Car Free Journey: How to enjoy a weekend visit to Dallas without driving: Part 1

by Johnny Elbow and Karen Ptacek, DART Marketing & Communications

Gone are the days when the automobile was practically Dallas’ mascot and a visit here meant taking taxis or renting a car. Whether you’re in Dallas for business or visiting as a weekend getaway, much of Big D is surprisingly transit-accessible and pedestrian-friendly. The best place to stay is in the heart of downtown Dallas, which is served by all four light rail lines of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), the region’s public transportation system.

Every hotel in downtown Dallas is within blocks from a modern DART Rail station. Sleek trains arrive every few minutes to whisk you to the city’s most popular dining, shopping and entertainment destinations.

Dallas DART

And here’s the best part; you can ride just about anywhere DART goes – all day long – for as little as $5.

With the recent opening of the Orange Line, DART now offers 85 miles of light rail service reaching 61 stations, complimented by a vast network of buses, operating seven days a week, plus commuter rail connections to Fort Worth and Denton. DART Rail will serve DFW International Airport directly in 2014.

You can access online trip planning and much more information at,

From your cell phone, go to DART’s Mobile site:

            DART also has a Spanish language site:

            You can also visit Google Transit at

You can also call DART customer service at (214)979-1111. Telephone customer service is available every day (Central Time), Weekdays: 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The easiest and most affordable way to use DART for your visit is to buy a Day Pass for $5, which is good on all DART trains and buses and the TRE as far as CentrePort/DFW Airport Station. Two-hour and midday passes are also available, but the $5 Day Pass is probably the best choice.

For a complete list of available fares, go to:

You can purchase your $5 Day Pass (remember to buy one for each day you will be here) on local buses and at the ticket vending machines (TVMs) located on every station platform. Signs on the TVM and instructions on the touch screen will help you and answer most of your questions about how to pay. Your day pass is good on the day you purchase it until 3 a.m. the next morning.

Getting Here

Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Passengers arriving at DFW Airport can catch a DART bus on Route 500 from Terminal A connecting to

the Belt Line Station.,

Dallas Love Field Airport

Passengers arriving on Southwest Airlines and other carriers to Dallas Love Field can catch a DART bus on Route 39 connecting to Inwood/Love Field Station.


Serves Dallas’ Union Station, which is also a transfer point for the DART Red and Blue Lines and the Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth.


Now serves “Dallas” from Austin, Houston and San Antonio. Be sure to select trips that arrive at and depart from the DART East Transfer Center and not Grand Prairie, Texas. The East Transfer Center is located at the corner of Pearl and Live Oak streets, a few blocks from Pearl/Arts District Station.


The Dallas Greyhound Station is located on Lamar Street, approximately three blocks from the West End Station.

After You Arrive

Stay downtown while you are here.  All four DART light rail lines serve all 4 Transit Mall stations: Pearl/Arts District, St. Paul, Akard and West End. You can switch lines at any of tese stations. Most people seem to transfer at Pearl/Arts District, West End or Union Station (where the Red/Blue lines meet the TRE).

The best station to begin your exploration of Dallas is the DART light rail station closest to your hotel.

Where to Stay Downtown and the closest light rail station to each hotel:

Adolphus Hotel 

Akard Station

Crowne Plaza Hotel – Downtown Dallas

            West End Station

Dallas Magnolia Hotel

            Akard Station

Dallas Marriott City Center

            Pearl/Arts District Station

Fairmont Dallas Hotel

Akard Station

Hotel Indigo

            St. Paul Station

Hotel Lawrence Dallas

Union Station

Hyatt Regency Dallas

            Dallas Convention Center Station

The Joule, Dallas

            Akard Station

Omni Dallas Hotel

            Dallas Convention Center Station

Sheraton Dallas Hotel

Pearl/Arts District Station

SpringHill Suites Dallas Downtown/West End—best station: West End Station

Here are some neighborhoods and attractions worth exploring.

Downtown Dallas/Main Street; Closest Rail Stop: St. Paul and Akard Stations

From here, you’re steps away from Main Street’s bustling restaurants and nightlife, including Dallas Fish Market, Charlie Palmer’s, The Chesterfield and. Shopping doesn’t get any more stylish than at the landmark original location of Neiman Marcus and its Zodiac Room restaurant. Need a breather? Thanks-Giving Square at Akard Station is an oasis of trees, flowing water and exhibits, while Pegasus Plaza and Main Street Garden are popular gathering place for live music and festivals.

Head the opposite way from the Akard Station down Field Street a half mile, and you’ll arrive at the new Perot Museum of Nature and Science, filled with hands-on learning experiences, interactive digital displays and lifelike simulations of the natural world.

Dallas Arts District;  Closest Rail Station: Pearl/Arts District and St. Paul Stations

The Dallas Arts District is a unique 68-acre, 19-block neighborhood that is the centerpiece of the region’s cultural life and home to some of the finest architecture in the world. The AT&T Performing Arts Center’s impressive venues — the Winspear Opera House, the Wyly Theatre, the Annette Strauss Artist Square, the Dallas City Performance Hall  and Sammons Park — join a thriving collection of cultural landmarks, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Nasher Sculpture Center and Crow Collection of Asian Art. The new Klyde Warren Park creates an urban oasis at the district’s outer edge. The arts district also is home to more than a dozen fine restaurants and bistros, including two Stephan

Pyles’ restaurants on Ross Ave.

  • Dallas Arts District
  • AT&T Performing Arts Center
  • Dallas Museum of Art
  • Nasher Sculpture Center
  • Crow Collection of Asian Art
  • Klyde Warren Park
  • Stephen Pyles and Samar
  • One Arts Plaza

West End Historic District;  Closest Rail Stop: West End Station

The West End — a historic district of red-brick warehouses — offers a variety of cuisine, from Texas-style barbeque at Sonny Bryan’s to fine dining at The Palm. You can shop for unique gifts and Texas fashions, take in the marine life and natural rainforest exhibits at the Dallas World Aquarium or get a taste of local history at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture, which is located inside the county’s landmark 1892 courthouse. Of course, few make a visit to the West End (or Dallas, for that matter) without stopping at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza where JFK was shot and, nearby, the infamous grassy knoll.

  • Dallas West End
  • Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza
  • Dallas World Aquarium
  • Old Red Museum

Victory Park;  Closest Rail Station: Victory Station

When you want high-voltage sports and entertainment, head to Victory Park. Just a short ride from downtown, Victory Park is the home of American Airlines Center, the House of Blues and unique dining such as the fresh sushi and Pan-Asian fare of Kenichi and the artisanal dishes of the celebrated Craft Dallas in the W Dallas-Victory Hotel. Victory Park is also the home of two organizations that know a few things about the word “victory” — the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars.

  • Victory Park
  • American Airlines Center
  • House of Blues Dallas
  • Hard Rock Café Dallas

For More Information

For information about Dallas attractions, places to stay, and shopping, go to, or call the Tourist Information Center at (214) 571-1316.

For information about DART routes, schedules, fares, and getting to where you want to go by public transportation, visit, or call (214) 979-1111.

Steve Atlas enjoys hearing from readers. To contact Steve, share feedback about this or other “Car Free Journey” columns, or suggest destination for future columns, e-mail

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