When visiting the Lone Star state’s vibrant city, Dallas, as part of your road trip, there is so much to see and do here that you’ll need at least a few nights to take it all in. For music fans, there is no shortage of fun and activity to soak up as you drive around town, taking in the city’s nightlife. Even during the day, there are so many opportunities to make your road trip in and around Dallas become one of the best travel experiences you could hope for. The musical pulse thriving in Big D is as diverse as the population of citizens who live here.
Driving to Dallas
One of the most popular highways in Texas leading straight to Dallas is Interstate 30, a route that leads motorists straight to Dallas and its closest city to the west, Fort Worth. Under ideal road and traffic conditions, it takes about half an hour to travel between these two cities. While doing so and you’re into classic rock, Lone Star 92.5 would be the radio station for you. Not only do you get to listen to some great tunes but will have access to important information such as traffic reports and other newsworthy events. When traveling to Dallas from the east on Interstate 30, this is the same highway that connects motorists to Texarna, Louisiana, then northeast to Little Rock. Should you be approaching Dallas from Fort Worth on this stretch of road, it will lead you into the city’s districts and downtown core so you can access its incredible music scene.
When approaching Dallas from the north or the south on Interstate 35E, motorists drive along the west side of the city. Within the city limits, it’s also known as the Stemmons Freeway. Another major highway motorists take when driving from the north or the south is U.S. Route 75. This sends drivers to the east side of Dallas and its downtown core. Two of the major routes stretching from east to west inside city limits are Commerce Street and Main Street. They’re also among the busiest, especially during rush hour traffic.
As a motorist, it would be in your best interest to have an updated GPS (Global Positioning System) with you, especially if you’re not familiar with Dallas and its layout. It would also be ideal to time your road trip excursions to the city’s hotspots with as little interaction with rush hour traffic as possible. Another helpful tip to ensure you have the best experience driving in and around town is to find out if there’s any road construction going on. This should help avoid running into serious traffic delays that may impact your ability to enjoy your road trip as much as possible. Again, listening to a radio station playing your favorite music will be helpful as they’re usually good at letting motorists know what’s going on.
If you’re planning a road trip to Dallas with the intent of spending at least a night or two there, booking as far ahead in advance as possible would be wise. This should be treated as your insurance policy to avoid disappointment when traveling to a busy city that’s constantly buzzing with activity. Should the timing of your road trip take place when there is a major concert or other event scheduled, you need to make sure you’re staying at a decent hotel that you can afford so you can make the most out of your experience while visiting the city.
When it comes to finding accommodations in Dallas, there are many possibilities you can choose from. If you’re visiting the city to make the most out of its versatile music scene, one of the best hotels you can stay in for easy access would be the Omni Dallas Hotel. For about $200 a night, this well-favored upper-scale hotel sits in the Convention Center District on 555 S Lamar Street. This is also a great choice if you wish to access downtown Dallas and its music scene.
If the Omni Dallas Hotel is a bit out of the desired price range, for about eighty dollars less per night there’s 1001 Ross Avenue, a hotel named after the address it sits on. This still keeps motorists close to downtown Dallas, making it easy to access the city’s hotspots when it comes to its versatile music scene. As soon as you know for certain Dallas is part of your road trip itinerary, book a room as soon as possible if you intend to spend at least one night in the city. Speaking as someone who used to work in the hospitality industry for over ten years, the best hotels often have their rooms booked up even when there doesn’t seem to be anything going on in the city. Even among budget-friendly hotels, they’re often booked up by groups of people visiting the city for a convention, family-related events, and amateur sports tournaments.
The best road trips are the ones where there is enough planning in advance to avoid potential disappointment and other mishaps. When visiting some of the most popular music venues in Dallas, even if there isn’t a concert involved, find out if you need to make any reservations. The most popular bars, clubs, and restaurants often require visitors to call ahead of time to at least book a table before letting people through the doors. Usually, the best hotels will have a handy visitor’s guide for guests to check over upon arrival. However, if you’re a true go-getter as a music fan embarking on an exciting road trip to Dallas, you can just as easily access booking information from the list of venues mentioned in this article as well.
Big D’s Music Scene
Ideally, hotels like Omni and 1001 Ross make it easy for visitors to make the most out of their road trip to Dallas. These are just two possibilities out of many more the city has to offer. Should you time your visit to Dallas happen at the same time there is a scheduled concert in town with a brand of music that you’re into, odds are you want to stay somewhere that’s as easy as possible to access it. However, you don’t need to wait for a concert to enjoy great music as Dallas is loaded with opportunities between bars, clubs, festivals, and parks. This is especially true if the hotel you’re staying in is surrounded by venues that have great reputations for keeping locals and visitors moving to the music well into the wee hours of the night.
Whatever genre of music you happen to be into, Dallas has it. Some of the nation’s biggest stars such as Edie Brickell, Tevin Campbell, Dixie Chicks, Meat Loaf, Power Trip, and Stevie Ray Vaughan came from this city. Music fans will observe the names mentioned didn’t all come from the same genre. While Texas is well-noted for its country and western charm, this state has also established itself as a powerhouse of talent with every music genre covered. The role Dallas has played so far continues its legacy as one of the best cities for road trippers to take advantage of, especially if they happen to be music fans. The venues listed in this article are just a small taste of what Big D has to offer for visitors wanting to cruise around town and groove to the city’s music.
Big D’s Hotspots
American Airlines Center
The biggest concerts held in Dallas take place in its American Airlines Center. If such a concert is part of your road trip itinerary, the easiest access to the 2500 Victory Avenue location from the city’s downtown area would be N Houston Street. When coming straight off Highway 35E, the turnoff at Victory Avenue takes you straight there. Since 2001, this indoor venue hosted epic bands and musical artists such as Andrea Bocelli, Depeche Mode, Doja Cat, Madonna, and the Eagles.
Cowboys Red River
For country music fans, Cowboys Red River is a popular dance hall and honky-tonk club situated at 10310 Technology Boulevard West. It takes about fifteen minutes to drive there from downtown Dallas when traveling northbound along Interstate Highway 35E. Aside from Sundays, music fans have the opportunity to kick up their heels to some great music. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, music lovers looking to learn country-style dancing have access to lessons that start at 7 p.m. Even if you’re not into dancing, soak up the music and enjoy the view of the bar that’s located in the center of the hall’s dance floor. Surrounding the bar as a lean-to barrier between it and the dancers is a wooden rail fence. It’s also a great spot to take in the live bands whenever they perform there.
Escapade 2001 Dallas
Measured at forty thousand square feet, Escapade 2001 Dallas serves as a fantastic nightclub for music lovers to show off their dance moves. This multi-level bar makes a great pit stop for visitors at its 10701 Finnell Street location. It’s about fifteen minutes northwest of the city’s downtown core, just east of Interstate 35E. What a great drive this is to hit one of Big D’s hottest venues that knows how to party things up like rockstars. This is also a great place to go to soak up live performances. Each dance floor has its own music vibe as the venue strives to have something for everyone. There’s also an Escapade 2001 Fort Worth located about half an hour west of Dallas on Highway 20 should drivers wish to include this destination as part of their road trip.
Fair Park: Don Equis Pavillion & The Music Hall
Located in Fair Park, Dallas, the Don Equis Pavillion is an outdoor amphitheater that has hosted epic concerts featuring icons such as Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, Alan Jackson, and Rod Stewart. It continues to showcase some of the finest talents the music industry has to offer today. Whatever the genre happens to be, whoever is at the top of their game as a world-class musician visiting Dallas is likely to make some noise here. Located east of the city’s downtown core, Fair Park has served as one of the premier recreational hotspots Dallas has to offer. The park itself has been established as a National Historic Landmark and is well worth the visit. Going into 2024, Don Equis Pavillion has an impressive list of scheduled concerts that include Gloria Trevi, Noah Kahan, New Kids on the Block, Niall Horan, and Creed.
Also at Fair Park is the infamous Music Hall. This is the historic location that has been hosting Broadway musicals since 1946. Here, you can take in great music and great food no matter what genre you’re into. Should you visit the Music Hall, this is where the popular Dallas Summer Musicals is held. Icons such as Michael Jackson and Tina Turner have been featured here, and it continues to be a favorite hangout for fans who have a love for music at its theatrical best.
The Factory in Deep Ellum
Once upon a time, The Factory in Deep Ellum was known as the Bomb Factory until the name officially changed in 2021. Deep Ellum is the name of the downtown district this popular venue has entertained the audience since opening up its doors for the first time in 1993. If you’re looking for a great venue noted for its history and music, this hotspot on 2713 Canton Street would be an ideal stop for you to make. Popular stars such as Chvrches, Don Henley, and Ms. Lauryn Hill have performed here. Going into 2024, The Factory in Deep Ellum continues to rock on musical events such as Bad Omens, Jamilla Woods, and The Dead South, just to name a few.
Originally, the Granada Theater was built in 1946 as a movie house before it was converted to a concert hall in 1977. Situated in Lower Greenville, this venue has become one of the most popular places for visitors to enjoy live music, no matter what kind of genre they’re into. Sitting at 3524 Greenville Avenue, this is about a fifteen-minute drive northeast of downtown Dallas. One of the easiest ways to get is the N Central Expressway, also known as Highway 75. If it’s live music you seek, Granada has it. It also has a great restaurant so even if there are no concerts scheduled, it’s still a great hangout for music lovers.
The House of Blues
The House of Blues on 2200 N Lamar Street is a quick drive to the northwest from this hotel and is well worth the visit. This is where you go when you want to take in a great concert as the venue is dedicated to booking only the best musicians it can find to entertain its guests. Should you wish to go here, especially to take in a live band performance, book ahead so you can secure a table and avoid disappointment. Iconic acts such as Better Than Ezra and Skinny Puppy have been known to perform here. However, you don’t have to wait around for a concert as The House of Blues has established itself as one of the best hotspots in town when it comes to enjoying good music in an environment that also offers good food and drink.
The Kessler Theater
Located on 1230 W Davis Street and N Clinton Avenue, The Kessler Theater is a performing arts center known for hosting great concerts and other notable musical events. Almost every night, there is a live performance by some great local and touring talents such as Raul Malo and Sunny Sweeney. Usually from Thursday until Saturday, Kessler has its doors open as early as six in the evening for concertgoers to hit the bar an hour before opening up its showroom doors. By eight, the concert performance begins. Visitors intending to enjoy Kessler’s music scene should make a point to arrive on a full stomach as the bar serves beverages only. There are nearby restaurants such as
The historic Majestic Theatre stands as the final remnant of Theater Row as part of the Harwood Street Historic District. Situated at 1925 Elm Street, this designated landmark continues to host concerts and other events before a live audience. One such example is Wynonna Judd performing at the theater in November 2023 as part of her Back to Wy concert tour. There’s also the December 2023 Stayin Alive tribute to the iconic group, The Bee Gees. For music fans who may also be into a bit of Art Deco, visiting the Majestic Theatre is a must.
South Side Ballroom
When talking about hosting great concerts, South Side Ballroom has rightfully earned its place as one of Big D’s pride and joy venues. Ever since opening its doors in 2007 at #101, 1135 Botham Jean Boulevard, this impressive opportunity to take in a great musical experience isn’t far from the city’s downtown core. If you happen to be staying at the Omni, you can literally walk to the South Side Ballroom by using the city’s DART Stations. Among the biggest stars to perform here have been the Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, Dua Lipa, Greta Van Fleet, Imagine Dragons, and Twenty One Pilots. What’s great about this hotspot is it’s far from boring. While here, be sure to check out Jack Daniel’s Saloon Restaurant. You don’t want to rock on the dance floor on an empty stomach, do you?
Situated on 2912 McKinney Avenue is Theory Nightclub, one of the favorite hotspots for music fans to let loose and dance the night away. As part of the Uptown Entertainment District, this is a world-class club that features top-notch DJs and performers who offer extra flavor to a rockin’ night of musical entertainment. This is also a popular hangout to host special events and has been a favorite go-to destination for intimate social gatherings and grand-scale parties.
For the Love of Records
When taking your road trip to Dallas, perhaps you want to do more than test your best dancing moves. Maybe you’d like to bring some music back home with you or play it in the car as you go. Whatever genre you’re into, Dallas has a fantastic collection of record stores. If you’re on the hunt for a vinyl gem or the latest recordings released by some of the hottest stars in the music industry, there are a few awesome places that may be worth your time. There are three within the city limits that stand out the most as classic favorites that have been popular among locals and tourists that date as far back as the 1950s.
From downtown Dallas, driving to Josey Records along Interstate Highway 35E takes about fifteen minutes under ideal traffic conditions. This popular hangout for music lovers has been in the business of selling records for many years as it sits at Unit 100, 2821 Lyndon B Johnson Freeway. Between its massive collection of rare collectible vinyl records and memorabilia, Josey Records has made a name for itself as one of the largest independently owned record shops in the United States. If you’re into what’s new, including turntables and latest releases, Josey has that covered, too.
In Dallas, Spinster Records sits at Unit 102, 408 N Bishop Avenue. As one of the highlights of the Bishop District, Spinster offers aisles of vinyl classics, modern vinyl records, and just about anything a music fan could hope for as something they can buy and bring home with them. Sometimes, it’ll host book signings. If your road trip is timed right, maybe a famous musician turned author will be around to sign a copy you bought for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
Top Ten Records
Since 1956, Top Ten Records has catered to the people of Dallas as one of its premier record stores. It also claims to be the oldest still hanging around as one of the favorite hangouts for music lovers. In addition to serving as a record store, it also hosts in-store performances presented by local DJs and musicians. More recently, Top Ten Records has focused itself as a member of the ongoing Texas Music Archive project in a quest to make the state’s classic available to the public. Its street address is 338 W Jefferson Boulevard, which is about ten miles southwest of downtown Dallas. This puts you into the heart of the infamous Bishop Arts District, a haven for music lovers and pop culture enthusiasts.
Dallas, Texas Road Trip Guide for Music Fans article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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