Out-of-towner Cindy Ladage visited Dallas and wrote about the top sites to see in Dallas for first-timers.
Dallas is a beautiful city with many historical attractions for out-of-towners and Midwesterners like me to enjoy! From the architecture, history, and Kennedy sites, my husband Keith and I wanted to see it all and only had a short amount of time. We had never been to Dallas before, so we were off to find the best sites to see in Dallas for first-timers.
Top Sites To See In Dallas For First-Timers
What historical sites in Dallas should first-timers see? Cindy, from the Midwest, writes about her top picks.
Not wanting to deal with city traffic, we reserved a room at the Courtyard by Marriott Reunion, which was a short walk to most anywhere we wanted to visit. The hotel had the amenities of a diner and a 12th-floor bar with a fantastic view.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while traveling through Dealey Plaza in an open-top convertible limousine. The event changed Dallas forever and made Dealey Plaza one of the most visited historical sites in Dallas to see. We enjoyed viewing the bronze statue of George Bannerman Dealey that still stands in the park today.
To see more in less time, we signed up for the Dallas: 2-Hour JFK Assassination Tour without Museum because we planned to tour the School Book Depository the following day. While advertised as an assassination tour, the two-hour tour is more of an architectural tour. We didn’t mind as we both greatly appreciate unique architecture.
Before meeting our tour guide, we checked out the JFK Memorial. Created by architect Philip Johnson in 1970, the square-shaped granite sculpture is 60 feet tall and 30 feet wide, with an open center. Johnson describes the Memorial as “A place of quiet refuge, an enclosed place of thought and contemplation separated from the city around but near the sky and earth.”
Across from the Memorial is a log cabin describing the pioneers of Dallas County. The first settlers to the area came from Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky and built log cabins.
Our tour guide arrived in an open-air golf car that sported steer horns on the front. We loaded up with a Texas couple and headed for the first stop, one of my favorites – Pioneer Plaza. In the plaza is a beautiful bronze statue created by Robert Summers of Glen Rose, Texas. The sculpture is a re-creation of a cattle drive where three horse-riding cowboys drive the longhorn cattle. The sculpture is believed to be the largest bronze sculpture of its type in the world.
Jeffress Fountain Plaza
We also loved the impressive Jeffress Fountain, which stands outside of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, where they baptized church members. The fountain is topped with a cross and words from the bible.
The Giant Eyeball
The most unusual art piece we saw in downtown Dallas was “The Eyeball” – a 30′ eyeball that really doesn’t represent anything. Social media and the news made it all the hype it is today.
Dallas Farmers Market
As antique tractor collectors, Keith and I loved spying a Farmall tractor in the middle of the city at the Dallas Farmers Market. The market was a fun place to find great food, lots of jewelry, and curiosities. I found a few unique pieces of jewelry as my take-home souvenir.
West End Historic District
One excellent nearby dining option was Chet’s Dallas in the West End Historic District. We were in the city on Valentine’s Day, and amazingly while there were no tables available, we sat at the bar and shared their Valentine’s four-course Dinner. This historical neighborhood with plenty of historic buildings to see also had a few fun shops and is worth a see for first-timers.
John F. Kennedy
For my husband, our visit to Dallas was all about President John F. Kennedy and all the stops. We purchased tickets for a morning guided tour at the former Texas School Book Depository. The tour covered the JFK presidency, the timeframe before he arrived, and his visit along with his wife, Jackie. The museum also offers insight into the political aspects happening at the time of President Kennedy’s death.
To learn more about JFK, we took the Dallas JFK Tour and met up with our guide at the JFK Memorial Plaza. We toured in an SUV and followed President Kennedy’s route when he arrived on that day. The tour was very thorough and included the Grassy Knoll and traced Oswald’s escape route to his rooming house set up just as it was in 1963.
There were also stops at 10th and Patton Avenue, the (J.D. Tippit Memorial) where JD Tippit was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, and the Texas Movie Theater, where Oswald was caught.
While we would have loved to see more sites, like the George W. Bush Presidential Library and the Fort Worth Stockyards in Fort Worth, we were thrilled to have seen the most important places in Dallas for someone who loves art, architecture, and history!
The Above Article and Photos are by Cindy Ladage, a travel writer from the Midwest. Check out her website – Traveling Adventures of a Farm Girl.
More Sites To See In Dallas For First-Timers
Dallas is the third-largest city in population in Texas, and while it’s a great place to live and visit, one of the city’s main attractions is its art museums. The city of Dallas has some of the largest art museums in Texas. If it’s your first time to Dallas, whether you’re coming from out of state, like Cindy and her husband, or just haven’t made your way to the big city yet, there are more exciting historical sites to put on your to-see list.
Some say the Perot Museum of Nature and the Sixth Floor Museum are two tourist attractions not to miss when visiting Dallas for the first time. And if there’s time in your visit, you may want to see the Dallas Arts District, where the Dallas Museum of Art, the Meyerson Symphony Center, and the Winspear Opera House are located. The African American Museum
AT&T Performing Arts Center
If you like the nightlife, you may want to visit the Entertainment District (now called the AT&T Discovery District, I believe) to see live music, special events, major concerts at AT&T Performing Arts Center, bars, restaurants, and more. It’s Dallas’ nightlife all rolled up in one.
Across the freeways from the AT&T Performing Arts Center is the intriguing Bishop Arts District, known for its unique murals, fun one-of-a-kind shops & boutiques, and the fabulous architectural Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Just look for the white arch. Parking is free on the west side of the bridge, and walking is permitted on the bridge. It’s a great spot for photography.
Dallas has so many popular attractions and historical sites that it’s hard to describe them all, as I feel first-timers will get overwhelmed. Listing a few here in hopes that it helps first-timers enjoy the city. When you find something intriguing, be sure to Google it. Oh, and don’t forget to have dinner at the Reunion Tower so you can see the Dallas Skyline – it’s gorgeous!