Spring break is just around the corner – and, here in North Texas, it’s bound to bring some gorgeous weather. From the hot spots in downtown Dallas and nearby neighborhoods to the charming town squares of surrounding cities, DART is the way to have an adventure right on your own home turf. You’ll discover a bustling big city, sleek “new urban” oases, and historic downtowns where what’s old is new again.
A ‘new urban’ experience in Addison
Addison is an urbanist hot spot. A quarter mile from a transit center served by 14 bus routes, you’ll find Italian food, Mexican fare, New York-style pizza, taverns, sushi and a British-style pub, all clustered around the namesake circle. There’s live theater, too, at the innovative WaterTower Theatre, a small playhouse that is one of the region’s flagship institutions. Popular events take place in Addison Circle Park, right next to Addison Transit Center, which is served by a dozen bus routes plus GoLink service.
Small town vibes in CarrolltonCarrollton was built around the railroads in the 1870s. Many of the buildings built near the tracks still line the town square – only now they’re next to DART Rail. The historic downtown is more vital than ever, with a mix of homegrown restaurants, mom-and-pop shops, a tequila bar and even a teahouse. On the northern end of the neighborhood, you’ll find Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, a regional favorite for fried chicken, chicken-fried steak and down-home sides; on the southern end, there’s 3 Nations Brewing, voted 2020 Brewery of the year by CultureMap. Visit the taproom to sample any of a dozen beers on tap, plus burgers and such. The whole neighborhood lies just south of the Green Line’s Downtown Carrollton Station.
Bright lights, Big D
It’s not hard to find big attractions and vibrant nightlife in downtown Dallas. There’s the Arts District, for starters, with its showpiece buildings and first-rate institutions. The best-kept secret of the lot is the always-free Crow Museum of Asian Art, where the wide-ranging collection spans history, and includes tons of magnificent jade. Elsewhere in downtown, there’s the Dallas World Aquarium, featuring a real-life rainforest with exotic wildlife; the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, which recently opened a new 55,000-square-foot facility; and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, with 11 permanent exhibit halls and the current special exhibition, Towers of Tomorrow, which features the architectural wonders of the world constructed with more than half a million LEGO® bricks. The Arts District is a short walk from Pearl/Arts District Station; the Holocaust Museum and the Perot Museum are walking distance from West End Station. Both stations are on all four DART Rail lines.
Grand, central, stations
Downtown Dallas is a destination in itself. It’s also a central hub for transit forays into nearby neighborhoods. With six DART Rail stations at your feet, you’re never more than a couple of DART Rail stops from some of the city’s coolest urban districts. Iconic Deep Ellum has been a hotbed of music since the 1920s, and it hosts numerous galleries, restaurants and bars. West Village is jam-packed with shopping and dining, and it’s also the gateway to walkable Uptown; the vintage streetcars of free M-Line will ferry you right through the neighborhood’s heart. Bishop Arts District, with its diverse restaurants and shops, is just a short streetcar ride away. You can even hop the TRE and spend the day in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square – a popular historic district with Western heritage to spare. You’ll find Deep Ellum at Deep Ellum and Baylor University Medical Center stations on the Green Line; the West Village a couple of blocks from Cityplace/Uptown Station on the Red, Blue and Green lines; and Union Station, served by the Red and Blue lines, is where you catch the TRE to Cowtown.
A walk through history in Farmers BranchFarmers Branch Historical Park is a 27-acre outdoor gem that is both park and museum, and features numerous 19th-century buildings, including a train depot, school and old church. While you’re there, check out the Antique Rose Garden, where the flowers are grown without commercial fertilizers or pesticides. In addition to roses of all sizes, the fragrant respite includes a daylily display. If you want to follow your visit with evening entertainment, just cross the street, where you’ll find a more than 60-year-old fire station converted into The Firehouse Theatre, a mainstay local performance venue. Next up: the family friendly A Year with Frog & Toad, which plays March 3-6. You’ll find all of Farmers Branch’s attractions are a short walk from Farmers Branch Station on the Green Line.
A Saturday in Garland
Downtown Garland shows the city’s rustic, rural roots. It’s a charmer: Local specialty shops, eateries and a great brewpub ply their trade in a historic neighborhood that feels like a small town in the city. The eclectic shopping ranges from ceramics to vintage clothing, and there’s a great farmers market that starts in May. There’s even an old-fashioned feed store. For a taste of today, head to Intrinsic Smokehouse & Brewery, where you can sample handcrafted beers, soda and barbecue, all in a funky industrial setting. Looking for entertainment? You’ll find musicals, plays and concerts at both the Granville Arts Center and the Plaza Theatre, an Art Deco gem. The neighborhood is adjacent to the Blue Line’s Downtown Garland Station.
A tale of two cities in Irving
Las Colinas is a bustling, growing enclave of shiny buildings, with restaurants, canals and Water Street, a cluster of restaurants on the shores of Lake Carolyn. There’s also a one-stop entertainment option: the Toyota Music Factory, which boasts a concert venue, Alamo Drafthouse cinema, and plenty of dining and sipping options. You’ll find the flip side of this modern mecca in the downtown Heritage District, with its quaint architecture, low-key shopping and numerous restaurants, including an honest-to-goodness soda fountain. Las Colinas is served by the Orange Line’s Las Colinas Urban Center Station; you can get to downtown by taking the TRE to Downtown Irving/Heritage Crossing Station.
Artfully done in Plano
There’s a reason they call it the Downtown Plano Arts District. The neighborhood is bursting with cultural venues: The Courtyard Theater, Cox Playhouse, ArtCentre of Plano and Interurban Railway Museum, McCall Plaza and Haggard Park host several live music series. The neighborhood itself artfully blends old and new, with a vibrant blend of art galleries, restaurants, unique shops. You can access it all from the Red Line’s Downtown Plano Station.
A night at the theater in Richardson
Eisemann Center for Performing Arts brings new meaning to "eclectic." The arts venue with a cool, modern design hosts musicals, comedy and drama, stand-up performers, monologists – you name it. It's right across the plaza from the Red Line's Galatyn Park Station. For pre- or post- theater dinner or drinks, head to the next rail station, CityLine/Bush Station, where the CityLine development offers a selection of restaurants and retail in a walkable environment.
An Afternoon in Rowlett Get off the Blue Line in Rowlett, and a slower pace envelops you. The town’s main drag is relaxed, and The Village of Rowlett Downtown – a multiuse project in the center of town – has helped spark a renaissance. The city and the development regularly host events on Main Street, including a farmers’ market that ramps up in May. Additionally, you’ll find cute boutiques, a coffeehouse, restaurants and a brewpub. To get there, take the Blue Line to Downtown Rowlett Station.