If you’re looking to visit Dallas on a tight budget, timing is everything. Specifically, the Dallas Cowboys rejuvenate the city and bring many visitors – as well as higher hotel prices – through the months of September through December.
If you aren’t interested in football, it’s easy to avoid in-town game days. Just be sure to consider the weather. June through August brings stifling summer heat waves, as well as a handful of great summer festivals such as the Taste of Dallas, so plan ahead if you want the best prices. January through late March is the rainy season, so hotel prices are lower, making this a good time to visit on tight budgets. Many hotels often have last-minute specials during this season, in the event you’re planning a spur-of-the-moment getaway.
Dallas has two major airports that you should be aware of. Love Field is an airport closer to downtown, but with more limited flight options; almost all flights here are on Southwest Airlines, with a few offerings from United and Delta. All other flights route through Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW), a sprawling complex that is now the world’s third-busiest airport. DFW is served by most airlines, particularly American Airlines; low-cost carriers Spirit Airlines and Sun Country Airlines also depart for DFW regularly.
Without question, traveling in Dallas requires a car, as the city’s rapid transit network (often just referred to as “DART”) only runs along major commuter areas. Traffic in Dallas is quite dense; between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., it’s best to relax in a café with a coffee or glass of wine, rather than fight your way along the freeways.
Dallas is the ninth-largest city in the U.S. Despite all this urban sprawl, most travelers prefer to stay centrally in downtown or the West End district, and many of the most popular attractions are here. Unfortunately, most of these hotels are more expensive than those in outer neighborhoods; for discount hotels with an easy drive to downtown, look near Love Field. If you want to see how your options compare between neighborhoods, chains like Holiday Inn, La Quinta, and Hawthorn Suites have multiple locations throughout the metro area that make price shopping easy.
For downtown sightseeing, the city has a unique Segway tour. Not everything downtown is expensive; the Dallas Museum of Art is free and has a variety of collections to suit everyone’s interest. Before you leave town, you’ll want to have an evening cocktail at the observation deck at Reunion Tower; it was recently renovated and features 360-degree views of Dallas’s impressive skyline.
Just adjacent to downtown is Dallas’s West End neighborhood. Here you’ll find the infamous Sixth Floor Museum, which explores the assassination of President Kennedy that took place here. Despite this somber memorial, the rest of the West End is a party; streets are lined with towering hotels, swanky cocktail bars, and many shops and malls.
Many foodies come to Dallas just to eat – the city’s restaurants often are as famous as iconic establishments in Las Vegas or New York. Tex-Mex is one of the most popular cuisines and deserves its own mention; do some tasting and see which brand or chain you like the best: Uncle Julio’s, Pepe’s and Mito’s, or one of the smaller independent taco restaurants that can be found in almost every neighborhood across the city. Don’t forget to celebrate your Dallas experience with a margarita – it’s a must when in the Big D.
Taking time to explore away from downtown Dallas can provide travelers with budget-friendly adventures and highlight the diversity the city has to offer. Deep Ellum is a neighborhood filled with shoppers exploring discount vintage stores and edgy modern boutiques. At happy hour, shoppers head for cocktail bars and lower-key establishments.
Irving/Las Colinas is the suburb where DFW airport is located, but many Dallas locals say this is the place to go for the best shopping on a budget. On a hot or rainy day, you’ll also appreciate the many movie theaters in Irving.
Just around the corner in Arlington is a hub of activity. For families and adrenaline-seekers, you’ll find the Six Flags over Texas Amusement Park – search online for discount tickets to book ahead. Also in Arlington are Dallas’s major sports hubs, the Cowboys Stadium as well as The Ballpark, where the Texas Rangers baseball team plays.
Fort Worth is a city in itself, despite the fact that urban sprawl connects it directly to Dallas. Locals call the many cities that interconnect between Dallas and Fort Worth “the Metroplex.” Despite the lack of a formal border, you will not have any trouble knowing when you’ve reached Forth Worth proper, as cowboy culture is alive and well in this city. It doesn’t want to forget its heritage, as opposed to the future-facing Dallas.
The iconic Stockyards area near downtown Fort Worth highlights the history of the Wild West here in Texas and is a free, must-see attraction. Follow up your visit with a tour of the Forth Worth Cultural District, where you’ll find the rest of the best of this city-in-a-city: a top-notch botanical garden, zoo, and numerous museums.
Looking for luxury on the cheap? Dallas loves glitz and glam, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay full retail. The larger hotels in Dallas – such as the Hyatt Regency, Omni, or Hilton Anole – often have specials and discount rooms available, particularly on nights when there aren’t major conventions or sporting events in town. This is where booking ahead plays to your advantage. However, if you’re planning a last-minute getaway to Dallas, the opposite is true – the large hotels often put discounts back out when they realize too many rooms are going empty.
Considering a hotel alternative like Airbnb? You can find savings here, but most listings are for shared rooms or spare bedrooms, and you will not be in the downtown area. In many cases, hotels are comparable on price but offer more amenities; it just depends on what kind of experience you are looking for.
The Visit Dallas tourism website has a full listing of every major attraction in Dallas, in addition to themed itineraries to help you plan your trip, such as sports weekends, history adventures, or foodie guides.
For arts and culture events, Arts+Culture Magazine Texas website features comprehensive coverage of almost every music, dance, art, and theater event across North Texas. Much of its content is available online if you can’t find a print copy.
D Magazine is another useful publication for catching up on the latest openings and happenings. Focused exclusively on Dallas, the magazine will lead you to all the best fashion houses, housewares boutiques, restaurants, and up-to-date nightlife suggestions.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.