Do as the locals do. Spend time in Deep Ellum and stop to smell the bluebonnets at the Dallas Arboretum. (Photo: Michael Silver Travel / Alamy Stock Photo)
Glass skyscrapers, cowboys and football bravado may come to mind when you think about Dallas. However, there’s a quieter, simpler side to the city that is known and loved by locals. Here’s what they do to chill in the Big D.
Stop and Smell the Bluebonnets
Those who think of Dallas – Fort Worth as a dry desert are surprised by the lush flowers and foliage at Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The 66-acre garden bordering White Rock Lake captivates with stunning seasonal blooms like aster in the fall and Texas bluebonnets in spring. With 19 different gardens and a host of year-round events, this isn’t your grandmother’s garden. Thursday night concerts in the spring and fall offer a chance to combine a picnic with your S.O. (alcohol is permitted) and a concert on the lawn.
Savor Local Flavor
The Dallas Farmers Market has been held in the same area of downtown since 1941. Open daily except on holidays, the market is a must in the summer. Vendors sell according to the seasons: July through October spotlights apples, peaches are sold all summer, and eggs, honey and herbs can be found year-round. The market hosts themed cooking demonstrations each week, ranging from summer grilling to Asian cooking with seasonal vegetables. Beyond the artisanal cheeses and other food products, the market is a cool place to snap photos of local color.
Feed Your Creative Spirit
The Deep Ellum neighborhood, one of the city’s most distinctive and walkable spots, is a great place to see where the real Dallas. While many historic buildings were demolished in the mid and late 20th century, Deep Ellum is home to the city’s largest intact collection of historic storefronts. This part of town was the center of the jazz and blues scene in the 1920s. Today, Deep Ellum stays true to its entertainment district roots, featuring dozens of nightclubs and restaurants, including the award-winning Pecan Lodge. There’s lively street life here full of graffiti art, colorful murals and the neighborhood icon, the “Traveling Man” sculpture, which honors the area’s music and railroad history. Deep Ellum prides itself on staying local, so you’ll find a good choice of indie stores here too.