Sightseeing in Downtown Dallas: What Tour Should I Take?

Traffic in downtown Dallas isn’t what it used to be. Dedicated bike lanes have popped up along Main Street. The number of Dallas residents relocating to the city’s urban core has meant a surge in pedestrian activity. And maybe you’ve noticed some other unusual modes of transportation making the downtown circuit: Segways, “stretch” golf carts and even a giant pedal bus.

If so, you’re witnessing Dallas’ tourism industry in action. Visitors from near and far want to know what our city has to offer, from historic sites to 5-star cuisine, from barbecue to the Tex-Mex. Even if you’ve lived in Dallas your entire life, you may want a refresher course in how “Big D” earned its nickname. Luckily, you have a wealth of downtown tour options to choose from.

Discover Dallas Sightseeing Tour 

Every city is accessible via a classic guided bus tour. Discover Dallas is a great option if you want to ride around downtown in climate-controlled comfort and re-familiarize yourself with the lay of the land. You can arrange for hotel pick-up or get a head start on your tour by hopping on from the Dallas Tourist Office in the Old Red Courthouse. Discover Dallas’s “Dallas Highlights” includes many downtown locations of interest on its route. This three-hour jaunt starts in the West End, moves on to the Sixth Floor Museum and Kennedy Memorial, and winds through Pioneer Plaza, Trinity Groves, the Dallas Arts District and Uptown before heading north to the campus of Southern Methodist University and the George W. Bush Presidential Library. Buses depart at 9AM and 1PM, and reservations must be made in advance.

Dallas Running Tours 

Make your sightseeing experience truly heart pounding. Dallas Running Tours are customizable and priced by the mile. Available running tour routes include a West End/downtown circuit of up to 6 miles. Other routes follow the Katy Trail and the shores of White Rock Lake. You can run “solo” (just you and a guide) or with a group, and there’s even a dog-friendly option. Just be sure to lace up and properly hydrate. You can make arrangements for your running tour by calling or emailing Eduardo.

Dallas Segway Tours 

Pop culture may like to have its fun with the Segway, but you might be pleasantly surprised at how much downtown ground you can cover in a mere 90 minutes aboard one of these “human transporters.” Dallas Segway Tours calls its downtown route “Dealey Plaza Then and Now,” but the route traverses much more than that. The Holocaust Museum, John Neely Bryan’s cabin, Ferris Plaza, the Dallas Police Memorial and more are all stops along the way as well. Each ride (offered three times a day, seven days a week) is led by an accredited Dallas Tourism Ambassador. Your $69 tour fee includes lessons in how to balance and glide properly on your Segway, safety equipment rental, a rain poncho (just in case) and photography services. You can even choose to end your tour with lunch or dinner at one of two enduringly popular West End eateries: Dick’s Last Resort or The Spaghetti Warehouse. So, forget about Paul Blart. TripAdvisor has awarded Dallas Segway Tours its Certificate of Excellence for five years running — that is, rolling.

Dallas Architecture Walking Tours 

The Dallas Architecture Center was founded in 2008 by a group of local architectural professionals with the goal of raising public awareness about the city’s architectural past as well as its future. The Center offers three different Saturday morning tours highlighting important downtown buildings and revealing the fascinating story of the individuals, institutions and artistic trends that influenced the city’s development. Each 90-minute to two-hour tour costs just $10 per adult, with free attendance for children under 12. Whether you choose to focus on the West End, the Arts District or the Main Street District, you’ll come away from your walking tour experience both informed and inspired.

Dallas City Tours’ Cruizers Electric Tour 

At just 45 minutes, this accelerated tour of downtown Dallas still doesn’t skimp on exploration. The route includes important landmarks on the Dallas skyline: the Bank of America Building (aka “the green building”), parks (Klyde Warren), iconic hotels (the Adolphus), museums and even church buildings. But perhaps what’s most notable about this tour is the vehicle that will be taking you through downtown. The Cruizer is an all-electric, open-air touring car that sports a pair of longhorns for a hood ornament. The Cruizer is perfect for small groups. Tours depart every half hour from 10AM to 3:30PM daily.

Efrogs Tours 

These all-electric shuttles do double duty. They provide low-cost transportation to anyone working or visiting downtown. Each trip is technically free, but tips are encouraged. Each mini-shuttle can seat up to five people, and they’re always on-call from Deep Ellum to Uptown. But you can also book a tour. Currently, Efrogs offers a one-hour City Tour that begins in downtown, makes visits to seven notable Dallas neighborhoods and returns to the West End. For $22 per person, you’ll enjoy a guided expedition as well as a complimentary 8-inch pizza from Tutta’s. Tours are limited to 10 people at a time and operate from Tuesday to Sunday only.

The Buzz Bike 

Unique is probably an understatement when attempting to describe the Buzz Bike. A mobile pub inspired by a similar vehicle of Dutch design, the Buzz Bike can hold up to 16 passengers. Ten passengers actually power the Buzz Bike by pedaling together. Steering is provided by a “pilot.” While the Buzz Bike is also set up like a bar, it’s actually BYOB. A designated “bartender” helps to distribute beverages from coolers you and your party supply. For an hourly rental fee, you can take either a brief or an extended tour of the Arts District. The two-hour “Full Buzz” option expands to include the Majestic Theatre and a sizable chunk of the West End. There’s also the Buzzin’ Downtown route. This ride — or is it a drive? — brackets an overview of the after-dark attractions along Main Street, with visits to City Hall Plaza and the Sixth Floor Museum. Whatever the route, the Buzz Bike experience emphasizes being social, enjoying some adult refreshment and burning a few calories.

What’s your favorite way of getting to know your city better? Given a chance to take a leisurely drive or walk through downtown, where would you go and what would you most like to see? Keep the conversation going about what makes our downtown distinctly Dallas by sharing your thoughts in the comments below and on Facebook and Twitter.