The Four-Hour Layover: Dallas

by  Teresa Bitler | Oct 3, 2019
Dallas, Texas
Dallas, Texas / Sean Pavone/iStock

Millions of passengers fly into, from, or through Dallas’ two airports — Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (the fourth busiest airport in the nation) and Dallas Love Field — every year. And, if you're a frequent flyer, chances are you’ll eventually have a layover here (if you haven't already). 

To make the most of your stopover, head outside of the airport and explore the local area. In just four hours, you can discover the Old West, immerse yourself in presidential history, and feast on authentic Tex-Mex cuisine — paired with a margarita or two, of course.

Transportation Tips

Since DFW is busier than Dallas Love Field, your layover is more likely to be here. If you have only four hours, you might want to rely on a ride share service like Uber or Lyft for transportation. However, if you have a little more time, consider using Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) Orange Line, which operates seven days a week from Terminal A, or the Trinity Railway Express (TRE), which runs Monday through Saturday from Terminal B. A day pass ($6) offers unlimited rides on all DART rail lines and busses, as well as the TRE. 

If you're flying into Love Field, follow the signs from baggage claim to the designated ride share pick-up area. Alternatively, head to the ground transportation area to board Love Link 524, the DART bus that connects the airport to Inwood/Love Field Station as well as DART’s Green and Orange Lines. 

Don't want to carry around your luggage? Vertoe provides storage services near Union Station and in Deep Ellum for $5.95 per day, per item.

Explore Presidential History

Dallas will forever be associated with President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963. You can visit the former Texas School Book Depository Building, now the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, to learn more about his presidency, that fateful day, and its aftermath. Expect to spend about an hour winding through the museum, pausing at the recreated “sniper’s perch” from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired the fatal shot. Afterwards, explore the grassy knoll that figures prominently in conspiracy theories. 

If you have additional time, visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum on the campus of Southern Methodist University. A good portion of the museum focuses on 9/11 and the War on Terror, but you’ll also find exhibits on the former president’s social policies, life in the White House, Prairie Chapel Ranch, and his Crawford, Texas, retreat. Highlights include steel beams from the World Trade Center and a full-size replica of the Oval Office. 

Sip Margaritas on Margarita Mile

Mariano Martinez of Mariano's Hacienda in Dallas invented the frozen margarita machine back in 1971. To honor his invention, VisitDallas created Margarita Mile, a list of the city’s best margaritas. Download the Margarita Mile app to find them and track your progress towards tasting them all. (Just another reason to re-visit Dallas.) 

First, make your way to where it all began, Mariano’s Hacienda, and order the Sunburst Margarita, which is topped with tequila-infused strawberry and mango puree. The restaurant also serves Tex-Mex favorites like enchiladas and flautas.

Located across the street from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and within walking distance of the Dallas Museum of Art, Meso Maya Comida y Copas offers an array of frozen and on-the-rocks options. You can’t go wrong with the De La Casa Margarita, which is made with Cien Anos Sauza Tequila, fresh lime juice, and Oaxacan sea salt. 

Be sure to try the Liquid Nitrogen Margarita at Beto & Son. Prepared tableside, this boozy concoction combines Beto & Son Avion Reposado Tequila, fresh lime juice, agave, orange liqueur, liquid nitrogen, and encapsulated fruit pearls. 

Discover Cowtown

From 1866 to 1890, cattlemen drove more than four million herds of cattle through Fort Worth — the last stop for supplies on the Chisolm Trail before crossing into Indian Territory — which earned the city the nickname "Cowtown." Today, Cowtown’s historic district features museums, western wear shops, and live entertainment.

History enthusiasts should visit the Stockyards Museum, which is housed in the old Livestock Exchange Building. The museum tells the story of the cattle trade and the role it played in Forth Worth. Nearby, the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame celebrates rodeo, cutting, and ranching greats. Try and catch one of the twice-daily cattle drives — known as The Herd — along East Exchange Avenue, which take place at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.  While layovers make it difficult to attend scheduled events like the rodeos, you can shop for authentic western apparel at local favorites like M.L. Leddy’s, Fincher’s White Front Store, and Maverick Fine Western Wear at your leisure. 

Kick back in the Bishop Arts District

If you have an evening layover, make your way to the Bishop Arts District. This neighborhood is home to some of the city’s best restaurants and hangouts. Start by sampling a glass of hard cider at the Bishop Cider Co. Then, queue up for delicious barbecue served on butcher paper at Lockhart Smokehouse. (We recommend the beef brisket and Kreuz Market sausages.) Finish the evening at Revelers Hall with a cocktail and live jazz. 

Like the Bishop Arts District, the historic neighborhood of Deep Ellum also comes alive at night. More than 60 restaurants — including renowned barbecue joint Pecan Lodge — and 50-plus bars line the streets, along with several live music venues. If you love craft beer, stop by Deep Ellum Brewing Company, which is famous for its Dallas Blonde and Deep Ellum IPA. 

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