Arts & Culture

Gems you can't miss in Fair Park/South Dallas

While the southern part of Dallas doesn't always get as much attention as others, it has rich culture, delicious food and historical sites to offer.

Angela Roe
Posted on Oct 21, 2020

With traveling out of the question for many, take advantage of the opportunity to explore your own city. You might be surprised how much there is to see, do and eat in Fair Park (and I'm not talking about the State Fair!) This area of Dallas boasts unique activities you can't find in other parts of the Big D.

5 Things to Do: 

Texas Vietnam Veteran's Memorial - A portion of the State Fair grounds is designated as Veteran's Park, where this special memorial was dedicated in 1989 by then-President George H.W. Bush. Near the Automobile Building you'll find the names of 3,427 Texans who served and died in the Vietnam War. A small but powerful memorial, it's a wonderful place to pause and pay your respects to these brave Texans. Learn more about the memorial here.

Dallas Zoo - Where else can you spot 2,000 animals at one time? A little further south is this gift to Dallas, showing off beautiful bird varieties, elephants, zebras, gorillas and penguins, just to name a few. Pack a picnic and grab some lettuce to feed the giraffes – just don't forget to book your reservation online before coming and bring masks for those over 10 years old. Plan your visit here.

Old Mill Inn - For an unforgettable outing, travel back in time at this historical flour mill replica next door to the Fair Park Music Hall. Built in 1936, the Inn now welcomes guests from all over for parties and private events, plus they host groups for classic Murder Mystery dinners on Saturday evenings. $60 per person will buy you a 3-course dinner (award-winning chicken fried steak, anyone?) plus a night of mystery fun at the Old Mill. Buy tickets here.

South Dallas Cultural Center (currently closed due to COVID-19) - In a normal year, this cultural epicenter would be buzzing with patrons and kids, especially during their Summer Arts at the Center program. While not open now, remember the South Dallas Cultural Center in the future, as they offer art exhibits, "Film Fridays," live music from local bands and more cultural experiences. And mark your calendar for their free upcoming virtual event on Nov. 12 called "We Are Here," a one-man show by Antonio David Lyons on the topic of gender violence. Follow the Center here.

African American Museum - Did you know this museum began as part of a historically black college (Bishop College)? Though the college is no longer there, the museum has been proud to operate independently since 1979. Displaying an impressive African American Folk Art collection plus period rooms and more, the museum hosts special programming and conferences regularly. Don't neglect a chance to educate yourself further on Black history by stopping in; check their Facebook page for updated business hours.

5 Places to Eat:

Ronnie's Catfish - If you're looking for a non-fussy, yummy lunch, pop into Ronnie's on South 2nd Avenue for a box of fried catfish to share. A few other specialties are included on the menu, such as hot wings, burgers and shrimp, but the fish is the main event here. The classic meal comes with fries, pickles, peppers and Texas toast. Is your mouth watering yet?

Sunny South Barbeque - Walk up to this downhome BBQ joint for some tasty smoked meat and sides. Daily specials will cost you less than $10, or you can grab a loaded baked potato. No frills here, and there may be a line, but it's a South Dallas gem.

Ka-Tip Thai Street Food - For a taste of Thailand in Dallas, order the pad ka prow, chicken green curry or pad thai goong sod. All the dishes are family recipes straight from Bangkok, so you won't be disappointed. More information is here.

Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters - Stop at this micro roaster and coffee lab for a bag of freshly roasted coffee or a "lab drink" such as a cortado or the maple- and cinnamon-infused brew, the "Cozy Canadian." With curbside pick-up available, it's a no-brainer stop, plus they offer coffee-free steamers for kids. Learn more about the roaster here.

Craft and Growler - While you can't enjoy your craft beer inside, this "filling station" continues to fulfill pickup or curbside orders. Right across the street from Fair Park, you'll want to try one of their own brewed creations or get a growler full of another beer on tap. Many are local, such as Peticolas or Trinity Cider of Dallas. More information is here. 

For even more neighborhood gems in Fair Park/South Dallas, click here.