* Updated post in anticipation of FinCon17 this week!
For those of you who may not be aware, there’s actually a conference for personal finance nerds such as myself which happens every year. It’s usually attended by the personal finance blogging community, and is apparently a big hit.
FinCon 2017 happens to be held in Dallas, Texas this year, and although I’ve never been to this conference in the past, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to participate in all the fun in my own backyard.
If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, you should definitely look into it!
Since many fellow bloggers and other personal finance enthusiasts will be in town between October 25th-28th, I figured I would write a brief guide to some of the things Dallas has to offer.
If you’re looking for even more suggestions, FinCon’s very own PTMoney published a helpful post a while back.
As he pointed out, it’s helpful to have a car to get around, although you can manage with a combination of public transportation and Uber/Lyft.
Can’t Miss Dallas Attractions
October is generally a wonderful time to visit Dallas. The temperature is cooler, and many outdoor activities are much more enjoyable.
This is one of our favorite spots in Dallas. The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens is one of the top arboretums in the world. This is one of the few places we’ve purchased a family membership to every year since we’ve live in Dallas. The membership is by far one of the best deals in town.
Since the conference happens in October, visitors have the benefit of experiencing Autumn at the Arboretum which is a fun event held each year. Kids would especially enjoy this event, as well as the new Children’s area built recently.
It costs about $30 for two adults, with parking being an extra $15. Well worth a half day if you like the outdoors and gardens. It’s located about 7 miles away from the conference. You can even make your own picnic and have lunch there, which we’ve done many times.
If you’re looking for a convenient place to eat lunch around there, check out a new restaurant that opened across the street. The Smoky Rose has a great outdoor patio for dining, and although they don’t serve the best BBQ in town, it’s delicious nonetheless.
Fort Worth Stockyards
If you’re new to Texas, you may have some pre-conceived ideas about the state, and some of its cities. If that’s the case, you may be disappointed by Dallas. But if you’re willing to drive about 45 min west of Dallas to its cousin city Fort Worth, some of your stereotypes (Cowboys, Cattle, Horses, etc…) may be rewarded.
Head over to the Historical Stockyards of Fort Worth and experience the famous historical district and its wild west theme on display. I would recommend going on a Saturday since it’s much livelier during that time. If you’re in that area, and you’re looking for lunch (or dinner), be sure to check out Joe T Garcia’s for a wonderful (and cheap) outdoor dining experience. Just be sure to get there early.
Dallas State Fair
You’ll have to plan ahead to experience this particular recommendation. The last weekend of the Dallas State Fair happens to be the weekend before the conference. If you’re able to come in the weekend before, I would highly recommend you check out this fair.
It’s a bit kitschy and over-priced, but it’s huge and has many attractions. We’ve made it a family tradition to visit every year, and little Max loves going. It can get crowded and overwhelming, especially if it happens to be a hot day, but if you’re looking for a fun adventure, add it to your list.
This is one of the most historically significant neighborhoods in Dallas. It’s adjacent to downtown, and very accessible from the conference. Deep Ellum became famous as a big music scene, specifically jazz, and that history has helped it remain the premier music destination in Dallas.
It’s also full of great restaurants and bars. I suspect many late night after parties will be going on in this area of town after all the conference fun.
One of the best BBQ restaurants in Dallas is located in this area of town. If you’re craving great BBQ, look no further than Pecan Lodge.
Klyde Warren Park
This park is fairly new to Dallas, and is a great example of what happens when you create green spaces in a large city. Klyde Warren Park was built on top of the highway that cuts through downtown, and has become a favorite destination for people living downtown and in the vicinity.
It’s also located in an area close to the Arts District of Dallas, so many museums are within easy walking distance.
There are also always a number of great Food Trucks that camp out during the day, and the park loans out a variety of backyard games for your enjoyment.
One of our favorite Food Trucks is Nammi which serves up delicious Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches.
Dallas Dining Guide
Honestly, the biggest attraction in Dallas, and frankly most of the cities in Texas is eating. If you’ve been following this blog, you know that Mrs. Max and I have a weakness for good eating.
Here’s a list of some of our favorite restaurants in no particular order. With the exception of one, I tried to limit all the recommendations to within a 5 mile radius of the conference.
This place has been popular from the day it opened. Who can pass up an old junk yard turned into a gathering space featuring Food Trucks and drinks. At Truck Yard, the food can be hit and miss depending on which food truck is there, but the ambiance and outdoor space makes up for it.
The place is essentially a bar co-located with Food Trucks, however their best kept secret are the amazing Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches that they make in the back. A fun place to just hang out and take in the scenery.
Hungry for dessert after? Stop by Steel City Pops for some delicious popsicles!
Or even better, get a taste of Italy by stopping at Botolino Gelato which opened just a few months ago, and gives Italian Gelaterias a serious run for their money!
Oh, and you also happen to be in my hood!
El Come Taco
Dallas is known for having a lot of great options for Tacos. El Come taco serves up some traditional varieties in a humble space, although the area of town it’s in may not be the most impressive.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with some of the options available, which happen to be more traditional. Their Pastor tacos are spot on!
If you’re looking for more creative tacos than the traditional variety, you have to check out Velvet Taco. They have some fantastic combinations, and the quality is excellent. Our favorite is the Fish ‘n Chips Taco.
Make sure to leave room for the red velvet cake dessert, you won’t regret it.
Craving a burger? Off-site kitchen makes one of the best burgers in the entire city. You get to drive on Dallas’ new Calatrava bridge to get there, and it’s located in a new restaurant development area called Trinity Groves with great views of the city.
The prices are very reasonable, no gourmet burgers here. Just simple, well made patties that keep us coming back for more. The fries are also excellent.
Twisted Root Burger
Looking for fancier burgers instead? Twisted Root Burger is in the Deep Ellum area closer to the conference. They make very good burgers, with lots of patty options, and many different combinations.
Who doesn’t like Pizza!? At Eno’s Pizza, they know how to make a great Pizza. The place is located in a part of Dallas visitors rarely get to experience. The Bishop Arts District is a small area/neighborhood Southwest of downtown and has many unique little shops and great restaurants and bars.
They make very thin pizza, if you’re into that type of pizza (which we are), and they also have very good salads.
If you’re looking to splurge a bit, and love creative Japanese food, look no further than Uchi. We absolutely love this place, and have been to each of their unique locations throughout Texas. It’s definitely on the expensive side, but I would be doing everyone a disservice by not mentioning it.
They do have a less expensive sister restaurant that’s co-located named Top Knot which can be a bit easier on the wallet.
Texas is known for great Mexican food, or what’s often referred to as ‘Tex-Mex’. This particular restaurant leans more towards authentic Mexican food than others in the area. Meso Maya’s quality and flavors are fantastic, and many dishes are unique.
It’s also a more expensive option than other similar restaurants in the area, but worth the price in my opinion.
If you have a car and some time to kill, and don’t mind venturing outside of Dallas for about a 30-45 min drive, you must try Mr. Wok. It’s a family owned and run Chinese restaurant that’s located in a converted and now hard to find Dine-in Pizza Hut location.
Don’t let the drive and location turn you off. They have some of the best (American) Chinese food in all of Dallas, and the prices are great relative to portions. It’s also BYOB. There is rarely a month that goes by where we haven’t ventured out to this place. It’s the only one I’ll drive that far for, and the most popular restaurant when family comes to visit.
They get extremely busy, but you can secure a reservation if you have a group of 6 or more, or if you pre-order their famous Peking Duck, which I highly recommend. Also try their spicy peanut chicken or crispy tangy beef (or both!).
One of the coolest things you can take advantage of in the city if you have no transportation or want to save on Uber/Taxis while getting a work out is a new Dallas Bike Sharing program.
There are three companies who just started offering the service this year. You can download the app while in Dallas, and see where the closest bike is, borrow if for an hour or more at about $1/Hour, and just leave it at your destination for the next rider.
Here’s a handy graphic on the three companies…
There are dozens of bikes available within less than a 5 min walk from the conference, and hundreds all over Dallas.
Hopefully this is a good primer for new and returning visitors alike. I tried to include places that give people a sense for the local population, and hopefully enough variety to catch your interests. I’ll keep updating this post as I come across other ideas, or if I forgot to mention something.
I’m looking forward to meeting some of my fellow bloggers in a few months, feel free to drop me a line if you have any specific questions about the area, or if you’re interested in meeting up while at the conference.
Readers, do any of you plan on going to FinCon 2017 in Dallas? Any other recommendations or tips for visitors? Any other suggestions you would like me to share for the next update of this post? Please share your thoughts and comments below!