If you’re debating whether to visit Dallas or Houston, this post is for you!
I’ve lived in Dallas since 2015 and have visited Houston a few times as well. I’m also married to a Dallas native 🙂
And though somehow I have yet to make a Dallas video, you can get a quick sense of Houston from this video we made from our most recent visit:
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Now let’s get down to comparing these cities!
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Top Attractions
This city has plenty to see and do. In fact, I think there’s something for everyone here!
One thing I tell everyone to do on a trip to Dallas is to visit the Dallas Farmers Market on a weekend. (Specifically on a weekend when both The Market and The Shed are open, so you can shop from local vendors!) It’s the perfect place to grab lunch, coffee, healthy sweets, a snack, and fun souvenirs or gifts, like candles, jewelry, hats, shirts, succulents, etc. There are also several boutique shops here as well!
Other than the Dallas Farmers Market, here are some other very Dallas things to do:
See the sites!
Reunion Tower located next to the Hyatt Regency Dallas is a quintessential Dallas spot! The Reunion Tower observation deck gives visitors a 360-degree view of the city’s skyline. These views are really cool! It’s also a great location for a date night dinner at 470ft.
And if you want to visit something less urban, the incredible Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is an excellent spot for photos and natural beauty! But I’ll talk more about this spot later.
Also, I’d also recommend visiting the State Fair of Texas if you’re in town when it’s open (around the end of September to the middle of October). It’s located at Fair Park, which also hosts Oktoberfest celebrations, BMX contests, and more. Even if this isn’t your kinda thing, it’s something unique and memorable to add to your itinerary.
The AT&T Discovery Center is a great place to get drinks, eat, and hang out outside. It’s almost like a mini (very, very mini) Times Square in downtown Dallas.
Check out the Museums
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza is one of Texas’ most visited historic sites. This museum chronicles the life, death, and legacy of President John F. Kennedy. Much of the exhibit space looks exactly the same as it did in the 1960s, when JFK was assassinated. It also has historic films and items on display. While it’s sad at parts, it’s definitely a popular spot to visit in Dallas!
We love visiting the Dallas Aquarium and the Perot Museum of Science. I’m a sucker for interactive exhibits, which you’ll find plenty of at the Perot.
And if you’re interested in fine art, then make sure the Dallas Museum of Art is on your itinerary too!
(Fun tip: You can take the free M-Line Trolley to explore downtown if you want!)
Catch a Game
I went to USC, so the Trojans are my college team, and my dad grew up a Packers fan, instilling his team loyalty in me too. So I’m not much of a Cowboys fan or a fan of any Texas college teams.
But plenty of people consider a Cowboys game a must if you’re in Dallas! And since Dallas is also home to major league baseball (Rangers), hockey (Stars), and basketball (Mavericks), you can pretty much catch a game no matter the season!
I personally have only been to Rangers games and a Stars game, but have always had a great time (even though I’m not really into sports).
Speaking of sports, Houston is a whole different ball game when it comes to attractions 😉
World-class Museums and Educational Attractions
There are some really interesting museums to visit in Houston like the NASA Johnson Space Center. Though I haven’t been, I hope to visit the next time I’m in Houston!
I was able to check out Houston’s Museum of Fine Art the last time I was in town. It is one of the largest museums in the US and definitely worth a visit. It has almost 70,000 objects from different cultures, some of which are 6,000 years old! Multiple buildings comprise the MFAH, so don’t be surprised when it’s not all housed in one museum building.
There are loads of other museums in Houston’s Museum District, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science was my favorite, with a butterfly garden (heads up, it costs a bit extra), giant pendulum, dinosaurs, gems, and so much more. We spent hours exploring!
Discover Houston’s Street Art
There are so many colorful murals around the city created by talented artists! One of my favorites is the iconic ‘Houston is Inspired’ mural, across the street from Market Square Park.
Catch a Game
Although Houston doesn’t have any sports teams quite as iconic as the Cowboys, it still has plenty to offer in terms of professional sports!
You can check out the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park or the Rockets at the Toyota Center, and more!
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Family Friendliness
From my own experience of living here, I know that Dallas is family-friendly! In fact, one of the main reasons Harrison and I live in Dallas is because his big family lives here!
And apparently, I’m not alone in thinking this. In a 2018 poll by Home.com, Dallas ranked number one out of 25 cities in the US for its overall family-friendliness!
Although there aren’t many natural attractions or outdoor beauty to draw someone to Dallas, its relatively inexpensive cost of living for a big city makes it a popular place to settle for families.
Some great places in Dallas to visit with Children are the Dallas Zoo, Dallas Arboretum, Frontiers of Flight Museum, and the Perot Museum.
In the same 2018 poll by Home.com, Houston came in third for its overall family-friendliness.
There are plenty of attractions here tailored to kids. The Children’s Museum of Houston is an amazing, hands-on museum where kids can learn about science, technology, history, and the arts. You can learn so much at the Houston Museum of Natural Science too.
The Houston Zoo is also very popular for families. It has over 6,000 animals!
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Food
Dallas and Houston are probably most famous for their barbeque and Tex-Mex food. (Some even believe that Tex-Mex was invented in Dallas!).
Pecan Pie is also a popular treat in both Dallas and Houston. This isn’t surprising as the pecan tree is Texas’ official state tree and the pecan nut is our official nut! (Who even knew states had official nuts?!).
Aside from these, both Dallas and Houston have plenty to offer foodie visitors.
Where to even start with Dallas restaurants! There are so many choices, you won’t run out of places to go.
Uchi Dallas is one of my favorite places for sushi! Before my husband, Harrison joined me as a full-time blogger, his company had its Christmas dinner at Uchi a couple of times, and it was glorious!
Its interior décor is chic, with modern chandeliers and wood-painted walls. It also has a more affordable happy hour – perfect for an early dinner!
Rise is another one of my favorites! This French bistro has a bustling bar but is most famous for its delicious, sweet, and savory soufflé!
You can’t miss Bubbas for some southern comfort food. Their rolls are heavenly and their chicken can’t be beat (even the grilled chicken is amazing if you want to skip on the fried food).
My personal favorite is Miriam Cocina Latina, right next to Klyde Warren Park.
For a fun food court experience with the ultimate downtown vibes, dine at The Exchange at the AT&T Discovery District.
And the nearby City Hall Bistro at The Adolphus Hotel (pictured above) is such a yummy spot for brunch.
When it comes to food, Houston is also packed with incredible options. From independent food trucks to upscale dining, there’s literally something for everyone! (And every budget!).
My favorite place we ate at was Le Colonial (French + Vietnamese fusion, pictured above).
Tiny Boxwoods Houston is another fan favorite.
I’m not exactly a foodie, and I know there are better resources online for food recommendations, so I’ll leave the rest to them.
But know that you can find incredible dining in Houston!
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Parks & Nature
I have to be honest. I think Dallas is lacking when it comes to natural beauty.
But there are some beautiful places and parks to visit. So, I’m hoping this will still give you some ideas!
And if you’re looking for photo-worthy spots in Dallas, check out my list of favorite Instagrammable Dallas locations!
Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens
The Dallas Arboretum is one of my favorite photo spots in Dallas! The 66-acre gardens are beautifully maintained.
As you can imagine, it’s the ideal spot to get some flowery photos. You’ll see loads of people perfecting their Insta pics here – including me!!
During fall, the park has a nationally-acclaimed ‘Pumpkin Village’. The Pumpkin Village has over 90,000 pumpkins and squash! In spring, the cherry blossoms and tulips are in bloom. It’s so pretty!
Summer is a fun time to visit too if you can find a nice weather day to visit especially when they have outdoor concerts.
My favorite times to visit are definitely springtime, when they have thousands of tulips blooming, and Christmas time!
Cedar Ridge Preserve
If you’re looking to hike, check out Cedar Ridge Preserve. It’s a good spot to get some fresh air. This natural area contains over 600 acres of woodland and wild meadows. There are so many miles of trails, so you won’t run out of walking or jogging routes! My favorite spot to hike to is Cattail Pond (pictured above). You can get great photos here, too, on an early morning or late afternoon when the pond is still.
Prairie Creek Park
The Prairie Creek Waterfalls in Prairie Creek Park are also pretty cool. Ok, so they’re man-made falls, but they’re still worth including here! The park is in the city of Richardson so it’s super easy to get to. There are several short trails over bridges and through wildflowers and woods.
White Rock Lake
White Rock Lake is also a good spot. It’s a reservoir that spreads over 1,000-acres! There are several hiking and biking trails around the lake and picnic tables. If you fancy spending the afternoon kayaking, this is the place to go. White Rock Lake is one of our preferred nature spots in Dallas!
Houston has a bit more natural beauty to offer close to the city. It also has a ton of Instagrammable places; you can find my list of Instagrammable places in Houston here!
You can kayak through Buffalo Bayou, a large river running 53 miles through Houston! You’ll get amazing views of the Houston skyline from the water.
While you’re at it, visit Buffalo Bayou Park. It’s an amazing open park space with scenic city views. It’s the perfect place for a picnic!
Hermann Park is another incredible spot just a few minutes from the city. This urban park covers over 440 acres! There’s a 5-acre Japanese Garden which is stunning. It’s a mix of traditional Japanese Garden design with a hint of Texan influence. It’s also a peaceful place to take a break from the city. And there’s a lake where you can rent pedal boats!
Hermann Park is also right by the McGovern Centennial Garden, which has a really neat man-made waterfall. (And speaking of man-made waterfalls, the coolest spot in Houston is Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park.)
Bayou Bend Gardens
Bayou Bend Gardens covers 14 acres of natural woodland. It was originally set around someone’s house but is now open to the public. It has a secret-garden vibe with fountains, beautiful flowers, and lush greenery (pictured above)!
One major Houston perk: it’s close to the Texas coast. So, if you’re in the mood for a Texas beach trip, Houston is very close to Galveston. It’s not the prettiest beach out there, but it’s a beach nonetheless! There’s also the fun Galveston Pleasure Pier for some more coastal entertainment.
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Cost
You can get a sense of how much Dallas will cost to visit from the widget below.
Of course, the cost of accommodation depends on what type of hotel or Airbnb you get. On average, the cost for a standard hotel room for two people is around $90 to $120 per night. Airbnb’s tend to come out cheaper, at around $70 to $90 per night.
If you want a five-star, luxury experience, visit the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek. This stunning hotel has incredible interiors and it’s where Harrison and I stayed on our wedding night! It also has a lovely pool, hotel restaurant, and bar. It’s expensive, but if you want to go all out, it’s the place to go. Prices start from around $600 per night for two people.
There are many expensive, high-end restaurants in Dallas. But Harrison and I have plenty of cheaper options we like too. If you’re budgeting for your trip, I would say that you can expect to spend around $40 for a dinner for two at a decent restaurant (that’s including a 20% tip) without drinks.
To give you a better idea, here are some of the approximate costs from the restaurants I mentioned earlier in this blog!
It’s really easy to spend over $50 on a meal for two at Uchi Dallas. It’s a mix and match menu, so you can be in control of costs here. Rise No. 1 bistro, the spot for amazing souffles, is actually pretty cheap in comparison. Their savory soufflés are $20 or less and the sweet soufflés are around $12.
You can get a sense of how much Houston will cost to visit from the widget below.
Houston, on the whole, is slightly more expensive than Dallas for accommodation. The average night for two people in a hotel is around $120. But you can find some great deals and hidden gems within your budget!
If you want a bit of luxury, check out the Four Seasons Houston.
Harrison and I stayed here for two nights on our last trip and it was excellent!
Harrison and I particularly enjoy their food – it was sooo good!
For something more cost-friendly, we also stayed at the Hyatt Regency Houston and loved our stay; they recently remodeled!
Again, the cost of meals depends on where you go. But, like Dallas, you can expect to spend around $40 (tip included) on a dinner for two without drinks.
Dallas or Houston to Visit: Overall Vibe
Dallas and Houston are both interesting places to visit. There are a lot of similarities between them as Texan cities, but they both have such a unique vibe.
Dallas has a strong business, fashion, and shopping vibe to it.
There are so many great restaurants here which makes it a destination for foodies.
It’s also kid and family-friendly as mentioned above.
I’d recommend that you have a car when you visit because it’s not very walkable! It’s also not the best place to visit if you’re looking for natural beauty.
If you’re looking for a real Texas feel, you can drive to the Fort Worth Stockyards, where you’ll find true western vibes. (Check out my list of Fort Worth Instagrammable places here!)
Houston has more of an oil and gas business vibe.
It’s bigger than Dallas and more multicultural too.
But it also has more beauty in the form of parks, architecture, and more.
In fact, if Houston weren’t so hot and humid (even hotter and more humid than Dallas), then I’d want to move there if I could take all my family and friends with me!
So, should I visit Houston or Dallas?
It’s a hard choice! And, honestly, you can’t go wrong with either city! They each have their perks. When it comes down to it, you can choose based on these major things (though most of these items are very close):
- Museums: Houston
- Sports: Dallas
- Art: Houston
- Food: Houston
- Parks & natural beauty: Houston
- Weather: Dallas
- Western vibes: Dallas (by way of Fort Worth)
- Access to the coast: Houston (by way of Galveston)
So, which would you choose?
And if you have more insight into Dallas or Houston and have tips or favorites that aren’t on this list, let me know in the comments!