I’ve spent much of my adulthood defending the city I love and call home. Because, hello? Dallas is in Texas—home of Greg Abbott, Ted Cruz, and good old fashioned Southern fried bigotry. So, why am I requesting you open your mind to the prospect of visiting? I must be on the City of Dallas’s payroll, right? Nope, far from it. I actually truly love it here and I think you will, too. Stay with me, k?
Allow me to first share with you concrete evidence of Dallas’s liberal-ness. Yes, we’re in a blood red state, but Dallas’s voting history has often been contrary to that of the majority of the state. Voting percentages show that, as a city, we voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012 and we voted for Wendy Davis (democratic gubernatorial candidate) in 2014. I don’t mean to bore you with political statistics, but these numbers only mirror my personal experience with this city. People are generally much more open minded and progressive here. We don’t all ride horses and vote for George Bush. And you’d be hard pressed to visit a semi-trendy bar, restaurant, or boutique without spotting a fellow gay. We’re literally everywhere.
Now that you’ve opened your mind to the thought of paying us a visit, let’s talk hotels, ladies. When you visit (and I know you will), choosing lodging that is centrally located, comfy, and houses staff that won’t give you side eye for reserving a room with one bed for you and your girlfriend, is important. Dallas is a thriving metropolis with plenty of hotel options; my personal recommendations are NYLO Dallas Southside and Warwick Melrose.
Rooms at the NYLO are more like a trendy loft with fabulous views of the city than your typical hotel. And did I mention the NYLO has a bad ass rooftop bar with a pool and a downtown view? Well, it does. In addition to in-house amenities staying at the NYLO provides, it also allows visitors the convenience of being walking distance from super-fun spots. Southside Ballroom is a fantastic and unique music venue. Lee Harvey’s is a mostly outdoor, no frills bar located in The Cedars. It’s also dog friendly; get drunk with your girl and your dog in a place whose namesake is an infamous assassin.
I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite spots in the city–the lesbian-owned Full Circle Tavern. FCT’s menu boasts the best veggie burger in town, sliders that have been recognized on The Food Network, apps worthy of a serious cheat day (try the cheese curds), a wide selection of local craft beer and specialty cocktails, and a brunch that is to die, y’all. FCT owners Jennifer and Lara can be spotted most days, beer in hand, chatting with regulars and ensuring guests are enjoying themselves.
Prefer to stay and play in the gayborhood? The Melrose Warwick is literally located at the corner of gay and gay in Dallas – Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn are basically the gayest streets in the city and The Melrose sits at the intersection of the two. Just across the street from the hotel is the Legacy of Love Monument created to celebrate the diversity of our community and in memory of a gay couple of 25 years who each passed from AIDS complications. Legacy of Love is a landmark for Dallas LGBT pride and a meeting place for rallies that target the needs and concerns of our community. Cedar Springs, to local LGBTs, is known as our gayborhood, “the block”, or “the strip.” Gay bars, restaurants, and shops line the street, which makes it the perfect spot for those of us who prefer to stay with the gays when we travel.
You could truly stay at the Melrose and never have use for transportation until the end of your visit. If you favor a vacay of cocktails and clubbing, the Dallas gayborhood has managed to hold on to an institution that we’ve mourned the loss of nationwide–the lesbian bar. Sue Ellen’s (affectionately named after the character on the television show “Dallas”) is the perfect spot for a Sunday Funday on the patio with local music and bloody marys, a late Saturday night of dancing and Absolut martinis, and beers with friends on a weekend night in the upstairs Vixin Lounge where you can enjoy comfy chairs and live music. A couple of doors down from Sue’s is the nationally known nightclub Station 4. If you’re into a solid drag show and dancing all night, this is the place to be on the weekends. Stop by and ask for Cat–one of the best bartenders in the city (try her special shot–Mexican Candy). And please, please, please don’t come to Dallas without stopping by Hunky’s on Cedar Springs— gayborhood staple for many years. In a laid back, diner environment, Hunky’s serves tasty burgers and kick ass margaritas.
Dallas ain’t just fluff, y’all. Although our restaurants and nightlife are elements of the city that just can’t be beat, there is so much more to do and see other than cocktails on a patio. Despite the belief that Dallas is nothing more than a concrete jungle, the city is actually home to beautiful parks and jogging/biking trails. White Rock Lake sits in a serene and laid back neighborhood of East Dallas surrounded by a gorgeous park and trails. Visitors can be found running, cycling, or just lounging with a book and their dog. There are also kayak and paddle board rentals, which I highly recommend. Klyde Warren Park is located in the heart of downtown Dallas. Take an outdoor yoga class, chill on a blanket with your lady, or enjoy one of the many food trucks that are set up throughout the week.
Into art? Of course you are. The Dallas Museum of Art is a wonderful spot exhibiting world class pieces. The museum also hosts nighttime events that are typically more on the casual side and sometimes even free to attend. If you prefer local art, Kettel Art Gallery showcases much of Dallas’s underground talent. My wife’s favorite gallery in the city is located in the neighborhood of Bishop Arts. Ginger Fox Gallery houses contemporary art in an upscale, yet not too stuffy setting. If you’re like most lesbians and are into collecting body art, be sure to stop by Gold Dust Tattoos & Fine Art–a shop owned by my wife and me. In addition to offering piercings and fully custom tattoos, we display original art created by local artists. Come see us!
To say Dallas has it all for us queer ladies would be an understatement. Food, music, art, nightlife, parks–there is something here for the lipsticks, the butches, and everyone in between. Compiling some of my favorite things about this city was a bit difficult simply because the assignment wasn’t to write a novel. I hope you’ll make the time to visit and experience everything Dallas has to offer.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmilyAMcGaughy