A trip to Dallas really doesn’t have to be that expensive: while the average daily cost of traveling in Texas is $174, it’s cheaper to visit Dallas with an average daily cost of $103. However, there are many ways to enjoy “D-town” for even less.
1. Visit the free attractions.
Dallas has plenty of free attractions like the Dallas Museum of Art, home to one of the largest collections in the U.S. The Crow Collection of Asian Art, the African American Museum, and Fair Park are among many other free museums. Downtown Dallas is also full of free outdoor attractions from the Farmer’s Market to historical sites like Dealey Plaza and the Grassy Knoll which are where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The Pioneer Plaza Cattle Drive art installation is also popular, and across the street at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, you can see Shakespeare’s first folio and an original print of the Declaration of Independence for free.
2. Know where to stay.
The best budget accommodation option is to book a room or place via Airbnb or other similar rental websites, as hotels are more expensive, especially those near downtown Dallas. Hotels near I-635 may be affordable, but they’re often far from the most notable attractions. It’s easy to find entire homes or apartments near the most popular areas like downtown, Uptown, Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and Lower Greenville between $40 and $75 a night. Renting a room is even cheaper. By renting a room or home, you’ll often be within walking distance of attractions and nightlife or close enough to spend less on Lyfts or taxis.
3. Explore the neighborhoods.
One of the best ways to spend time in Dallas is to explore the neighborhoods. Deep Ellum is home to many free art galleries and a massive selection of rotating street art along Elm and Main Street. Bishop Arts has a wide array of small boutiques and some artistic displays along a few blocks of N Bishop Avenue.
It’s important to reiterate the extent of free, photo-worthy spots in downtown Dallas. There’s the red castle, known as the Old Red Museum, the rotating Reunion Tower, sculptures like the giant eye, and many buildings which Bonnie and Clyde worked in or were associated with. You can also see Bonnie’s grave at Crown Hill Memorial Park and Clyde’s grave at Western Heights Cemetery, both for free.
4. Take advantage of free outdoor activities.
Klyde Warren Park sits on the Woodall Rogers Freeway between Uptown and downtown Dallas and is home to a variety of free events like yoga, film screenings, concerts, and fitness classes. The park has free activities like books and magazines, ping pong, board games, a children’s playground, and sports equipment to use daily.
The Trinity River Corridor has free chess, playgrounds, and events on the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix H. Lozada, Sr. Gateway. It also has 10 miles of biking and walking trails through the Trinity Forest, and free admission on the third Thursday of each month to the Trinity River Audubon Center.
Other free outdoor places include White Rock Lake, a 1,015-acre lake with bike and walking paths, BBQ pits to cook out, forested areas to explore, bridges and docks to fish, and playgrounds. The Oak Cliff Nature Preserve has 121 acres of woodlands, meadows, and art installations to explore along eight miles of trails.
5. Take advantage of free or cheap transportation.
Dallas’ DART, or public transportation system, has a free bus system in downtown called the D-Link. Visible by its magenta and yellow colors, this bus system services the Convention Center, Farmer’s Market, Deep Ellum, and the southside Cedar Springs district. Other free DART lines include a street car that takes travelers from Union Station in downtown Dallas to Bishop Arts and the McKinney Avenue Trolley that follows a looping path between West Village, Uptown, and downtown Dallas.
The DART rail line costs $5 for a day pass and $2.50 for a two-hour pass. The rail system extends throughout Dallas, to the airport, and reaches into suburbs like Plano, Richardson, Garland, and Fort Worth. However, stations are spread out making it hard to walk in between stations or be dropped off at a station that’s within walking distance of your destination.
6. Eat cheap
There’s no cheaper time to eat in Dallas than during happy hour. Zenna’s happy hour menu is notorious for beers, wells, and margaritas under $3, sushi rolls under $3.50, and Asian tapas that cost less than $5.70. Campisi’s happy hour has $5 pizzas Monday through Friday.
During non-happy hour times, the best cuisine at the cheapest price in Dallas is Mexican food. Tacos average about $3 at most places, with Fuel City, Taqueria La Ventana, and Tacos Y Mas being the top three contenders. Chuy’s has a happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. that includes a free all-you-can-eat nacho bar and margaritas for $4.75.
7. Check out the free nightlife.
While clubs in Dallas generally cost a fee, most bars do not and it’s quite easy to barhop between them. Uptown is home to a college-friendly and upscale row of bars on McKinney Avenue, while Deep Ellum has a variety of live music bars and rooftop lounges on Main and Elm Street. The streets of Lower Greenville and Knox/Henderson are home to rows of bars that are more often frequented by those in their late 20s to 40s.
For those who love clubs, Red River Cowboys, a country club, has free entry to those who comment on their daily Facebook posts. Park Avenue is a hip-hop club with a $10 happy hour deal on Fridays from 5-8 pm that provides club-goers entry all night, an all-you-can-eat Southern buffet, and $3 wells and beers for a limited time.
8. Choose nosebleed seats.
One of the cheapest sporting events to attend in Dallas is a Texas Rangers baseball game as standing-room tickets are sometimes as low as $5. Right field lower-level seats often cost $35. The Dallas Cowboys now have Party Pack tickets, standing-room-only tickets that begin at $30 per ticket and provide access to six decks. Parking is the most expensive aspect of attending these games, though some hotels and restaurants nearby have free or low-cost shuttle services to and from the games.
Attending a Mavericks or Stars game is cheaper in terms of taking a Lyft or finding free parking in Uptown and walking to the American Airlines Center. The cheapest ticket prices for these games are in the “nosebleed” seats and can run as low as $16.