Dallas Neighborhood Guide: Living in Downtown Dallas

iStock.com/Sean Pavone

The bustling downtown neighborhood is the perfect place to live, work, and play.

Downtown serves as Dallas’ Central Business District, but there’s a lot more to the city center these days than shiny skyscrapers full of nine to fivers. The neighborhood is home to one of the largest art districts in the country, a fabulous farmers market, and some of the city’s top attractions, including Reunion Tower, the Dallas World Aquarium, and the Dallas Museum of Art. 

Mixed-use developments provide housing and draw-in amenities so people can live and play where they work. While many restaurants cater to the lunch and happy hour crowds, the downtown neighborhood has its fair share of award-winning upscale and Tex-Mex establishments. It’s also one of the most walkable areas in Dallas.

Dallas location

Downtown Dallas is one of the most active and busiest spots in town. The city is surrounded by interstates 75 and 30, which puts you within driving distance of nearby towns. Dallas’ Deep Ellum neighborhood sits to the east of downtown. Directly north is the Harwood District. Trinity Groves is to the west of downtown. The city of Cedars borders the southside of downtown Dallas.

Dallas transportation


Getting around Dallas is easy. You’ll find several public transportation hubs available to help you move within the downtown area. You can also grab a rideshare or taxi to travel to nearby neighborhoods.

The Blue and Red Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) light rail lines run from south to north, with stops at the Convention Center, Union, West End, Akard, St. Paul, and Pearl stations. The Union Station commuter line, called Trinity Railway Express, connects downtown Dallas to downtown Fort Worth.

Some people may choose to own a vehicle in Dallas. However, it’s not advisable unless you have parking figured out. Downtown Dallas has a fair amount of traffic, and it may be faster to use the DART railway. Of course, many people rely on walking when living in downtown Dallas. You can typically reach many coffee shops, restaurants, and businesses in the area on foot.

Schools in downtown Dallas

Families in downtown Dallas have a few options when it comes to schools. One of the highest-rated schools downtown is St. Mark’s School of Texas, a private school. The School for the Talented & Gifted is also an option if you prefer public.

Those looking to further their education beyond high school also have a few great options in the downtown Dallas area. This area is home to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of North Texas at Dallas College of Law. In total, 38 colleges exist within the Dallas metropolitan area.

Dining in downtown Dallas

Living in downtown Dallas puts you close to some of the best restaurants and bars the state has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a place to celebrate Taco Tuesday or a romantic spot for date night, explore the following top places in downtown Dallas:


Where locals eat brunch on Sundays 

via Ellen’s

Ellen’s rightly believes in being able to brunch any day of the week, at any hour of the day. In addition to breakfast classics and huevos however you want them, this Southern diner offers delicious signature dishes. Enjoy specialties such as Pancake Pot Pie (pancakes layered with gravy, bacon, sausage, hash browns, scrambled eggs, and cheddar cheese). Heartier appetites will appreciate the Grits Benedict (cheese grits, bacon, fresh spinach, garlic, tomatoes, two soft poached eggs, and homemade hollandaise).

Location: 1790 N. Record St.

Palmieri Cafe

The best coffee shop to work remotely

Via Palmieri Cafe
Via Palmieri Cafe

The Palmieri Cafe makes all its coffee, pastries, and gelato from scratch in the Dallas Farmers Market. The Italian coffee shop and bakery offer plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. A Southern Italian menu inspires the menu, and Italian coffee is at the base of most of the drinks.

Location: 920 S. Harwood St.

Sloane’s Corner
The best takeout spot for when you don’t feel like cooking

Grab some New American grub to go. Sloane’s Corner is a convenient takeout dining option in downtown’s Arts District, at the heart of the mixed-use Trammell Crow Center. Sloane’s also often hosts special events, making this a good dining spot and an entertainment attraction.

Location: 2001 Ross Ave.

Salsa Limon Flor de Mayo
Late night eats

When craving tacos late into the night, you’ll want to check out Salsa Limon Flor de Mayo. You must try the namesake house-made salsas, including tomatillo, jalapeño, piquin, and habanero. Wash down the hot chili peppers with some horchata, a mixture of condensed milk, coconut, rice water, and cinnamon, referred to as “comfort in a glass.”

Location: 411 N. Akard St.

One Eyed Penguin
The dive bar where everyone knows your name

The One Eyed Penguin (aka O.E. Penguin) offers drink specials, plenty of screens showing sports, a pool table, and live shows, including DJs and comedy. A steer covered in brassieres is part of the local dive’s kitschy decor. 

Location: 1404 Main St.

Where to drink outside

At Waterproof, you could sip mimosas at a sidewalk cafe or go full-blown bottle service in a poolside cabana. Perched atop the 19th floor of the historic Statler, this pool bar and rooftop lounge overlooks sweeping views of the city.  

Location: 1914 Commerce St.

Petro Bar & Bistro
Where to get cocktails on a first date 

Calling home to the iconic Tower Petroleum oil and gas tower, Petro Bar & Bistro specializes in creative Texas-inspired bourbon and whiskey cocktails. Try the signature Pioneer Plaza cocktail, which combines bourbon with maraschino liqueur and orange bitters. The chic yet casual spot also offers plenty of local beers, wine, and other cocktails, like the High Five, containing gin, Aperol, grapefruit, and lime. 

Location: 1907 Elm St.

If you want to get out of downtown for the night, you also have plenty of options within a short drive.

Shopping in downtown Dallas

Downtown Dallas is knows for being a shopping mecca. Whether you prefer high-end boutiques or you’re looking to score a good deal, downtown Dallas has something for you.

Forty Five Ten is a lavish, luxury department store with hubs in Napa, Aspen, and New York. Its downtown Dallas home is right across from Dallas’ five-star Joule Hotel, where you can shop high-dollar designer fashion for both men and women, plus beauty, home, and jewelry finds. Inside the Joule Hotel, Traffic Los Angeles carries labels like Alexander McQueen, BALMAIN, and Rick Owens. 

The historic Neiman Marcus building on Main Street is the company’s corporate headquarters and flagship store. Head here for high fashion, luxury finds, and lunch with the who’s who of downtown at the store’s top-floor restaurant, The Zodiac

In the historic West End district, developers have converted former warehouses along Market and Record streets into restaurants and retail retreats. One such 100-year-old red brick building houses Wild Bill’s Western Store, where wannabe cowboys and girls can stock up on Western wear, including boots, hats, and apparel. 

Even if you don’t need a new pair of boots, getting your picture taken on a saddle bar stool is worth it. Take the streetcar into Bishop Arts District for even more local boutique shopping.

Entertainment in Dallas

Are you looking for a fun way to spend your nights and weekends in downtown Dallas? With an abundance of theaters, farmers markets, and parks, you’ll never run out of something to do.

Theaters in downtown Dallas

via Dallas Symphony Orchestra

Covering 68 acres and 19 continuous blocks, The Dallas Arts District is the largest urban entertainment district in the nation. Located next to Klyde Warren Park, the AT&T Performing Arts Center is a world-class performing arts complex. 

Among its various venues is the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, where the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Choir perform classical music, and the Winspear Opera House, which is home to the Dallas Opera company as well as the Texas Ballet Theater. Here, you’ll also find the Wyly Theatre, which is home to one of the leading regional theaters in the country, Dallas Theater Center (DTC), and Annette Strauss Square, which hosts outdoor performances between the opera and symphony hall.

The city’s most historic performing arts venue, The Majestic Theatre, has been towering over Elm Street since the 1920s. Today, the Spanish baroque-style space hosts live shows from podcasts to comedies to concerts and Broadway revivals. 

Farmers markets in downtown Dallas

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the Dallas Farmers Market, which is one of the largest in the state. The indoor and outdoor market, nestled on the east side of downtown, boasts over 150 vendors peddling seasonal produce, naturally raised meat, and fresh cheese, eggs, and honey. 

Open seven days a week, The Market Shops is an indoor market that houses little artisanal eateries and eclectic shops. You’ll also discover plenty of activities, like yoga, cooking demos, live music, and seasonal events. 

Parks in downtown Dallas


Downtown Dallas may be a busy city surrounded by tall buildings and a lot of traffic, but that doesn’t mean it’s without parks. You can still stroll in a park or walk your dog at one of these top spots. Klyde Warren Park offers a green escape from downtown Dallas’s concrete confines. The linear park stretches 5.2 miles of the sunken freeway in the Arts District. It’s much less depressing than it sounds, with food trucks on Sundays, a butterfly garden, and areas dedicated to kids, dogs, and games. 

The community gathering space also hosts programming year-round, like fitness, dance, and yoga classes, live music, and film screenings. 

Surrounded by architecturally significant buildings, the Main Street District’s 1.75-acre Main Street Garden Park offers Wi-Fi, a great lawn, a play area for tots, a dog run, fountains, and public art installations.

Downtown also has plenty of plazas, similar to parks, but with less grass. Dealey Plaza is, of course, the National Historic Landmark where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Behind that, Pioneer Plaza is famous for its herd of 40 bronze longhorn steers. The 4.2-acre plaza also features many native plants and trees.

Designed as an all-faith gathering place, Thanks-Giving Square anchors downtown’s Thanksgiving Commercial Center district. It is home to The Chapel of Thanksgiving, which features Gabriel Loire’s stunning spiraled stained glass “Glory Window.” 

Top-rated places to check out in downtown Dallas


Dallas’s most iconic landmark is the Reunion Tower, which has been part of the city skyline since 1978. Take the elevator up 470 feet for sweeping, panoramic, 360-degree views of Big D.

Housed in an enormous refurbished warehouse in downtown’s Historic West End District, The Dallas World Aquarium is home to various species from all over the globe, including many endangered species. Walk through the 20,000-gallon shark tank exhibit and a multi-level rainforest. The feedings and talks with sloths, penguins, otters, and more are especially popular. 

Located north of downtown, American Airlines Center is where the Mavericks (NBA) and Stars (NHL) play. Learn all about the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy at the Sixth Floor Museum, aka the JFK Museum. You can even see the spot where some historians think that Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fateful shot. 

The 370,000-square-foot Dallas Museum of Art houses one of the country’s largest and most impressive art collections. Their collection of over 24,000 paintings, sculptures, jewelry, artifacts, and more are from all over the world and span 5,000 years of human creativity. Their galleries showcase works by Pollock, Rothko, Monet, Rodin, and Picasso. There’s also a children’s creative zone, a sculpture garden, and the DMA Cafe that stars some of Dale Chihuly’s glass flowers. The best part? Admission is free!

Pint-sized paleontologists can dig for fossils at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science Children’s Museum. The stunning 180,000-square-foot architectural gem is one of the best science museums in the state, featuring five floors of hands-on activities, interactive kiosks, and a state-of-the-art multimedia cinema. 

Renting in Dallas

Renting in downtown Dallas puts you in the center of the best restaurants and shops. You’re also within walking distance of the public transportation system, and you can easily explore other parts of the state. Discover how much you can expect to pay for a rental in downtown Dallas:

  • Average cost of renting a studio apartment: $1,422 per month
  • Average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment: $1,461 per month
  • Average cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment: $2,033 per month

Where you live in downtown Dallas and the type of rental you choose will influence exactly how much you pay each month. A downtown Dallas rental with a full kitchen or parking will cost more than without these features. The number of bedrooms in your downtown Dallas rental also affects cost.

Downtown Dallas is often known as the historic district, meaning you can expect many of the rentals to have brick materials. Some of them may have unique architecture too. This feature doesn’t mean you can’t get a downtown Dallas rental with a modern interior. Many of the historic buildings feature renovations to include modern designs.

Most of the rentals in downtown Dallas are apartments or condos. A rental in downtown Dallas with a rooftop patio may cost more but can offer impressive views of the vibrant city.

Ready to make the move? Check out thousands of apartments for rent in downtown Dallas and find the right one for you.

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The post Dallas Neighborhood Guide: Living in Downtown Dallas appeared first on The Zumper Blog.

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