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McKinney Trolley in Front of DMA | © M. Watson
McKinney Trolley in Front of DMA | © M. Watson
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A Solo Traveler's Guide To Dallas

Picture of Megan Watson
Updated: 3 October 2016
Sometimes it’s best to discover a new city solo. If you’re a foodie, art lover, or ‘retail therapy advocate’, you can’t get much better than Dallas as a destination. So why not pack in the sites like a native? Check out a ‘day in the life’ you might want to adopt while visiting the Big D.

Morning

It’s 8 a.m. and you, the urban adventurer, want to work out and grab a light meal afterwards. Vacation does not mean you always want to sleep in, especially during the scorching Texan summer months, when noon in the late 90+ degrees is the norm. A walk or bike through Katy Trail, a 3.5-mile stretch of wooded path running past the Highland Park neighborhood, should do the trick. Located near McKinney Ave. and Knox St. and following an old rail line that ran through Dallas decades before, it’s no wonder popular drinking holes such as the Katy Trail Icehouse (3127 Routh St), open cafés like Café Madrid (4501 Travis St.), or the nostalgic, 100-year-old staple Highland Park Soda Fountain have become great places for sit-downs and socializing. A great way to recharge from a hectic travel schedule, solo travelers can sit along tree-lined walkways and people-watch, or even strike up a conversation with neighbors, never truly leaving the comfort of the city.

Katy Trail | © M. Watson
Katy Trail | © M. Watson

9:30 a.m. rolls around and, exercise or not, the solo traveler’s got to eat. For a traditional, Southern spread with the best banana pancakes and sugar cured hickory smoked Canadian bacon, head to The Original Pancake House, located at 5220 Belt Line Rd. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is their signature, with a host of different crepes (must try: the Tahitian Maiden’s Dream) and other dishes that boast a tropical flair. Seating is mixed with both bar seating and small tables for singles or smaller parties next to larger dining areas. This breakfast/brunch restaurant is always busy during the day and is usually only open until 2:30 p.m., so make sure you arrive early and are prepared to wait in line. It is more than worth it.

The Original Pancake House | © M. Watson
The Original Pancake House | © M. Watson

Noon

It’s time for a bit of wandering. Your belly is full, your mind is clear, and you now want to discover what there is to do in Dallas. Every traveler is different; some come for culture, taking in art museums, historic sites, or feeding their foodie habit. Others are more spontaneous, coming to shop, drop, then go out bar hopping until the wee hours. Whatever your preference, Dallas has you covered. A two-mile stretch across from Klyde Warren Park – a green space built over the freeway as a relaxing bit of nature and occasional concert venue for downtown residents – is home to three very different art museums including the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art. Come on third Fridays, and the DMA will typically host a Late Night event with music, speakers, and crafts that runs from 6 p.m. until midnight and is a ‘don’t miss’ if you’re in town.

Klyde Warren Park | © M. Watson
Klyde Warren Park | © M. Watson

For those looking for more scientific diversions, the Dallas Aquarium or the newly-built Perot Museum of Science and Nature are minutes away. From fascinating past exhibits such as Creatures of Light, which examined everything from the smallest, light-emitting water dwellers to our favorite on-land critters, lightning bugs, and the International Exhibit of Sherlock Holmes, which actually lets you solve a mystery using clues like drag marks and blood splatter, there is definitely something for both the passive and interactive museum visitor.

Flamingos at the Dallas Aquarium | © M. Watson
Flamingos at the Dallas Aquarium | © M. Watson

After admiring the best in art, why not grab a fruity drink and appetizer while stretched out on the green? Jump on the McKinney trolley to navigate back to Klyde Warren Park, where you’ll find that choices, like Dallas, are varied. From food trucks serving gastropub fare such as Mac-N-Beefy sliders (The Butcher’s Son), to calamari and cocktails from glass-walled, on-site restaurant, Savor, this is a great place to chill for a sunny afternoon. Take a nap, play frisbee with the dog, or enjoy outdoor music. If possible, visit on festival weekends or stay for Music Thursdays, weekly bi-daily shows where local artists provide short concerts and a great atmosphere for park visitors and nearby businesses. A schedule of events is posted online monthly, and is a great, free event to plan your visit around.

Evening

It’s 4 p.m., and a late lunch/early dinner at Lyfe Kitchen (3699 McKinney Ave., Ste A-221) is just what you ordered. LYFE, which stands for ‘Love Your Food Everyday’ certainly lives up to their adage to provide deliciously flavorful, healthy, and ever-changing seasonal options. If nothing else, it’s worth the trip to try some of their customizable salads, at least one of their numerous flatbreads, and a flavored tea or flat water. And though their food is fresh and always light, don’t say we didn’t warn you if you feel a bit like ‘rolling’ out of there.

Lunches at Lyfe Kitchen | © M. Watson
Lunches at Lyfe Kitchen | © M. Watson

While in the area, stores like L. Bartlett, Brooks Brothers, and Club Monaco offer great after-lunch shopping with a range of unique styles in medium- to high-end goods. In the mood for entertainment? Next door sits the classically styled Magnolia Theatre, a great venue for less mainstream movies and for enjoying an after-matinee screening. Similar in style to an Angelika Movie Theatre or the smaller venue, LOOK Cinemas, with a small bar and comfort-focused seating, theatre-goers can enjoy that independent film on their must-see list with wait-service available on each of its five screens.

Uptown Shopping | © M. Watson
Uptown Shopping | © M. Watson

Night

It’s now 8 p.m., which signals the last stop of the night, the Lower Greenville neighborhood, an infinite banquet of options for a good time and late night. With a number of bars, clubs, and specialty shops open until 10 p.m. or later, this is a great area to meet up with friends, enjoy a new band, or simply finish off your night with a decadent treat. For an indie music experience – a genre that has become even stronger in Texas thanks to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Austin city’s music infamy – check out the Granada Theatre. Built in the miniature style of The Majestic, this venue hosts both popular and indie music artists, movie screenings, and events and includes its own lounge known as The Sundown for food, drinks, and socializing. And to finish off the night, remember to stop by one of Dallas’s must-try hot spots for that dessert wish. The first is Steel City Pops (2012 Greenville Ave.), a popsicle haven of every flavor from chocolate to pineapple jalapeño, all made from organically sourced ingredients. And finally, Dude, Sweet (1925 Greenville Ave.) is the bacon-wrapped pizza of chocolatiers (seriously, they have chocolate covered bacon). A local start-up, Dude is known for coming up with almost inconceivable blends like lemon and pistachio chocolate toffee, chocolate ‘Potions’ made with everything from wine to liquor, and their well-known Crack-in-a-Box Chocolate Bark.