Are you looking to travel cheap in Dallas? Welp, you are in the right place, my friend. Today Dallas local Valorie clues us in to $7 dumplings, $37 lodging, and free art!
Dallas has a reputation as being a great hub for industry–big banking, big oil, big airlines. We’ve got a lot of HQs. What people don’t tell you is Dallas is also a great city to play tourist in–There’s a thriving downtown scene and our skyline at night is considered one of the ten most beautiful in the world.
I’m Valorie and I grew up in Dallas. When I’m not exploring Dallas, you can generally find me tweeting a lot or thinking way too hard about movies. I have been loving on Dallas ever since I moved back after running away for college, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.
Cheap Lodging in Dallas
Dallas, as a general rule, is not that expensive. But since hotels cater to a high-powered business clientele here, they tend to be quite pricey. Skip looking at the hotels and try staying in these places:
Rent a room through Airbnb – $30-$90 per night
Airbnb is my absolute go to when I’m traveling. You can stay in this great home near the fun Bishop Arts district or in this cute bed + bath suite for $37. There are a lot of great full homes available in the Dallas Airbnb, so go crazy!
If you’ve never used Airbnb before, here’s a $40 credit on your first booking!
Pitch your tent near the lake – $25 per tent + $5 per person
There are a lot of beautiful lakes and fun camping grounds all around Dallas, but Hidden Cove Park and Marina is probably one of my favorites. Take your family fishing, boating, or explore the woods all while only thirty minutes from downtown Dallas.
Couchsurfing – Free!
Staying for free and meeting locals? I’m all about it. Couchsurfing is a great way to stay somewhere for free and since the whole premise is about building community, the hosts tend to take you to great places or recommend things to do. When I was traveling as a solo-female, it made me nervous at first, but there are plenty of ways to only stay with other women, if that makes you feel safer. I highly recommend it.
There are no hostels in Dallas proper, but there are one or two in Ft. Worth. Keep in mind, despite the area having earned the moniker ‘Dallas-Ft.Worth’ the two cities are about a forty minute drive apart without traffic, and the traffic can get horrific.
Cheap Food in Dallas
Hypnotic Donuts – $3 for their original Evil Elvis donut
Donuts are like a religion to me, and Hypnotic is my house of worship. $3 may seem like a lot for one donut, but this enormous banana peanut butter treat will definitely fill you up. Not into the Elvis combo? They’ve got a dozen other great options and seasons combos to boot.
Monkey King Noodle – $7 for 8 pork soup dumplings
In summer 2016 MKN moved from their long-term pop-up stand down the street into a proper restaurant. In years prior they had taken Dallas by storm with their delicious and authentic Asian dishes. Get the pork soup dumplings (these are as good as the ones I had in Shanghai!) and sit outside to watch the crowds go by in Deep Ellum.
Matt’s Rancho Martinez – $15 for the deluxe dinner – enchilada, taco, tamale
We promised you that everything would be bigger in Texas, and Matt’s delivers. The deluxe dinner is so huge that I often split it with a friend and we still take food home. Combine it with the beef queso dip and/or a margarita and you’re in for a great meal.
Klyde Warren Park Foodtrucks – $5-$12 depending on the truck
Klyde Warren Park, which splits downtown and uptown, is a smorgsboard of lunchtime goodness. Monday-Friday a variety of food trucks turn up to dole out tacos, subs, pizza, pasta, salads, and more to the hungry masses of office workers. Pick a line, any line, you really can’t go wrong.
Cheap Things to do in Dallas
When I first moved back to Dallas as an adult, I was surprised to learn how many cool free and cheap things there are to do here.
Take in some Culture at Dallas Museum of Art – Free
This beautiful museum in the heart of downtown is always free. Explore the great indoor exhibits and the outdoor sculpture garden. After, walk up Flora Street toward One Arts Plaza to enjoy the free sculptures that line the street. Hint: Go up onto the patio at the KPMG building to see some of the best sculptures in the city.
Frolic at Klyde Warren Park – Free
If you happen to come in the summer, Klyde Warren offers a great summer concert series and free yoga on Saturday mornings. Even if it’s not the summer, there’s almost always something happening down at this park, so drop by.
See History at The Texas Theatre – Free-$1
This is the famous theatre where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested after his assassination of JFK. The theatre is still in operation, and every other Sunday in the summer, they show a classic movie for just $1.
Window Shop at The Galleria or North Park Mall – Free
It’s not Fifth Ave, but I love window shopping at the Galleria, especially around the holidays. The ground floor ice skating rink plays host to a fifty-plus-foot (real!) Christmas tree for all of December and the window displays in the stores in both malls are always on point. North Park has year-round rotating art exhibits throughout.
Dallas has so many more sides to it: White Rock Lake is an enormous lake in the middle of Dallas with several running paths and lots of space to relax by the water. Bibliophiles can go see the flagship Half Price Books in north Dallas, or go check out the Dallas Public Library to see an original copy of the Declaration of Independence.
For general nightlife, there are plenty of options. Dallas has a great live music scene. Concerts can be pricey, but if you go down to Deep Ellum there are always plenty of bars with local musicians playing for the price of a beer and there is a lot of beautiful street art to check out. Bishop Arts is another small artsy neighborhood with lots of good food–walk around and explore, and if you’re in town during one of their block parties it is a real treat.
Dallas is waiting! Come on down and don’t break the bank doing so.
Thanks so much for sharing your tips, Valorie! Fellow Dallas residents – what would you add?