatures to reach triple digits in the summer months in Dallas. But this city’s climate does have some perks—like very mild winters. 65 degrees in November? We’ll take it!
BBQ is King: Known for amazing BBQ, Dallas boasts more than 410 yummy spots to find some brisket. In fact, you’ve got a good chance of being within a mile of a BBQ joint at any given time when strolling through the city.
We’re Growing, But We Won’t Break the Bank
Dallas–Fort Worth leads the nation’s metros for population growth with 146,000 people moving here in 2017. We’ve got a central location, an international airport, an educated workforce, a business-friendly environment and a host of cultural amenities. And compared to both coasts and most other large cities—it’s affordable.
More than 20 of the country’s Fortune 500 companies have their headquarters here ranging from AT&T, Texas Instruments and American Airlines to Toyota North America, ExxonMobil and JCPenney. But it’s not just big businesses that like us. Entrepreneurs, like billionaire Mark Cuban, love Dallas’ can-do attitude. The region is home to several business incubators and about two dozen billionaires—several of them self-made.
We Don’t Meet Unless We Eat
Going out to eat is a major pastime here, and the variety is off the charts.
If you are new to town, the Reunion Tower observation deck is a great place to see the city’s skyline. The top of Reunion Tower also houses celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant, which has a slowly revolving dining room and floor-to-ceiling windows to provide an amazing view of a skyline that has been unofficially voted the best in the world. Reservations required!
Dallasites are prone to boast about the city’s host of celebrity chefs who serve up some of the most artistic—and best tasting—food around. But we are also down to earth and love, love, love to eat barbecue, fried chicken and Tex-Mex like it’s going out of style.
We’ve Got the Sights
Like the bigger-than-life TV show of old, we still do things up big, and one way is with a biennial public art display of unprecedented magnitude. Aurora, held every other year, transforms downtown Dallas into an open-air, urban playground of new media art, with installations of light, video, and sound.
If you are downtown or uptown, you’ll want to check Klyde Warren Park, which was built over a freeway and is a wonderful expanse of greenbelt that has connected the city’s arts district to downtown. Food trucks visit its edges, and the park itself has a restaurant, dog park, entertainment stages and a host of free activities each week. The arts district that Klyde Warren connects to has dozens of cultural amenities, from an opera house to a performing arts center. The district attracts 4 million visitors a year.
Off The Beaten Path
Want to get real local? Here are a few must-visit places and must-do events that aren’t in every “Visit Dallas” brochure or tourist to-do list.
Catfish Plantation: Who doesn’t want to eat catfish in a haunted house (and maybe see a ghost)?
Bishop Arts District: What’s not to love about an old neighborhood that’s been revived? Shop, eat, drink or visit the art galleries.
Main Street Fest: One of the most family friendly and fun festivals in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, situated in Grapevine’s historic downtown.
We’ve Got Great Places to Live
Our center city is thriving with dozens of fashionable high-rise apartments and condos amid office towers for a vibrant live-work-play environment for young professionals, who you’ll find at uptown’s patio bars and restaurants or riding, running or walking along the immensely popular 3.5-mile Katy Trail.
Not your thing? We’ve also got plenty of traditional neighborhoods, from the shaded tree-lined streets of Kessler Park and Lakewood to the more elite Preston Hollow or Highland Park, where 6,000-square-foot estates are common. And don’t knock the DFW suburbs: Frisco, Allen, Plano, Coppell and Grapevine regularly rank among the best suburbs in the state and nation for top-notch schools and family-friendly amenities. The Dallas suburbs have much to offer, too, downtown McKinney is a favorite for those looking for a quaint, but rich-in-history home.
We Welcome Outsiders with Open Arms
Like myself, a lot of people living in Dallas aren’t originally from here (a quarter of the city’s residents weren’t even born in the state of Texas)—so no matter where you’re from, you’ll fit right in. We are a melting pot of people from around the world, living together, mostly in harmony, and loving it. Welcome home.