Travel Lifestyle & Culture

Essential Dallas, TX City Guide for Travel Nurses

Audrey McCollough, RN, BSN
August 16, 2023
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Howdy, travel nurses and allied health professionals! Ready for your next memorable assignment? Let’s set our sights on the Lone Star State's crown jewel - Dallas! It's going to be an experience like no other, so cowboy up! 

From the sprawling skyscrapers to its rich cowboy history, Dallas is more than just a city—it's a captivating tale of Texan pride. Picture this: wrapping up your shift and then diving into a plate of the finest Texas BBQ or sipping a drink as you gaze at the dazzling skyline from a rooftop bar. Between the history-laden pathways of Dealey Plaza and the electric vibes of the Deep Ellum district, exploration is endless.

Get ready to be charmed by Dallas’ deep-rooted history, its hospitable locals, and its diverse neighborhoods—each humming with its own distinct energy. Whether you’re a culinary adventurer, a history enthusiast, a sports fan, or an arts admirer, Dallas is poised to impress.

Prepare for an unparalleled journey as we guide you through everything you need to know while working in Dallas- the best eats, treats, and everything in between! Here's your ultimate roadmap to making every moment of your Dallas assignment absolutely unforgettable.

Navigating Your Expenses: Cost of Living in Dallas

Embarking on an adventure in Dallas introduces you to a city that’s a unique blend of southern charm and urban sophistication. The overall cost of living in Dallas sits just 2% higher than the national average.  While the cost of living is 11% higher than the state average, here’s the scoop:  Dallas isn’t just any Texan city—it's an electrifying blend of cowboy spirit, modern skyscrapers, and a melting pot of cultures. So, the slight uptick? Totally worth it for the unique Dallas vibe.

When it comes to housing, a nice one-bedroom apartment near the bustling heart of downtown will cost you about $1,914 per month. But here's the bright side - this is still 4% lower than what most people around the country are paying! And remember, with Trusted, your Dallas travel salary will come with housing stipends to make sure you're comfortably settled without breaking the bank.

Now, how should you plan on getting around? Dallas is undoubtedly a city that cherishes personal transportation. The vast majority of its residents prefer driving, weaving their way through the city's expansive highways and scenic routes. Fortunately, with gas prices hovering around a reasonable $2.91 per gallon, getting around on your own wheels is pretty affordable! If you do go the public transportation route, expenses, including bus fares and gas prices, are 14% lower than the national average. 

While Dallas has its unique costs, it's so much more than just numbers on a page. It's about those unforgettable nights in Deep Ellum, the history echoing in Dealey Plaza, or that spontaneous rodeo you decide to check out. As you two-step through Dallas, balancing your finances becomes a fun choreography, ensuring every Texas sunset is enjoyed to the fullest.

Hungry for more? Well, saddle up, because next, we’re diving into the nitty-gritty of nursing education and salary prospects in Dallas!

Dallas Nursing Insights: Education and Earnings Overview

Have you thought about starting your nursing career in Dallas? This iconic Texan gem isn't just known for its cowboy boots and Tex-Mex. It's also a hub for nursing education, brimming with prestigious institutions that have carved out a niche in the realm of healthcare education.

Take Texas Woman’s University for example. With a reputation as one of Dallas's premier nursing schools, it boasts a diverse range of programs, from traditional BSNs to weekend and evening programs. For those looking to level up, they offer a Masters degree with six distinct nursing tracks, as well as options for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a PhD in Nursing Science.

Just a hop away in Fort Worth, Texas Christian University’s Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences stands out. With an array of degree programs spanning bachelor’s to doctoral levels, and post-studies for APRNs, it's no surprise that TCU consistently finds itself among the top 100 national universities.

Not to be left out, the University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation is a force to reckon with. With a whopping 17 graduate programs spanning specialties like family nurse practitioner and psychiatric/mental health nurse, UTA has something for everyone. Recognized as a Nursing Center of Excellence, this institution offers flexible learning opportunities, both online and at their Arlington campus.

Now, let’s talk numbers. Texas is a powerhouse when it comes to nursing employment, standing proud just behind California in nurse employment. With a staggering 231,060 nurses calling Texas home, the Lone Star State has made its mark. Narrowing it down, Dallas, with its southern charm and metropolitan flair, employs a robust 66,550 nurses.

As for the pay? While the average Texan nurse earns around $40.54 an hour, Dallas staff nurses are pocketing a sweet $42.14/hr. Translate that to a year, and we're looking at an annual average of $87,850. For our adventurers taking on travel nursing in Dallas, you're in for a treat, raking in an average of a fantastic $3,620 per week! To keep an eye on the latest in salary trends, be sure to visit our Nurse Salary Explorer - remember that travel rates are always fluctuating!

Choosing Dallas for your nursing career is like riding the perfect rodeo— thrilling, rewarding, and an experience unlike any other. With its top-notch educational institutions and an enthusiastic community that truly cherishes healthcare professionals, Dallas isn't just a city; it's the backdrop to your success story.

With the logistics squared away, it’s time to dive into the lively pulse of Dallas. Let’s kick things off with the restaurants that should be at the top of your list!

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Dallas Dishes: Savor the Flavors of the Lone Star City

Cattleack Barbeque: Evolving from an under-the-radar gem to the Dallas area’s best barbecue, Cattleack Barbeque is acclaimed for its tender, charred brisket and unbeatable sides (like the city's finest slaw). Cattleack serves up authentic Texas barbecue in hearty portions, ensuring no one leaves hungry. Whether you're eyeing the pork ribs, smoked ribeyes, or the rich Akaushi beef brisket, every bite promises a taste of true Texas tradition. Open for lunch on select days, and famed for their Whole Hog Day, Cattleack is not just a meal; it's a Dallas BBQ experience. They’re BYOB so don’t forget your beverage of choice on your way in!

Roots Southern Table: At the heart of North Dallas's Farmers Branch neighborhood lies Roots Southern Table, an embodiment of Southern elegance. The restaurant is celebrated for its signature duck-fat fried chicken. While this dish alone is worth the visit, Derry’s authentic gumbo and Texas red fish are equally unmissable. Designed as a homage to Southern flavors, Roots effortlessly blends culinary tradition with contemporary flair, ensuring every dish, from black-eyed pea hummus to seasonal salads, resonates with both nostalgia and innovation. Whether you're celebrating or just craving a taste of the South, Roots promises a memorable meal—be sure to save room for dessert!

Petra and the Beast: Housed in a vintage gas station transformed into a culinary playground, creativity knows no bounds at Petra and the Beast. With a menu as dynamic as Dallas itself, expect everything from uniquely crafted pastas and koji-cured charcuterie to whimsical desserts that transport you back to simpler times. The star attraction? Their ever-evolving Saturday night tasting menu, offering a culinary journey that's arguably the most impressive in all of Texas. While the dishes are avant-garde, the vibe remains casual with its BYOB policy. Dive into the unexpected, where every dish at Petra and the Beast tells a story.

Lucia: With handcrafted pastas, mouthwatering house salumi, and griddled focaccia, Lucia continues to enamor its patrons.  This iconic spot creates a charming, warm atmosphere that keeps locals coming back for more. Not to be missed are the delectable desserts, which stand as some of the finest in the city. The magic of Lucia isn't just in its culinary mastery but in its unwavering commitment to genuine hospitality and unmatched consistency, creating loyalists throughout the city.

Lexy’s: If you’re looking for the most instagrammable brunch spot in all of Dallas, you’ll find it at Lexy’s. Serving up modern American flair with an unmistakable touch of style, Lexy’s vibrant blue-and-pink hues, feather chandeliers, and a unique Moet vending machine set against a floral backdrop promise a picture-worthy backdrop. While not just a brunch destination, it's hard to resist their smoky, CBD-infused High Tea teapot, decadent brisket-filled avocado croquettes, and sumptuous lobster rolls. At Lexy’s, your plate and profile are set to dazzle.

Sandwich Hag: Located in the Cedars neighborhood, Sandwich Hag radiates authenticity. Chef Reyna Duong crafts impeccable bánh mì—think ginger tofu, house-made pork sausage, and more—and her weekend specials and real fruit boba teas are nothing short of delightful. The chill patio vibes invite you to dine under hanging bird cages at outdoor tables - treat yourself to a menu that extends beyond sandwiches!  And don’t forget to check out the weekend-only Vietnamese ChimLanh coffee experience, complete with Detour Doughnuts, is worth the early rise.

El Carlos Elegante: If you want to feel like you’re at an elegant dinner in the heart of Mexico City, you’ll need to make a trip to El Carlos Elegante. This upscale atmosphere delights with authentic masa dishes, succulent Argentinian-style meats, and an impressive crudo selection. Whether you're sipping on a craft cocktail or diving into their exceptional Mezcal offerings, every experience here feels like a passionate ode to Mexican gastronomy. 

Brews and Beans: Dallas' Best Coffee Stops

La La Land Kind Café:  With the original location nestled in a quaint white house near Lower Greenville, La La Land Kind Café is more than just a picture-perfect coffee haven. This cafe is driven by a heartfelt mission: to employ and support foster youth aging out of the system. As you savor their signature Strawberry Fields drink or oat milk latte, know that each sip contributes to a cause, transforming lives one cup at a time. With its heartwarming ethos and delectable offerings, it's no wonder La La Land has bloomed into multiple Dallas locations.

Fiction Coffee: Nestled in the heart of East Dallas, Fiction Coffee offers more than just a caffeine fix—it's a sensory experience. Beyond the classic macchiatos and americanos, it's their in-house syrups, from aromatic juniper to spicy hellfire, that elevate each drink to a story of its own. With a spacious new location in Deep Ellum's iconic Continental Gin Building, patrons can dive into a narrative of flavors while enjoying a cozy workspace with complimentary WiFi. 

Hola Cafe: Established in 2019, Hola Café in Oak Cliff is a delightful fusion of owner Jennifer Avila's Honduran roots and modern aesthetics. Born from memories of assisting her grandmother in the coffee trade, Jennifer has cultivated a space that not only serves exquisite espresso drinks but also transports visitors to a Latin oasis right in Dallas. This petite, influencer-owned coffee haven, brimming with succulents and infused with the genuine spirit of Honduras, offers patrons a sip of Jennifer's dream brought to life, paired perfectly with a Dulce de Leche Latte and a side of nostalgic Galletas Marias. 

Weekend Coffee:  Tucked away in The Joule hotel, Weekend Coffee stands as a beacon for aficionados of refined brews. Utilizing beans from Counter Culture Coffee, every cup promises an exquisite journey of flavor. Whether you're in the mood for a classic latte or a unique coffee cocktail, Weekend's ambiance seamlessly marries the luxury of the hotel setting with the warmth of a top-tier coffee house. Don't miss out on their delightful croissants—a perfect companion to their brews. 

Dallas Drink Destinations: From Happy Hour to Late Night

Hide: Located in Lower Greenville, Hide is a cocktail lover's paradise, known for its adventurous and innovative drinks crafted with modern techniques. The space boasts a spacious area complete with a rooftop patio. With a roster of 25 signature cocktails, ranging from the unique Green Tara with its blend of vodka, jasmine green tea, and pear, to the alluring Day Walker, which combines tequila with pineapple, cinnamon, lemon, and egg white, Hide promises a memorable and delightful experience for every guest.

Apothecary: An ode to inventive mixology, Apothecary has been captivating the senses of Dallas locals since 2021. Veiled in mystique, this bar offers a delightful ambiance, juxtaposing its dark, evocative interiors with a vibrant, eclectic drink menu. Visitors are guided on a mixological journey, moving from simpler “Over the Counter” blends to the audacious “Illicit Elixirs.” While they do boast an opulent $500 Mariinskyi Palace concoction, most of their innovative drinks, like the flavor-packed Hummussexual, are within a more reasonable $17 range. Dive into a world where cocktails are both an art and a story. 

Celestial Beerworks: Conveniently located in Dallas' Medical District, Celestial Beerworks merges art and science in its cosmic-themed brewhouse.The taproom, a testament to creativity, serves brews like the Double Stars—a hazy NEIPA that captures both the essence of space and the meticulous craft of brewing. With each sip, you're taken on a galactic journey, making Celestial Beerworks not just a place for beer, but an experience that's truly out of this world.

Bowen House: Located in the Uptown neighborhood in a historic Victorian home, Bowen House masterfully crafts an ambiance where sophistication meets comfort. As you step inside, marble countertops and plush booths invite you to settle in. Their expert mixologists serve up timeless classics with a twist, like the captivating rum-infused Operation Bumbo Drop or the gin-rich Silly Rabbit. Venture to the hidden mezcaleria at the back, trust the bartender's expertise, and immerse yourself in an evening of delightful flavors, warm laughter, and connection.

Ruins: In the heart of Deep Ellum, Ruins is an eclectic blend of art, culture, and spirits. Drawing inspiration from Budapest's unique "ruin pubs," this establishment is infused with Latin soul and often has live music. Sip on their extensive collection of agave spirits, brandies, and tropical cocktails, each echoing the vibrant flavors of Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Complementing the spirited concoctions is a menu that boasts Oaxacan delicacies and dishes from various Latin cultures. For those late-night cravings, their kitchen generously remains open until 2 am, ensuring every moment at Ruins is deliciously unforgettable.

Discover Dallas: Can't-Miss Attractions

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden:  Sprawled across 66 acres by White Rock Lake, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden is a verdant oasis in the heart of the city. Home to fourteen distinct gardens, it dazzles visitors with seasonal blooms, majestic trees, and intricate plant displays. Beyond its natural beauty, the arboretum plays host to a plethora of events from music festivals to art exhibitions. Born from 1930s visionaries and enriched by the history of a 1939 mansion, it's a place where nature's artwork meets man's ingenuity. 

Mesquite Rodeo: Pull on your cowboy boots and dive into the heart of Texas tradition at the Mesquite Championship Rodeo. Just a stone's throw from downtown Dallas, this iconic venue brings the Wild West to life. From heart-stopping bull riding to intricate roping displays, visitors are treated to authentic cowboy prowess in an electrifying atmosphere. Whether you're cheering on the fearless riders or feeling the tension during a clown act, the Mesquite Rodeo guarantees an unforgettable Texan experience.

McKinney Avenue Trolley: Journey back in time on Dallas' McKinney Avenue Trolley. These vintage streetcars, with nostalgic names like Rosie and the Green Dragon, chug through Uptown to the Dallas Arts District, offering complimentary rides to get you out and about. While the rides are free, consider leaving a donation to support the preservation of these historic gems. To embark on your journey, simply wave at the motorman when you see the maroon and white sign, and ring the bell when you're ready to disembark.

Pioneer Plaza: Nestled in the heart of downtown Dallas, Pioneer Plaza pays a grand tribute to the city's deep-rooted cowboy heritage. As the largest bronze monument of its kind, it showcases a mesmerizing scene of three horse-mounted cowboys leading a dynamic herd of 49 longhorns. Reflecting the rugged trails of the 1800s, the plaza is adorned with a babbling stream and native Texas flora. It's a popular spot for both tourists and locals, offering a slice of Texan history amidst the bustling urban landscape. 

Reunion Tower: Iconic to Dallas' skyline, the Reunion Tower stands distinctively with its geodesic dome shimmering above the city. Erected in 1978, this 560-foot marvel captivates visitors with its radiant night illumination. At the heart of its attraction is the GeO-Deck, offering breathtaking 360-degree views from 470 feet up. Amidst this aerial backdrop, the tower hosts a range of events, transforming simple activities like yoga or painting into elevated experiences.

Cultural Canvas of Dallas: Arts, Historical Sites, and Beyond

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza:  Standing as a solemn testament to a pivotal moment in U.S. history, the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, chronicles the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Housed in the historic Texas School Book Depository, the museum meticulously explores that fateful day in November 1963 through multimedia exhibits and significant artifacts. From the sniper's perch, where Oswald took his deadly aim, to the artifacts like Oswald's wedding ring, each piece recounts a story of national grief and introspection. Outside, Dealey Plaza's landmarks, like The Grassy Knoll, serve as silent reminders of the event that forever changed a nation.

Bishop Arts District: Nestled in North Oak Cliff, a short hop from downtown Dallas, the Bishop Arts District radiates charm and creativity with its medley of over 60 independent boutiques, galleries, eateries, and cafes. This eclectic area captures the spirit of Dallas's artistic community, drawing both locals and tourists to wander its vibrant streets, often bustling during weekend evenings or special events like the periodic Wine Walks. With a backdrop of vintage boutiques and great dining spots, it’s the quintessential destination to experience Dallas's indie spirit and community warmth.

Deep Ellum District: A Dallas district with roots tracing back to the 1870s, Deep Ellum has been the heartbeat of the city's vibrant arts and music scene for decades. Once a hub for jazz and blues legends like Blind Lemon Jefferson and Robert Johnson, this historic area, famous for its iconic venues like Trees and Club Dada, has played a pivotal role in launching illustrious acts such as Nirvana and Radiohead. Dotted with historic landmarks, Deep Ellum also boasts a rich architectural legacy, from the former Ford assembly plant to the resplendent Union Bankers Trust Building. Today, as the epicenter of Dallas' music realm, Deep Ellum pulsates with the rhythms of live performances, drawing both aficionados and newcomers to its energetic streets.

Dallas Museum of Art: Nestled in the heart of Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art stands as a testament to global artistry spanning centuries. With an impressive roster of over 24,000 works, visitors are immersed in a world of ancient treasures, European masterpieces, and groundbreaking contemporary art. From the breathtaking Monet paintings, to captivating Classical artifacts, each corner of the museum tells a story, beckoning art lovers to explore, reflect, and be inspired. 

Outdoor Activities in and Around Dallas: Green and Scenic Delights

The Katy Trail: Winding through the heart of Dallas, the Katy Trail is an urban oasis offering a serene escape for walkers, joggers, and cyclists. Originally a railroad track, this transformed 3.5-mile path is lined with lush greenery and offers picturesque views of the cityscape. With its well-maintained pathways and frequent resting spots, the trail has become a favorite spot for Dallas residents to unwind, exercise, or simply take in the city's natural beauty. 

White Rock Lake Park: Covering 1,015 acres, White Rock Lake is a freshwater haven attracts nature enthusiasts with its serene walking trails, abundant birdlife, and panoramic views. Ideal for sailing, kayaking, or picnicking on its shores, the lake provides a picturesque escape where city sounds fade into the gentle lapping of water against the banks, making it a cherished respite for both locals and visitors.

Trinity River Audubon Center: An oasis amidst the urban hustle, the Trinity River Audubon Center serves as a gateway to the sprawling 6,000-acre Great Trinity Forest, the U.S.'s largest urban hardwood forest. Just a short drive from downtown Dallas, the center stands on a rehabilitated 120-acre site that once was an illegal dump. Now, it's a sanctuary for myriad birds and wildlife, reflecting the richness of its diverse habitats – from wetlands to prairies. Supporting this nonprofit not only preserves this reclaimed paradise but also furthers science and conservation education for North Texas' future generations. 

Klyde Warren Park: An urban green oasis, Klyde Warren Park spans over the once divisive Woodall Rodgers Freeway, bridging Dallas' Uptown and Arts Districts. This transformative space buzzes with activity, from its dynamic free daily events, like concerts and yoga, to leisurely activities like table tennis and badminton. Always lively, the park is also a gastronomic hotspot with an array of popular food trucks catering to diverse tastes.

Discover Dallas with Trusted

After enjoying a few evenings out in Dallas and taking in a few of its’ landmarks, serene lakes, and parks, you'll find yourself yearning for more of what the city has to offer. From its cowboy roots to its contemporary vibes, Dallas seamlessly blends the old with the new, ensuring every moment is filled with intrigue and authenticity. The city’s bustling neighborhoods, iconic attractions, and Texas-sized hospitality are poised to make your journey truly memorable.

Sign up to travel with Trusted today, and immerse yourself in the heart of Texas!

Audrey McCollough, RN, BSN

Audrey McCollough, RN, BSN, is a pediatric critical care nurse who traded her scrubs for a laptop to come work internally at Trusted two years ago. With eight years of critical care experience and four years of travel nursing under her belt, Audrey now uses her experience and expertise to support others in the healthcare industry, particularly her fellow nurses. When she's not at work, Audrey loves to explore the great outdoors! Hiking, skiing, or just soaking up nature's beauty - Audrey is all about it.

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