Socially-Distanced Things to Do in Dallas (Dec 2020)

If you have been keeping up with my YouTube channel, you may have seen my vlog of how I spent my August. It was during this month that I started to think more about how I can make the most out of my time since we will be in this for the long haul. I wrote a post reflecting on quarantine as one does after realizing it’s been six full months (now 10 months), and I talked about the weird tug-of-war of wanting to live life to the fullest but not knowing what that looks like during a pandemic. Even though there are certain things I am not interested in or don’t feel safe doing, I know it is impossible to find 100% enjoyment from being in the house 24/7. So, I have researched some socially-distanced and mostly free things to do here in Dallas:

  • Dallas Museum of Art (Downtown)
    I am a museum person through and through and I think it has been amazing that so many of the most coveted museums around the world have managed to make their exhibitions virtual. Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is one of my favorite art museums and it re-opened in August to limited capacity, hours, and days of operation. Knowing how easy it is to socially distance yourself in a museum, I decided to check it out and see how this experience has been updated. Masks are required, there is only one entrance and exit out of the museum, and the check-in process for ticketing is completely contactless as tickets have to be reserved online in advance for a specific time slot. General admission is free, but you have to pay for special exhibitions.

When we arrived, we were placed into a spot in the waiting area that is six feet apart from other patrons and when the clock struck our time slot, they let us in row by row. From there, the museum experience pretty much felt the same as it always does, just with a mask! I also visited the National Videogame Museum in Frisco and as much fun as I had, it showed me how important it is to do research before just showing up at a museum; this museum was fully interactive which is freaking amazing, but absolutely impossible to manage during a pandemic as people are running around touching things and playing the videogame consoles. In short, don’t be afraid to call a museum for more details!

  • White Rock Lake (East Dallas)
    The White Rock area has a lot to offer. You can visit docks, ride bikes, go for a run, and drive down the road to the Dallas Arboretum. My boyfriend used to live in this area and we revisit as much as we can because White Rock Lake is so beautiful. Seeing as the lake has a nine-mile trail, there are many places to sit out and have a socially-distanced picnic. Picnicking has been a wonderful option for me in place of going out for food and drinks at restaurants, and I think the mild fall temperatures will make it even more enjoyable. Not to mention, it’s something free to do!
  • Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden (East Dallas)
    Speaking of the Arboretum…this is a tourist attraction I have found myself returning to in my more recent years. I have yet to scale the full grounds of this place because it is just so large. The Arboretum re-opened pretty early, but much like the DMA, you have a reserved time slot that you have to purchase in advance. There are two gate entrances, likely to prevent crowding in any one area, and you will select all this information when booking online.

I don’t know for sure if they have created the current attraction, Art of the Pumpkin, to be replicated at each gate entrance. if they are totally different, or if the gates connect to the same set-up in order to limit the amount of people entering from one direction. I do know that this attraction is on through November 1st and then the Arboretum will have discounted days until the next attraction begins. Tickets are currently $17 for adults and your time slot has a four-hour time limit.

  • Mandalay Canal Walk (Northwest Dallas)
    When I was in high school in Irving, the Las Colinas Convention Center was finishing construction and our graduation was hosted there. Now, the entire Las Colinas area has been built up with the Toyota Music Factory, residential living around Lake Carolyn, and a bustling ‘downtown’ feel with new bars and restaurants. It is beautiful! Another attraction you can find there is the Mandalay Canal Walk with gorgeous, European-inspired canals and options to book a gondola ride. But if you don’t want to pay for that, you can simply just park nearby and walk the canals all the way over to the infamous Mustangs sculpture in Williams Square. This has truly been one of the most scenic walks I have ever been on in Dallas and I love any opportunity to feel like I am in Europe (or at least be photographed like I am). Despite my bias rooted in nostalgia, this is a suburb y’all should check out. Again, this is another free activity!
  • Dallas Farmers Market (Downtown)
    The Dallas Farmers Market is typically packed with so many vendors and themed-events, but obviously that is not the case at the moment. Still, the Market is open just with a decreased amount of vendors. Restaurants are open for delivery and take-out and there is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. I visited when my boyfriend’s friends were in town and we mostly just walked around since it is in walking distance of all the major downtown streets.
  • Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge (Trinity Groves/West Dallas)
    Whether you’re looking for a scenic running spot, want skyline pictures, or just want to marvel at the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, you need to visit the Ronald Kirk Pedestrian Bridge. Last year, I ran a 5K that started and ended here and it was such a cool view. Personally, I really like the Dallas skyline, so I like things like this and clearly, I am all about scenic walks! If you visit, map yourself to 109 Continental off of Canada Drive which, if you use Apple Maps, may take you to a place with no outlet. I used Google Maps, but for reference, you should be on Gulden Lane right off Singleton Blvd/I-30 and able to see the residential apartments and eateries of the Trinity Groves area.

While you’re there, take a walk down Singleton Boulevard to enjoy some new murals on the front- and back-sides of a few buildings that went up in October as a part of the Wild West Mural Fest; there is a map on the website for the locations of most of the murals. If you are needing a little boost or something warm to sip on while you view the local art, be sure to stop by Soiree Coffee Bar on your way–a black-owned coffee shop that is pouring back into a formerly predominantly black neighborhood.

  • The Drive-In at The Central (Uptown)
    If you are a movie-goer like me, you know that part of the enjoyment comes from the experience. Sure, we have so much access to movies in our homes, but I have always loved going to the movies as this is a big family activity for me. The drive-in movie experience has been a great alternative during this time, but unfortunately, a lot of the drive-ins are pretty far from Dallas…until recently. The Drive-In at The Central recently opened this summer in the heart of Uptown to showcase popular films with a skyline view. This drive-in expanded into Dallas as part of a larger business called Rooftop Cinema Club which routinely hosted each summer in major cities like London and that I actually experienced in 2015 when I lived in L.A.
    Tickets for The Central are $28 or $35 per vehicle. Now, other drive-ins like Coyote in Fort Worth and Galaxy in Ennis offer similar or the same films for less than $10, but you are also looking at a 45-minute or more drive to these locations on any given day; the drive to and from plus a minimum of two hours for a movie is a lot of your day lost. If you are looking for convenience as a Dallas resident, this is the best drive-in option available and at least you can bring your own food and drink. I recently went to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets after my original Beetlejuice screening got canceled due to weather, and I think it’s a great activity to do during quarantine.
    The sound quality was amazing and the parking staff was nice, but the drive-in is just a plot of land next to a construction site which makes me wonder what will come of it when construction begins in that adjacent lot. Additionally, the website claims to offer skyline views, but you barely get a glimpse of it. I was in Section B ($28) and had this been a film I’d never seen before (like Beetlejuice), I would not have been able to really see what was going on onscreen. I would not recommend Section B for near-sighted people. Finally, due to the staff having to guide cars in continously, there aren’t enough staff to walk around and ensure cars and/or headlights are turned off; my boyfriend had to go ask someone to turn off their headlights as the movie was starting because we were being blinded. Again, not ideal if it’s a movie you have never seen before and especially not ideal to ever walk up to a stranger’s window at night (and during a pandemic). So, if there is a classic movie you love with your family or roommates and you just want to get of the house and be able to talk during the movie in the privacy of your car, I would recommend this as an outing during quarantine. However, I won’t be exploring this as my new go-to for watching movies during this time.
  • AT&T Discovery District (Downtown)
    This new plaza has been all the buzz on TikTok. The AT&T Discovery District is a scenic place for people to gather (eventually) to work and hang and it offers 5G wifi and a state-of-the-art media wall that showcases beautiful art. It will also eventually open itself up to showcase sporting events, movies, and so much more. There is a 30-foot sculpture called “The Globe” behind a gorgeous fountain, so I guess it’s our little Dallas hybrid of miniature versions of Times Square and The Bean. I was able to briefly walk through this area recently and found it to be such a cool place to sit out if there is nice weather. If I worked in downtown (and had to still go into an office), I would definitely be out in this area. I am hoping to return this month to see if they will be adding any holiday decorations.
  • “Area 3” by AURORA (Downtown)
    The Dallas-based public arts organization, Aurora, have opened “Area 3,” a drive-thru immersive exhibition at the intersection of art and technology in a Downtown Dallas parking garage. According to their mission statement, “Area 3 transforms over 100,000 square feet of a parking garage in downtown Dallas. Area 3 will function on a shared profit model in an experiment to support local artists and vendors whose income has been affected in the wake of COVID-19. Featuring works by sixteen regional artists, the exhibition will include large-scale light, video, and sound installations as well as performances which will be viewable from the safety of attendees’ own cars.”
    I think this is an awesome alternative to traditional viewings of art. Plus I love any exhibitions that include a lot of lights. Tickets are $30 per vehicle, but this money goes to a good cause and is for the arts! Also, you can just invite a couple of people and split that cost. You will be allotted an hour to drive through the garage, but you are not permitted to re-enter even if you finish before your hour is up. Additionally, this can only be viewed at night. I can’t wait to eventually see this before the year ends! This installation is on through January 1, 2021.

Let me know if you all have any recommendations for things to do here in Dallas that allow for social distancing!!
xx, AE

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