One of the 10 largest American cities, Dallas is a cosmopolitan place with world-class architecture, a booming arts district and an eclectic dining scene. But there’s also an old-fashioned sense of community that makes the city feel very welcoming.
Dallas has one of the country’s largest gay populations. The established gay area of North Fitzhugh is still lively and is blessed with several stripper bars. The newer and trendier Oak Lawn neighbourhood, around Cedar Springs Rd and Oak Lawn Ave, has the area’s biggest concentration of gay bars, stores and restaurants.
You’ll spot many rainbow flags hanging in front of businesses and homes, and it’s common to see same-sex couples holding hands and showing public affection.
Located three blocks east of downtown, Deep Ellum is a bohemian enclave with a funky and eclectic mix of shops, bars, restaurants and nightclubs in what was once an impoverished warehouse district. One of Dallas’s top attractions, Deep Ellum is alive with graffiti art colouring the walls and a big slice of humanity carousing, shopping, drinking and eating.
Five minutes south of the city centre is the Bishop Arts District, a unique discovery worthy of exploration. Centred on Davis and Bishop streets is a cluster of gay-friendly restaurants, boutiques and services where you’ll find welcoming merchants and a small-town atmosphere.
All major airlines fly in to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Trinity Railway Express rail service is an easy ride downtown to Union Station (or seven other locations), and single fare rides are only $3.75. If you’re arriving in the city from a US location, fly in to Love Field, which is much closer to downtown. A cab from DFW to the Oak Lawn neighbourhood is about $45; from Love Field to Oak Lawn, $15.
Dallas sprawls in every direction, and “just up the road” in local lingo can mean miles on the highway, so a car is the easiest way to get around. The Oak Lawn area is walkable, but during the hot and humid season you may crave the air-conditioning of a car as much as its wheels.
The Oak Lawn neighbourhood is home to numerous nightspots that feature everything from cocktails to country dancing. Unique, however, is the employee-owned Caven Enterprises, five clubs enclosed in a one-block complex on Cedar Springs Rd (between Throckmorton & Reagan streets), known collectively as the Party at the Block. Cedar Springs Rd is also the focal point of Dallas Pride celebrations, in September, and the Oak Lawn Halloween St Party.