What to Do on a 13-Hour Layover in Dallas
American Airlines is not known for its great service, which is probably why I came to be booked on a flight that had a 13-hour layover in Dallas. No, I did not book the tickets separately – this was an actual itinerary that American recommended and sold as a package. Great, right?
Needless to say, I did not want to spend 13 hours in the Dallas airport. Even the allure of riding the SkyTrain all day long was not enough to confine me to the terminal, which is why I decided to head into the city itself for a bit of fun.
The following is my itinerary for a 13-hour layover in Dallas. These are just my suggestions, so feel free to add or subtract destinations as you see fit.
First: How to Get From DFW to Downtown Dallas
The first thing you’ll need to do to enjoy the splendors of Dallas is get there. There are several options, but I chose to take the DART train. Once I figured out where it was, it was very simple. All you need to do is go through the baggage claim area of Terminal A, head outside, and walk around the building. There is a small train station with two tracks, and all trains go downtown, so just head to whichever track has the train coming next. You’ll be taking the orange line, which you may want to remember for later.
It took about 50 minutes to get from the airport to downtown, but it was a straightforward ride. For me, it was a good chance to chill and watch the scenery – though unfortunately, there’s not really much to see.
By the time I got to the city and got off at West End Station, it was about 11:00 a.m., which left me with about 9 or so hours to play with.
11:00 a.m. Luggage Storage in Dallas
During my layover in Dallas, I had a very heavy carry-on backpack that I did not particularly feel like lugging around the city. The Dallas airport does not have luggage storage, but thankfully, I found another solution – Vertoe.
Vertoe is basically a luggage storage company that partners with local businesses. These businesses hold your bags for as long as you want, then you just need to return to get them. In Dallas, the business was a souvenir store called Wild Wild West, and it was in an extremely convenient location just a few minutes from Dealey Plaza.
With my shoulders unburdened, it was finally time to begin sightseeing in the city of Dallas.
11:30 a.m. Sightseeing at Dealey Plaza
Obviously, one of the hotspots in Dallas is gawking over the spot where JFK was assassinated. That place is called Dealey Plaza, and it’s nothing to really write home about. Still, you’ll want to see it. There are a couple of Xs on the road where I assume the bullets made contact, and a small plaque in the Grassy Knoll adjacent to the gunfire. Otherwise… it’s a pretty dull area. There is a small water feature, some columns, and a bit of green space, but it honestly makes me wonder what JFK was even doing in such an innocuous place in the first place.
12:30 p.m. Lunch at Twisted Trompo
By this point, I’d been up for about 8 hours without any real sustenance, so I needed some nourishment before I continued too much further. After walking through downtown Dallas, I happened upon a thriving little taco place called Twisted Trompo. It was just a few minutes away from Dealey Plaza, located at 1211 Commerce St.
The food was divine. As you can see, I got the three-taco meal, which also included rice and beans. With a drink, the whole affair cost around $9, so it was a spectacular bargain. I hungrily devoured my flavorful chicken tacos, which were covered in raw onions, sauteed onions, lime juice, and a hearty pairing of both red and green hot sauces.
1:00 p.m. Giant Eyeball
The next stop on my 13-hour layover in Dallas was this giant eyeball at 1601 Main St. It’s just as strange and out of place as it sounds. One minute, you’re walking along the streets of downtown Dallas, and the next, you’re face to face with an abomination that could best the Eye of Sauron.
The internet tells me this eye was crafted by artist Tony Tasset for no other reason than “to make something awesome,” which is a goal I can support.
1:30 p.m. Dallas Farmers Market
Continuing to stroll along Main St. and then making a right onto Harwood St., I came upon the Dallas Farmers Market, located at 920 S. Harwood. Unfortunately, I was still stuffed to the brim from my excessive lunch, so I wasn’t able to enjoy anything on offer here. And there were plenty of offerings, from Indian to pizza to Vietnamese.
However, if you’re just as full as I was, there are also a few souvenir shops to peruse. Considering both my checked bag and carry-on were full of Christmas gifts, I did not do any shopping, but don’t let my materialistic lifestyle stop you from adding to your collections.
2:30 p.m. Deep Ellum
From the Dallas Farmers Market, it was time to head to Deep Ellum, Dallas’ notable gentrified hipster neighborhood. As soon as I saw the copious amounts of street art and rustic looking bars and restaurants, I knew I was home.
I decided to walk here, which is why there is such a large gap in time. If you wanted to Uber, you could probably save a few minutes, but it felt good to stretch my legs. It’s a short 20-minute trek.
Again, since I had just eaten, I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I just walked around enjoying the street art. I also peeked into Deep Vellum Books, which features local authors, as well as gazed longingly into Common Desk, which is perhaps one of the coolest-looking coworking spaces I’ve ever window-shopped.
3:00 p.m. Deep Ellum Brewing
3 p.m. on a Monday? Time to start day drinking. And what better place to do so than Deep Ellum Brewing? This independent brewery at 2823 St Louis St. has been on the scene since 2011 and is said to be the first of its kind in Dallas.
I wasn’t the only one with this idea, as the bar was packed. I grabbed a coveted seat at the bar and settled in, choosing the Easy Peasy IPA as my poison. It was a nice, drinkable libation, and I nursed it for some time before heading back onto the streets of Dallas.
4:00 p.m. BrainDead Brewing
One beer is certainly not enough, so I decided to bar-hop to another brew-friendly atmosphere, BrainDead Brewing, located at 2625 Main St. This brewery had a quaint vibe that included refrigerator doors behind the taps, of which there were seemingly dozens.
After pouring through the numerous options, I decided to go with Status Report, a session hazy ale that I found to be to my liking.
5:00 p.m. A Final Walk Through Deep Ellum
At this point in the day, it was getting to be a little too late to start something new, so I just decided to walk around Deep Ellum more. I headed in the direction of the Santa Fe Trail, which I originally thought I could walk on for a bit, but it just took a little too long to get there. I did make it to the Deep Ellum Trailhead, at which point I turned around and started walking back to downtown. Darkness was also beginning to set in, which pretty much put an end to any further outdoor excursions.
As I’ve noted before, I love walking everywhere, but you probably could fit in some more activities if you choose to Uber or use public transport. That’s just not me, however!
6:00 p.m. Luggage Pickup
The other reason I couldn’t continue frolicking on my 13-hour layover in Dallas? I needed to pick up my bag, as Wild Wild West closed at 6:30. Just to make sure they didn’t close with my bag still inside, I got there around 6.
By this time, night had truly fallen, and there didn’t seem much point in continuing to walk around. The air was starting to get chilly, and creepers on the street were starting to comment on my shapely behind. It was time to find refuge – and fast.
6:30 Dinner at Press Box Grill
At this point, my peckish desires were starting to reveal themselves, so I tucked into a small snack at Press Box Grill, located at 1623 Main St. This was just an ordinary sports bar environment, but the real reason I stopped in was because they had cheese fries.
How would I rate the cheese fries? They were OK, nothing special. They came with your average cheese fries toppings: bacon, chives, and jalapenos (which was a bit weird, but Dallas I guess). The ranch was kind of mediocre, but better than bottle ranch.
7:00 Train to DFW
With my belly sated, there really wasn’t much else to do in Dallas at this point. And since it was a 50-minute ride back to the airport on the train, I decided to head back. I left from the Akard Station, which was just one stop further down from where I got off earlier in the morning.
Enjoy Your 13-Hour Layover in Dallas!
So, that is how I spent my 13-hour layover in Dallas! It was a fun and active day, and I feel like I got to see some of the best things the city has to offer. Did I make it everywhere I wanted to go? No, but that’s what I’ll be sure to hit on my next absurdly long layover!