When you visit Dallas, there’s the city you know – and the city that only locals understand. Every visitor should take a stroll through the art museum and the arboretum or spend an evening in the rotating restaurant at the iconic Reunion Tower. Beyond major attractions, Dallas boasts a bright and vibrant nightlife scene, plus a quirky Southern charm best expressed through lesser-known venues. Here are five of our favorite off-the-beaten-path that locals know best.
Located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood, Adair’s dishes up solid burgers with Southwestern flair. The digs are off-putting at first glance, with nearly every square inch of the place covered in hand-scrawled ink graffiti. It’s the kind of bar slash eatery where you leave your mark – literally. At night, Adair’s welcomes live music, typically local country or rock bands. Sometimes, visitors get lucky with a stop-in from the Dixie Chicks or other national acts.
- A Slice of Japan
Dallas seems like the last place you’d find anything authentically Japanese, except maybe sushi. Tucked above downtown restaurant, the Ann & Gabriel Barbier-Mueller Museum has the largest collection of real Samurai armor outside of Japan. The exhibit boasts more than a thousand objects including helmets, full suits of armor, kimonos and weapons. Several life-size displays show how samurais outfitted their horses for battle.
- Bonnie & Clyde’s Resting Places
Did you know that famous criminal duo Bonnie & Clyde hailed from Dallas? They were both practically natives of the city, Clyde’s family having relocated from a smaller Texas town in his childhood. Though they died in a Louisiana shootout, Clyde Barrow was buried next to his brother Buck in the family plot at Western Heights Cemetery on Fort Worth Avenue. It’s closed to the public for special occasions, but locals sometimes sneak a peek at Bonnie Parker’s marker inside Crown Hill Memorial Park.
Prohibition may be a distant memory, but the speakeasy is alive and well in Dallas. Tucked in an alleyway behind Henry’s Majestic restaurant is a two-story bar with a vintage vibe. The good news is that you don’t have to know a secret password or handshake to get inside of Atwater Alley; though you may have to knock. Once inside, flocked velvet wallpaper and quirky vintage signs greet patrons, and the bartenders will whip up creative concoctions on request. You never know what you’re going to get for cocktails until you step inside.
- No Place Like Gnome
Over the past few years, there have been several public art movements with a single goal: to make people smile. In the same spirit as the Kindness Rocks program, several cities are seeing “gnome homes” pop up in parks. Head to Dallas’ Coombs Creek Trail and you’ll see adorable painted doors in knotholes and tree crooks along the path. There are even a few gnome statues like the Game of Gnomes tribute that popped up earlier this year. No one knows who’s installing the little doors, which adds to the fairy magic.
To truly live like a local on your vacay, you’ll need a home base with a central location. Magnolia Dallas Park Cities boutique hotel is perched just steps from Mockingbird Station, a retail mecca with trendy eateries and retail shops. This neighborhood is also within easy driving distance of Dallas Arboretum and American Airlines Center, as well as the secret stops listed above. Call 214-750-6060 for information or book a stay online.